If you wonder why we are continually reviewing headphones, it’s because headphones are where the money is at right now. The headphone market is booming, with most people packing a powerful mobile DJ system in their pockets. People also care about sound mobile sound a little bit more – long gone are they days where the bundle headphones with your phone are deemed “good enough” (it was always bizarre how Apple prided itself on high quality products but used to sell iPhones with terrible quality earphones). They’re also a little bit of a fashion statement, led by chunky Beats by Dre headphones and other lifestyle brands such as the great SoL which we played with a while back.
Onkyo are one of the leaders in home audio, but want a piece of the delicious headphone market pie, releasing two high-end closed-back on-ear models:
Onkyo ES-HF300 – £179.99 – featuring an audiophile-grade cable
Onkyo ES-FC300 – £149.99 – tangle-free flat profile elastomer cable
I’m testing a pair of the ES-FC300 and they look and feel great. The aluminum driver housing is shaped to resemble the volume control an Onkyo hi-fi and the temptation to twist it is high. Everything is well padded and extremely comfortable and the understated nature of the design means you don’t look quite as clownish as some other headphones. I also love the removable cabling – which I’d like to stop being a feature and start being an essential. I’ve lost far too many good headphones to faulty cables. The ES-FC300 features an elastomer cable with a flattened cross-section, which should minimize tangle.
Of course it’s the inside that counts and the wide-range 40mm titanium drivers and unique ported bass sub-chambers mean you get a decent level of sound for your hard earned cash, and don’t miss out on any high, mid or low range performance.
However, the pair I was testing seemed to have very leaky sound. Whilst listening to the admittedly shrill Call Chelsea Peretti my flatmates complained of being able to head every word that was said. This may well be a Shem-specific problem (I get quite a lot of those), so check with a few other reviews to see if it’s an isolated incident before laying out your hard earned cash.
ES-FC300 Closed back, on-ear, with flat profile cable (black/red cable, white/white cable or violet/violet cable) – £149.99