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New Pads and Many Hours: The Ultrasone Edition 10, Take Two

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

I am taking the liberty of starting a new thread to collate post-op impressions of what I think might one day be seen as a reasonably significant - although far from outstanding - headphone.

 

To recap: Like many folks I have liked many parts of many Ultrasones, and I hoped that one day they would put all the good parts and none of the bad parts into a single flagship.  I thought the Edition 10 might be that phone, so I ordered a pair in the middle of last year, and on December 24 serial number 273 was delivered to me as part of the first U.S. shipment.

 

Because of the holiday season initial audition was fragmented, and possibly because of holiday cheer I first noticed the good points - which were considerable.  The Edition 10 was very comfortable, quite good looking, and in particular had outstanding midrange qualities - intensely airborne, ethereal, natural, and organic.  Midrange sounds seemed to exist spontaneously in the air in front of me.  There was no sensation that mechanical devices near my ears were creating the music I was hearing.

 

Then I noticed how bad the treble was.  It was ragged, with peaks at ugly intervals.  Some hidden part of my brain always seemed to be whirring, trying to make harmonic sense of the peaks, which was of course impossible.  Hence irritation and fatigue.

 

And even behind the peaks I felt the treble was intensely grainy.  And I felt the bass was flawed too.  It was certainly present and powerful, but it sounded synthetic - as if elves in the night had stripped away the real bass lines and replaced them with note-perfect replicas played on a Moog.

 

The mids were still fabulous, but as the bass and treble irritations wore me down I began to feel as if the enjoyable parts of the range were getting narrower and narrower.  With regret, I gave up on the phones and put them away, very frustrated because I felt Ultrasone had come reasonably close to building a world-beater, but had ultimately blown it.

 

Then I heard about the pad issue.  It was claimed that the wrong pads had been fitted to some pairs, including mine.  These claims were made amid unbelievable corporate dysfunction.  Both Ultrasone Germany and Ultrasone USA became poster boys for nonsense.  Only two U.S. employees - Randy, who we know, and a repair tech named Mark Butler - stood up for old-fashioned business ethics.  I sent my pair in for new pads.

 

I did so with great skepticism and very little expectation of success.  I thought the initiative was nothing but smoke-and-mirrors damage control.  I knew about the Beyer pad issue, and Grados, but I thought the faults I was hearing were beyond what could be fixed with pads.

 

I was partly wrong, and partly right.

 

The new pads are noticeably different. ¬†They‚Äôre slightly larger, have a different cross section, and are made from different foam. ¬†Whereas the old pads were perfect doughnuts wrapped in leather, the new pads have a trumpet- or tulip-like cross section, smoothed off soon after the ‚Äúbell‚ÄĚ begins. ¬†Whereas the old pads were pillow-soft, the new pads push back a little more - they‚Äôre meatier, heavier, denser, and more springy.

 

In passing, I have to mention: without being an expert on industrial assembly, I find it impossible to believe that the difference between ‚Äúcorrect‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúincorrect‚ÄĚ could not be easily determined by anyone. ¬†From my experience of repetitive manual tasks, the hand becomes attuned to the slightest difference in samples. ¬†For an assembly worker to pick up ten ‚Äúcorrect‚ÄĚ pads and then one ‚Äúincorrect‚ÄĚ pad and not notice is almost inconceivable. ¬†So unless Ultrasone had a really, really careless anything-goes attitude, this is a definite ‚ÄúMk. 2‚ÄĚ revision.

 

The new pads work wonders with the bass and treble.  Pre-op, a quality-vs-frequency graph would have had a low, flat shoulder on the left, then a huge, phallic SQ spike in the middle, returning to a low, flat shoulder on the right.  The new pads have dragged those shoulders way up, to the point where the post-op Edition 10 now has bass and treble just about - almost - competitive with the best available.

 

But having said that, it can’t be denied this is still a bright phone.  It can sound hard and relentless with the wrong amp.  Pre-op, my favorite partner for it was the Luxman P1-u.  Not anymore.  Now, even on my tubed-for-warmth Leben, it’s still slightly bright.

 

And unfortunately the midrange magic has gone.  The pre-op SQ spike has been dragged downward as the shoulders were dragged upward.  The result is consistency and conventional high quality right across the band, but that’s no consolation.

 

So where does it fit?

