Though many attempts have been made to “iPod-erize” existing headsets, the iCans are one of the first headphones we can think of to be designed with the iPod in mind.
These are “style” headphones, with their white plastic and faux chrome earpieces, but the actual design is a matter of taste. Once on, you could be mistaken for an extra from Doctor Who and The Cybermen with their square headband. But their looks take a definite back seat to the sound.
These are one of the best sounding portables at this price-point. They are an open design and their angled drivers help create one of the best soundstages we’ve heard in a portable. Though Ultrasone’s talk of a 3D Surround effect is stretching it, the spatial positioning extends beyond the phones. No “in-head” sounds here. Bass is full and deep, which is surprising for an open design, and treble sparkles, embuing the sound with plenty of detail and life. And, as you’d expect, the sound is tailored to the iPod, boosting bass and providing all the detail the player itself can sometimes miss. The other players we tried didn’t seem to synergise as well.
Our only reservation is that design. Not only are they “highly individual”, but being an open style they don’t block out any external sounds. The iCans are also less sensitive than other phones and as iPods are usually used on public transport, most players won’t have enough level to get a good sound. Not recommended for frequent fliers, then.
If you want similar sound at a better price, and have a similarly flagrant disregard for looks, try the Grado SR60’s. But that’s not to take away from the Ultrasones. These are truly great headphones, which feature that oh-so-important white wire, and will make your carefully ripped CDs sparkle. They are detailed, yet enjoyable and will suit quiet listening, no matter what your taste in music.
Ultrasone iCans $226
For: Great sound; comfortable fit; look iPoddy.
Against: Won’t fit big heads; low output.
Verdict: An excellent set of headphones more suited to home listening than for use on public transport.