When I first started looking for alternatives to Dr Dre Beats I thought $200 for a pair of headphones was a tidy sum. So you can imagine my jaw hitting the floor when I saw the price tag for these babies. If you’re prepared to shell out over $1500 on a pair of headphones you either take your sounds reaaally seriously or you have more money than sense. One things for sure, wearing these on the commute to work should earn you nods of respect and an immediate upgrade to first class.
So can Ultrasone justify charging the price as a second hand car for a pair of headphones? Or are they having a laugh at their customers all the way to the bank?
The Ultrasone Edition 8 (confusingly a successor to the Ultrasone Edition 9) are for people that want the best of everything. Casual listeners need not apply. So they come in a reassuringly elegant wooden box and are made from expensive sounding materials.
Leather from a conventional cow wouldn’t be good enough for this price tag, so instead Ultrasone have sought far and wide before settling on Ethiopian sheepskin for the ear cups. The outer cups are made from Ruthenium (yes, I hadn’t heard of this metal before either) that gives them a metallic sheen and a durability that gives you confidence these will make it to work and back in one piece.
The Ultrasone Edition 8s are, indeed, a beautiful set of cans. They are also sturdy, hardwearing and portable, making them practical for wearing outside the safe confines of your home. But looks aren’t everything (or, at least, they shouldn’t be Dr Dre Beats fans!), and ultimately what matters is how the Ultrasone Edition 8s sound.
The Ultrasone 8s are closed back headphones. Ordinarily, this means you can listen to your music without it being broadcast to the people around you with the payoff of a loss in transient sound. Not so with these headphones. The Edition 8s are on a par, if not better, than many top open-back headphones, which is incredible for their closed back design.
As you’d expect for the price, the sound does, indeed, dazzle, putting the majority of other high end headphones in the shade. Cymbal crashes will never get boring and the Ultrasone Edition 8s handle kick drums and bass like a concerto grandmaster (do they exist?). Vocal and live recordings, in particular, have never sounded better, with crystal clear imaging and a warm ambience.
You also will notice a significant difference in the sound quality of difference sources. It’s a safe bet that anybody looking to buy these will already have the best home stereo system money can buy. But if you’ve been thinking of upgrading, now might be the time so you can fully enjoy the premium grade audiophile experience the Ultrasone 8s can deliver.
Are they worth the price? Ultimately it comes down to whether $1500 is going to pay your rent and feed you for a month or a mere few days’ salary. There’s certainly a market for these headphones, but if the price tag gives you heart palpitations then you might want to check out the AKG 701s, Grado Prestige or the classic Sennheiser HD650s.
Music that will make you delighted you put down the cash
Blues, classical, live recordings and vocal tracks will sound magnificent, with exceptional imaging, precision and transience for a closed back pair of headphones.
Music that will send you hunting for the receipt
These are not bass monsters, but neither do they aspire to be. So heavy metal and electronica might not set your world alight. If you want bass that can punch through walls then you might want to stick to Beats by Dre or other headphones at a lower price bracket.