They say when it comes to headphones, wood housing are good since they produce a better and natural sound quality. Today, we are going to look at the thinksound On1 on-ear monitor headphone, featuring a 40mm dynamic driver and a wood housing. Before we proceed, I’d like to thank thinksound for sending their On1 for the purpose of this review. Thinksound is an Eco-friendly company that uses recycled materials and that’s a big thumbs up for me. I was really surprised to see the packaging of this product, and even with their rain2 in-ear headphone. I think most were made out of recycled materials. The thinksound On1 has been in the market for a quite some time now, but until today it’s still a very competitive pair of cans in its price range. Let’s continue below and find out more about the On1. This could be your next pair of cans.
thinksound On1 Headphone Review
As you can see from the photo above, the thinksound On1 has a hand crafted natural wood housing that is said to help produce an accurate music reproduction. There aren’t many headphones on the market that uses wood housing, mostly are hard plastic and metal, or other materials. The On1 is also a supra-aural high definition monitor that is capable of producing a very rich and natural sound quality. It also features the award-winning thinksound™ signature acoustics.
It has a frequency response from 5Hz-22KHz and an impedance of 50 ohms. I’ll talk about its sound quality in the later part of this review. It has 40mm dynamic drivers on both sides and uses a 3.5mm steel reinforced gold plated stereo plug. It also features an ultra-lightweight design, approximately weighing around 10 grams only. It doesn’t have noise canceling features, but it has a passive noise isolation feature that minimizes ambient sounds. The On1 is also compatible with mobile devices like iPhone, Android and many more.
I’ll talk more about its feature as we take a closer look at the On1 below.
Packaging and Closer Look
The thinksound On1 on-ear headphone comes with a nice and clean white box like what you see above. Most of its features are already printed at the back. It also reads: “Sound with a conscience. thinksound began with a simple goal; to create sounding headphones with the smallest eco-footprint possible. Our headphones are made of real wood, creating more natural resonance. We choose as many renewable resources and recyclable materials as we can to minimize our overall environmental impact.”
Sliding the front cover off will reveal a box made out of recycled material. Even the carrying pouch is made from recycled material. It’s really simple yet very presentable and neat looking in my opinion. By the way, since they are using the natural wood, expect that that pattern you see on the wood will not be the same from other batches. Some wood housing may have a linear pattern on it, while others may have wavy lines or circular patterns.
Also in the box, you get two 4.5 feet Kevlar reinforced, tangle-resistant fabric braided detachable cables. One cable comes with a mic control and the other one is just a plain straight cable. These cables are well constructed, very neat looking and doesn’t leave any kinks. The stock cables are good, but I’m glad it uses a standard 3.5mm jack. This means you can use better sounding cables with the On1 if ever you don’t like the sound quality with the stock cables, or if you simply don’t like the cable itself.
The hand crafted wood housing looks really nice, with the thinksound’s logo engraved on both housing. The housing is also varnished with a glossy finished and no amount of bump or crease was found on both housing. thinksound is using memory foam ear pads which are very comfortable and smooth feeling, not to mention they look very round as well. There’s also a thin layer of black cloth that act as a filter between the speakers and your ears.
On top, the headband is covered with cloth that provides some amount of padding. The company’s logo is noticeably embroidered on the headband. Just as an observation, the cloth attracts dusts and lint easily. So you may need to clean it with a lint remover from time to time. Or simply use an adhesive tape to extract the lint. If you noticed from the pictures above, the material that is used to hold the ear cups is plastic. They look durable enough and feel sturdy as well. But I wouldn’t intentionally put some stress on this plastic handles because at some point they will break.
However, that may not be the same case with the headband. The headband is very durable and flexible. I tried bending it and twisting it and it held pretty well. But don’t try to flatten the headband on a regular or prolonged period. This will lessen the clamping force and it may reach to the point that it may not be able to hug your head firmly. Just like most headbands, you can adjust the length of the headband by simply sliding it in or out. Although, I find it a little bit awkward since the slider is somewhere higher or farther from the ear cups than the usual.
The ear pads are completely removable and replaceable. If it gets damaged, you can get another pair from thinksound for around $20. They even got replacement cables in case you lost them as well. Another thing that I like about the On1’s design is that you only need to twist the ear pads to remove it. See those three small hooks surrounding the speaker? Simply align the ear pads with the hooks and twist it the other way to lock it.
The thinksound On1 is very much comfortable to wear. It doesn’t have a strong clamping force and the ear pads are smooth and feel good on my ears. However, like what I said in my V-Moda XS review, I’d like to point that I’m not an on-ear headphone type of guy. So I can only wear them for about an hour and after that I need to rest my ears. But if I were to compare the level of comfort between the On1, V-Moda XS and Beyerdynamic T51 i, I’d say the On1 is the most comfortable on-ear headphone amongst the three.
Testing and Sound Quality
I have been listening with the thinksound On1 for about a couple of months now. My primary audio source is my desktop PC using an external DAC/AMP, the iFi Nano iDSD. Second, I’m also using my Hidizs AP100 as my current mobile player. And finally, I also tried to use the On1 with my iPhone 5. Basically the On1 can be used in almost all audio players, and even the iPhone 5 was able to drive it just fine. Most of the tracks I listened with are uncompressed / lossless audio in FLAC format, while few are in MP3 format with a bit rate of 320Kbps.
