Pros Comfortable, light weight, inexpensive, awesome sound. They're on sale (January 2010 only) for $49.99 with an instant rebate, and at that price, you won't find anything that even comes close to these.
Cons Everything else sounds bad after you've used these. Also, they are clear enough to reveal flaws in recordings that you may not have previously noticed.
Summary The problem with headphones like these is that you don't want to take them off once you've used them, and you'll want to listen to all of your favorite music over again, which can make you late for work. It's like buying a new HDTV, and then watching movies you've seen 100 times already just to experience them on the new TV.I should have mentioned that the cord on the HFI-450's is 10-ft long, so if you use them with an iPod, this could be an annoyance. I use mine with home audio and theater, so I like the long cord. But you shouldn't use these outside with an MP3 player anyway. You'll get so absorbed in the sound that you might walk out into traffic.
I had never even heard of Ultrasone AG before I read a CNET headphone review, but now I can't take them off, which is a problem because they seal out the rest of the world and immerse you in a virtual (and near perfect) sound stage. This can aggravate the wife or better half when they're standing right behind you talking, and you're completely oblivious to that fact, or the rest of the world for that matter
I put my new Ultrasone HFI-450's up against some other headphones last night, including my 1070's Superex Pro's and Koss Pro 4a's, some upper-end 1980's Sansui's, and my son's new Sennheiser 202's. The concept of surround headphones is not new: Superex and other headphone companies started it back in the early 70's, and my Superex Pro's have the same approximate spacial effect as these HFI-450's with albums and CD's. But the sound quality of the Ultrasone phones is head and shoulders above all the others that I tested, and on an iPod or my Nokia N82 MP3 player, they are simply shockingly clear and full-sounding. The overall definition is especially good, but it's the bass that sets them apart from the rest. It's strong but not overbearing, and the response is very linear, so low notes on cuts like Tubular Bells, or the organ solo on "Place in Line" by Deep Purple come through as distinct and individual, instead of all jumbled together. I'd love to see a response curve for these. I wish I had them here with me at work, but then all my co-workers would be mad at me too. These are sensitive enough to give great volume with portable devices.
NOTE: When I first tried these on, the head pressure seemed excessive to me, and thought I might take them back to Guitar Center. But after a half-hour, they seemed to "adjust" to my large head (7.25 hat size), and now they're perfectly comfortable.
Updated on Jan 27, 2010
Updated on Jan 29, 2010In the event anyone noticed, I meant to say "1970's" Superex headphones, NOT 1070's. I'm not a kid anymore, but even I wasn't around in 1070!