KLH Ultimate One Review: Wooden Performer

KLH is a company from the United States that was primarily known for their speakers. It was originally founded in 1957, and the brand name was taken from the initials of the founders Henry Kloss, Malcom S. Low, and Josef Anton Hofmann. Recently, they have decided to explore the portable audio scene and launched their very first pair of headphones, the Ultimate one, which currently retails for 350 USD. Now, it is no secret that the Ultimate One looks exactly the same as the SIVGA SV007, but I’m gonna leave the research to you, readers. The Ultimate One was provided to me for free by KLH through their Philippine distributor, Soundwave Audio Visual Store for the purpose of this review.

 

Pros:
Ecstatically tuned lows
Very detailed
Solid construction
Easily replaceable earpads

Cons:
Slightly unnatural sounding mids

 

Specifications:
Driver unit: 50 mm dynamic, pure beryllium
Impedance: 32 ohms
Sensitivity: 97 dB
Frequency response range: 18 Hz – 22 kHz

Source:
Poco X3, Redmi Note 10 Pro paired with Cayin RU6, FiiO KA3, Tempotec Sonata E35 and Zishan U1

Test tracks:
Africano – Earth Wind and Fire
Dark Necessities – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gurenge – Lisa
The Chain – Fleetwood Mac
Monsters – All Time Low
Ours – Taylor Swift
Stay – Mayday Parade
Snuff – Slipknot
Yesterday Once More – Carpenters
So Slow – Freestyle
Aurora Sunrise – Franco
Attention – Pentatonix
Blue Bird – Ikimono-gakari
You’re Still The One – Shania Twain
Anyone Who Knows What Love Is(Will Understand) – Irma Thomas
Salamin – Slapshock
AOV – Slipknot
Hey Jude – The Beatles
The Way You Make Me Feel – Michael Jackson
…and a lot more.

Unboxing and Accessories:
The Ultimate One comes in compact sleeved square box. The front and rear sides of the box show the exact same thing, so I took a picture of the side instead where it shows some specifications. The inner box opens like a book and has a huge KLH logo at the front. Inside, there is the hard leatherette case that contains the headphones and a fabric pouch. The pouch contains the cable and a female 3.5 mm to 6.35 mm adapter. Underneath the case is the instruction manual.

Build:
The headband is made of metal that is wrapped in leather with a thick, soft foam inside. The outer leather part is made of cowhide, and the inner part is made of perforated lambskin. The yokes are also made of metal and can be rotated 180 degrees, and the cups can also be flipped. The cups are made of zebrawood with an openback design. There is a medium-sized opening equipped with metal rings and grills, and another filter underneath for additional protection to the drivers. There is a single 3.5 mm jack on the underside of the left cup to connect the cable. This also means that the Ultimate One cannot be used with a balanced terminated cable, unless some internal modifications are made.

The earpads are made of the same leather as the headband. Outer part is cowhide, inner part is perforated lambskin. The foams are really thick and very comfortable. It is also easily replaceable since it is not attached to any plastic piece like the ones you see from other headphones. It just needs to be inserted into the dedicated groove on the driver cups.

The cable is a 2 meter long pure silver litz. It is sleeved with braided fabric and has 3.5 mm gold plated metal plugs on both ends. The plug that goes to the source is slightly bigger, equipped with a spring that acts as strain relief, and a thread for the 6.35 mm adapter to lock in place.

Now let’s get to the sound.

Lows:
The lows are dominant and very powerful. Subbass has huge presence with a depth that is above average, and a decay that is a bit slow. On the other hand, the midbass takes a small step back. Note weight is slightly thick but doesn’t hit as hard as the subbass.

Overall, the lengthy decay in the subbass can feel quite overextended in some bass heavy tracks. Fortunately, the midbass is contained and reduces the bleeding of the lows into the other frequencies.

Mids:
The mids are reproduced in a recessed manner. Lower mids exhibit sufficient thickness but gradually decreases in density as it transitions to the upper mids. As a result, female vocals have a tendency to sound veiled and slightly unnatural. Hints of aggressiveness can also be perceived in some tracks

Overall, the upper mids could use some tweaking. A small increment in the thickness of the upper section improves the female vocals a lot. Having said that, instruments in this section still show great transparency.

Highs:
The highs are right up there with the lows in terms of dominance. Treble is slightly forward and can reach excellent heights, and just like the subbass, the decay is slightly extended. The highs give an excellent amount of shimmer and energy in every track yet it does not go over the top.

Overall, the Ultimate One performs extremely well in the treble region. Despite having presence this big, the highs exhibit good control and stays within comfortable levels.

Soundstage and Imaging:
As expected from an openback headphone, the soundstage is massive. The height noticeably expands a lot more than the width. The accuracy and clarity in the imaging is excellent. Each instrument sound open and separation is very good as well as the layering. There is not a hint of congestion even in complex tracks.

Comparisons:
KLH Ultimate One (1 DD, 350 USD) vs. SIVGA Phoenix (1 DD, 255 USD)
The Ultimate One has a lot more quantity in the lows. Subbass has bigger, louder rumble, but the Phoenix has slightly longer decay. Midbass is slightly more forward and packs a heavier punch in the Phoenix. Mids are definitely more upfront in the Phoenix. Both lower and upper mids sound thicker and more natural, but the mids in the Ultimate One are feel more spacious. In the highs, the Ultimate One has better reach, longer decay and able to present more subtitles in every track. The soundstage is a lot bigger in the Ultimate One. There is a small difference in the width, but the difference in the height is very, very evident. Imaging is also slightly clearer and instruments are separated better in the Ultimate One, although only by a small margin.

Conclusion:
The Ultimate One is a great pair of head gear that sports the crowd favorite V-shaped sound signature. KLH could’ve changed the appearance a bit to avoid some confusion, but it is what it is. Although the mids doesn’t have the best tuning in this price, especially for vocal-centered genres, the capability of the lows and the highs definitely give every listener a dynamic listening experience.

https://www.audiophilian-reviews.com/2022/03/klh-ultimate-one-review.html

by Adrian Yambao
April 04, 2022