Here it is...the Ultrasone iCans review
May 22, 2007 at 1:20 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 9

BrookR1

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Intro

What do I do when I get a little extra money? Spend it on headphones of course. As you can tell, I love open portable headphones. They look less conspicuous at work and fit in nicely with my active lifestyle. I spend quite a bit of time riding a bike and walking. It's actually my preferred mode of transportation since I only live within a mile or two of the grocery store. So like any red-blooded guy, I need a decent car (foot, bike) stereo. As everyone knows, I'm very happy with my iGrados and I like my PX100s for different reasons. I don't care too much for the KSC-75s because of the clips ons and the PortaPros are similar yet less refined to my iGrados. However, there's one area where my iGrados failed me...and that's with Nine Inch Nails. Not the recent CDs, but with Broken and Downward Spiral. For everything else, the iGrados are wonderful, but these two CDs are a part of me. And I wanted them to sound right. Enter the iCans....

Comfort

With the exception of the headband, these cans are extremely comfortable. The large pads rest lightly on your ears and the fabric that covers the pad is silky smooth and feels good against the ears...like two pillows lightly pressed against your head. There is barely any clamp, which is nice. These things just float on your ears.

The headband is another story. It's unpadded and non adjustable. Unless you have a head that contours perfectly to the shape of the headband (which I doubt any will), then the unpadded band will rest on a small area on top of your head. For me, this area was about 2 inches wide. After a while, it became uncomfortable. It dug into one spot on my head after a fair amount of use and became a little painful.

Portability/Usability

Barely any. Yes, I understand that they come in a nice tin for transporting from point A to point B, but if you don't feel like carrying a tin can the size of a thick paperback book, then these headpones will not survive outside the security of your own head or neck. They're about as fragile as a pair of opened PortaPros. Without the tin, backpacks are off limits.

I took these cans on a 20 mile bike ride on paved streets through suburbia (Temecula) and they stayed on OK, but I luckily didn't run over any potholes. Unfortunately what makes these so comfortable also makes them unfit for any activity aside from a casual walk through a park. What about a walk through the city? Nope. Forget it. Why you ask? Because they rest so lightly on the ears, a small breeze will whistle through the spaces between your ears and the pads and drown out the music. I cut through a 15 mph headwind on my way home and had trouble hearing any music. The isolation is much worse than the iGrados and PX100s. Both of these cans provide enough pressure on your head to keep the music close to your ears and block out more of your surroundings. Isolation going out is very good. The closed back muffles the sound, so to me, these are the perfect cans for quieter environments like home, the office, or possibly the library.

Durability

Nope. If you fold these the wrong way, you're going to break them. They even come with a large pink sticker and an insert explaining that you can break these things if you fold them incorrectly. Twist then pull. If you pull before you twist, then you're out $130.

Sound

Crisp. Clean. Refined. Much much nicer than the initial impression I got when demoing these at Guitar Center. Because of the poor isolation, I had to crank them up to compete with the sourrounding music. Guitar Center really is the worst place on earth to demo a set of cans. In a relatively quiet environment, they sound detailed and crisp without being overly bright.

Bass was detailed and extended low without the boominess of the KSC-75s or PortaPros. Compared to the PX100s, there's less energy, but for me, the amount of bass was fine. I still prefer the PX100s for electronic music because of the impact.

Overall, the sound signature is brighter than my modded iGrados, and leagues brighter than the PX100s. I would say they're about the same as the KSC-75s, but they aren't as sloppy. I couldn't detect any sibilance like I did with the Koss headphones.

The mids were a little recessed, but that's what I was looking for. When I say mids, I really mean the center channel. Not sure if this is the correct terminology. If Trent Reznor is right in front of you while listening to the iGrados, then he's standing about 10-15 feet back when listening to the iCans. He's not singing behind the stage curtain like with the PX100s, he's just not spitting on you while he sings. Emphasis seems to be placed on the outer channels. This didn't surprise me either because of what I've read about S-Logic and Ultrasone's attempt to replicate surround sound. Now, I would not say that the sound stage is any larger than the iGrados, KSC-75s, or PX100s, but the outer channels are definitely emphasized and sound louder. I don't have any classical (shame on me) at the moment, but I can see these working very well for that genre.

These headphones were quick enough to keep up with Reznor's guitars and attack and decay were very good. One thing I really noticed about the iCans is that it really does music with quiet passages really well. The Cranes is a band that I love hearing on these. I really need to try these out with a movie. Indoors watching a flick I'm sure would impress me.

Conclusion

So, are they any better than the iGrados or PX100s? No. Are they any worse? No. They're just different. Detail with all three is about the same. The PX100 lacks slight detail compared to the iGrados and iCans, but it's barely noticable. The iCans aren't as laid back as the PX100s...they have good energy. Not quite the iGrado killer when it comes to guitars, but with other genres besides rock, I suspect they will do better. At $130, are they 6 times better than the KSC-75s? I suspect I'd get lynched if I said yes. Don't worry KSC fanboys, you're safe answering those "good, cheap can" threads. But if someone asked for a good portable they could use with their laptop and they liked watching movies and listening to classical, then I would recommend the iCans without hesitation.

P.S. These things don't require burn in. Not 2 minutes...not 200 hours. They sound great right out of the can.
 
May 22, 2007 at 8:43 AM Post #4 of 9

Sir Nobax

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Wow, i do not blame him for not showing pictures.

They look like those 5€ sony/philips thingy's in chrome.

iCan
41rwpKd9EhL__AA280_.jpg

Ultra cheap Philips
philips-hl120.jpg


tongue.gif


Just kidding, i guess they sound nice.
 
May 22, 2007 at 9:18 AM Post #5 of 9

Dexdexter

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Nice review, Brook!
smily_headphones1.gif


Your impressions largely agree with my own findings in a brief encounter I had with the iCans last month, having gotten a pair for my Mom. I wrote about them HERE.

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrookR1 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The headband is another story. It's unpadded and non adjustable.


Not entirely. The ear-cups extend and retract for adjustment, but it's not easily accomplished and requires a good amount of force either way.
 
May 22, 2007 at 11:01 AM Post #6 of 9

nickchen

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Thank you very much for that interesting underdog review.
Quote:

Leagues brighter than the PX100s. I would say they're about the same as the KSC-75s


That is only to be applied when handling with the old version of the PX100 IMO. The newer are much brighter than the KSCs.
 
May 22, 2007 at 1:04 PM Post #7 of 9

BrookR1

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Dexdexter /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Nice review, Brook!
smily_headphones1.gif


Your impressions largely agree with my own findings in a brief encounter I had with the iCans last month, having gotten a pair for my Mom. I wrote about them HERE.



Not entirely. The ear-cups extend and retract for adjustment, but it's not easily accomplished and requires a good amount of force either way.



I should have made it clearer. You can adjust them vertically, but you can't adjust them horizontally ala PortaPros. You can't change the circumference of the headband.
 
May 22, 2007 at 1:07 PM Post #8 of 9

BrookR1

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Quote:

Originally Posted by nickchen /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Thank you very much for that interesting underdog review.
That is only to be applied when handling with the old version of the PX100 IMO. The newer are much brighter than the KSCs.



I haven't heard the old ones...I have the white PX100s and to me they are still darker. The PX100s aren't muddy by any means. Stock iGrados are way darker than the PX100s.
 
May 22, 2007 at 1:21 PM Post #9 of 9

MTL

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Nice review.
The iCans are also my latest addition to my portable headphone collection (PortaPro and iGrado) and I absolutely agree with your findings.
Especially the headband is indeed a nasty affair... otherwise I quite like them in quiet surroundings.
 

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