 

I think there are three great current-production low-voltage phones - the HD800, the LCD-2, and the HE-6.  The T1 comes close, and the post-op Edition 10 sounds a little like it - not so much a T1 on steroids, but a T1 after some really good weed.  A fun, bouncy T1.  But if we’re charitable for a moment and let the post-op Edition 10 play with the big three, and we imagine a triangle with, say, the HE-6 in the top corner, and the LCD-2 in the bottom left, and the HD800 in the bottom right, then the Edition 10 would place somewhere low down in the space between them, further away from the HE-6, closer to the line that connects the HD800 and the LCD-2, about halfway between them.

 

Which might be its only selling point.  I can’t imagine anyone placing it top of the heap per se - except that it does manage to blend perhaps 75% of the LCD-2’s bass virtues with maybe 75% of the HD800’s other virtues.  Personally I would rather have 100% of the HD800, and I know many will prefer 100% of the LCD-2, and others will want 100% of the HE-6, but for those who have mused about a mixture of strengths, the post-op Edition 10 just might fit the bill.  In fact I'm sure it would have been the perfect blended one-phone-for-all - but it's too bright.

 

So ... pre-op it was a train wreck, and post-op it's close but no cigar.  Pity.

post #2 of 28

Pity indeed. So the wait continues for a new king or queen. 

 

Thank you for the excellent write-up and information. 

post #3 of 28

I have also changed my pads early last month. Mine serial number is below 100. The old pads are indeed less dense in the front compared to the rear. The new pads are firmer throughout. I also noticed that the leather on the new ear pads are less prone to staining.

 

Now let's discuss about the sonic characteristics. When I first received the Edition 10, I listened mainly to classical music and thus did not noticed the treble anomaly. The mid range, upper treble and soundstage is an improvement to the Edition 9.   It was until I read the reports at head-fi and tried the Edition 10 on pop and rock music that I discovered that indeed the cymbals sounded terrible and the vocals are extremely prone to sibilance. Then I had the ear pads changed. The sound did indeed improve by quite a bit. Indeed the Edition 10 had changed its sonic characteristic overnight. One major thing that I discovered other that the usually reported bass and treble improvement is that finally the S-logic sound is back. This is an area that is quite absent with the old pads. Another area that is also noted by the OP is that the mid range is not so special anymore. My personal take is that psychologically the improved bass and treble made the mid range looked insignificant. The Edition 10 remains a bright headphone. All the while, I am hearing the Edition 10 using the Burson HA-160 solid state amplifier.

 

Recently, I purchased a Yamamoto HA-02 to go along the Edition 10. After about 100 hours of burn-in on the Yammy, I found out that the Yammy actually brings out even more details in the music as compared to the Burson. The Yammy also improves the mid range feel to the Edition 10. Bass suffers very slightly while treble remains bright. From my personal findings, a good tube amp is needed to bring out the best of Edition 10. Why did I use the word 'good'? I noticed there are many tube amps in the market that do not perform well for low impedance headphone such as the Edition 10.

 

Another finding that I observed is that the headphone when wore properly will actually decrease the brightness. After some trial and error, I found out that when the Edition 10 is worn with minimum click stops, the brightness of the headphone actually decrease while music details and dynamics are improved. When worn using more click stops, although more comfortable, will cause the phone to be brighter. Have a try and let me know whether this is correct. Have a pleasant day ahead!

post #4 of 28

Thank you for the write up, it was a great read.

 

It doesn't seem like you factored price into your equation either. For the price of the Ed. 10 you could have 2 of the 3 top phones from your triangle. But then again price has never been a strong point of Ultrasone, and some of us have found great enjoyment from some of the other Edition models, despite their flaws. It still seems like a missed opportunity though....

post #5 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by project86 View Post

Thank you for the write up, it was a great read.

 

It doesn't seem like you factored price into your equation either. For the price of the Ed. 10 you could have 2 of the 3 top phones from your triangle. But then again price has never been a strong point of Ultrasone, and some of us have found great enjoyment from some of the other Edition models, despite their flaws. It still seems like a missed opportunity though....


 

I have a set of most current production flagship cans from the larger manufacturers (PS1000, T1, HD800, HD650, HD650, HD600, ED8, ED10), and amps commensurate with the cans quality (Equilibrato, Zana Deux, WA22, Blossom, a bevy of Singlepower's, Orb, and more), and I find the 10's to stand up to any of them, and better most of them in some ways--they are overall my favorite out of all the cans I have in my possession, but I will still press some of the others into service occasionally.

 

The only cans I think (having only heard them briefly at shows, so that is almost worthless, as I believe you can't get a handle on a cans sound unless you listen to them long term) that may be able beat them soundly would be a HE90, maybe an HE60, or the R10's (but I can't find any of the foregoing to buy).  I will order a C32 as soon as they are available, I am hopeful they will be a step above too, as it would be nice to have one that can do it all.

