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Ultrasone HFI-580 S-Logic Surround Sound Professional Closed-back Headphones with Transport Bag
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- S-Logic Natural Surround Sound Plus
- Dynamic principle
- Frequency range 10-22.000 Hz
- Impedance 32 Ohm
- Sound pressure level 101 dB
- S-Logic(TM) Natural Surround Sound for a more natural, lifelike sound
- Safer listening, less fatigue - SPL levels to the ear drum are decreased by up to 40% (3-4dB) for the same perceived loudness
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|Sold By||North To South||ButterflyPhoto||Amazon.com||DealHere||Amazon.com||Amazon.com|
|Item Dimensions||4 x 10.5 x 8.5 in||11 x 15 x 7 in||4.4 x 7.1 x 9.4 in||6.69 x 8.27 x 3.94 in||8.5 x 4.5 x 9.5 in||7.36 x 9.64 x 3.3 in|
|Item Weight||1.5 lbs||3 lbs||1.8 ounces||0.65 lb||1.75 lbs||0.89 lb|
Top customer reviews
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TL;DR version =
PROS = Deep yet controlled bass; clear mids and highs; wide soundstage; "fun" to listen to; low-impedance (easy to drive); deep earcups don't cause ear fatigue; short cord (1m) for easy portability.
CONS = "Sparkly" treble might be too harsh for extended listening; clamping force might be too much for some people.
Now for the long version...
This review might be a bit lengthy, so bear with me. I take product reviews quite seriously, and as a reviewer myself, I try to make sure that I am as informative as possible, and to be completely familiar with an item before reviewing it. Anyway, today I'll be reviewing the HFI-780, and for the past year and a half, the HFI-780 has been one of the few things in my house that I use on a daily basis. When I'm in front of the computer, the HFI-780 is almost always on my head.
First off, I'm going to give a brief background of the headphones I've previously owned, and how I ended up with the HFI-780's. My very first set of headphones were the Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone, which I bought over 5 years ago. They are still some of the best studio headphones on the market. Though personally, I found the sound signature to be a bit too flat/neutral for my liking. I wanted something that was fun. So then 3 years ago, I jumped ship to open-back headphones and bought myself a Sennheiser HD595 Dynamic High Grade Performance Premiere Headphones. The HD595 is still one of my most favorite cans, and quite justifiably, due to its very open and airy sound, as if I'm listening to speakers or listening to a live concert. In the headphone community, open-back headphones are arguably the best-sounding type of headphones, since they do not restrict airflow, thereby making them very natural-sounding. Now, one of the downsides to having open-back headphones is sound leakage. Being designed the way they are, sound that is being made around you can easily be heard, and similarly, the music you're listening to can also be heard by those around you. The second drawback to open-back headphones is that the bass response is usually not as resonant as those on IEMs (in-ear monitors), or closed-back cans. This lack of bass can usually be corrected by playing with the EQ, having a dedicated amp/DAC, and/or buying more expensive headphones like the Sennheiser HD 650 Headphones.
So, after owning the HD595 for awhile, the 2 drawbacks I described pushed me yet again to search for the "perfect" set of headphones. This then led me back into the realm of closed-back headphones, and I started doing some extensive research on forums like Head-Fi, and various other sites. After whittling down my choices, I ended up deciding between the Audio Technica ATH-M50, Berydynamic DT-770, Shure SRH840 and Ultrasone HFI580/HFI680/HFI780. I auditioned quite a few of them at local music stores, and borrowed the others from friends. Here are some of the criteria by which I made my final decision to purchase the HFI-780's:
*Clear-sounding treble & midrange
*Accurate/deep bass (yet not overpowering)
*As open/airy sounding as possible (quite difficult with closed-back headphones)
*Able to be driven easily on a regular PC sound card or average PMP (low impedance)
*Can be comfortably worn for long periods at a time
*Versatile in all generes of music, and also be good for watching movies.
Below, I'll cover 3 main points of the HFI-780's which I feel need to be addressed:
1) Comfort/Build quality:
The HFI-780 is built very well, and although being made of mainly plastic throughout, the plastic is of high quality. There's no creaking, no rattling -- as expected from the Germany-based company. Having worn this headphone extensively, I must say that after breaking them in, the clamping force, as some have criticized the HFI-780 for, is not bad at all. If you are used to headphones that lightly rest on your head (like the HD595), the HFI-780 might feel very different and uncomfortable at first, but the clamping force is definitely not a "jaw of death" like some people make it out to be. Also, part of the reason for the relatively tight fit might be because these headphones are meant to seal off sound from the outside, so without the headphones clamping down, the muffs wouldn't form a tight seal around your ears. I'd also like to mention that the earpads on the HFI-780 are "pleather" (AKA fake leather). They are quite comfortable, but definitely not as comfortable as velour or real leather pads. In terms of durability, the pads have held up very well for me in the past year and a half. They have become less soft than they were originally, but is still comfortable to wear. Though, I can see that the pleather material is starting to show some wrinkles and very very slight cracks, so it might start peeling after another year or so of wear.
