Ultrasone HFI-580 review

Not class-leading, but still worthy of consideration Tested at £125.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Not class-leading, but their good qualities makes them worthy of consideration


  • +

    Solid construction

  • +

    comfortable fit

  • +

    clean, clear and entertaining sound


  • -

    Lacks the midrange realism and detail of the best

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

Well, here's an interesting thing. The issue of open- versus closed-backed headphone designs (open sounds better; closed doesn't inflict your music on others) offers you a pretty clear choice.

But Ultrasone is trying to confuse the issue – albeit in a positive way – by creating closed-backed headphones that are designed, the company claims, to sound as much like an open-backed design as possible.

Clever tech gives solid results
This is done using Ultrasone's patented S-Logic technology, which attempts to make the sound seem like it's coming from much further away. And it does indeed imbue the HFI-580s with an incredibly open, clean
and clear sonic presentation.

Spin some tunes, and these cans respond with an impressively airy, precise approach to rhythms, with
a powerful bass response that could win them many fans. They reduce the sense of sounds being ‘hard left'
or ‘hard right', creating a more subtle soundfield that's big, punchy and fun.

Our only criticism is that they seem to manage this impressive list of feats with a bit of sonic sleight of hand.
When closely compared to high-quality rivals, the Ultrasones give a little away in terms of the richness and realism of their midrange.

A chunky pair of cans
One gets the sense that there are some rivals that don't sound quite as clean as the HFI-580s, but that this is in some part due to their being more committed to faithfully reproducing the detail and naturalness of voices and midrange instruments.

This is a chunky pair of cans: while you could, conceivably wear them out – they aren't as heavy as they
look, and they're actually extremely comfortable to wear – they are really a pair of home hi-fi cans, meant to be used while sitting down and doing some proper listening.

And they have a lot to recommend them. They don't attain the Grado SR80i's levels of realism and detail, but they're a good buy nonetheless.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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