Ultrasone Edition 15 Veritas Headphones Review
Jay Garrett lives a life of luxury with this exclusive pair of high-end closed-back headphones…
Edition 15 Veritas Headphones
Ultrasone is a Bavarian company that's thirty years young this year. Its Edition-series headphones are made-to-order and designed to be up there with the very best. Furthermore, there's a whiff of exclusivity as these €2,999 Ultrasone Edition 15 Veritas headphones are one of just 999 that will be released globally. This closed-backed design is the flagship sibling to the open-backed Edition 15 released in 2017; it sits nestled in the realm of high-end open-backs, which are the audiophile go-to cans for private listening.
Ultrasone is no stranger to producing high-end headphones, and the Edition 15 Veritas is testament to this. Where the excellent T+A Solitaire P came in a well-designed, low frills box, Ultrasone presents its Edition 15 Veritas in a tan leather display case with a grey alcantara interior. The case cossets the headphones which are bookended by satin draw-string bagged cables (1.2m and 3m lengths), along with an information card and velvet cleaning cloth.
The deluxe experience continues when you lift the headphones from the box. Here you have what I can only describe as the portable audio equivalent of a 1955 Mercedes 300SL – there's a timeless aesthetic, and you know you have something special. Featuring American cherry wood cups, aluminium plates, and tan Merino leather pads, the look is completed with a headband bound in a slightly darker brown leather.
Producing the soundtrack to match the looks is Ultrasone's patented S-LogicEX technology, launched alongside its newly designed 40mm dynamic driver system using a gold-titanium compound (GTC) for the diaphragm. It's the third iteration of this design, the principle being that decentralising the transducers means you use the whole ear more naturally, creating a superior spatial experience.
Ultrasone says that with S-Logic, you don't hear the music in your head – it unfolds on a large soundstage in front of you as the signals are more easily located in the stereo panorama. The technology is also claimed to protect your ears. The brand boasts that Ultrasone headphones require 3 to 4dB less sound pressure level to achieve the same perceived volume. According to the manufacturer, that results in up to forty percent less strain.
Sat behind the magnet-secured earpad, each GTC driver consists of a gold-plated Mylar membrane responsible for reproducing the mid to low frequencies. In the middle sits a titanium dome and – as this metal is more rigid than gold – it's employed for the upper frequencies. The inclusion of gold means the Edition 15 Veritas needs a little more driving thanks to its claimed 94dB efficiency and 40 ohm impedance. However, you do get an impressive 5Hz–48kHz frequency range according to the spec sheet.
Ultrasone's GTC driver exploded
Wearing the Edition 15 Veritas is a comfortable and assured experience. This design has a greater clamping force than I got from the Solitaire P, although there's enough flexibility and adjustment in the band to allow for wider craniums. The thick, leather-wrapped memory foam pads not only luxuriously envelope your ears but also give the listener an impressive amount of passive isolation.
This pair of headphones is so well-balanced when worn that it seems to weigh less than the stated 320g. It felt almost as lightweight and comfortable to wear as the Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2, my current benchmark for go-everywhere cans. It's worth noting that Ultrasone uses sustainable materials and manufacturers its products in a resource-efficient, solar-powered factory. The company also uses advanced electric vehicles to collect the locally-sourced materials. All this keeps the organisation's carbon footprint as near neutral as possible.
The Edition 15 Veritas comes with two braided 4-core, 26AWG wire lengths finished with a gunmetal PET jacket. Both sport a rectangular splitter and terminate in high-quality 2-pin LEMO push-pull connectors. Curiously, at the other end, they are both unbalanced jacks with the 3 metre cable sporting a screw-off 6.35mm adapter which reveals a 3.5mm TRS jack, as used on the 1.2M cable. I would have liked to have seen the longer line equipped with a balanced terminal, but neither cables appeared overly microphonic, and seem quite durable.
The Ultrasone cans were paired with a variety of equipment during the review period, including the iFi ZEN DAC in my office system, Auris Euterpe in my main system, along with the Chord Hugo 2/2go. Portable offerings included Astell & Kern's Kann Alpha and the little Sparrow DAC/amp from Earmen.
I loved the full-bodied sound, with great vocal and instrumental presence; there's a degree of warmth which should not be mistaken for lack of detail. Staging width was never going to match the likes of the Oppo PM-1, for example, as the Veritas is a closed-back design. Yet I suspect that Ultrasone has quite wisely focused on what serious closed-backed cans are capable of, rather than trying to artificially give the impression of a vast soundstage. These cans managed to present more air around instrumentation than the closed-back version of the Aeon 2 – likely at least in part due to the thoughtful driver arrangement, as well as the headphone's highly talented midband. The lower midband has extra weight dialled-in, so percussion and strings, such as cello, and bass, are bestowed richly without being swamped by warmth.
The midband has exceptional vocal delivery and resolution, with enough sweetness in the upper range to help bring the singers slightly forward of the mix. The PJ Harvey/Thom Yorke duet of Beautiful Feeling from Harvey's Stories From the City, etc. album certainly played to this pair of headphones' strengths. There was a sense of sitting in an apartment with Harvey and Yorke jamming, while the rest of the small group present joined in with backing vocals. The presentation was more on the neutral side than being hot, analytical, warm or bassy. REM's Star 69 presented itself with a great small venue gig vibe, where the listener has pushed their way right to the front and centre of an energetic, faultless performance.
Imaging proved highly accurate. Led Zepplin's Ramble On intro began with John Bonham tapping a guitar case to keep time, and he could be heard placed in the listener's right ear, with Page's acoustic guitar set to the left. Meanwhile, Robert Plant was of course centre stage with John Paul Jones' slippery bassline centre-right. While this closed-back design might restrict the soundstage from reaching outwards, it still retained the sense of depth and immersion, especially on the outro where there's more sweeping left-to-right panning. I could also clearly hear the room reverb during Bonham's guitar case percussion recording, and the second acoustic guitar track, which sounds like bleed from the studio monitor or headphones being picked up by the mic.
Ramble On's bassline underlined just how well the Edition 15 Veritas handles the low end. Full, potent, punchy with plenty of depth, it was never overblown yet remained immensely self-assured. It even made a decent fist at covering Erykah Badu's Rimshot's subterranean depths, showing subtle but tactile low bass presence. However, it's the midband that really stole the show – it's here that the Edition 15 Veritas shines thanks to its almost supernatural level of detail.
This headphone's clarity and depth lent itself nicely to dynamic orchestral or sample-laden pieces, where it was fun to unpeel all the different layers of sound. Take Londonium, the debut from oft-overlooked Trip-Hop outfit Archive, for example. There was no problem unravelling the threads of samples and live cello and drums featured in So Few Words; each had enough space for the listener to delve deeper into the mix. Bernstein's Overture Candide (Live) on Deutsche Grammophon, performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, not only let me hear the various parts, but I could also easily mark out the sections of the orchestra in space. Once more, this design's instrumental separation ensured that even the most complex passages never ended up obscured.
Hat doffed to Ultrasone for not trying to make the Edition 15 Veritas something that it isn't. Instead, you get a pair of agile, precise and well balanced closed-back headphones that sounds engaging and dynamic. The cherry on the top of the Edition 15 Veritas is its high-frequency crispness, which perfectly complements its immaculately presented and musically muscular midband. Factor in the flagship build quality and you really do get what you pay for. Should you be in the fortunate position of being on the lookout for an exclusive and enthralling pair of headphones, then seek no further.
StereoNET UK’s Editor and Bass playing gadget junkie. He’s captained the good ship GadgetyNews for over a decade, making low jargon high tech a very handy thing. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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