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On1 Build Quality and Fit

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The thinksound On1 headphones have wood earcups with memory foam earpads. The wood earcups are supposed to be handcrafted for more accurate sound reproduction. Now, a quick glance at the sentence makes is sound like each earcup is carved by hand but, more likely, the original model was crafted by hand and the rest were carved by machines. I often deconstruct such sentences (my favorite is "Designed in the USA" as if to suggest that it is manufactured and assembled anywhere other than China) and assume the worst. The fact remains, however, that the earcup is real wood and is absolutely gorgeous. They are smooth to the touch but still have that feel of real wood. The have a nice coat of lacquer and the thinksound name is etched into each side.

on1_foam

Soft and cushy

The cable attaches to the right earcup and is fabric covered. Under the cable, according to thinksound, is a layer of Kevlar to prevent or reduce tangles. What really prevents tangles is the stiffness of the cable. Small, thin, and extremely flexible cables end up in knots before you can blink. The heavier and stiffer the cable, the less it tangles. The thinksound On1 cable is very thick and has enough stiffness to keep it from getting in very bad tangles. Even when it did knot, the cable would not bend enough for the knot to get tight so the loops that the thinksound cables came in were about as tight as any knot. This meant that it was easy to untangle it which, for me, is a win in the tangle contest.

The downside of the fabric-covered cable is noise transmission. I think the problem is that the fabric has a texture. When you run your finger across the cable (or the cable rubs against your shirt), noise is transmitted to the right earphone. Even at higher volumes, you can hear the noise over your music. I primarily used the cable with the in-line controls and anything above the control was clearly audible. After the control it wasn't as bad but I could still hear cable noise over my music as far as half way down the cable. The standard, non-in-line control cable was actually worse as the noise was louder past the point of the in-line control.

on1_cable_band

The cables are quite a bit thicker than any of the competition increasing their tangle-resistance

While, aesthetically, I liked the cable, the noise was a pretty big issue. thinksound claims that the On1 can be used for exercising (specifically they said that they are "perfect for the gym" because they have a sweat resistant design), I think that the noise issue may bother more than a few listeners. As I generally use my headphones while either sitting or working around the house (cooking mostly), the noise issue didn't bother me too much. One thing I did really like was that thinksound went with a 3.5mm connection at the earcup. This meant that I could switch out their cable with any of the others that I have (and it allows you to pair them with any number of aftermarket cables).

on1_band_sideThe On1 headphones have a fabric (I'm going with hemp again because I like to type that word) covered headband. Under is metal but I really have to compliment thinksound on the amount of padding. They could have gone with more and I've tested plenty of headphones that have had less, but they seemed to have hit the sweetspot where it was just enough to be comfortable but not so much as to be bulky. The thinksound name is stitched across the top which is another clue as to how to put the On1s on.

My only knock in the build quality was the arms that held the earcups onto the metal slides. These were constructed out of plastic and felt (and looked) very cheap in comparison to the rest of the materials on the On1 headphones. Frankly, I had a hard time reconciling the plastic with the Eco goal. Was it recycled plastic? thinksound never specified which materials were recycled and it seemed that the only recycled materials were the packaging. While that is better than most companies do, the plastic seemed extremely out of place on the On1 headphones.

The plastic arms had a swivel just above the earcup with a hinge. This allowed the earcups to rotate ninety degrees and fold into the headband. This is a fairly typical solution for making a pair of headphones smaller for transport and it works very well. The hinges and swivels were very loose on the On1s and the earcups tended to flop around when they weren't on my head. This too was another reason I didn't like the plastic parts and really took away from the overall quality of the On1 headphones.

Fit

The thinksound On1 are an on-ear headphone which means that the earpads are extremely important. The memory foam is some of the most plush I've experienced. They are soft and supple to the touch and almost demand to be rubbed. If anything, they seem a bit too soft as it seemed like they might bottom out on your ear if the fit was too snug. I didn't experience that but I have a smallish head. If thinksound could have included softer earpads, I don't see how. These were absolutely top quality.

on1_control

Single button controls are easier to operate if the button is huge like it is on the On1s

If you have experienced on-ear headphones and find them comfortable, you're going to love the On1s. I'm not one of those people. I find on-ears in general to be quite uncomfortable and can usually barely make it through a two hour listening session with them. The On1s were no different and I was constantly fiddling with them to keep them pressing on a different part of my ear. I can't really hold this against the On1 headphones as it is a limitation of the on-ear design. I do wonder why they decided on an on-ear rather than over-ear design for a headphone that was billed as a studio monitor. I really don't see many studio engineers using any on-ear headphone much less these.

While thinksound says that the On1s are perfect for the gym, I respectfully disagree (depending on your exercise I suppose). This is not a knock against the On1s at all. Instead, it is a compliment. Let me explain: To be "perfect for the gym", the fit would have to be really snug. Unless you are one of those that do exercises that allow you to do them while sitting still, any movement is going to eventually work the On1s off your head (or at least out of place). In order for the On1s to be a real gym headphone, they'd have to be quite a bit tighter (if you have a large head, this might be the case for you). Tighter, in the world of on-ear headphones, generally equates to uncomfortable. Now, if you have a larger head, do the right types of exercises, or just don't find tight on-ears uncomfortable, you and the On1s will likely have many hours happy together in the gym. For all the rest, you'll be able to enjoy your On1s the way most people do - at home or the office being relatively stationary.

on1_tips

Standard 3.5mm plugs are always preferred over proprietary connections

 

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