While I was in Las vegas to cover CES 2019, I took a special trip to visit KLH. The mood in the room was unlike what I found in CES; the buzz was much more like that of a sports team in a huddle than bored reps on a show floor. Anyhow, during my sitdown with company owner David Kelley and chief technology officer Steve Howell, they showed me the company’s new headphones, the first-ever for the brand. These new models are the Ultimate One Open-Air Dynamic Headphones ($299 in Ebony, $349 in Zebra Wood) and the Ultimate Two Wireless Sound-Isolating In-Ear Monitors ($299).
The Ultimate One Open-Air Dynamic Headphones are the company’s statement: We’re here and we make amazing headphones. These are dynamic, open-back, over-ear headphones that feature premium materials and build quality. Earcups are CNC-machined ebony, hand-stitched leather and microfiber-fill earpads make them comfortable, and they are lightweight.
The drivers in the Ultimate Ones measure 50mm and are made from pure beryllium. The rated frequency response is an honest (i.e. real and usable) 18 Hz to 22 kHz. KLH does not traffic in exaggerated specs, as I have discovered through measurements of its speakers and now its headphones.
The Ultimate One is expected to be available March 1.
And that’s where this story gets exciting…
Steve Howell handed me the first pair of Ultimate One headphones that anyone outside the company has held. So now I have ’em, to review—the first review of KLH’s first headphones, which (spoiler alert) are clearly amazing performers. I listened to several track while I was there, using my own phone and playlist and they put a smile on my face right away with a punchy yet accurate sound that digs deep and a soundstage that is remarkably well defined yet expansive.
KLH Ultimate One headphones. Photo by Mark Henninger.
“Our design goal here was to deliver a rich, enveloping musical experience that simply put, ‘elevates the soul’, because that’s what this is all about for us,” said KLH Audio CEO David P. Kelley. “We are music lovers and we want to share this passion through what we bring to market. And as is the case with many of the products from KLH’s formative years, we are confident that owners of our Ultimate One headphones will cherish them for very a long time.”
What’s more, Steve presented the Ultimate Two IEMs ($299), which feature detachable cords and come with a Bluetooth collar for the headset, as well as a straight cable. The point is this dual-driver design may be used wires or wireless.
Inside the enclosure is a 10mm dynamic driver for bass and a balanced armature-type driver for the highs.
The Bluetooth collar has aptX technology built in for high-fidelity playback and has 3 buttons for remote control. The included cable is 1.1 meters in length. These headphones will be available March 1 and I also have a pair in for review.