I have enjoyed a lot of what Ultrasone offers in its expanding selection of headphones of all kinds. The Edition series, in particular, is a line I’ve given much praise. For example, I recently reviewed the Edition 11, one of Ultrasone’s open-backs that I enjoyed extensively. Now I’ve gotten my hands on the Edition 8, which is a closed-back model, and I’ve been very excited to tell you what I thought about them.
What You Get
You’ll receive a few items along with the Edition 8 that are worth noting. The headphones themselves come in a protective foam wrap that’ll shield the patented glossy plates from dust. If you’re still worried about dust or any grime getting on these headphones, Ultrasone has provided a cleaning cloth for you. They know how shiny some of their headphones are. The lefthand side of the box contains a leather pouch to store the Edition 8 in. If you prefer storage cases for your audiophile headphones, that isn’t provided here. Oddly, the Edition 8 comes with an extra cable which might seem weird at first since the stock cable isn’t detachable. The extra cable is actually an extension since the basic one is rather short. It connects via a 3.5mm jack, with the extender sporting a quarter-inch adapter.
Look and Feel
Ultrasone’s models all have a distinct sheen to them rarely replicated by any other brand, but the Edtion 8 has a particularly exquisite design. The first thing you will absolutely notice on these headphones are the eye-catching Ruthenium plates that make up the shell of each ear cup. This design not only brings an aesthetically pleasing look to the Edition 8 but a practical one too. The metallic finish seems delicate but is actually quite durable. This metal styling is also reflected in the headband, as it gave the headphones a real serious sense of longevity. The Editon 8 is almost aggressively pleasing to look at, but does it’s build quality reflect in its comfort?
Ultrasone has chosen to use Ethiopian sheepskin leather for both its headband and earpad covering. This was an excellent choice, as the material was soft and cushiony, never sensing any signs of fatigue. For a closed-back headphone, I got the sense that I could listen to these guys for hours on end. The earcups may seem small, but they sit around my big ear quite naturally, as they were able to hold them in tightly.
In addition to Ultrasone’s exclusive S-Logic technology which has been a staple for the Edition series, is a titanium-plated tri-bass tube driver. Combined with brushed aluminum inlays, and a 40mm driver to house all these components, the Ultrasone chooses deliberate crafting materials in order to achieve the sound quality they shoot for. The Ruthenium architecture also uses an interior MU-Metal shielding that helps reduce magnetic field emissions.
The attached cable is OFC and only 4m in length, with the extension being a USC chord featuring gold plated plugs. You may be disappointed that the cable isn’t detachable, which is a valid complaint. The other high-end models of the Edition series all have detachable cables and $1999 you’d think it would be a given. If Ultrasone was going to make the cable undetachable, why make it so short? They include the extension which is nice, but it’s still an odd choice.
Each headphone in the Edition series features a low resistance signal flow, with the 8 sitting at an impedance of 30 Ohms. For being an audiophile headphone that is priced the way they are, the Edition 8 can drive signal from pretty much anywhere with a 3.5mm or quarter-inch jack. Much like the rest of the Edition series, Edition 8 boasts a wide frequency response with a range of 6Hz-42kHz. This leaves ample enough room for resolution and detail potential.
Although the Edition 8 is a closed-back, it still retains the imaging and stage excellence of Ultrasone’s high standards. This headphone features great spacing and separation, leaving ample space between sonic elements. For a closed-back, the Edition 8 shares a ton of qualities that an open back does, like a semi-holographic style width that almost wraps the stereo sound around your head. It just surprises me, how much exceptional clarity turns this closed-back into so much more than what it should be. It accomplishes deep layering in the mids and low end, with bass elements sounding like they’re emerging from the back of your head. High range frequencies reach a misty, forehead position that dances around your headspace in wafts of detailed bliss. Listening to tracks from the White Stripes like “Icky Thump” has a roomy effect like you can feel the studio surrounding you.
The lows emerge in a smooth rumble that exercised some semblance of depth while keeping the separation in your lower jaw. It’s a clean tonality that features smooth textures inside of a solid image that’s big without taking up a ton of space. Tracks like “Consumed” by The Haxan Cloak features an incredibly deep bass drop, and the Edition 8 does a great job getting in under your skin.
The clearest fidelity presented on the Edition 8 is in the mid-range. With a mostly full, expansive array of mid-bands, these headphones achieve a great sense of accuracy. Acoustic instruments sound as clear as day, along with strings and especially vocals. Mid-range vocals emanate with beautiful tonality, showcasing vibrato, and other details. You can almost sense the vocal cords vibrating. The mids show accuracy in almost every area.
Beautiful, sparkly, and with plenty of detail to boot, I couldn’t get enough listening to these highs. Everything from lip smacks to breaths can be perceived, which might not be for everyone, but if you’re shooting for accuracy it’s what I want to hear. Reverb effects tail off wonderfully, such as on Brian Eno’s “Mixing Colors” where pianos glisten into an ambient euphoria.
What can I say? I loved so many aspects of this headphone. The design is eye-catching and has a prestigious look, and the sound quality is excellent. The cable size and extension is a little weird, and you might knock off some points for not being detachable, but that’s only a minor gripe. For $1999 you’ll be getting some of the finest cans around, and will surely last you a long time.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Sound Quality, Design, fit
The Ultrasone Edition 8 is available at Audio 46.
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