If you’ve been struggling to find an audiophile grade over-ear headphone for on-the go use, you’re not alone. Many audiophiles have reluctantly settled for high performance IEMs for this reason. And there are some spectacular IEM options out there. But if you’re not willing to go in-ear, you might want to consider Ultrasone’s Edition 5. What sets these cans apart from so many other snazzy closed-backs? Let’s find out in this Ultrasone Edition 5 Headphones Review.
Ultrasone Edition 5 Headphones Review
IN the BOX
The Edition 5 may be the lightest headphones I’ve ever put on my head. In fact, if they were worth their weight in gold, they would cost 3.5 peanuts. And the leather earpads and headband are extremely soft (more about that below). So, it’s a nice balance between minimalism and luxury. Sound isolation is not spectacular, but it’s a compromise I’d be willing to take given how comfortable these things feel on the ears.
There are relatively few high performance over-ear headphones on the market that accommodate on-the-go use. So, one of the things that sets these cans apart from other headphones in this tier is their portability or versatility. In the box, you’ll find 3 detachable OFC copper cables: a 1.5 meter cable with an angled 3.5 mm connector, a 4 meter cable with a ¼ inch connector, and a third 1.2 meter cable for mobile use, which includes a microphone and remote control.
Ultrasone employs its “S-LogicEX” technology, which allows the driver to sit at a further distance from the ear, creating a more spacious feel. And this is the same technology used on the snazzy open-back Edition 15.
The ear cups are coated with ruthenium, which is a rare metal that looks pretty slick. Only problem is that you’ll need to wear gloves to avoid fingerprints. Relax. There’s a polishing cloth in the box.
And if you thought ruthenium metal wasn’t enough, get this: The earpads and headband are made from the “proven leather of the Ethiopian long-haired sheep.” Maybe the Google translator doesn’t speak German very well. So, there’s probably a name for this exotic species. But as I said, it’s the softest leather I’ve ever experienced, and from now on, I’m only wearing Ethiopian sheep sneakers.
By the way, did you know that headphones can cause cancer? This is why Ultrasone has incorporated a special metal shielding technology that reduces radiation. Thank god. Now I can have a cigarette to even it out.
The Edition 5 sports a 40mm driver and has a frequency range of 5 – 46,000 Hz. And because these headphones are also designed with portability in mind, the impedance is a low 32 ohms, making them super easy to drive. So, your iPhone will be sufficient, though I recommend a little portable DAC/amp to get the optimal quality from these cans.
Overall Impressions: Superb transparency, leans on the brighter side.
The Edition 5 presents neutral and clean lows. There’s enough bass presence to give pop some impact, but it generally presents more of a reference feel. Listening to rock, there was just a touch of warmth, though what mainly stood out was how well the lows were separated from the higher frequencies. But what Ultrasone does best is transparency. And listening to string instruments in this range, there was ample detail and resolve. So, these cans lend themselves well to hardcore, sweat inducing, critical listening as well.
We have present and almost even mids that will cover the entire spectrum of sound in this range. So you will get somewhat of a full-bodied feel. But again, the level of clarity is what’s most impressive about the Edition 5. Listening to acoustic guitars, I picked up nuances in timbre and tone that would be lost in many other headphones even in this price range. Listening to Bob Dylan’s If Not For You, the track was incredibly spotless, presenting all the instruments with crystallized precision. And perhaps paradoxically, but in true Ultrasone fashion, you’ll also get that light and almost mellow flavor that often characterizes their sound signature.
Testing out some violin solos, the level of transparency still didn’t disappoint. Now, Ultrasone can sometimes get a little enthusiastic about its high frequencies. And this headphone is definitely on the brighter side. If we move back to pop music, for example, percussion in this range is so crisp that it borders on sizzle at times. But surprisingly, trumpets in the very highest registers were mostly tolerable. So, even with the generous high frequency extension, these cans are less fatiguing than other headphones I’ve tested with similar sound profiles.
A nice and spacious soundstage for a closed-back headphone. The imaging had the precision you would expect from cans in this echelon, though I was more impressed with the sense of height than I was with the depth. Still, because the Edition 5 is such a tidy headphone, tracks with particularly multidimensional soundstages had plenty of definition, creating a rich and colorful instrumental landscape.
I dig these admittedly pricey cans. I’m not usually romanced by Ultrasone’s sound signature because I’m not a high-frequency gal. But the accuracy, cleanliness and dulcet feel made me want to keep these cans on. Considering that audiophiles tend to have many different headphones for different applications, the Edition 5 is kind of an all-in-one solution. Given the incredible clarity and relatively neutral character of these headphones, I’d trust them for critical listening sessions. But I’d also take them to the streets and bling out while calling my mom.
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