Ultrasone is one of those brands that isn't shy to infuse their headphones with a bit of tech juice in order to gain better performance. The exact model we are referring to is the Ultrasone Performance 880, which are one of the best studio headphones you can get under $500.
The design of Ultrasone Performance 880 is pretty odd. The headband portion of the headphones look fairly standard, but once you move down to driver and driver housing, things take a completely different path. Forks aren't the traditional kind, but rather have a third supporting arm that leads to the center of the driver housing. This becomes even weirder when you realize that cans on these headphones swivel laterally. We have to give it to Ultrasone for using plenty of good materials. The sub frame is made of quality aluminum, making the whole package rigid enough for frequent daily use. On the other hand, padding provided on the headband isn't so convincing. Despite that, Ultrasone did a great job at localizing padding only where it is actually necessary. Similar goes for ear pads. You won't find bulky ones, but rather a slim pair.
The core of Ultrasone Performance 880 are its two 40mm drivers. These are custom voiced with a PET membrane and titanium plating. Raw specs delivered measure up to 94dB of SPL and a frequency range that goes from 7Hz to 35kHz. One of the more interesting features is the impedance. Usually you expect headphones at this level to come with an impedance that measures in hundreds. With Ultrasone Performance 880 it's only 32 Ohms. You can drive these with your mobile device and still get almost all of the performance. It's worth mentioning that Ultrasone implemented their S-Logic technology which actively calibrates output in order to optimize performance. On top of that, they have included MU metal shielding and ULE radiation shielding. Headphones arrive with two detachable cables. One is a 9 foot long unit while the other is a 3 foot one with a microphone and a remote.
The performance is what makes Ultrasone Performance 880. Despite how you feel about juiced up headphones that rely on secondary technologies to provide good response, it is easy to get used to the whole thing. Maybe even too easy. Transparency is there and feels very clinical. With that said, don't mistake clinical precision with a brash sound. On the contrary, nothing about these headphones seems forced nor painfully bright. Lows are tight and articulated, mids balanced and trebles just sharp enough. In all honesty, these are among the more capable headphones in their class. When it comes to comfort, the situation is equally as good. Headband makes these headphones feel much lighter than they are, while the ear pads do a great job at sound insulation. If you are worried about fatigue, there's nothing to worry about. These are built for the long haul.
Ultrasone Performance 880 took a different route than we are used to seeing in this particular price range. Their decision to add a number of proprietary technologies has proven to be a good move. These headphones are capable of delivering everything that is necessary in a modern, professional studio environment.