Hey guys, it's me Triple8Fidelity. This is my first review and also venture into head-fi.
First of all, i'm a music student at Monash University specializing in 'cello. I listen to a lot of classical music works, many which I have played in e.g. Beethoven's 9th, Carmina Burana, Elgar cello concerto as a soloist and Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker suite to name a few.
In short, I am a perfectionist for true musical reproduction seeking to get the sound of a recital or concerthall performance through a pair headphones or speakers.
I predominantly listen to music through a pair of B&W 802ds amped up with Musical Fidelity Nu Vistas, however with the purchase of the Ulrasone Edition 8s, i've been spending all my time with them using an ipod or computer.
So without further adieu, i'll start the review.
The store www.headphonehk.com I purchased these headphones stocked every headphone you wish you had. They had Grado Ps-1000s, Sennheiser Hd800s, Ultrasone Edition 10s, Ultrasone Edition 8 limited editions, not just one but multiple cans of each type. These people meant business when it came to headphones.
I was looking for a pair of headphones to buy and I chose to compare the Ultrasone 8s to the HD800.
I used the Meier Audio Symphony 2 amp at the store to drive the speakers.
Needless to say, I was incredibly impressed by the performance of both these headphones. They were both on par in sound quality and reproduction, with the biggest difference after throrough listening simply the sound stage. The Ultrasones had a wide sound stage like sitting at in a room with the performers in front of you, however the Sennheisers blew me away. When I heard through the cans, it was like I brought tickets to a concert hall and was sitting infront of the performers.
The Sennheisers were in my opinion better than the Ultrasones simply due to the wider sound stage and in turn better sound reproduction due to the fact it is open. It is also the same reason among many that I chose to buy the Ultrasones.
I was choosing to buy a pair of high quality headphones that could be portable but still able to hold its chin up high if I compared them to the greats.
With the Ultrasone Edition 8, it was nearly on par with the benchmark headphones in terms of sound quality and even better in other areas which I will divulge in later.
When you unbox the Ultrasone Ed8s (edition 8s), you will be taken back by the quality
due to the Ruthenium coating of the headphones. It is incredibly shiny and coupled with the sleek design, looks like a silver Rolls Royce Phantom all polished and waxed in its grandness. And when you hold it in your hands, you feel quality as the metal gives it weight and sturdiness not given by say the Hd800s with its plastic construction. If you're shelling out four figures or more for a pair of headphones, the build quality should be near perfect, which the Ed8s nearly achieve. The ruthenium also provides a near mirror finish as you can see your own reflection from the sides of the cans, like an iPod before you scratch it. However unlike an iPod, I have accidentally knocked the Ed8s on other surfaces while moving or handling it, but it has not received any scratches : )
But upon holding and inspecting the headphone with all its glory, after you put the headphones down, you will have the sickening feel by seeing the finger marks on any surface on the cans. Yes, these pair of headphones are fingerprint magnets but note it is only around the meta which cups your ears, the other metal is I think anodized and does not leave finger print marks.
Thankfully, Ultrasone provides a cloth akin to those you wipe glasses with to clean your headphones. They also feature the Ultrasone logo and title printed on the cloth, which is a nice touch.
Last but not least, the cans come with a leather bag made from 100% Ethiopian Sheepskin. Not sure why they had to choose one of the wordl's hungriest countries to get their sheep, but it is superb leather. The bag is black with Edition 8 marked on the side using indentation. The quality of the leather is on par with the leather one would feel on a Louis Vuitton or Chanel bag. The fragrance of this luxury leather simply wafts to you as you handle the bag and in contents, which is extremely pleasing. The bag is ample in size to fit everything you would want regarding head-fi into it, as in portable-fi terms, it is two and a half ipods tall, 2 ipods long and one ipod wide. I can store the headphones, plus the Meier audio stepdance amp, the extension cable, all the adaptors plus my classic 160 gig ipod in the bag without hassle.
And just when you thought that all the head-fi gear would scratch the leather, the interior of the bag is covered with acryllic cloth coloured Russian Red. Also with the cloth, they have a interior pouch with a velco flap 3/4 of an ipod deep that can perfectly fit an ipod when you slot it in sideways. and also another pouch opposite that 1 and a half iPods deep that is most likely to store cables. Next to that pouch is another pouch of the same depth but half the width, which I think is just to store even more cables.
