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Ultrasone Edition 8 Review and Discussion

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

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 !

post #2 of 23

For a first review, it's a pretty good read. Thank you.


Anyway, welcome to Head-Fi and sorry about your wallet! ;)

post #3 of 23

Nice review.


I recently got a pair of E8 palladiums. I think I am having fit issues similar to what I had with the HFI-580s when I owned them a year ago.


I just don't hear the "strong bass" you and other E8 owners speak of, unless I apply a very small amount of pressure to the bottom of the cups. This is identical to the problem I had with the 580s which resulted in me returning them for Pro900s which do not have this issue, probably due to the different cup shape. I think this is to do with me having a small head. I have tried them in different positions and with different headband lengths, but nothing really helps other than applying a tiny amount of pressure to the bottom of the cups. Somehow, I need to increase the clamping force or create a tighter seal to get back the bass I am losing!

post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks Shamrock, that's strange about the bass for your headphones it maybe due to our definition of a strong bass, but if it's any consolation, you can use a sound card to amp up the bass or decrease the treble and turn the volume up : D

post #5 of 23

I agree, definitions of bass do vary depending on taste, but I can tell something is not right. The smallest amount of pressure at the bottom of the cups seems to complete the seal and I get the bass I would expect to hear. Without that, what should be powerful kick drums in songs sound like somebody tapping their finger on the drum! Perhaps I can stuff the bottom of the cups with something?

post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 

I just tried a method out and it worked, I got an elastic band and put it around the headphones on the area near the o of the Ultrasone logo and it increased the pressure substantially, bit weird in public though haha.

post #7 of 23

Haha I will have to try that! It's definitely preferable to walking around with my hands on the cups, but still not ideal. I have thought about trying to bend the head band inwards more, but as you can imagine, I fear for breaking/damaging something so expensive.

post #8 of 23

Bright and warm? WTF.

post #9 of 23
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

Bright and warm? WTF.


post #10 of 23
Originally Posted by fhuang View Post

Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

Bright and warm? WTF.


Just noticed this. I lol'd. I think what he means is that the mids are so good, it creates an intimate 'warmth' similar to bass response.

post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 

Right on the spot 1 audioz! Thanks for helping me in the clarification : D

post #12 of 23

Originally Posted by Triple8Fidelity View Post


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.



What other portable headphones have you compared them too, other than the HD800's?  Just curious on your opinions of some of the other top contenders and their portability.

post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 

 Dear Glrunner,


First of all thanks for reading my review and I hope you enjoyed it!


In terms of portability, there are many types of ways to achieve this requirement. This includes in ear monitors, ear buds, over ear headphones, closed headphones and open headphones. Each with their strengths and weaknesses in basically the balance between portability and sound quality.


With in ear monitors and ear buds, they are probably the most portable form factors available. Not only are they small (able to fit into your pocket) but they act as ear plugs to block out ambient noise which increases the enjoyability for oneself and also the safety of your hearing as you will not need to increase the volume so much. However with the compactness, you pay the price in sound quality and sound stage. The value for money in terms of sound quality is far less than say a pair of closed headphones, which is a fair trade off for the noise blocking and compactness. I personally dislike in ears as I find them very uncomfortable and I have ears quite prone to infection which makes in ears a big no no for me. However for the rest of the world who don't have the same problems as me, they are incredibly popular. JH audio in ears are one of the best you can have, with a customized mould that can fit perfectly into your earlobe with the monitor fitted in. Moulds are also possible for other models, but I have yet to delve too deeply into this realm. I have tried some high-end Ultimate Ears and Sennheisers and was thoroughly impressed. However for my situation I had to look elsewhere. This was mainly due to my search for sound quality beyond the capacity of in ear monitors and ear buds, and also that for the same audio quality, a pair of headphones will be cheaper than ear buds of in ear monitors e.g. all the high end in ears monitors and ear buds cost above 1k and do not compare to the quality of 1k headphones Furthermore, I always travel with a manbag or a backback so carrying things for me is much easier than the average commuter.


Headphones are plentiful but you can split them easily into 2 categories, open and closed. Open headphones ultimately provide higher quality sound because they are literally open and allow the sound they produce to resonate a lot further than closed headphones, providing a far greater sound stage and realistic reproduction of music. They are literally due to their open qualities mini speakers, so are not suitable for public transport or use, furthermore the high end open headphones require significant amplification to make them decent, and thus make your portable rig less portable and on whole more expensive as you need to purchase a powerful amp. And on top of that open headphones most of the time have 3.5mm jacks, whereas phones, ipods and other mp3 players accept 2.5 mm jacks, requiring once more for further purchases and a bulkier rig. With these though, people will never ask you what are you listening to XD


So this narrows it down to closed headphones which in my opinion offer the best of both worlds of portability and sound quality. They offer good sound stage, good comfort and low impedance meaning that you can listen to them simply through an mp3 player without further amplification. Furthermore they come in 2.5 mm jacks and are closed so no sound leakage to bother other people meaning you can listen to them anywhere. Furthermore, the high end closed headphones have sound quality nearly on par with the high end open headphones.


Closed cans which I chose between were the Audio Technica ATH-W5000, DENON AH-D7000 and Beyerdynamic DT 770. I myself liked the Ultrasone Edition 8s out of all these in terms of what they looked and sounded like but that's just me. You have to consider all the factors which will affect your listening experience. Try 'em out thoroughly and read online reviews as they offer deep insight into how good the cans are. Find out what type of sound you like e.g mellow, bright and choose accordingly.


In the end it's a balance of 3 catergories which headphones rest upon: sound quality, comfort and portability. To recap in ears are the best in portability but sacrifice sound quality, and closed headphones offer better sound quality at the expense of portability.


I don't know all the products in the market, but generally a search of "the best in ears/headphone etc" will yield good results which validate with a search of reviews on Head-fi!


I hope this answered your question as it explained my selection process, and i'm sorry if I repeated too much : D





post #14 of 23

Welcome to Head-fi! Great review of my favourite closed headphones of all time. L3000.gif


I absolutely love them for SQ, isolation, comfort and construction is simply a work of art. The leather box that the Limited Edition version comes with is truly a site to behold. The sound stage imaging with S-Logic is by far the best I've heard in a closed headphone.


post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hey MacedonianHero, nice to have someone share the joy of the Edition 8s with me and thanks for reading! What do you use the Ultrasones for and how do you drive it?

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