Another thing that I want to mention about the comfort is that the HFI-780's are relatively roomy inside the earcups, and don't press against the ears while wearing them. One of the things I hated about some other headphones were the shallow earcups. With shallow earcups, after only about an hour of listening, the edges of my ears would become sore from the constant contact between my ear and the drivers inside of the headphones. If you've ever listened to supra-aural headphones (on-top-of-ears), like Grados, you'll know what I mean. Thankfully, this is not the case for the HFI-780's. The 780's are truly circum-aural headphones (around-the-ear). Though, as everyone has differently shaped ears, your mileage may vary.
Also, there are 2 production versions of the HFI-780, the only difference being the length of the attached cord: 1 meter (new version) and 3 meters (old version). The 3-meter version has been phased out by Ultrasone, so nearly all of the major retailers now only carry the 1-meter version. I purchased my 780's directly from Amazon, and it is in fact the 1m version. For me, having a 1m cord is leaps and bounds more convenient than having a standard 3m cord, since on a daily basis, who really needs a 10-foot long cord? A shorter cord basically means that your chair won't be constantly rolling over the cord, and you'll be able to take the 780's on-the-go without having to tie up all of the excess cordage. Though, should you ever need the extra length, the 780 also comes with a 3m extension cord (making 4m total length).
2) Sound quality:
Sound quality is quite subjective, and is generally pretty difficult to describe precisely to others. But as this is a review, I'll try my best to give a clear description of the sound quality on the HFI-780's, without going into too much audiophile mumbo-jumbo. While open-back headphones like the HD595 would be like sitting 4 rows back at a LA Philharmonic performance in a concert hall, the HFI-780 is akin to standing in the front row of a Goo Goo Dolls concert at the Red Rocks Ampitheatre.
In other words, the HFI-780 is a very exciting pair of headphones to listen to.
A major reason for that is due to the very punchy and resonant bass. The bass response on these is very quick and clean -- nowhere even close to being muddy. When a song calls for bass, the 780's deliver it with precision and punch, then proceeds to decay perfectly, without lingering for a second too long. For those of you who are used to having 2x 24-inch subs blaring from the back of your car, these may not be the right headphones for you, but I assure you, if you like a reasonable amount of bass in your music, the 780's will deliver without a doubt.
Moving onto the midrange, the HFI-780 particularly shines in this department. Some would say that the 780's have a sort of "U" shape to its frequency curve (recessed midrange), and running alongside some other headphones (like Grado 225i/325is) that may be a fair comparison, but the midrange on the 780 is definitely not lacking. With songs that contain mainly vocals, the 780 relays with exceptional clarity. Even in songs where cymbals are crashing, drums are booming, and a million other things are going on, the vocals (midrange) never seem to get lost, and when the occasion calls for it, the midrange is as pronounced as it should be.
One criticism that I will agree with on some other reviews is that the 780's do sound a bit sibilant (harsh) and bright on the treble side. Right out of the box, the 780's seemed very shrill - an almost metallic sound. Though after the lengthy 180 or so hours of burn-in time, I picked the 780's up and I immediately noticed that the treble (highs) were toned down quite nicely, and the sound was much more balanced and pleasing to listen to. Though, comparing it against other headphones I have, I think one distinguishing factor of the 780 is that the treble still maintains a slightly metallic sparkle to it, which some may like and some may not. This will potentially make prolonged listening sessions more fatiguing for some people, but I haven't had this problem in my many hours of listening to the 780.
I also listen to quite a wide variety of music. You name it, and I probably listen to it -- from rock to pop, classical to techno, jazz to alternative, and country to R&B. I don't listen to much metal, but I'm sure if it came down to it, the HFI-780 wouldn't bat an eye.
Not only do they sound awesome with music, the 780's are also my multimedia headphones of choice. They are an absolute blast to listen to while watching movies. The lively nature of the 780 really lends itself to the excitement that movies want to portray. The HFI-780 comes with a 3 meter extension cord, and a 3.5mm-to-1/4 stereo adapter, so you can easily use the 780 with your home theater system.
One thing that I want to address is the soundstage and openness of the HFI-780. Although not being an open-back headphone, the HFI-780 is surprisingly airy and open-sounding. Ultrasone states that part of the reason for this openness is due to the incorporated "S-Logic Plus" technology, and whether or not that is true, I do notice a much more spacious sound signature on the HFI-780's compared to other closed-back headphones. Many closed-back headphones that you can find on the market today (e.g. Audio Technica ATH-M50) may sound nice, but also sound very cramped, almost as if you were stuck in a small room, or even worse, sound as if the music is coming from within your own head. For me, and many others, headphones that resemble live performances are the best kinds of headphones, and the HFI-780 is one of them. Most would immediately jump to the open-back headphone market to obtain the open sound, but as I mentioned earlier, regular open-back headphones have: 1) sound leakage, and 2) anemic bass (without investing in extra equipment or a more expensive set of open-back cans). So, I would say if you want closed-back headphones that have open-back characteristics (wide, open soundstage), then the HFI-780 is as close as you can get.
