Ultrasone Edition 10 Headphones

The Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention isn't concerned with consumer products, but there's always a bit of crossover with the pro-audio items on display. For example, at last week's annual conclave in San Francisco, I found a new top-of-the-line headphone from Germany's Ultrasone. The Edition 10 is the company's first model in the Edition lineup to feature an open-back design, which took the company two years to develop. Also new to the Edition 10 is an oxygen-free copper (OFC), silver-plated, Kevlar-reinforced cable that can be easily configured for balanced or unbalanced connectors.

At the heart of the Edition 10 are titanium-plated drivers with a frequency response from 5Hz to 45kHz. 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.

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 10 can reach an SPL of 99dB, which, according to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) can cause hearing damage after 2.3 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 10 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 $2750 pair of headphones had better offer some luxury, and the Edition 10 certainly does. The outer ear cups are fashioned from ruthenium and inlaid with zebrano wood, which is also used in the included stand and box. Also, the ear pads and headband are covered in ultrasoft Ethiopian sheepskin leather. And how do they sound? I heard them on the show floor—admittedly not the ideal environment for evaluating sound quality—and they sounded superb, with clean, clear highs, open midrange, and solid bass. Performance, style, and comfort—now that's what I call ultimate gear!

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