The top of the bag has one of those designs where if you pull the strings on both sides, the mouth of the bag will contract where you can then tie a knot with both ends of the strings, stopping anything from falling out the bag.
The headphone cable is around 4 feet which is a really good length to put your iPod in your jacket or pants pockets without needing to start wrapping up cables. Also a nice addition is a velcro strap on the cable which allows you to wrap the cable into a compact form.
An extension cable is provided that is nearly triple the length of the cable connected to the headphone.
So lets get down to business and talk about the sound.
The Ultrasone Editions 8s have incredible sound. It has a strong bass that is tight and controlled and sound across the board is incredibly clear and defined. The mid and treble range is bright and warm with the absence of harshness or tinny noises. However, the midrange and treble lack the same oomph, power and clarity of the bass which the headphones produce. This applies mainly to the midrange, with the treble suffering less. This improves with the addition of amplification (in my case the addition of the Meier Audio Stepdance). With amplification, the bass, midrange and treble all receive more substance and power in the sound.
All in all, the Ultrasone Edition 8s are a set of headphones which produce pure, bright and warm sound that all in all is noble but not lacking power. If this were in tennis terms, it would be akin to Roger Feder in playing style. Graceful, poised, but maybe lacking some of the oomph Nadal has which would make him perfect.
The Ultrasone Edition 8s in my opinion are the best portable headphones on the market right now. With sound quality nearly on par with Sennheiser's HD800 but as a closed pair of headphones, the presence of only 30 ohms of resistance as compared to the HD800's 300 ohms makes it possible to drive with only an iPod.
Ultrasone's Ed8 is top quality with out of the box performance sublime. I gave the value rating 5/5 stars because what comes with the package is basically all you need, with an extension cable, 2.5 to 3.5 mm jack, a luxurious leather bag with handy pouches to the ruthenium construction and leather padding and strap on the headphone.
Comfort also warrants a 5/5 star, as I feel no discomfort whilst wearing these headphones. As an anecdote, I wore these cans on a 9 hour flight without any discomfort and need to take them off! Furthermore, the clamp of these headphones are firm but not excessive, reducing noise by about 30 percent when on your head without music playing. Note that this is different for everyone as headsizes and earsizes vary. Some people complain that the headphones clamp on the ears, but my ears are a bit less than 3/4 of an iPod, so it fits just in. Any larger and the headphones will clamp on my ears, drastically reducing comfort. I measured the earcups to around 3/4 of an iPod.
I rate the design 4.5/5 as the headphone construction is sleek and classy with the leather bag and ruthenium bordering on luxurious. However a gripe in my opinion is that a hard case to protect should be provided instead of a leather bag
Audio Quality I rate at 4/5. For a closed headphone nothing beats the Edition 8. However the sound quality can still be improved somehow (what do you think we pay the big headphone companies for? haha) and I look forward to that day.
Value is at 5/5. There is no doubt that if the Ed8 was an iceberg, out wallet would be the Titanic. But hey, you get what you pay for. This is the top of the line closed headphone, and the Ed8s has build qualities and accessories which other closed or open headphones simply don't have. Furthermore with only 30 ohms impedance, again an iPod is already fantastic in driving these cans, with a portable amp or amp improving quality, but not essential. This once another big consideration when buying headphones. The equipment you need to drive a HD800 nearly costs more than the headphone itself! Even with a Meier Symphony 2, I had to rotate the volume to 3 o'clock to get sufficient volume while with the Ultrasone using the same amp, 9 o'clock was more than enough.
Tracks I used to review include Don't Know Why by Norah Jones, Ride of the Valkyries by Wagner, Ave Maria by Schubert, Don't Look Back in Anger by Oasis, Devil's Trill Sonata by Tartini, Chaconne by J.S Bach and Lost Time by 蔡琴
Overall i'd give the headphone 4.5/5. It's a smashing product, but could be more.
Feel free to ask questions and give tips to how I can improve my reviews. Thanks for reading !