Judging by the number of high-profile German headphone manufacturers like AKG, Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser, and Ultrasone, it's clear the Germans have a greater affinity for designing and manufacturing headphones than any other country in Europe. The Signature Pro ($1,299) is one Ultrasone's top-of-the-line models and its sound quality reflects that pedigree. Unlike many high-performance headphones, its clarity shines just as well at home as it does paired with a mobile music device. The Signature Pro is the first model of a complete line of Ultrasone Signature headphones, and this one's stellar audiophile sound proves the company is on the right track.
Design and features
The Signature Pro is treated to a handsome design with earcups trimmed in black glass that contrasts nicely with its matte black plastic parts, leather ear cushions, and headband. Regarding the durability of the glass, Ultrasone tells me the headphone can withstand repeated drop tests to stone floors from a height of 10 feet. I believe it -- build quality feels well above average with an appropriate heft that should withstand many years of trouble-free use.
Although the Signature Pro doesn't look all that different from other higher-end Ultrasone headphones, nearly every part is unique to the Signature Pro. The headphones come with two cables: a 5-foot wire with a 3.5mm plug at the end and a 10-foot cable with a studio-grade 6.3mm connector. Ultrasone also designed the plug on the left earcup to accept a locking mechanism that ensures the cable won't unintentionally rip from its socket.
Additionally, the cables are user replaceable, and an extra-cost cable with a microphone and smartphone controls will hit stores later this year. The earcups also fold flat for convenient storage and protected travel in the zippered case.
Like all Ultrasone headphones, the Signature Pro features S-Logic Plus technology that bounces the drivers' sound off your outer ears instead of firing directly towards your eardrums. The technology produces a more open, less direct sound than other closed-back headphones, and the Signature Pro also features ULE-technology that Ultrasone claims to shield the wearer's ears from low-frequency magnetic field radiation. The headphones employ a special MU Metal shielding to reduce radiation by up to 98 percent , and its impedance is rated at 32 ohms.
The Signature Pro is manufactured in Germany, and the generous warranty coverage runs to five years, the longest warranty I've seen for any set of headphones. To activate the warranty the headphone's owner must register the Signature Pro's serial number with Ultrasone. The warranty covers manufacturer defects and normal use, but not what the company judges to be abuse.
The Signature Pros are very precise, accurate headphones. Listening at home over a receiver or headphone amplifier strengthens its vivid clarity, producing remarkable sound even compared with other high-end headphones. The transparency is addictive, since most headphones sound veiled and cloudy by comparison. This "see-through" quality isn't limited to treble detail -- you also get that immediacy in the midrange and bass. This headphone doesn't overemphasize any particular frequency range; it's not laid-back or mellow. Instead, it's a neutral, colorless device that takes the shape of the music you pump through its drivers. As such, buyers looking for pumped up bass and accentuated highs won't find satisfaction here -- the Signature Pro emphasizes neutrality over artificial sonic boosts.