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Spirit Torino Pulsar Aluminum High-Fidelity Headphones

Today, we will look at the Pulsar Aluminum dynamic Open-Back Headphones from SPIRIT Torino. All Spirit Torino Headphones are designed and entirely handcrafted in Italy. 

 This article will primarily discuss the build quality, comfort, design, and sound quality of the Pulsar headphones sent to us for review from SPIRIT Torino, with some brief sound comparisons to their mid-level Titano headphones.

The open-back design of the Pulsar is powered by a powerful “Twin Pulse” isobaric motor, using the prestigious Spirit Torino Revolver drives with 13.8kg of magnetic thrust, which, according to Spirit Torino, allows for the absolute control of the movement of the membrane.

The two-drive revolvers use 13 powerful neodymium magnets arranged in a way that looks like a revolver pistol. This allows for the concentration of all the magnetic flux on the moving coil pushing the Spirit Torino isobaric motor unit, which, according to Spirit Torino, helps the headphones to reproduce a high level of micro and macro detail in recordings.

The high-resolution design of the Pulsar allows you to hear deep into recordings with a very life-like feel to the music as if you were listening to the music live in the recording studio, music venue, or concert hall.  Spirit Torino recommends utilizing amplifiers with quiet noise floors due to the high-resolution design of the Pulsar.

Build Quality and Design

The Pulsar uses an aluminum frame, treated with anti-reflective and anti-resonant treatment using Dynamat Xtreme. According to Spirit Torino, this treatment process preserves transient details even at high volumes.

 The handsome-looking cable included with the Pulsar comprises twin wiring consisting of 16 strands of silver copper wires per side.  

Spirit Torino chose to solder the cables directly onto the driver stating that this process preserves musicality and effective signal transmission with two fewer solder points, no connector contact issues, and in their testing, better bass extension.

I am not a fan of fixed cables on headphones as they can potentially lead to wear and tear issues, and it doesn’t allow for the rolling of different cables by the end user if that is something the end user prefers to do.  

However, the cable looks and sounds magnificent, and other than the fact that it cannot be removed, which is more of a personal preference of mine, I cannot fault the cable's performance.

Comfort and Headband System

The headband system of the Pulsar is similar to other Spirit Torino headphones using a gravity rod system. As I mentioned in our first look video of Spirit Torino Headphones, I am not a fan of this type of rod system and something like Audeze, ZMF, or one of my favorites, the Meze Elite’s headband system is superior in my use.

The headband, however, is pretty comfortable and has decent weight distribution avoiding any major hot spots for the shape of my head. One thing I did notice, which I am not sure if it is just the loaner unit I received or if it affects other Pulsar headphones, is that the headband system, along with the pads, can be a bit of a challenge to get a proper seal when wearing glasses and may take several adjustments.

If you frequently move your head when listening at a desk, looking at multiple monitors or paperwork on your desk, I found myself having to re-adjust the headphones to seal them again properly.  

Spirit Torino uses their “Ventilation Pad System Evo” with Alcantara, Texalium, and leather for the Pulsar Ear Pads. Using an acoustic labyrinth, pressure relief system, and quality materials, the pads themselves feel good and do an excellent job of aiding the overall sound quality the Pulsar creates.

The Pulsar has an impedance of 64 ohms with a sensitivity of 96dB with a max power handling rating of 4,000 mW. A proper amplifier should be paired with them for the best sound performance.  

The Pulsar boasts an FR of 18Hz-35,000kHz and has a weight of about 550 grams. The headphones were pretty comfortable to wear for long listening sessions even though they are not the lightest headphones in this price range, and other headphones in this flagship range will provide a more comfortable listening experience.    

Pulsar Headphone Price

The price of the Pulsar Headphones at the time of writing this article is $5,500, giving them some pretty stiff competition in the flagship realm of headphones from Meze Audio, Focal, Dan Clark Audio, and Audeze, to name a few.

Sound Signature

My favorite quality the Pulsar possess is their sound signature! They have a detailed, resolving, and relatively balanced quality of sound that will play well with most genres of music. For my sound impressions, I used my reference Chord Hugo TT2 headphone amplifier and DAC and the McIntosh MHA200 Headphone Tube Amplifier fed by the TT2 as its DAC on filter 2.

Eric Clapton’s Unplugged

For my preferences, I found the headphones excelled with acoustic music and well-recorded live music performances. Listening to Eric Clapton’s Unplugged, a personal favorite of mine, was tremendous. The guitar strings of Clapton and Fairweather-Low sounded lifelike and detailed in nature, allowing me to pick up the subtle sounds of the strings as they were being played. 

