Ultrasone is a top headphone brand out of Germany that boasts an impressive portfolio of audiophile quality headphones, some of the most popular of which come from their edition line.
The Edition 11 is the latest, and at a limited quantity of just 1,111 , we’re going to break down what it has to offer to see if these should be on your radar.
What’s in the Box?
The box is pretty large and fairly standard, with just the picture on the front and some nice silvery reflective details which you can see if you expose them to the light here.
When you remove the interior box from this sleeve, it comes in a simple, no frills white cardboard box which opens upward. Inside are your edition 11 headphones which sit between a couple layers of foam with cutouts for the earcups. These don’t have a hard shell case, Ultrasone having opted instead for a much more lightweight leather zipper pouch that you can store these in.
There’s also another small deep blue colored drawstring bag which contains the cable. It has a 3.5mm end, and it connects to the headphones with a two pin connector.
One of the best things about the Ultrasone edition 11 right off the bat is that it already comes with its own stand in the box upon delivery. This is a really generous feature, since you’d usually have to spend a pretty penny out of pocket to get a decent one of these. The stand is made of a dense, strong metal material and the black color looks absolutely great for storage or display
Taped to the box on the top is the plastic sleeve which has your paperwork, and a microfiber cleaning cloth.
Design and Fit
In terms of design, the materials that went into the edition 11 are all fairly premium, with no expense spared in pursuit ergonomics and a great high end look. The headband is a black solid aluminum that has a bit of shine and feels nice and sturdy. It’s topped with a covering of alcantara suede for extra softness and pressure relief on the top of the head. They are also extendable with a smooth adjustment mechanic for a wide margin of fits.
The yokes are made of the same aluminum as the headband and they extend to the center of the ear cups and feature this nice Ultrasone etching on the side enclosed in a clean, sleek looking silver circle which I happen to quite like as a bit of detail.
The earcups themselves are really stunning and made of a deep, dark colored walnut that’s smooth to the touch and looks really alluring and refined. The grill work on the side that lays over this perforated silver mesh type material completes the look and gives these headphones a real sense of sophistication.
The earpads are large and have plenty of room to totally envelope the ear. They are made of a very plush Microvelour that will probably take some breaking in to take the shape of your ear, but once it does, you’ll be able to forget that these are even on your head. The open back also provides a good amount of circulation, safeguarding against overheating, unless you happen to be in a very overly hot environment.
The clamp force is pretty strong, which I don’t generally prefer, but again this is somewhat diminished once you’ve broken these in a little bit, as this became less and less of an issue over time.
The two pin cable connector here is a little strange and would seem more at home in an IEM model, but it’s not any kind of problem, just something worth noting.
One of the more notable features here with the edition 11 is the driver. Typically, Ultrasone drivers are titanium plated mylar, but the edition 11’s driver features a TruTex bio cellulose fibre composite membrane for less distortion and crystal clear sonic reproduction across every frequency.
Even more important than the kind of driver in these, is their physical configuration, which leads us to Ultrasone’s signature S Logic Plus technology.
For loyal Ultrasone users out there, you’re probably already pretty familiar with this. But for those who don’t know, this technology has everything to do with where the drivers are placed and how that can affect the dimensional aspect of your listening experience.
Typically, many headphones have drivers that are pressed up right against the earcup and are sending sound directly into the ear on both sides. The principle of S Logic Plus natural surround sound is that it seeks to create an effect where the sound is instead being pushed all the way around your head, almost as if you're listening to speakers that are at a distance from you in a fixed physical space. This amount of spaciousness cuts down on listener fatigue and allows you to hear with a focus on precision.
The way this works is Ultrasone’s specific design of decentralized driver positioning, meaning that these drivers are not sending sound directly into your inner ear. Instead, the driver placement sends soundwaves onto the outer layer of ear which allows the signals to bounce in different directions as they enter the ear canal, much more accurately mimicking the directional and three dimensional way we hear things in real life. S Logic is notable because it is the only headphone system that achieves this effect without any artificial echo, digital sound processing or crossover delay. All your sounds will be reproduced just as they were recorded and engineered to be.
Not only is this good for precise listening, but Ultrasone also claims that this configuration allows for less direct pressure on the eardrum and provides better protection against hearing damage than other headphones might. Furthermore, these edition 11’s employ MU metal shielding and ULE ultra low emission technology, which seeks to cut down on magnetic field emissions while listening, especially for audiophiles and audio professionals who spend long hours wearing their headphones.
Basically, Ultrasone puts in a lot of care into making their products better for you and your hearing.
These edition 11s have a pretty low impedance of just 32 ohms which means you can plug them right into your phone and computer and they’ll have enough juice to sound very good. For the purposes of this review, I paired these Edition 11s with the Ultrasone Panther high res DAC for my listening.
A moment ago I just outlined the great pains Ultrasone went through to provide a really sophisticated and unique soundstage, and I’m happy to report that these edition 11’s absolutely deliver on this front and then some.
I compared a lot of tracks for this but one that stood out for me is one called Awake and Pretty Much Sober by Violents and Monica Martin. This track is really lush and has a lot of rich airy textures from synths, to pianos, strings vocals and deep bass and there was a really clear separation between all of these elements. There are a lot of pans and dynamics between the various parts in the production of the track, and it really felt like the different parts were floating through space that seemed much bigger and more expansive than just the room around my ear.
There’s a synth chord that hits at the beginning of the verse and almost sinks into the background, creating a nice hazy layer behind the lead vocal. As the other instruments like violins and keyboards came in, they seemed to materialize really clearly from the decay of this earlier synth part. I felt like if i turned my head I could turn toward the origin of the sounds and lay out exactly where they were moving around, creating a really exquisite out of head projection.
Unsurprisingly, the quality of the sound is also exceptional here, and provided for an extremely balanced and listening experience. Like most products from Ultrasone, this features a signature that tends toward being V shaped with robust bass and bright clear highs.
The amount of airiness and spacious here means that the bass can be really fat and full, but also have a lot of dynamic quality. So if you’re listening to something like Rage Against the Machine which has propulsive kick drums and growly bass, it’ll sound nice and big, but still provide room for the elements on top not to get lost in the mix.
The mids, while just a tiny bit recessed, are clean and fairly sharp to provide for a good amount of detail and precision. In something like Fantastic Six by Alphabeat, where the guitar and bass play a lot of parts in unison, I could hear distinct differences between the tone and even the attack of the notes despite the parts being nearly identical in a lot of moments.
Finally, the highs here are very bright and forward sounding which puts a really nice bow on the rich and rounded out low end and gives these a balanced quality. The more you push the volume, the more you’re going to hear the highs start to overtake some of the low balance, but you’ll rarely find you need to crank the volume to get a really good sonic picture.
As a limited edition with only a very clever 1,111 units available, the Ultrasone edition 11 is absolutely worth looking into if you’re in search of a really pleasant listening experience that will also provide a unique and wide open soundstage.
-a beautiful deep walnut design with comfortable velour headband and ear cups
-an open airy sound signature expansive levels of soundstage and precise imaging
-a headphone stand that comes in the box!
These may not be for you if…
-You like an explicitly flat sound signature
-Looking for closed headphone.
-Prefer a hard case