Ultrasone Pro 480I, 580I, 780I, Headphones Review
The manufacturer Ultrasone recently presented a complete series of headphones. The Ultrasone PRO 480i, PRO 580i, and PRO 780i headphones are priced between EUR 99 and EUR 180, so they tend to be lower. The PROi series also includes the two headphones PRO 550i and PRO 750i, which we had already tested with us. The series is completed by the top model PRO 900i, which with a retail price of 399 euros is also the top of the series in terms of price.
- Scope of delivery,
- price-performance ratio (PRO 480i, 580i, 780i),
- price-performance ratio, open sound,
- most linear headphones of the PROi models (780i)
- In direct comparison,
- difficulties in the midrange (PRO 480i),
- clear bass foundation (PRO 580i)
In terms of structure, the three headphones Ultrasone PRO 480i, 580i, and 780i, do not differ. All of them are made of plastic and make a good impression but do not come close to the (significantly more expensive) Signature models in terms of robustness. Visually, the three headphones only differ in the color of the outside of the ear cups. While the Ultrasone PRO 480i is completely black, the manufacturer has donated a little silver to the Pro 580i. The PRO 780i is then completely silver on the outside. Taken together with the construction of the headphones, they are overall rather subtle and classic.
The ear cups of the PRO I headphones are connected to the upper frame at two points. The suspension makes a stable impression. The auricle can, of course, also be rotated forwards or backward. The insides of the ear cups on all three headphones are made of synthetic leather. This sits comfortably soft on the ears. A bit of heat develops during longer sessions, but there is no “heat build-up,” so you can work wonderfully with the headphones for longer periods or listen to music. I find the contact pressure to be comfortable with the shape of my head. The headphones sit firmly in the “saddle” without attracting attention.
The outside of the headphones can be pulled out by around 3.5 cm on both sides, so that’s enough for larger head shapes. However, the headphones could certainly have achieved a little more stability by using “pullers” made of metal. With the Ultrasone PROi models, you don’t have to be afraid that something will break, but the whole thing is a bit shaky when fully extended. Certainly one of the reasons why Ultrasone – which is usually found in the higher price segment – can offer the three headphones for 99 to 180 euros.
Both the Ultrasone PRO 480i and the two other PROi models are closed, circumaural headphones, which means that they should emit as little sound as possible from and to the outside so that they can be used for recording because this way as the little signal from the headphones as possible reaches the microphones. Closed headphones are also usually used for live performances (e.g., as a DJ) because with open headphones. However, you would probably not notice much in a concert hall. If you want to know more about headphones, our article “Everything about headphones” is recommended. In addition to some interesting information on the subject, you will also find a large overview of our tested products here.
Scope of delivery
In addition to the technical data, the scope of delivery of the three headphones also differs. While the PRO 580i and PRO 780i both come with a spare pair of velor ear cushions, the PRO 480i, unfortunately, has to do without them. The difference is also clear in the case of the transport bag. Here too, the two larger models have a bag made of synthetic leather with them, while the PRO 480i has to be stowed in a smaller bag made of nylon.
All three headphones have a fixed cable with a length of 1.0 m (PRO 480i) or 2.5 m (PRO 580i / 780i), so you cannot change it on your own. An adapter from 3.5 mm jack to 6.3 mm jack is included with all headphones. The Ultrasone PRO 480i also gets an extension cable with a length of 4 m.
Technology and sound
Ultrasone advertises the two headphones PRO 580i, and 780i as the successor or further development of the HFI models 580 and 780, the PRO 480i has accordingly been added as an entry-level model.
While a frequency response of 20 – 20,000 Hz is specified for the PRO 480i, the models PRO 580i and 780i should reach even lower down to 10 Hz. The upper range ends with the PRO 580i at 22 kHz. The 780i should cover up to 26 kHz can. The 480i and 780i are equipped with 40 mm Mylar drivers, the converters of the 780i are also coated with gold. The 580i has larger transducers measuring 50 mm.
The three PROi models also differ in terms of the sound pressure level. The 480i and 780i each offer 96 dB, the 580i has 101 dB. However, the impedance is almost the same for all models. The 480i and 580i have 32 ohms. The 780i is 35 ohms. So there are no notable differences in this area.
The S-Logic Plus technology, for which the manufacturer Ultrasone is known, should not be underestimated. The point here is that, unlike conventional headphones, the sound transducer is not arranged centrally in the middle of the auricle but rather sits laterally offset in the housing. As a result, the sound does not hit the ear head-on, which, according to Ultrasone, creates a spatial sound impression. In particular, this improves the presentation of the stereo stage and the graduation of the depths, and individual signals should be easier to locate. Furthermore, according to the manufacturer, the natural shape of the auricle is included. This also reduces the sound pressure by approx—3 to 4 dB with the same volume perception.
The technical facts, which provide a good overview in advance, are decisive and remain the sound impression. All three headphones were tested on different sound sources. In addition to an SPL Phonitor Mini, my RME HDSP card’s headphone output, a Mackie 1204, and a smartphone were also used. Thus, the most common areas of application and sources should be covered.
When listening to a wide variety of productions and mixes, clear differences quickly emerge. While the PRO 580i offers a very pronounced bass foundation and which, of course, has a decisive influence on the sound, the other two models, Ultrasone PRO 480i and 780i, are much slimmer. For me, the 780i is the most natural-sounding headphone in this series. The highs are beautifully open and clear, the bass range is good, can also reproduce lower tones cleanly, and sounds the most linear overall. I like the slim bass and midrange of the PRO 480i, but it’s too dull for me in the highs. As already mentioned, the PRO 580i offers a slightly more dominant bass foundation, which, in contrast to the 780i, lets the mids and highs slip into the background.
I am very positively surprised by the spatial impression of the headphones. Here the S-Logic Plus technology is noticeable. In contrast to the PRO 550i and 750i models that I also tested, this “effect” is not too obvious in the models currently being tested. I like that much better here.
In terms of volume, the three headphones work well with all tested output sources, so you can use your Ultrasone PROi headphones for commuting to work. This is where the headphones benefit from their compact and foldable format; hardly any storage space is required for transport.
When addressing and converting crisp signals, the PRO 580i and 780i are well ahead of the 480i. This behaves a bit more sluggishly in speech. In terms of the overall sound, the 780i is my clear favorite. The 580i offers too much bass. The sound of the 780i is also a bit more open and, in my opinion, better suited for mixing. With a surcharge of almost 20 euros, the difference between the 580i and 780i is not very big anyway, so the decision should be easy.
I see the Ultrasone 480i as a bit weaker in the overall context. Some songs heard during the test run just don’t come across as smoothly here. In addition, it has difficulty with some frequencies, especially in the midrange, when it gets a bit full in terms of the instrumentation.
The German manufacturer Ultrasone is skillfully expanding its repertoire with the three PROi models, 480i, 580i, and 780i. The headphones, designed for beginners and climbers, offer a good sound image across the board. Thanks to the S-Logic Plus technology, the spatial representation and depth graduation are very successful. In a direct comparison, the 580i and 780i are on par, with the 580i having a clearer bass component. Overall, the PRO 780i sounds more open and natural. The 480i offers a good sound image for around 100 euros but does not close to its two bigger brothers.