Ultrasone HFI-580 Headphone Review

9/7/2012 9:07:18 AM

HFI-850 provides good audio output thanks to ULE (ultra-low emission) technology and S-Logic Natural Surround Sound Plus technology promises to give you natural sound as well as a comfortable feeling through several hours in use.

Description: RRP is $200

RRP is $200

The German brand’s headphone is well-appreciated because it follows Safer Hearing standard, applying two technologies to protect user’s hearing: Ultra Slow Emission (an anti-static shielding reduces ration by up to 98%) and S-Logic Natural Surround Sound Plus (able to reduce pressure on ears by 40%). S-Logic Natural Surround Sound Plus technology is not similar to 5.1 surround sound effect. It still brings original stereo sound but creates a 3D effect reducing pressure because Ultrasone doesn’t place the speakers directly towards user’s eardrum, creating an angle which is not perpendicular to the outer ear.

As a result, 50% of signal goes to eardrum while the rest 50% goes to the helix. Thus, sound pressure reduces by 40%. S-Logic design also gives a 3D effect as well as natural sound. These two technologies used to be for Ultra Pro series dedicated to experts, singers and composers that work with headphone in many hours daily. However, in recent 5 years, all headphones of the brand have been integrated with the technologies. S-Logic Plus is an upgrade of previous S-Logic. It is designed for HFI-580 series following new standards and able to produce sound which is powerful, accurate in amazing details, helping listeners recognize the artist easily.

Description: The headphone is carefully packed with 3.5/6.3 jack adaptor (gold-plated); bag; Demo CD and user guide

The headphone is carefully packed with 3.5/6.3 jack adaptor (gold-plated); bag; Demo CD and user guide

With regard to design, HFI-580 is black-pearl colored. The cup’s housing made of anti-static and stainless steel appears sturdy and strong. It also feature 50mm Mylar driver allowing for high-frequency sound. HFI-580 goes with every music genres though it is most ideal for bass and vivid music.

Trying it on iPhone with song “Memory (from Cat)” by Barbra Streisand, we had a feeling which was strong, clear and vibrant. From the start accompanied by piano, low notes definitely indicated that bass was well treated. When her vocal rose, listeners would immediately realize Barbra Streisand if they had listened to her before, which proves the headphone’s ability of detecting fascinating vocals. Throughout the song, vocal and music were up then high, diving then rising…Those expressions were too enough for listener’s demand.

Next, we tried it on Dell Vostro 1310 with a YouTube’s clip: John Denver Sings “This Old Guitar” For All His Friends. The sound of acoustic guitar, especially bass, turned out lively. The American country singer’s male vocal with the world of John Denver appeared vibrant, interesting and subtle, which easily caught listener’s feeling. However, streaming music from Internet is not as good as those on iPhone or MP3 music played directly on PC. Moreover, it is far less fascinating than playing CD music.

Description: Thick sound-proof ear cups are soft enough to comfort listener’s ears

Thick sound-proof ear cups are soft enough to comfort listener’s ears

Playing MP3 tracks of Opera Carmen (CD recorded by Deutsche Grammophon, 128kb/s bitrate) shown the headphone’s great performances in any audio range, especially bass. When the Prelude started, listeners were immediately absorbed in extremely Spanish rhythms and melodies. In the next track Sur la place chacum passe, a choir appeared in accompany of bouncing sound of contrabass.

Right after Sur la place chacum passe, Regardes Donce cette petite began following with an introduction of harmonious violin performance plus typical recitative (in opera). Like that, the opera interestingly continued until its end. Nowadays, Carmen is not so popular around the world. Many of its parts have been used as ringtones and music on hold. Sadly, Carmen opera’s first demonstration in 1875 didn’t succeed. The composer, George Bizet (1838 – 1875), was very grieving over it. He got ill and dead in his early age.

Description: Headband has a layer of cushion which prevents pressure on top-head and helps positioning the headphone

Headband has a layer of cushion which prevents pressure on top-head and helps positioning the headphone

Audio quality was drastically improved when we tried playing the enclosed Demo CD along with HFI-580 on PC. In first track “Sileypud” New Haranni Poison Mixers – except (John Barnes), there was a soft demonstration of wind instruments which sounded vivid. The next track "Auf geht’s – ab gheht’s", Tripercussion, Nr.06 – except (Th. Keems) brought out a big party of percussion. Drum bass sounded thick and thunderous. In another track: "Applaus", Bagilioni (soundclip, Ulrasone production), there was simple rounds of applause, which makes this track ideal for the process of detecting devices.

Demo CD includes 20 tracks available in any genres and demand. "Ave verum Corpus" (W.A. Mozart, KV 618) delivered organ music with thick and deep bass while "Rondo Allegro", ( in Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonate Nr.8, C minor, Op.13) gave listeners piano sound which was high-pitched, sharp, clear and no less powerful…

7 of 20 tracks in Demo CD are sound clips extracted from natural sounds. For example, 11th track "Feuerwerk 2002" (soundclip – except, Ultrasone Production) was recorded at a festival. Its main output is mainly various sounds of fireworks (in the air and on the ground). Therefore, HFI-580 headphone is for not only common users but also professional in recording sounds.

Description: The housing is made of anti-static and stainless steel while the 50mm driver is from Mylar

The housing is made of anti-static and stainless steel while the 50mm driver is from Mylar

Supporting hi-end stuff is not HFI-580’s first priority. This is shown in the 3.5mm jack port at default. There’s also a 3.5mm/6.3mm adaptor for purpose of enjoying hi-fi/hi-end devices. Though, playing Demo CD with device having 6.3mm port, like Teac ZD-7000 CD player, transistorized amp Marantz Esotec Series PM5, the result was quite enough. The shortest track (also the 7th one) gave listeners a feeling that the ground was shaking while Organ music is calling upon.

Track 8 of Demo CD is "Chakraphon-Improvisation I" (Ulrasone production) recreated vibrant sound of orchestra bells ringing in every detail and it made us feel we were standing in a real orchestra. The 9th track "Andante larghetto" (trong Concerto Nr.2 của G.F.Handel) played by PM5 appeared splendid though PM5 has not much improvement compared to ZD-7000. HFI-580’s performance sounded better with Denon DCD 3300 CD player than with ZD-7000. The best output resulted from the setting of HFI-580 with tube amp Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum on DCD 3300 Player although HFI-580 headphone ($210) has considerably higher audio definition than Ultrasone Zino model ($145). Despite all, Pro 650 ($335) has much finer definition.

Description: Main 3.5mm jack and 3.5/6.3mm gold-plated adaptor

Main 3.5mm jack and 3.5/6.3mm gold-plated adaptor


Next-generation S-Logic Plus Surround Sound technology


Frequency response: 10Hz – 22,000Hz

Impedance: 32Ohm

Sensitivity: 101dB

ULE (Ultra Low Emission) standard

50mm Myler ear cups

Net weight: 285g (without cable)

Cable’s length: 3m



Vivid sound

Dynamic design

Sharp detail

Pure quality


Hi-fi quality is not as good as that of Pro Series


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