When we talked about monitor headphones, usually they have a neutral sound signature. We should hear music the way they are recorded, and not too heavy on bass or not too bright as well. Usually monitor headphones are flat and are well-balanced across the frequencies. The On1 is not an exemption to that. It does have a neutral sound quality, but it is a bit leaning towards being warmish. On top of that, the sound that it produces is clear, crystal-clear, detailed and well-articulated. This is good specially if you are listening to music with lossless format. But it may be a disadvantage if you are listening to poorly encoded MP3 files since the distortions and other imperfections becomes obvious. Let’s dissect this further.
The On1 has a good amount of bass that nicely extends down further. It’s has a clean and smooth bass, the type of bass that gives you that warm feeling specially when called upon by the music. It’s also well controlled with good amount of impact, and without being boomy. The bass is well defined that the details are still there, clearly. When I compared the On1 with the B&W P7 and the V-MODA M-100, I find the P7 and M-100 to have a stronger or heavier bass presence. Sometimes the bass are exhibited even if the music doesn’t require it. But with the On1, you feel the bass of the music when it is called for.
The mid frequency is the most important part amongst the three, and it’s good to hear that the On1 has a very good representation of the mid frequencies. It’s very natural sounding, it’s not laid back nor veiled, nor over emphasized either. It is not too thick or too thin, but sometimes I feel that it’s a little bit warmish in some tracks. When I listen to the voice of the artist, the voice is rich and well separated from the instruments. Comparing the On1 with the Beyer T51 i, I think the On1 has a clearer and more accurate mids. Although sometimes, I find it a little bit thinner compared to the V-Moda XS.
When it comes to the highs, the treble is pretty much clean and detailed as well. After a good burn in period, I find the highs clear enough without being sibilant or too bright. The sound is not ear-piercing and it’s smooth on the ears. The sound of cymbals doesn’t sound harsh on my ears despite being clear and well reproduced. I listen to rock music and most of the time I shy away from headphones or IEMs with sensitive highs. I can’t bear to listen to Metallica when the cymbals start to pierce through my ears. Good thing I didn’t experience any of that with the On1.
The thinksound On1 has a decent amount of sound staging. But I don’t think that it’s wide enough to give that 3D holographic effect. The good news is it’s not too narrow as well that makes everything seems to be in one line. When I listen to Hans Zimmer’s Drink Up Me Hearties I can still tell that some of the instruments are position at the back or farther away. Usually these are the drums that produce rumbling sound. Meanwhile the violins and other string instruments feels that they are somewhere in the middle going towards the front.
Overall, I’d say that the On1 has a well-balanced tonality across the frequency, without overlapping one another. I think it is somewhat similar with the characteristics and tonality from the Audio Technica ATH-M50x, which is a very good monitor headphone for its price. In terms of noise isolation, it may not be as good compared to full-sized over ear headphones. It does somehow isolate the sound from my surrounding, but because my ears are somewhat larger, it wasn’t able to fully cover them. Thus when I listen to soft music, I can hear the noise from my surroundings.
Price and Availability
The thinksound On1 on-ear monitor headphone is very much available. Originally, the company was selling the On1 for $299, but at the time I published this review the price has dropped down to $199 only, making it a really attractive pair of cans for its price. You can purchase one directly from thinksound’s online store here. Thinksound is offering a limited two year warranty for the On1.
thinksound On1 Review: Conclusion
Up until I finish writing this review, the thinksound On1 still remained faithful with its sound quality. Based on my subjective listening, I think it’s a good on-ear monitor headphone that is a bit warmish, yet has a very clear and well detailed mid rage. The wood ear cups look great but the overall design may not be fashionable looking, depending on your taste. However it’s good to know that it’s very comfortable to wear and won’t squeeze your head like a pair of tweezers. And this is coming from a person who is not an on-ear fan. I’d love to see thinksound coming up with a full sized over-ear headphone in the near future. Let’s not forget the fact that it’s only $199 as of publishing this review, making the On1 a really good deal already.
In terms of sound quality, most of you might have probably skipped to the conclusion part. You have to read back to get more details about its sound quality based on my subjective listening. Well if you like a short and simple answer, the thinksound On1 produces a clean and well-articulated sound quality, overall well-balanced, somewhat neutral but is leaning towards being warmish. I’d like to point out that you don’t need further amplification to enjoy the On1. Although using a good DAC with headphone Amp may improve your listening experience. It works well with the iPhone 5, and I bet with other mobile devise as well. However, if you do experience some noise or distortions, replacing the cable with a better sounding one may also improve the sound quality that you are getting.
Finally, the thinksound On1 is overall a good sounding on-ear headphone. You can safely use it on most genres, unless you are very particular with the sound signature that matches the type of your music. If you think you like its sound quality based on my subjective listening and you like its design, not to mention fits your budget as well, then the On1 might be your match, or at least make your list of options shorter.