I was never a really big fan of on-ear or supra-aural headphones in the past. They always seemed to be uncomfortable or not offer a proper seal granting the full sound or decent noise isolation. My stance changed when I got the chance to review the Jays u-Jays a while back. They really surprised me with their build quality and balanced sound presentation. So when I had a chance to test the Thinksound On2 I went into it reservedly optimistic but still a little dubious. What happened next? Well anyone with a lick of sense should have an idea already after seeing my final rating but if you want to know how I came to that conclusion then read on friends.
- Constructed from eco-friendly materials
- Clear, balanced sound
- Very comfortable for an on-ear headphone
According to the Co-Founder and president of Thinksound Aaron Fournier the company was formed
“to make headphones that we would want to listen to; and we’re not easily satisfied.”
Not only that but they also wanted to make their products using Eco-friendly materials which I think is an admirable attribute for any manufacturer and to top it off they offer discounts on future purchases if you send in your old Thinksound product for their recycling initiative.
This sample was sent to me for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own, based on my experience with the product.
At the time of writing, the has an MSRP of $199.
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
What’s in the box
- On2 headphone
- Two (2) 4.5’ long detachable cables – (1) with mic control and (1) without
- Canvas storage pouch
- User manual
The On2 comes is a plain white box that is both simple and elegant. On the front is a nice, detailed image of the headphone along with the product name. Over on the back is another image as well as specifications, accessories and features.
Upon removing the outer sheath we’re greeted with another plain box made of unbleached cardboard adorned with a single Thinksound logo. Opening this reveals a canvas storage pouch that is useful for transporting or storing the headphones when not in use. Inside the canvas bag are the two provided cables and user manual.
Under the canvas pouch sit the On2 headphones in a cardboard inlay, in their folded configuration. First impressions make a difference and the presentation of the On2 is done very well. It’s a coherent, practical package with the colours and materials used hinting at the Eco-friendly and earthy nature of the product.
The provided cables are Kevlar reinforced and braided or fabric covered. They’re extremely lightweight, tangle resistant and of good quality. The length is perfect for portability at around 1.37 meters and they roll up easily and sit well well in use. There is also very little microphonics present when in use.
One of the cables has an inline remote and microphone and both terminate in a straight, 3.5 mm gold-plated plug adorned with the Thinksound logo. These are of really high quality and are some of my favourite headphone cables to date.
BUILD, COMFORT AND ISOLATION
It’s immediately apparent the first time you hold it in your hands that the On2 has excellent build quality. The headband is covered in a smooth pleather material with Thinksound stitched onto the top side. On the underside of the headband is some padding which at first glance looks a little thin but due to the light weight of the headphones and stellar ergonomics, any pressure is evenly distributed across the head and ears.
There is a notched adjustment slider on each side and on the right side, you’ll notice that the inner side of the clamp has a red face. On the outer side of the right clamp is a little red square with an R marking. Both of these obviously indicate the right side and while very easy to see when you’re picking up the headphones they’re barely noticeable when you’re wearing the On2. It’s little touches like this that give me warm fuzzy feelings inside as it shows the attention to detail that the designer has given to their work and it adds to the end user’s experience.
Moving further down the sides the arms are made of matte black and slightly textured recycled plastic that not only feels durable but leaves no unsightly fingerprints from handling. Onto the ear-cups now which are crafted of wood and feel every bit as good as they look. Each side is engraved with the Thinksound branding but it’s tastefully done and actually complements the natural finish of the wood.
The ear pads are the same smooth pleather that adorns the headband. There’s a good amount of thickness to them and they’re soft to the touch. They do a pretty good job of covering my larger than average ears and after a few days use they softened up even more and now I find them to be really comfortable even during extended listening.
They’re attached to the headphones by a clever locking tab design and can be attached or removed with a simple twist. Removing the ear pads reveals a steel mesh that covers and protects the driver. Replacement pads can be bought from the Thinksound website so if the original ones get damaged, lost or worn over time they’re really easy to replace.
As I hinted at above, the Thinksound On2 is a very comfortable headphone, especially for a supra-aural design. With its even lightweight distribution, low clamp force and generously thick ear pads I found I can wear these for hours on end very easily.
Because the cups are designed to be folded up for storage or transport they have a good range of rotation and tilt so they sort of settle themselves in the optimal position on your ears. The cable adds to the comfort as it is so light and doesn’t pull down on the phones while you’re wearing them. Thinksound really hit the ergonomics out of the park here.
When it comes to noise isolation these do surprisingly well. The pads are big enough to cover large ears and there’s enough clamp force to hold them in place and get a decent seal. The natural density of the wood blocks out a good amount of sound making the On2 the perfect companion for a noisy environment or a bus/train ride.
