Ultrasone headphones have a particular “character,” and as a result, people have strong reactions to their sound. But Ultrasone also incorporates a few unique features. Ultra-Low Emission technology dramatically reduces magnetic radiation from the headphone drivers; I don’t know if having significant amounts of magnetic radiation so close to your head is a health hazard, but there’s no harm in not having it. Ultrasone’s unique S-Logic Natural Surround Sound process is not about 5.1, but aims to reduce the “headphone effect” by giving a sense of distance. Instead of having the sound hit the inner ear directly, sound reflects off the outer ear’s surface beforehand; the company believes this is more realistic because we use the outer ear to locate the direction from which sound emanates. Ultrasone also claims this process gives the same apparent loudness with 3–4dB lower sond pressure levels. I can’t verify this, but the sound is definitely more “open” than other headphones (except for the AKG K 702, which exhibits similar “speaker-like” qualities but uses different technology).
Ultrasones are known for a sparkly, present sound, while delivering a tight bass. Even those who find them “bright” don’t necessarily find them harsh, because the highs are smooth. But if you like the sound of the 750, you’ll flip over the Edition 8. It’s a luxury item (Ruthenium-covered outer ear cups, Ethiopian sheepskin leathercovered headband, French goatskin carrying pouch) but so is the sound. It has everything people like about the 750, but achieves its balanced, neutral sound with exceptional detail—it recalls the 750, but with more refinement, especially from the lower mids on down. There’s absolutely no “peakiness” to the response.
The only disadvantage I found with the Edition 8 is an odd one: Where other headphones would sound terrible with excessive sibilance, the Edition 8 re-created it so neutrally it wasn’t objectionable. With the Edition 8, you could go through life thinking you never need a de-esser, and cymbals never sound harsh. As a result, if you plan to use these as a reality check, you won’t be hearing what other people will hear on inferior phones. Conversely, if you subscribe to the philosophy of mixing on the highest quality monitors possible because the accuracy will allow music to sound as correct as it can on lower-quality transducers too, the Edition 8 embodies that philosophy. Furthermore, it makes the whole process of listening and mixing enjoyable rather than just clinical. Granted, most of us won’t be able to afford them (I certainly can’t), but if you want to know what top-of-the-line buys you, these give a sound that’s stunning precisely for its lack of stun— what you hear is what was recorded. Fortunately, the 750 delivers most of the goods for a much lower price.