Carving out a nomadic existence, this headphone can also take its high-end facilities on the road. Read our Ultrasone Edition 5 Unlimited Review.
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It might be a new name to 7Review, but Ultrasone is actually 25 years old and has a considerable range of headphone designs. This is the most affordable member of its Edition range and is a closed-back design. Where Ultrasone feels that its headphones differ from others is the use of a proprietary technology called S Logic that studies the relationship between the driver and the wearer’s ear for the best possible performance.
The drivers that S Logic is working with here are 40mm dynamic units made from mylar and titanium. These are placed unusually low down in the housings rather than dead centre, as is the case as with the other designs here. The housings are shielded to reduce the effects of radiation on the drivers. A relatively deep leather pad (made from Ethiopian long-haired sheep) provides some distance between
DETAILS PRODUCT Ultrasone Edition 5 Unlimited
TYPE Closed-back, over-ear headphone
• 40mm dynamic driver
• Quoted sensitivity: 96dB/mW
• Cables: 4m with 6.35mm jack; 1.5m with 3.5mm jack; 1.2m with 3.5m jack and in-line remote/mic
the driver and the ear and makes for decent levels of comfort (see box out).
Where the Ultrasone really differs from its rivals is that its design is closer to the ‘nomad’ category of headphone than one for home use. The closed- back means that using it in public is practical and, like the Focal Clear, Ultrasone has made strenuous efforts to make it sensitive enough to use with portable devices. A selection of cables is supplied, including a 4m shielded one with 6.35mm jack and the only example in the test of a 3.5mm jack cable with microphone and remote, which further underlines the idea of portability. The build quality is good too, although its ‘ruthenium’ finish is a first-class fingerprint trap.
Comfortably the most sensitive headphone in the test, the Edition 5 Unlimited doesn’t allow its dual purpose existence to put it at a disadvantage compared with the more dedicated home offerings and its closed-back design doesn’t immediately count against it – suggesting that S Logic is effective. The strings of Burn The Witch don’t
Usefully detailed, it does a good job of finding the ballistic edge of the track have quite the same unforced qualities as the best in the test, but their tonality is weighty and natural and when Thom Yorke’s vocals arrive, they are detailed and distinct with a useful sense of weight and body to them and the piece as a whole sounds weighty, detailed and cohesive.
Where the closed-back nature of the Ultrasone is more apparent is with Stimela. There simply isn’t the space and three dimensionality present that there is elsewhere, although it does a more than reasonable job of conveying the locations of the musicians and the audience. There is a slight lack of fine detail that really only shows up in direct comparison with the other models here, but the dynamic peak of the train whistle is impressive.
The smaller-scale recording of Take Five is also handled very well. The Ultrasone does a fine job with the guitar, demonstrating excellent tonality and a very good grasp of the unique time signature of the piece.
This rhythmic ability is also displayed to good effect with Beat It. The Ultrasone doesn’t have the deepest bass going, but it is tight, well controlled and usefully detailed and it does a good job of finding the ballistic edge of the track and engaging you with the piece at an emotional as well as a cerebral level. Like a few models here, there is a slight harshness to the upper registers, but overall the Edition 5 Unlimited does a good job of minimising this and keeping everything listenable
The portability of the Ultrasone Edition 5 Unlimited doesn’t have a huge effect on the headphone’s comfort levels, in part because as it doesn’t fold, it doesn’t have significantly different properties to the other models here. The padding, complete with its fancy leather cover does offer very high levels of comfort, but – as with a few rival designs – the lack of movement on the enclosures makes for a less comfortable experience than some. The Ultrasone does genuinely work on the move, though. With the short cable attached, it feels just about small and light enough to ensure you can walk around without feeling overly self conscious and being a closed-back design, the levels of noise leakage both in and out are relatively low. If you need an ultra high-spec nomad headphone, this is a strong option.
If you need portability, the Ultrasone is flexible, but dedicated home designs offer better overall performance
- Lively sound
- Flexible design
- Issues with spaciousness