The vocals also have an authentic quality without sounding too forward or too pulled back. The Pulsar headphones do not have an overly warm or cold quality of sound. The keys and piano from the legendary Chuck Leavell had fantastic overtones and timbre, adding to the headphones' live sound quality.  

Listening to Hey Hey showed off the imaging and timbre reproduction of the Pulsar, allowing each stringed instrument to be placed clearly and well-defined on the stage with Clapton’s vocals imaging right behind his acoustic guitar.

Tears in Heaven

Listening to “Tears in Heaven,” the Pulsar creates an intoxicating emotional listening experience. More analytical listeners, I believe, will be pretty pleased as well, as the Pulsar reproduces all the subtle details, instrument timbre, and image definition of this track in a way that doesn’t feel overdone or ever fatiguing but still highly technical in the reproduction, clearly picking up Clapton clearing his voice away from the mic leading into “Lonely Stranger.” 

MTV’s Unplugged by Pearl Jam

Another album I highly enjoyed with the Pulsar was MTV’s Unplugged by Pearl Jam, another fantastic live album. Eddie’s vocals on the opening track, Oceans, sets the tone for a tremendously beautiful and raw, sometimes-sounding album.  

The cymbals and powerful drums of Dave Abbruzzese can be heard clearly in the background but take a back seat to Vedder's vocals and the guitar strings of Gossard, McCready, and the bass guitar of Jeff Ament.

On “Alive” Dave’s cymbals have a good splash and sizzle, and the drums have good pop and thud. The strings of the guitars have an exceptional quality when listening to the Pulsar. If you listen to a lot of acoustic music or music featuring strings, I recommend giving the Pulsar a listen if you are shopping in this price range for a new set of headphones. 

Our Love is Easy

Listening to “Our Love is Easy” from Melody Gardot’s Live in Europe album. I can easily pick up on Melody’s breaths between her lyrics with the highly resolving Pulsar Headphones. 

Melody’s guitar on Baby I’m a Fool and the Cello played by Stephan Braun sounds fabulous. The depth and body of the cello show that the Pulsar is not afraid to dig deep when asked to do so; however, it will not overshare or editorialize much in these regions.  

Open By GoGo Penguin

Listening to Open from GoGo Penguin, the timbre and tone of the piano keys of Chris Illingworth and the drums or Rob Turner also show the Pulsar’s capability to sound dynamic with each piano strike presenting with feeling and each drum hit with impact. 

The double bass and bass of Nick Blacka add body and soul to the song, but it is the striking tones of the piano that lead the listener through this track when listening to the Pulsar.  

The Last Samurai  

Listening to The Last Samurai, “A Hard Teacher” by Hans Zimmer and crew, sounds utterly breathtaking, transporting me back in my mind’s eye to this epic film.  The violins' timbre is beautiful, and the wind instruments sound delicate yet lovely in tone, never sounding harsh even in the highest of notes they reach on this song.

Nine Inch Nails

Listening to “Head Like a Hole” from Nine Inch Nails Pretty Hate Machine was a different tale from the tape. I found myself wanting more bass energy and slam. The same could be said when listening to Terrible Lie, with Reznor’s vocals coming across less enjoyably than headphones tuned in a warmer and darker way.  

The Weekend

Listening to Gasoline from The Weekend’s Dawn FM album, I found the signature of the Pulsar to perform better with this song, versus the previous hard, edgy sound of Nine Inch Nails tracks. I still would say the overall bass signature of the Pulsar without any EQ doesn’t lend itself as well to this genre of music, at least not with the two amps I tested it with.  

Final Thoughts

Compared to the Pulsar, the less expensive mid-range Titano headphones present a darker quality of sound with more bass bloom and less treble and upper midrange energy. This signature works quite well with songs like Gasonline from the Weekend or the harder raw sound of Nine Inch Nails “Head Like a Hole.”  

The Pulsar is the more technical, resolving, more extensive sounding set of headphones. However, this isn’t always what we are looking for as a listener depending on the genre and quality of the recording we are listening to. The lower-priced Titano fits much better with hard, edgy-sounding music and harder-hitting bass-produced pop.  

For the audio enthusiast that is primarily listening to acoustic music, well-recorded live music, jazz, well-recorded rock, classical and orchestral compositions; that value good sound stage presentation that is well defined, with good breathing room and realistic timbre, the Pulsar is worth a look and a listen compared to the other flagship headphone offerings in the $4,000-6,000 price range!  

Trade-Up Program

If you are interested in trading up your old headphones, amplifiers, or other gently used audio gear for a new set of headphones or speakers, check out our trade-up program, and don’t forget we will price match, other authorized dealers! 

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Until next time friends, remember, let the music be your guide!  

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