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Christian Spaeth

Ultrasone headphones for location work. Which ones?

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Interested in upgrading my cans so I did some searching and reading and it seems like a lot of folks use HFI 680s or Pro 750s. In between the two (speaking of price) there are also Pro 550s which are the same price as HFI 780s. Oh, and then there's the HFI 2400 which is about the same price. So I'd really like to know anything about the differences. Sound? Materials? I guess the HFI series is consumer orientated, as opposed to the pro series? Their website doesn't really help in that respect, so if anyone knows more than me feel free to share!

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I ordered the PRO 750 recently, and my experience was:

Terrible.

So much so that I was wondering if they were knockoffs.

- Sound: seriously hyped. Not flat by any means.

- Fit: uncomfortable.

- Came with 2 cables; one straight with 1/8" connector (not threaded!!!?!?) one coiled with fixed 1/4". Odd to say the least. The printed instructions mentioned that the cables were both terminated to 1/8" connectors and that there was supposed to be a 1/4" adapter included that was "not to be alienated". Hmm. Furthermore, these cables were stiff, cheap feeling and caused serious microphonic noise in the phones.

- Tried calling the Ultrasone numbers on their website to confirm if these were the real thing, but got voicemail every time. Left a message and kept calling every hour for two days - still have not heard back from them.

In conclusion, I returned them and will never look back.

Just my 2 cents.

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I have been using Ultrasone Pro 750 model for close to a year now. I like the way they sound, they seem to have a more natural sound to my ears.  I agree with Johnny that the cables appear to be of cheap build quality. 

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Got 680s with a7506 cable and 580s with a Remote Audio 7506 (sturdier and heavier) replacement cable and life is great. No more ear fatigue at the end of the day compared to working with my 7506s years ago.

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I have been using the PRO 750 since April 2012 and really like them. I get far less ear fatigue from these than my 7506's. They fit me more comfortably and are definitely more durable (Broke a few pairs of 7506's, usually the plastic arm holding the ear cup). I feel like they represent what I am actually recording a bit better as well, and are much less harsh than the 7506.

 

One thing to keep in mind, you need to break these in. They sound better after a good amount of audio goes through them. I read many reviews about the longer "Break in period" of these headphones. But I realized it was true, and they do sound a bit odd out of the box.

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I have used the Pro 750s and now currently use the HIFI 680s. I really rate the Ultrasones for film sound. The lack of listening fatigue has been widely talked about and I agree but the main thing I like is the fact the perspective and staging of the sound feels more natural to me and helps assess where the noise floor and extraneous sits in the sound stage. That been said they are NOT robust and I chew through the ear pads and that becomes annoying.

My 2 cents worth.

Tony

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I use the PRO550 every day, I have the 750 as well and much prefer the sound of the 550. I did swap the velour pads from the 750 onto the 550 though, that made them a lot nicer to wear.

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TJ: I put velours BeyerDynamic 942704 pads that we use as replacement for the 7506s on both my Ultrasones (HFI 680 and 580). More comfy imo and one of the set has been there for so long (previously on my 7506s) that the sun has affected the color (not black anymore but kind of reddish-Brown). They fit a tad loser than on the 7506s but it works A1A.

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I use Ultrasone HFI-680, Sony 7506, Remote Audio 7506HN, and Etymotic E-4.

Typically: 680s on the cart, 7506s for bag work, HNs when appropriate (e.g. Indy 500, NFL games), and the E-4 for special situations where regular cans are difficult to manage (e.g. wearing a hard hat).

I find the Sony's too muddy for mixing music while the Ultrasones are more transparent with better definition. The Ultrasones do interesting things with the phasing so they wouldn't be ideal for a voice-over artist, for instance. If the wearer is not the person talking, they're fine.

Like Boomboom, I have a 7506 coiled cable on my Ultrasones (with the extra straight section trimmed off like I do with my 7506s) and I use the velour Beyer DT250 pads on all of my headphones (except the Etymotics, of course).

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Have been eyeing (earing?) Ultrasone cans for a while based on Eric Toline's great reviews.

 

The 3rd set of DT-250's lost luster having blown out during a squeal scene. Tried Sennheiser HD25's. Meh. Very tight, both physically and sonically.

 

Pulled out the Koss Pro's I usually use in particularly noisy locations in the interim, but then, got a set of Remote Audio modded 7506's to upgrade my talkback mic situation. Got used to that sound fairly quickly, but the 7506 build quality for daily abuse kinda made me shudder and knew I'd at the very least need a backup.

 

When I got a break, again looked at Ultrasones. Found a barely-used set of 900's on Ebay and just got 'em.

 

They sound really good and feel good on my ears. Plugged 'em into the 788 with constant playback to see if anything changes sonically.

 

Plan to see if Trew can mod them with the talkback boom mic I've come to really like so I'll have the 7506's as backup and for VOG.

 

More as familiarity develops.

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I use the 750's on my cart.  I think the sound quality is good and are comfortable to wear.  I'm not a fan of the cable either but I've gotten use to it.  I wouldn't use these for run and gun but for cart work, they have proven themselves to be a good set of cans for me.

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So yesterday I went to Thomann and checked some of the models in question. Unfortunately I could only listen to music on the cans, but at least I could A-B and therefore compare well. I liked the HFI 780 the most (clearly better than the 680), great detail and transparency, but as I wrote, it was music I was listening to, which the HFI series are obviously intended for. I did however like about the Pro 550 and 750 that you can screw off the cable and replace it with one to your liking (standard screw on 3.5 mm plug). I didn't like that the HFI 780 comes with a short attached cable that you can plug extensions to. I didn't experience any issues with microphonic cables. The Pro series sounded quite "unmusical" and didn't convince me as much as the HFI 780.

The HFI 2400 is open, so I didn't check that one out.

 

Bottom line I'm still not sure which one to buy.

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Christian, sorry for the delay. I much prefer the PRO550 as the sound isn't quite so detailed as the 750, with the 750, I was hearing, and worrying about, things that really don't matter. They have, for me, too much detail for use in a doc situation, I do still use them, but in more controlled environments. Listening to music through them doesn't really tell the right story, and I think a certain 'unmusicality' is what I need in a pair of cans, I like them to be flat.

 

I've never had an issue with the cables, I'm using the same curly one as when I started using them.

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