All In Your Head

Earbuds may be all the rage these days, but audio connoisseurs know that private listening sounds best with circumaural headphones, which cover the outer ear and offer larger drivers for deeper bass than most buds can produce. Among the finest headphones in the world come from Germany's Ultrasone, including the new top-dog Edition 8.

At the heart of the Edition 8 are titanium-plated Mylar drivers with a frequency response from 6Hz to 42kHz. The positioning of these drivers is decentralized as part of Ultrasone's S-Logic Plus technology, which causes the sound waves to reflect from the surface of the outer ear before entering the auditory canal. This results in what the company calls Natural Surround Sound, enhancing spaciousness by engaging the outer ear in the listening process, something no earbuds can hope to do.

Not only does S-Logic Plus enhance the spaciousness of sound, it also decreases the sound pressure level (SPL) by 3 to 4dB while maintaining the same perceived loudness. This can help reduce the risk of hearing damage and provide hours of fatigue-free listening. Even so, the Edition 8 can reach an SPL of 96dB, which, according to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) can cause hearing damage after 3.5 hours of exposure, so Ultrasone advises you to avoid listening at high volumes to protect your hearing.

ULE (Ultra Low Emission) technology is another important feature of the Edition 8 that comes from Ultrasone's line of professional headphones. A material called mu metal provides an effective shield against the low-frequency magnetic fields that arise when electrical signals are converted to acoustic energy, reducing this radiation by up to 98 percent compared with conventional headphones.

Of course, technology isn't the only story here—a $1500 pair of headphones had better offer some luxury, and the Edition 8 certainly does. The outer ear cups are fashioned from ruthenium, a rare and precious yet durable metal with a brilliant sheen. Also, the ear pads and headband are covered in ultrasoft Ethiopian sheepskin leather. Performance, style, and comfort—now that's what I call ultimate gear!

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Christopher Nassopoulos's picture

This technology has also been licensed to NuForce. NuForce's website says this: "At the heart of these lightweight, foldable headphones are NuForce

Scott Wilkinson's picture're talking my language! And you're right, AKG 240s ain't too shabby for a 15-year-old kid! Classic cans...

Scott Wilkinson's picture

BTW, got any albums by a group called Matrix? One of my favorite fusion bands from the late '70s/early '80s.

Jerry's picture

Scott, thanks for the heads up on the group 'Matrix'. I'm always on the look-out for new,( or not so new) music. I did a little research on allmusic about them-I was just a little too young to experience them the first time around, but I they have had a couple of reunions. My fusion palate consisted of the usual groups, so anything new is definitely appreciated.

Will's picture

Wow, I had the AKGs at age 15, too--circa 1980-- and Jean-luc Ponty's Cosmic Messenger rocked through them... Great minds, and all that...

Todd Sauve's picture

I was 30 years old when I could finally afford a set of AKG headphones--the ultra high end AKG-340 series. They were regularly priced at about $300 but I got them on sale for $98 :) That was back in 1988 and I'll bet they hold up to pretty much anything around to day, especially at the price I paid for them!

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Jean-Luc Ponty, another of my faves! Speaking of jazz-fusion violinists, how about Michal Urbaniak?

Will's picture

Well, I've not heard (of, even) Urbaniak--until now. I'll check him out, thanks!

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