 

As far as the cost, it is what it is.  Surely, no one is buying the ED10's who doesn't have the disposable income to do so, are they?  These are a luxury item, and if one can't comfortably afford them, and take a punt on the dough put out to acquire them, I hope they are not buying them.

 

FWIW--I don't offer for sale any of the gear above, except the Orb.

 

Peace, 

 

Lee


Edited by guitarplayer - 3/11/11 at 10:32am
post #6 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarplayer View Post




 

I have a set of most current production flagship cans from the larger manufacturers (PS1000, T1, HD800, HD650, HD650, HD600, ED8, ED10), and amps commensurate with the cans quality (Equilibrato, Zana Deux, WA22, Blossom, a bevy of Singlepower's, Orb, and more), and I find the 10's to stand up to any of them, and better most of them in some ways--they are overall my favorite out of all the cans I have in my possession, but I will still press some of the others into service occasionally.

 

The only cans I think (having only heard them briefly at shows, so that is almost worthless, as I believe you can't get a handle on a cans sound unless you listen to them long term) that may be able beat them soundly would be a HE90, maybe an HE60, or the R10's (but I can't find any of the foregoing to buy).  I will order a C32 as soon as they are available, I am hopeful they will be a step above too, as it would be nice to have one that can do it all.

 

As far as the cost, it is what it is.  Surely, no one is buying the ED10's who doesn't have the disposable income to do so, are they?  These are a luxury item, and if one can't comfortably afford them, and take a punt on the dough put out to acquire them, I hope they are not buying them.

 

FWIW--I don't offer for sale any of the gear above, except the Orb.

 

Peace, 

 

Lee


Good points all around. I was coming from the perspective of the original poster who does not seem to get as much enjoyment out of them as you do. I remain convinced that there is no single headphone that can be the favorite of all people with all music, no matter the price. Opinions differ too wildly for that to ever happen. But you mentioned that the Edition 10 does some things better than most of those others, and I guess that's all we can really hope for. I'm glad you like them. 

 

With regards to price - you are completely correct of course. But the fact remains that all of the listed "competition" you mentioned, the next closest model (PS1000) is nearly $1000 less... unless we count Ultrasone's own limited edition Edition 8 model. That's a pretty big price disparity. One could pick up a T1 AND an LCD-2 (for example) and still have less invested than the ED10. To me that's a price that would really need to be heavily justified. It sounds like it wasn't for the first poster, and maybe it was for you.

 

That's the thing I've always had a hard time with when it comes to Ultrasone: judging by the price, you'd expect them to be far superior to the competition. But when they are just "equal to" or "better in some ways" but cost so much more, it is hard to recommend them. 

 

post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarplayer View Post

 

I have a set of most current production flagship cans from the larger manufacturers ... and I find the 10's to stand up to any of them, and better most of them in some ways--they are overall my favorite out of all the cans I have in my possession, but I will still press some of the others into service occasionally.

 

I understand completely.  The post-op Ed 10 definitely seems to combine the strengths of several different cans.  I enjoyed having LCD-2-ish bass and HD800-ish mids at the same time, that's for sure.  But ultimately it was just too bright for me.  Back in the day German gear was called "boom and tizz", which was the old name for smiley-curve EQ, and there's still a trace of it in the Ed 10's DNA.

 

One weird thing - with every amp but one, I could use the exact same volume setting as for the HD800.  But with the Leben, I had to turn it up a ways to get the same SPL, from just under 9 o'clock to just past 10.  Not sure why.

 

post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by project86 View Post

 

That's the thing I've always had a hard time with when it comes to Ultrasone: judging by the price, you'd expect them to be far superior to the competition. But when they are just "equal to" or "better in some ways" but cost so much more, it is hard to recommend them. 

 


I understand that, absolutely.  I, too, wish there was one headphone that did it all.  Maybe a Orpheus setup? 

 

Peace,

 

Lee

 

post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by InnerSpace View Post



I understand completely.  The post-op Ed 10 definitely seems to combine the strengths of several different cans.  I enjoyed having LCD-2-ish bass and HD800-ish mids at the same time, that's for sure.  But ultimately it was just too bright for me.  Back in the day German gear was called "boom and tizz", which was the old name for smiley-curve EQ, and there's still a trace of it in the Ed 10's DNA.

 

One weird thing - with every amp but one, I could use the exact same volume setting as for the HD800.  But with the Leben, I had to turn it up a ways to get the same SPL, from just under 9 o'clock to just past 10.  Not sure why.

