Lookin' Sharp There, Ultrasone
Bavaria is home to some pretty neat headphones. You often think of very fancy custom furniture being crafted and handmade in woodshops in some foreign small town. Well Ultrasone headphones aren't that different. They are handmade in their German factory and the Edition Eleven is something special. They have only crafted 1,111 pieces of the limited edition headphone, so each headphone is an exclusive one of a kind limited run. We'll see how long they last before they're all gone.
- Classy and sleek design
- Great imaging and soundstage
- Warm and musical sound signature, energetic
- Not for analytical listeners
- Small IEM connector for cable
- Limited run
Materials, Quality, & Comfort
The Ultrasone Edition 11 headphone is constructed incredibly well. The entire product feels like a unified piece. The ear cups do not have the flex of other headphones which might seem like a negative in terms of overall comfort, but I am surprised at how well the Edition 11 fits snugly and comfortably on my head. The ear cups are large, housing 40mm drivers with TruTex bio-cellulose fiber compound membranes. Needless to say, the padding around the cups provides ample space around the ear so that you don't feel pressure or heat from the clamping. I appreciate the feel of the soft felt-like fabric over the memory foam of the padding. It is also located on the headband too - it's soft enough and breathable to help the heat escape. I have a love-hate relationship with headphones with leather or faux-leather material because they can keep in moisture and heat especially if you live in a warmer climate. It can cause discomfort for long listening sessions, but I did not experience this with the Edition 11 headphones. It's a great fabric choice and fit.
The headband is padded well with the same memory foam as the ear cups and distributes the weight well across the top of the head. It's really the only point of flex on the entire headphone; the ear cups have a very minute pivot for various head shapes. It makes a lot of sense considering that we all have the same basic shape to our noggins, but the largest variation is in the overall size. The only true measurement that needs to be adjusted for head size is the length of the headband. It's headphones like the Edition 11 that help me realize how many points of articulation for the headphone creates a sense of flimsiness. The Ultrasone's feel rock-solid compared to other headphones on the market. The headband adjustment on the Edition 11 is incredibly smooth and one of the strongest and sturdiest designs I've experienced in a headphone. This thing isn't breaking from normal wear. The headband is also solid aluminum which minimizes the weight and adds to the overall strength of the design.
The design of the headphone is elegantly understated. The darkened wood of the ear cups is refined and feels premium. I'm a big fan of the shiny silver accent rings around the ear cup and the side logo. It's minimalist but the precision fit between the housing and grill is sharp and elegant. It adds just enough bling to make the headphone pop aesthetically. I think most people will find the choice of connector one of the most interesting aspects about the Edition Eleven. It utilizes a dual-pin IEM connector which might be one of the first usages I've ever seen on a full-size headphone. The connection is snug and fits well, but I worry about the unintentional turn of the head or snag that will rip them right out. Again, it's a concern and doesn't mean it will happen, but it's an interesting choice nonetheless. The cable is braided and good quality, and terminates in a 3.5mm connection. There is a quarter-inch adapter included in the package as well.
Ultrasone is keeping it classy with the Edition 11. It's a sharp looking headphone and certainly worth the price point when it comes to overall quality and comfort.
The Edition 11 is a circumaural, open-back headphone. The design creates a spacious and airy sound. The basis for the sound quality is a 40mm driver with Tru-Tex bio-cellulose fiber compound membrane. Ultrasone has also utilized neodymium iron-boron magnets in the Edition Eleven. The headphone has a good frequency range of 6-42K Hz, meaning that the range is well below and above the average human hearing spectrum, resulting in very nuanced and accurate reproduction of the music. More on TruTex later.
In testing out the Edition Eleven headphones, I paired them with the Ultrasone Panther portable headphone amplifier and DAC and a Silver Dragon headphone cable. The result was an impressive high fidelity system for on the go. The Panther DAC is a rather neutral sounding device, preventing any coloration from affecting your music. The size is perfect for your phone, computer, or DAP, and the construction is solid. We'll have a more in-depth review of the Panther DAC soon.
