Country of Origin


Edition 15

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, Soundaware D300Ref  & D100Ref, Denafrips Terminator, JAVS X7-DDC Femto & X7-DAC MQA & Clean Power [on review], Auralic Vega
Headphone amplifiers: Bakoon AMP-13R, Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature with Elrog ER50, COS Engineering H1, Schiit Jotunheim R
Headphones: Raal Requisite SR1a, HifiMan Susvara & HE-1000, Final Sonorous X & D8000
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra, Puritan Audio Labs PSM-156 & PS-106DC
Review component retail: $2'999

Bavarian Motor Works. BMW's slogan has long been "the ultimate driving machine". Less known because they're in high-end audio are Ultrasone. What they share with their automotive colleagues in München are upscale aspirations and a southern state. But you'll mostly find advanced electrical motorcars in their fleet. In fact the entire factory at the Raucherberg farm near Starnberg Lake maintains a deliberate green footprint with photovoltaic power and climate-neutral subcontractors.

Alas, especially for their two Edition 15 models—closed-back Veritas, open-backed Edition 15—at the top of Ultrasone's full-sized portfolio, the slogan should probably go BMW and spell out "ultimate EarFi machines". There are cherry-wood casings with polished stainless steel trim, magnetically affixed velours cushions and an adjustable bridge sleeved in Merino leather. There are proprietary 40mm dynamic drivers with neodymium/ferrite/boron motor and gold-foiled mylar membrane plus central titanium dome. There are locking Lemo connectors and multiple braided cables. There's Mu-metal shielding against ultra-low-frequency radiation for more long-term comfort. There's S-LogicEX, a special driver angle which aims "slightly to the front and below the center" of the ear for superior imaging and power transfer. There's 40Ω impedance, 5-48Hz/kHz bandwidth, 94dB sensitivity (96dB for sealed Veritas) and 320g without cables. And, there's a generous 5-year warranty for made-in-Germany peace of mind.

To learn more, I had to ask company VP Stefan Oberenzer. As our first Ultrasone review, I wanted to learn more about a company who started operations in 1991, a good decade prior to us. Relative to their gold/titanium driver, I couldn't yet see its geometry. Was it a coax with a tweeter inside a mid/woofer? Was it a single driver with two different coatings? Reviewers must be nosy so you have the full scoop. I get to drill deep, then blame you if I get flak.

Sealed Edition 15 Veritas at left, open-backed Edition 15 at right. We also note their different color scheme.

Going on raw looks alone, online and at prior trade shows, I'd always grouped Ultrasone with Japan's Final. Both booths showed extremist finishing and high prices. Subsequent reviews of Final models didn't just confirm posh cosmetics and build quality. They also—mea culpa—demonstrated matching if not always consistent sonics (some models like the Sonorous VI are an acquired taste). I'm ashamed to say that I was guilty of perpetrating a hifi version on a dumb blond joke. I'd reflexively assumed that these brands were all about luxury bling with very little sonic substance. Ouch. Final had finally corrected my mistake. Would it now be Ultrasone's turn? Lars Schamicke of rtfm Public Relations whose client Ultrasone are and who had solicited me on their behalf certainly seemed to think so.

Or, given how first reviews of this model date back to 2018, was Lars really more interested in a second wind to sell through what one reviewer had declared was a limited run of 999?

… to be continued…