KLH Ultimate One Audiophile Headphone - Ebony


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KLH Ultimate One headphones

  • over-the-ear, open-back headphones
  • real ebony wood ear-cups
  • 50mm pure beryllium drivers
  • 6-1/2-foot single-sided 3.5mm cable included
  • 1/4" adapter included
  • hard case and carrying bag included
  • frequency response: 18-22,000 Hz
  • sensitivity: 97 dB
  • impedance: 32 ohms
  • weight: 12.1 oz.
  • warranty: 2 years

KLH's Ultimate One headphones feature real ebony wood ear-cups and pure beryllium drivers — materials that are surprising to find in headphones at this price. I recently got my hands on a pair and had a chance to spend a few hours checking them out.

Upscale fit and finish
These headphones make a strong visual impression as soon as you pull them out of the included zippered hard shell case. The figuring in the ebony wood is gorgeous, and yet the overall design is understated. The breathable leather ear pads and headband made for a comfortable few hours of listening. The materials and construction reminded me of some much higher-priced headphones from other manufacturers that I've tested out recently. The Ultimate One's fit is secure and somewhat snug, in a good way. I never felt any discomfort or pressure, even wearing eyeglasses.

A lively sound profile
The longer I listened to these headphones, the more I liked them. There's plenty of energy at the bass and treble ends of the frequency spectrum. My trusty AudioQuest DragonFly Black USB headphone amp/DAC provided plenty of volume and detail as I surfed through a YouTube mix of familiar tracks.

The headphones' open-back design makes for a slightly more spacious presentation than you usually get with closed-back models. On a live version of modern progressive rocker Steven Wilson's "Luminol," the soundstage was wide enough to lend an in-concert feel. The detail of the cymbal work came through crisply, the high-speed kick drum patterns were distinct and solid, and the bass and rhythm guitars were textured and punchy.

I also gave these headphones a test drive (or three) with my Sony NW-WM1A high-res portable music player. The bass was deep and clear (but not overwhelming) throughout the Geogaddi album from electronica duo Boards of Canada. On a high-resolution DSD version of Los Lobos's Kiko, I felt like the soundstage really opened up, and instrumental and vocal parts were placed in a three-dimensional space around me.

As with all open-back headphones, some sound leaks out. But my nearest office neighbor told me he couldn't hear anything. (That same office mate has occasionally been known to ID my headphone song choices with some other open-back models.)

Bottom line: this is a lot of headphone for the money, and I'm looking forward to playing with them some more.

From the AVS Forum review

”These headphones are in the 'Goldilocks Zone' in terms of performance, aesthetics, price, and even weight. The KLH Ultimate One design is timeless, there's nothing of note to improve upon in terms of ergonomics or fit, no gimmick that's going to replace the acoustic benefit of open-back headphones with beryllium drivers.”
Posted by Mark Henninger – AVS Forum on May 30th, 2019

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