Warm and Toasty
The Edition 11 is a warm headphone that's full of thick low-end, but never comes across as bloated. The best way I can describe the frequency response is a U-shaped signature. The nice thing about this particular sound signature is that the headphones help to give a great amount of energy to your music, providing an ample supply of bass and higher frequencies. The nice thing is that the headphone has enough soundstage that the frequencies do not compete with one another, creating a wide enough presentation with their open-back design that makes for accurate imaging.
Classical and jazz sounds amazingly musical and lush through the Edition 11 headphones. The warmth of the drivers helps to add weight to the instrumentation that lends itself to a live performance - when frequently recordings can drain the life out of a performance leaving it stale and emotionless. I find myself liking more musical sound signatures lately when listening to classical music. I prefer feeling the orchestra rather than analyzing it, and the Edition 11 headphones provide that excitement and expansiveness that I enjoy as if I were listening to tracks for the first time again.
When it comes to rock or alternative, the Edition 11 cans provide enough energy for guitars. Drummers are going to love these - kits sound absolutely huge and in your face with groups like the Foo Fighters, The Who, and even Paul McCartney's new stuff (the man - the legend - still has it!). One thing I worried about when switching genres is if the vocals would get masked by the sound signature, as can happen with warmer headphones with a V or U-shaped sound. I was pleasantly surprised, while not as in your face as flatter or more reference sounding headphones, the Edition 11 doesn't allow the "enhanced" frequencies to mask the mids or vocals on most of the music I listened to. I would hardly consider them recessed in the mid frequencies, but they certainly make up for whatever is lacking with overall energy and superb tuning.
If you like that warmer and more musical presentation when listening to your music, then the Ultrasone Edition 11 headphones are a no-brainer for this price point.
Classical and jazz sounds amazingly musical and lush through the Edition 11 headphones. The warmth of the drivers helps to add weight to the instrumentation that lends itself to a live performance - when frequently recordings can drain the life out of a performance leaving it stale and emotionless.
Ultrasone headphones are designed a little differently than your typical headphone. In the Series 11, they utilize their patented S-Logic technology. Ultrasone's transducers are not aimed directly at the ear canal; instead, they are positioned slightly to the front and below the center of the headphones. Because of this, the sound hits the outer ear first, creating a spacial perception for all stereo sources by involving the anatomy of the ear. This results in natural sound reproduction and a larger soundstage for your music.
S-Logic technology also protects your hearing by requiring 3-4 dB less sound pressure to achieve the same perceived volume as other headphones. According to Ultrasone, that results in up to 40% less strain on your ears, drastically reducing the risk of hearing damage. The Series 11 is equipped with S-Logic Plus which creates an even more neutral sound with improved spacial perception for voices and instruments.
"Featured for the first time in our Edition eleven headphones, this 40 mm driver with a TruTex bio-cellulose fiber compound membrane delivers a distinctive sound with airy lightness and creates a very special listening experience. The cellulose fibers of the transducer contain amorphous flax fibers, making the driver very stiff and lightweight. Combined with an extremely strong neodymium-iron-boron magnet and a custom suspension, reminiscent of a loudspeaker chassis, this results in extremely precise audio reproduction."
Very warm and smooth - mid-focused
Ultrasone Edition 11
Punchy and defined, lots of low end, warm
Warm and balanced
The Ultrasone Edition 11 headphones are nuanced-sounding headphones in comparison to some other great warm sound signature cans. For this price point we are also going to look at the HIFIMAN Ananda and the Focal Celestee headphones, both warmer sounding cans with some signature differences.