Sources used for testing
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
PC/MusicBeen > Audinst HUD-MX2 > Phatlab Sassy2 > On2
Music used for testing
Pink Floyd – “The Great Gig in the Sky” The Dark Side of the Moon
Jeremy Soule – “Frostfall” The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim OST
The Gloaming – “Samhradh Samhradh” The Gloaming
Devin the Dude – “I Can’t Make it Home (feat L.C)” Landing Gear
Rag’n’Bone Man – “As You Are” Human (Deluxe) (2017)
This is a very easy to drive headphone and will sound great even straight from a budget DAP or mobile phone. I didn’t notice any significant benefits from throwing more power at them. Having said that however the On2 does reflect the quality of the source you’re using and will shine even more when using a good quality DAP or DAC.
Airy, non-fatiguing, engaging and balanced is how I would sum up the sound of the On2. There’s a surprising amount of resolution from these and they pick up minute details even at low volume. They sound great with every genre I task them with showing a great depth and agility across the board.
The On2’s bass has had a bit of a boost but doesn’t try to wow you and is well controlled which isn’t surprising as they’re part of the monitor series. There’s a reason that wood is one of the most favoured materials for speaker cabinets and that’s due to its inherent resonance properties and density that gives music a natural timbre (and besides that, it looks awesome). The bass is punchy, fast yet still has a natural sounding decay and a real texture.
Kick drums and bass notes have a well-defined edge that resonates beautifully in the wooden ear-cups. Sub-bass reaches satisfyingly low levels yet is masterfully balanced within the overall sound spectrum. Simply put the On2 has one of the best-tuned basses I’ve heard in the sub $200 category. There’s enough drive to bring EDM and hip-hop to life and it’s conservative enough to not become overbearing in rock and acoustic music.
In “Frosfall” from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim OST the On2 shows a rich fullness in the stringed instruments and orchestral voices but still manages to sound uncoloured and natural. I wouldn’t call the midrange forward but it certainly isn’t recessed – again it’s that hovering around neutral yet musical balance that the On2 achieves so well.
Vocals sound great on these too with natural tonality and just the right amount of warmth for male voices although there’s a very small range in the upper mids that sometimes borders on being a little thin but for the most part, I didn’t notice unless I was looking for it. There’s great instrument separation and spacing within sounds and the small details that sneak into the music continue to surprise me.
The treble is another strong point of the On2 bringing just the right amount of liveliness without becoming strident or peaky, however, I did notice that in The Pineapple Thief’s “The Final Thing on My Mind” the high hats were a little lacking and the timbre of some of the cymbals sounded a hint off-kilter. This is just nitpicking really as for the majority of music I’ve listened to they were spot-on and at no point did they display any sibilance and bring enough in the highs to convey excitement.
Soundstage is neither particularly wide or narrow but there’s a good perception of space in all directions and imaging and positioning are precise. I feel that the ample thickness of the ear-pads help generate some airiness while keeping the imagery accurate.
Jays u-Jays ($119 USD on Amazon)
These both have a well-balanced sound. The u-Jays are slightly more intimate and mids are a little more forward than those on the On2. The Thinksound On2 sounds a little more airy, probably because of creating a little more space from the ears due to their thicker ear-pads. Both have remarkable build quality and great comfort with the On2 having the slightest edge in comfort because of its softer padding on the headband.
The u-Jays punch well above their price and come very close to directly competing with the On2 when it comes to sound. If you want more forward and intimate mids or looking to spend a bit less then the u-Jays might be right for you and if you want a slightly more neutral sound with an eco-friendly build then the Thinksound On2 meets those requirements. You can’t go wrong with either one.
Recently I met up with a good friend of mine in a coffee shop. He’s not an audiophile and has only ever bought budget off the shelf earphones. I’m forever boring him with my never-ending gushing over my latest IEMs or DAPs. I asked him if he’d like to hear the Thinksound On2. He acquiesced and since he’s a bit of an old-timer and hails from the USA I chose “Hotel California” from The Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over as I wanted something he’d definitely be familiar with. When the song was finished he took the headphones off and asked me what the price was. After I’d told him his next words were “Where can I buy some?” This is a true story and will hopefully give the reader some insight on the immediate impact the Thinksound On2 can have.
They’re comfortable, compact, portable and have a charming, detailed and clear sound. On top of that, they’re environmentally friendly and carry a high degree of build quality. For anyone looking at buying an on-ear headphone under $200, I would unreservedly recommend the Thinksound On2.
You can buy the Thinksound On2 on Amazon HERE.