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Focusing on the UF-30: The NuForce UF-30 is an elegant headphone. Contrary to most products sold in its price range, it offers a pure and sophisticated design in three available colors of a scratch resistant luscious automotive paint. Jason sent me the Ferrari Red gloss: l’UF-30 è decisamente stato il benvenuto in Europa per un ultimo sound crash test!

The NuForce headphones arrive inside a nice protective carrying pouch. It seems at first glance to be an insignificant widget but headphone tiffosi are generally aware that it can be useful to avoid damage when the headphones are carried inside your travel bag. Why should you refuse your portable headphones what you readily grant to your sunglasses and smartphone?

The UF-30 are very easy to handle and adjust. Once on the head, they  remain stable and the fit is properly locked, free from any unpleasant unexpected collapse. Umbilical and jack seem above average in this price class. At the heart of these lightweight collapsible headphones are NuForce's proprietary Ultrasone® 30mm moving coil drivers "for utmost clarity and tight, deep bass". Ultrasone's patented S-Logic™ Natural Surround Sound is supposed to deliver a three-dimensional image and create a sound world significantly different from that of conventional headphones.

What is S-Logic?
S-Logic™ claims to send music around and not just into the head by using "decentralized driver positioning". As everyone uses the outer ear for 3D mapping—to define direction and distance of sound sources—the perception delivered by S-Logic™ cannot be obtained with conventional and even less ear-canal headphones. Ear buds can nearly give the impression that music arises from a single point between the listener’s ears.

Rather than hitting the inner ear directly, the S-Logic™ signals first reflect off the outer ear surface in different directions before entering the auditory canal to "create a natural three-dimensional sound".

But that’s not its only advantage. S-Logic™ also allows for a reduction of sound pressure levels at the actual eardrum by up to 40% (3 - 4dB). This may reduce the risk of hearing damage while ensuring hours of fatigue-free listening.

The specifications of the UF-30 are as follows:
• Sensitivity: 101 dB/mW at 1kHz
• Frequency Response: 20Hz ~ 20kHz
• Impedance: 35 Ohm
• Plug: 3.5mm 3-pin stereo
• Weight: 85g
• RoHS certified.

If fine tuning and sound customization were performed by the NuForce staff in collaboration with an anonymous third party (this is a jealously guarded secret), most the development of the UF-30 is the result of Ultrasone’s research and development program. The new Zino headphones recently issued by the Germans show a very familiar appearance for example. Except for subtle aesthetics features, the main differences are the size of drivers (40mm for the German cousin), an additional patent (mu metal shielding for "ultra-low emission technology") and the price ($79 for the NuForce and $129 often discounted to $99 for the Ultrasone). The UF-30's asking price also seems to be a happy medium between the new Zino and the previously released iCans (costing about $49 nowadays). US and German product voicing are announced as slightly different but I did not have the opportunity for direct comparisons between the Zino and NuForce. According to information I collected, the German headphones should have a brighter and more detailed sound and also be more subject to eventual listening fatigue.

Overall performance: The NuForce UF-30 is very comfortable which becomes truly one of its most salient features. The light weight and sturdy headband make long wear very pleasant. More than that, S-Logic’s lower acoustic pressure is restful and I was very surprised at the absence of stress or brain fog after three-hour listening sessions. Whatever the chosen volume, these headphones deliver relaxed listening, definitely a remarkable feature.

The UF-30 lines up with the NuForce house sound - very clear and neutral with a good open soundstage. The tonal balance seems to have been customized to get the NuForce sound brand aficionados are used to. Aural detail is obviously not on the level of conventional protagonists above $200 nor that of the best recent earphones. Compared to my personal Shure E2c ear buds over the last 2L outing of Grieg masterpieces, some upper piano extension was obviously limited and resolution lowered. Completely exploded bandwidth eludes this design.