The Ultrasone HFI-2200 headphones have a dark brown outer casing, while the earpads are colored with a golden-brown, velvet-covered cushion. At the top of the headband is another cushion that matches the same color combination. We think the look is a welcome alternative to the usual drab headphone color schemes. The earcups' exteriors are covered by a machined metal trim, clearly marked "L" and "R" on the headband as well as on the earcups.
The HFI-2200s are attractive, though we imagine some buyers would prefer to see more metal or chrome materials in a high-end pair of headphones. That said, the HFI-2200s are fairly lightweight (292 grams) and feel well built. The 'phones are an "around-the-ear" design, and we found they applied just the right amount of pressure to our ears. The hinged headband folds for easy storage in the included travel bag.
The supplied 15-foot headphone cable screws into the left earcup; it sounds long--and it is--but it's designed to stretch across the room during home-listening sessions. The cord is terminated with a 3.5mm plug, and a screw-on phono plug adapter is provided for connecting to stereos and AV receivers. Ultrasone offers an optional shorter 31-inch headphone cable that we'd get if we were going to use the HFI-2200s with our iPod.
The headphones also feature the Ultrasone S-Logic Natural Surround Sound technology that bounces sound from the 40mm gold-plated driver off your outer ear instead of firing it directly toward your eardrum. The effect produces a less headphone-like sound, closer to the sound of actual external speakers. In fact, a couple of times we thought actual speakers were still on--it was only when we took off the HFI-2200s did we confirm that the speakers weren't really playing.
Like many Ultrasone headphones, the HFI-580s feature ULE (ultra low emission) technology. Ultrasone claims that "most headphone drivers produce low-frequency magnetic fields as they convert an electric signal into an acoustical signal you hear as music." To combat this exposure to a magnetic field, Ultrasone claims to utilize a special type of "MU metal shielding" that purports to "reduce radiation by up to 98 percent compared to current headphones."