+ deep, rich, crisp bass
+ very good detail resolution and speech intelligibility
+ high wearing comfort, pleasant natural NC
+ very practical charging case with long battery life
- lean timbres could be a bit warmer
- Maximum volume for acoustic music too low
Sound: Tonal Balance / Transparency8
Sound: Bass / Dynamics9
Ease-of-use / Connectivity9
A thing you would expect from a conservative manufacturer like Ultrasone? Maybe the Bavarians would to be the last ones in the market to follow short-living hypes like having True Wireless In Ears in their portfolio. Okay, we have seen already some successful passive in-ear models a few years ago. So, maybe we should have seen it coming: the launch of their first fully wireless set named Lapis.
The model´s name is short for the gemstone lapis lazuli. And even without being aware that the passive models previously being named Ruby and Sapphire, the strategy is clear: someone wants to bring a little glimpse of luxury and glamour into the fast-moving world of electronic gadgets. This job the Lapis is doing quite well the first moment you hold them in your hands. Both ear buds and the astonishingly flat, rounded charging case create a certain mysterious matte deep blue shimmering effect. Consider it a cliché but one one expect such little blue gems preferrably in a lady’s handbag or in the pocket of a very slim-fit suit. In any way, the flat shape of the case with smooth rounding fits both occasions perfectly.
The dust and water resistance is meeting IP54 standards but would rather not be tested in tough outdoor use. However, knowing that such a somehow fragile devices is withstanding dust or moisture creates a good feeling of longevity. In other words, just as it should be for a more sophisticated gadget.
Yes, there is high tech in nice clothing
We are somewhat reminded of Apple’s pretty successful in ear models, including the shape and the fact they offer noise cancellation technology. Bluetooth 5.2 and AAC codec are onboard, which is the codec of choice especially among Apple users. Some Android audiophiles might criticize the lack of Apt-X in its various versions.
However, the above-average battery life could compensate for this: Ultrasone is promising 9 hours without any charging, and 45 hours combined with the electric reserve in the flat case. That’s quite a bold statement especially for NC TWS. All three units are supposed to be fully recharged in less than two hours via USB-C. Fast charging option is said to provide an additional hour of music enjoyment within just 10 minutes connected by wire or placed onto a wireless charger.
The specs sheet is promising an unsual13 millimeters-in-diameter driver. That’s really huge. On both the ear buds, touch sensors are to control the usual features, such as accepting phone calls or activating noise cancellation or voice-through mode. Smartphone geeks and tech nerds might be disappointed: There is no app control.
Get used to them in just a few minutes
So let´s take a closer look on how they are operated and the general ease-of-use. To understand the logic fully, the manual is helpful, just pressing around on the the Lapis would not bring you to mastering them. Okay, the left touch sensor is starting or stopping playback. A quick double-touch means to skip titles, that is easy to remember. Touching the right one is causing unexpected things to happen. Sometimes the music is pausing, sometimes Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, is welcoming us if the iPhone has been already connected.
Prefer relaxed fit to isolation?
The initial activation of noise cancellation mode came as a surprise: obviously, Ultrasone did not try to achieve the most effective and most isolating noise cancelling. On the contrary, the effect activating that mode was apparent mostly in the low frequency range. The overall tonal impression of noise still passing them was so natural and pleasant, as we have not experienced it with any NC In Ear so far.
The same is true to the voice-through mode for announcements in train, plane or traffic. It does what it is designed to do without emphasizing any frequencies or annoying the wearer with unpleasant echo noise.
Thanks to three silicone adapters supplied in different sizes, the Lapis fit very well into the ears of all our reviewers. Comfort in everyday use was obviously a priority goal of Ultrasone´s developers. Despite a fairly reasonable acoustic isolation, one did not feel any pressure on the eardrums, and never getting the impression of being locked in an anechoic chamber.
True audiophile resolation and bass from Ultrasone Lapis
Those who were now expecting ultra-soft and smooth sound characteristics might be surprised: The Lapis delivered a full, rich, yet very contoured bass setting free an astonishing amount of energy and precision that one would expect solely from far more expensive in-ear headphones. Listening to music offers an overdose of bass, such as hip-hop and electronic beats, we were experiencing even an overly massive bass. In any way: the low bass is the shining star of the overall sound, especially since it appears to be as snappy and dynamic as the rest of the audible frequency range.
Listening to pop, rock and electronic sounds, we experienced a really groovy and thrilling mood. It is a good thing to notice that mids and trebles of the Lapis are as crystal-clear, offering an audiophile amount of very fine resolution. Sometimes a somewhat glittering and shiny impression got apparent. Vocals thus sounded very clear and intelligible, but sometimes showing a tendency of quite a slender fundamental region.
Acoustic instruments might bear a minimally artificial shine at times, but this did not detract from the pure joy of listening to the Lapis for hours. Especially since they managed very well to span the image of an ambience around the listener, being rather compact but clearly three-dimensional.
Thus, only one wish remained unsatisfied at times: The Ultrasones are not particularly loud. Especially those who listen to music being recorded with lots of dynamic headroom such as classical or jazz might find the overall gain a bit on the pianissimo side. However, you don’t really miss the full blast of the orchestra thanks to excellent resolution and their rich low bass.
Alternatives to the Ultrasone Lapis
Let´s be honest: Ultrasone´s Lapis are not the only true wireless ear buds on the market offering noise cancelling. And they are not particularly cheap. If your budget is somehow limited, a set of Panasonic RZ-S500W for example offers almost the same level of sound quality at a lower price, adding a fair amount of additional acoustic isolation. Jabra´s Elite 7 Pro have the full bunch of smart features and even slightly better-balanced sound for just a few bucks more. On the other hand: The Ultrasones are unrivalled when it comes to comfort, natural-sounding NC, ergonomic case shape and the priceless certainty of having purchased a particularly posh accessoire.
- Retail price: 180 Euro
- Type: In-Ear
- Transducer principle: Dynamic
- Weight: 5 g
- Features: Charging case with wireless charging option, noise cancelling, 45 h battery life including case.
- More at: www.ultrasone.com