 



I'm not getting the brightness, so as promised, I must have a set that the pads are correct on.  I do like the 10's on tube amps better than SS as well, so there is likely some synergy going on there as well.

 

Good thread!  Look forward to reading others' impressions.  I have no horse in this game, and have been around long enough (maybe too long, ha), so I would certainly never discount what another hears, it's nice to read others takes, even if they don't gel with mine.

 

Peace,

 

Lee

post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarplayer View Post




I understand that, absolutely.  I, too, wish there was one headphone that did it all.  Maybe a Orpheus setup? 

 

Peace,

 

Lee

 

 

It's entirely possible....:-)


 

DSC_1400 - 2011-03-10 at 14-46-37.jpg

post #11 of 28


You are killing me Laszlo!  biggrin.gif

 

Peace,

 

Lee

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by warp08 View Post



 

It's entirely possible....:-)


 

 



 

post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarplayer View Post


You are killing me Laszlo!  biggrin.gif

 

Peace,

 

Lee

 



 


Oh this is nothing compared to what you did to me with the Cynosure.  At any rate, I'll be weighing in the Ed10 discussion next week once I get my own post-op TWagged version back from Craig.  Finally, Ultrasone actually sent him the replacement parts after--say a month or so.  Now I'm really curious what the Ed10s can do without that microphone wire but with the correct pads.

 

post #13 of 28

Hey Lee,

Great to see you posting on HF about the ED10's. Are you running them balanced? Do you enjoy them more then your ED8's which I think I remember you saying had a slight advantage over the ED9's?

Also, I can't wait to hear what you think of the C32. Keep us posted. 

 

Finish Well,

Dan

post #14 of 28


Hey Dan!  How are you?

 

Yes, I like them better than the ED8's, which I love.  In fact, I like them overall the best out of all my cans, I do have a set of D7000's on the way to me now, which I have not yet compared to the 10's, but I have compared them to all the cans I have in house now, which I listed above somewhere.

 

I have not run them balanced yet, as I have not had time to re-cable them yet, hopefully next week.  Laszlo (above) has his re-cabled by Whiplash, who uses my TWag v2, so he would be a good one to ask about the balanced 10's with my wire (although it is yet to be determined if he likes them with the new pads...and he does have an HE90, so everything else pales in comparison.  Yes, I'm jealous, ha!). 

 

Hope all is well, Dan.  If you post here more often, I'll hang around more.

 

Peace,

 

Lee

 

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Millheim View Post

Hey Lee,

Great to see you posting on HF about the ED10's. Are you running them balanced? Do you enjoy them more then your ED8's which I think I remember you saying had a slight advantage over the ED9's?

Also, I can't wait to hear what you think of the C32. Keep us posted. 

 

Finish Well,

Dan



 

post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarplayer View Post


Hey Dan!  How are you?

 

Yes, I like them better than the ED8's, which I love.  In fact, I like them overall the best out of all my cans, I do have a set of D7000's on the way to me now, which I have not yet compared to the 10's, but I have compared them to all the cans I have in house now, which I listed above somewhere.

 

I have not run them balanced yet, as I have not had time to re-cable them yet, hopefully next week.  Laszlo (above) has his re-cabled by Whiplash, who uses my TWag v2, so he would be a good one to ask about the balanced 10's with my wire (although it is yet to be determined if he likes them with the new pads...and he does have an HE90, so everything else pales in comparison.  Yes, I'm jealous, ha!). 

 

Hope all is well, Dan.  If you post here more often, I'll hang around more.

 

Peace,

 

Lee

 

 

 

 



 


Can you still return the D7Ks, Lee?  :-)

 

Amazing-looking cans, brilliant workmanship and some people love the deep bass, but Edition 10s they aren't, if I may say so without the benefit of listening to them all over again with the correct pads this time.  I had them at one time and they ended up in Craig's parts bin or whatever he calls the toolshed he has with every can ever made in the past 30 years (except the HE90s for which I suffered many an insult).

 

Actually, having access to the HE90s for the first time made me realize just how good the bass-heavy R10s are in terms of musicality and spatial imaging.  So those two I would definitely put on the highest pedestal.  Stax SR007 is out of the contest until I can hear it out of a BHSE which won't be here until Xmas, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

 

But your TWag 2 is certainly good enough match with the Ed10s to provide impressive performance even with the defective pads, which made cymbals sound like snare drums using the stock microphone wire.  Going balanced is just icing on the cake.  However, stand by until next week for some more impressions with the new pads.

 

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