One thing to note is that the HFI-780 really comes to life after a proper burn-in period of 100+ hours. And even after those initial 100 hours, up to about 400 hours, the HFI-780's continue to settle in and round out the sound signature. So, right out of the box, you might feel underwhelmed. and you're welcome to take a quick listen. But thereafter, I would suggest that you plug the 780's into an audio source, crank the volume up slightly past comfortable listening levels, and leave the 780 in a pile of clothes for a few days. The effectiveness of a burn-in period is sometimes debated in the audiophile community, but out of all of the headphones I've listened to and people I've talked to, the burn-in process really does make a noticeable difference in the sound signature. The same principle applies to breaking in new shoes to make them more flexible/comfortable.
With the sound and build quality you're getting with the 780's, the current price on Amazon is an absolute steal. The 780 stands head and shoulders above its competition (of which there aren't many), like the Audio Technica ATH-M50, Beyerdynamic DT-770, and Shure SRH840.
All in all, the HFI-780 has a very energetic and dynamic sound signature -- one that certainly cannot be forgotten once you've listened to them.
Some of you may be deciding between the different HFI models from Ultrasone, so I'll give you a brief survey of the differences. The HFI-580's are more recessed in the mids than the HFI-780's, but have a bigger bass response. To me, the HFI-780's already have more than enough bass, so the 580's wouldn't make much sense in my case. The HFI-680's, on the other hand, is smack dab in the middle of the 580 and 780 in terms of frequency response. The 680 is more neutral (flat) sounding than both the 580 and 780, so might sound a bit boring in comparison. Having tried all three of them, the Ultrasones are all very good headphones, and I don't think you can go wrong with any of them.
Though, having had the most experience with HFI-780's, I would highly recommend the HFI-780's to anyone who wants a really nice pair of headphones on a budget, as I believe the HFI-780's would still be worth the cost even if it were selling for $200+
Anyway, I hope this review helped. Good luck choosing!
They're also very comfortable. I've got a medium-large head, with largish ears. The circumaural (over the ears) design of the HFI -780 are a great fit, and produce NO pressure on my ears. I also found them to be very noise isolating. I did mount them across a stack of books for 24 hours when I got them to lessen the clamping force, which worked.
I tried to audition them by going down to B&H Photo, since I happened to be in New York City. B&H is the larget electronics and photo store in the US. They had over 100 different headphones on display I could listen to. I brought my music with me in my smartphone, thinking that if they sounded good through my un-equalized phone, they'd sound even better played through either my laptop or my laptop -- both of which have the free EqualizerAPO software installed, as well as the "Peace GUI for EqualizerAPO". (These two are amazing at improving the sound in a laptop and tablet, even through the built-in speakers). I spent over an hour auditioning several AKG, Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser, Sony, and other brands. Some, whose sound I liked, were not comfortable. Others just didn't "knock me out". Then I got to the Ultrasone's. They were very comfortable, with good sound, but it was their Performance series, which were over $400 -- above my budget. They did't have the HFI-780's on display. After I left, I decided to take a chance, despite the mixed reviews, and ordered these -- which were in my budget. I can't tell you how glad I am that I did. I own 2 other headphones, including another highly reviewed $200 pair, and a highly reviewed bluetooth set. These HFI-780's leave them in the dust -- no sibilance in the highs, great mids, fullness of bass without the bass being overwhelming, amazing instrument separation and imaging, large soundstage.
I could go on and on. For me, these are an incredible value -- and my definitive headphone experience. I'm listening through them nearly every day.
Whether it be Rock, or Classical, or Voice, these headphones perform.
I have no Con's.
My only regret is that I did not buy them from B&H, a great store, with an excellent return policy. Their price was only $3.00 more than Amazon's.
To me, there is nothing close, in a closed-back headphone, that compares to these HFI-780's, at twice the price
The mid/high end is extremely clear & balanced with the low end. These are quite even/flat in terms of balance. With music or gaming I'll typically boost the low end (80 Hz) +6 DB on my mixer for a little boost. I'm amazed they've held up so well over the years & I'd buy these again in a heartbeat if I (somehow) break them.
I've worn these for 12+ hours without any pains/discomfort whatsoever, compared to my VMODA M80s that I can only wear for less than an hour straight before my ears/head starts to hurt. Both are great headphones, just designed for different situations. The M80s have a stronger bass & stick on my head better, though I feel that these Ultrasone 580 are more comfortable over time, with a more balanced spectrum.
If you order them make sure you break/burn them in. I let mine run for, I believe, half a day playing bass heavy music @ ~25-50% normal volume, just to make sure that the speakers become loose enough for louder volumes. Please don't just crank them the minute you plug them in.
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