Spacious Serenity – Ultrasone Edition 11 Review

Headphone Open Back

There are a few brands I immediately get excited about whenever a new model reaches my desk. Ultrasone is one of those brands, as I believe they hold a sensible reputation for producing quality audio products. The Edition series, in particular, has been a real stand out, as the Edition 15 has gone down as one of my favorite headphones currently on the market. Now the Edition 11 has finally reached me, and I was able to test them out for quite some time. Now I have the pleasure of telling you exactly what I thought about this specific open-back. Does the Edition 11 live up to expectations?

Headphone packaging materials

What You Get

Though the box is quite large, the Edition 11 only contains a few key items. The headphones themselves are kept in the boxes foam inlays, with the rest of the contents lying underneath. You’ll see the detachable dual 2 pin to 3.5mm 4-core premium cable the comes in its own drawstring pouch, along with a 6.3mm screw adapter. There’s no protective hard case for the Editon 11, which is odd because it’s an item I’m pretty used to seeing by now. Instead, you get a black leather drawstring pouch to store the Edition 11 in. One of the more unconventional items I’ve seen packaged with a pair of audiophile headphones is the included headphone stand. It’s a generous feature to include, as you would usually need to purchase that separately. 

Headphone glamor shot

Look and Feel

The Edition 11 sports a highly natural aesthetic, with circular ear cups made from solid walnut. The Edition 15 had an unmistakable classy look to them, but the 11 takes on a more DIY feel that gives these particular headphones a certain character that appeals to me. The open back grill is marked with an aluminum faceplate, housing the inner components of the headphones. The headband is also made from this solid aluminum and can be adjusted with ease. The earpads themselves are made from a velour material that helps cushion your ears properly and doesn’t feature any kind of pressure on your head. It’s a lightweight fit that allows for long and analytical listening without any fatigue.

Headphone Profile

Design 

There’s a lot going on inside under the housing of these headphones. The Edition 11 has a 40mm driver that is made from TruTex bio-cellulose fiber compound membranes, and neodymium-iron-boron magnets. You may be asking what these random series of words actually mean. The important part of this driver systems design is its materials, which use its acoustic properties for more accurate signal output, with a more spacious tonality. Ultrasone also incorporates S-Logic technology in its Edition headphone line, which also ensures more spatiality, a necessity in open-backs. It uses the decentral placement of transducers to use more reflections of your outer ear to embody as much as the image possible. It uses less sound pressure for perceived volume, thus letting your physical ear breathe, preventing a more harmful listening experience. 

Gold Plated connectors

Output

You can easily drive the Edition 11 from a variety of headphone outputs. They support a low impedance of 32 Ohms, giving 3.5mm inputs on PCs and smartphones a reasonable signal. For my review, I used an Ultrasone Panthar connected via USB to my computer for listening. I thought it helped even out the signal which is otherwise still clean. There’s a wide range of potential detail that the Edition 11 offers, with a frequency response of 6Hz-42kHz. 

Soundstage

It’s no secret by now that open-back headphones have a superior soundstage to most closed backs, and the Edition 11 is no different. The image reproduction is wide, airy, and elegant. The naturalistic design of the headphones physical craft matches the serene quality of the Edition 11’s wonderful sense of spatiality and stereo immersion. Certain sound elements blossom in the mix with exceptional depth, such as in Oneohtrix Point Never’s soundtrack for Good Time, where the different surreal instrumentations and sound effects dance in the sound field with a precise sense of forwarding motion, causing anxiety that matches the intended feel of the score. Other works like William Basinski’s Silent Night, an hour-long album of ambient noise is ideal for the Edition 11, as the top-end imaging resonates with each intended detail. The superb layering is also highlighted in tracks like Vikingur Olafsson’s tribute to Johann Johannsson’s Flight From The City, where Johannsson’s original track is soaked in a reverb that places the performance in the background as Olafsson plays an extremely intimate piano of his own to accompany the track. 

Low End

The Edition 11 has a solid bass response for an open-back that exceeds in the fullness of its tonality. The extra air provided by the open-back leaves room for the low to be even more dynamic, so punchy beats and kick drums are welcome here. There’s a smooth natural quality to bass grooves, such as in the track Honeybee by Unknown Mortal Orchestra where the Bossanova style instrumental proves easy to vibe to in the Edition 11. Crystal clear performance that won’t lack in the areas most needed, the lows have strong confidence for an open-back. 

Mids

With some help from some low mid boost and some particularly warm textures, this mid-range can almost do it all. Because of the excellent separation, the mids really shine where it counts, as the bands reveal themselves with excellent clarity and ample gain. The track Panic Blooms from Black Moth Super Rainbow has these psychedelic synths that are brought out in greater resolution on the Edition 11s, making for a more full-bodied track. Other more contemporary tracks such as The Weight by The Band reveal an even warmer sound that was intended and listening to the remastered version on the Music From Big Pink Deluxe Edition immediately became the best version of that song to listen to. 

Highs

I previously mentioned William Basinski’s Silent Night, and how the top end response turned out perfectly idea for this soundstage. In this track, insect sounds are layered on top of welling synth drones. Only the right headphone, with the best high-end output, could replicate the intended emotions provoked on this album. The highs on the Edition 11 are perfectly airy, elegant, and detailed. The top-end helps to accent what is a really well balanced low and mid-range.

Summary

The Edition 11 is another slam dunk open-back from Ultrasone. With a comfy fit and impeccable soundstage, it’s easy to get lost in these headphones. If you’ve been interested in the Edtion 15, but don’t want to spend the 3K, the $1,199 price point of the Edition 11 is pretty fair, and acts as an acceptable alternative.       

Pros and Cons

Pros: Stage, fit, natural output, resolution

Ultrasone Edition 11 is available at Audio 46 

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