The Celestee is a newcomer to the headphone world from French manufacturer Focal. It uses the same 1⅝-inch (40mm - like the Edition 11 from Ultrasone) dynamic full-range driver with an aluminum/magnesium “M” shape dome as the Elegia, but with different tuning. The driver features a rear port. (Note that most drivers do not have this feature, but Focal drivers do.) Compared to the Ultrasone, both are on the warm side, but the Celestee comes across as more natural and balanced compared to the energy and signature of the Edition 11. The Celestee certainly has an advantage over the Edition 11 when it comes to comfort and overall aesthetics in my opinion.
"The Celestee's sound signature was an instant grab for me: natural and smooth with a touch of warmth. It's definitely warmer than the Elegia, but not as warm as the Radiance. It's just a really nice-sounding headphone that drew me in right away."
Read more about the Celestee in our review:
The HIFIMAN Ananda is an excellent headphone and the wireless variant received high praise for it's amazing sound - see our review on the HIFIMAN Ananda BT here. <LINK> It's a warm but detailed headphone that is incredibly smooth. The sound signature is very mid-focused, which is great for vocal-centric music and many other genres. Despite the bump in the mids, the Ananda is a very pleasant listening experience. The drivers are large and the headphone is open-back, which gives the listener an intimate presentation with plenty of soundstage. The Ananda is kind of the opposite of the Edition 11, both warm but the Anandas push the mids whereas the Edition 11 leaves them recessed a bit.
With a plethora of bottom-end and warmth, the Ananda's would be a great option for those who really want a personal and detailed sound. The Celestee would be good for audiophiles wanting a balanced but warm-leaning headphone. The Edition 11 is just pure energy with tight low end for those wanting a punchy and warm presentation with plenty of dynamics.
Recommended Cable: Silver Dragon Premium
As mentioned previously, I think one of the strangest design choices for these headphones is the connector. I've never seen a full size headphone utilize a 2-pin IEM connector - though it's not an issue for sound quality whatsoever. The stock cable is a braided and nothing special. It's exacerbated by the fact that overall clarity and definition suffers when compared to a premium quality cable like a Silver Dragon. If you didn't have the comparison to begin with then you wouldn't be disappointed, but after connecting to a Dragon Cable, it's difficult not to tell the difference.
Being as warm as it is, I paired the Ultrasone Edition 11 headphone with a Silver Dragon IEM cable. The silver strandings in the cable really help to tighten up the bass response, which again was not bloated originally, but helped to better define the lower frequencies. The 11's are already punchy, but the Silver Dragon cable helps to balance out the mids and highs for a better representation, especially in the mid frequencies. It's a perfect companion for the Ultrasone Edition 11 sound, and one I think will appeal to most listeners.
The Blue Dragon would also be a preferred pairing, based on the fact that it provides a more unfiltered or un-colorization of the sound. The Blue Dragon is great for lifting the veil over your music, giving you a more natural and balanced boost to clarity and staging overall.
For those wanting an incredibly energetic headphone that stands above the rest in this price point, then look no further. The Ultrasone Edition 11 headphones will provide your music with a presentation of power and energy that will make you feel like you're listening to your favorite tracks for the very first time. I really enjoyed testing the Edition 11 cans with a number of genres, each showing a new quality of the recordings each time I listened to them. It's a fun headphone, and a great choice for audiophiles who prefer the warmer sound signature for their listening sessions at a great price point.
What's in the Box
- Ultrasone Edition 11 Headphones
- Cleaning towel
- Headphone stand
- Transportation bag
- Detachable 4-core premium cable, with 2-pin connectors
3.0 m with gold plated 3.5 mm plug
- 6.3 mm screw adapter
Ultrasone Edition Eleven Unboxing Video
- Principle: dynamic, open-back
- S-Logic® Plus technology
- ULE technology
- Impedance: 32 ohms
- Driver/Driver size: TruTex bio cellulose fiber compound, 40mm
- Magnet: NdFeB
- Frequency range: 6 – 42,000 Hz
- SPL: 94 dB
- Weight (excl. cord): 318 g
- solid aluminum headband
- solid walnut housing
- Alcantara headband
- Micro-velour ear cushions, black
- Handmade in Germany