It’s a good time to have an interest in headphone-based studio monitors as a number of companies have released great mobile monitoring solutions. We loved NAD’s Viso HP20 in-ear monitors, Musical Fidelity’s EB-33s in-montors were impressive and thinksound’s own in-ear lines were both aurally pleasing and partially made of wood. thinksound have returned to this winning combo with the On1 headphones.
The first thing that strikes you about the On1 headphones is thinksound’s eco-credentials – something the company wears very much on its hemp sleeves. The box feels very much like it’s made from recycled cardboard, and is designed to be recycled again – eschewing the wasteful blister packs of its competitors. There’s even a cotton carry pouch, although this is a little on the flimsy side and seems designed more to protect the environment than your headphones. And of course the housing is made from hand-crafted which thinksound claims helps with the accurate music reproduction.
Of course accurate musical reproduction is the raison d’etre of studio monitors and that’s where the On1 really excel. Three years in the making, the On1′s 40 mm drivers are carefully crafted to faithfully reproduce sound without bells and whistles. And because they have excellent passive noise isolation you will be shielded from many of the outside bells and whistles (the downside of the local church merging with the football team). You still get to listen within a large sound stage and all the Max Tundra, Run The Jewels and Das Racist I listened to sounded incredible. I had a particually great experience when listening to complex layered songs, where you could pick out synth lines that lesser headphones would lose in the mix.
The memory foam ear pads are extremely comfortable for medium periods of time, although you did start to notice them if you’d had them on for over 5 hours. The headphones come with two detachable cables (with and without smartphone and single-button controls), which is great for repairs – and both pairs are Kevlar-reinforced. The main band is also fairly malleable and withstood a fair amount of abuse and twisting.
For a penny shy of £300 these aren’t toys but if you’re serious about your listening experience these are a great buy.