Onkyo H500M headphones review
The Onkyo H500M headphones are part of the latest range from audio makers. With their promise of portability and bringing out the best of your high res digital library, has Onkyo bitten off more than it can chew?
These days it’s all about the high resolution, lossless digital audio for those that care about how their music sounds on the move. There are many players to choose from or DACs (digital analogue convertors) that will do their best to improve what comes out your phone. But what about headphones?
I know that there’s plenty of top flight headphones to select from but when you’re on the commute or just having a walk, you don’t really want to be carting around half-a-tonne strapped of earpleasers to your head.
The Oppo PM-3 have been my go to cans for when out and about, and I’ll have the occasional dalliance with a Bluetooth set (currently Skullcandy’s Hesh 2) but what it I wanted to go even lighter?
Onkyo H500M design
These on-ear cans certainly look comfy and what instantly struck me when I got them out of the box is just how remarkably light they were. Almost disappointingly so.
Now, I know that I have just contradicted myself in saying that lightweight is better for when you’re walking about but then said because these are so light that they felt disappointing but stay with me here a bit longer.
Yes, they are light, but they are not cheaply made. Not at all.
These closed back headphones feature an aluminium housing which provides a rigid metal cabinet to eliminate unwanted vibrations.
Included is a detachable, 1.2 metre, twisted, tangle-free cable which is also low profile and lightweight (especially when compared to the Atlas Zeno). The cable is also fitted with a one-button in-line remote which also houses the microphone for hands-free calling. The plastic used for this and the bottom of the headband feels to be of good quality.
I like the little design touch of the metal posts that connect the band to the cups with the right one marked with a red line.
The H500M are available in white or black and look modern and rather slick in my opinion.
Onkyo H500M performance
The H500M are fitted with 40mm drivers which boast a super-wide frequency range of 7Hz-40kHz.
This leads me to believe that when Onkyo attached the Hi-Res Audio sticker to the headphone’s cable, they were feeling quite confident about things.
As you might already know, there are several streaming services that offer audio at CD-quality or higher. I was an early adopter of Tidal (pre-music star take-over) and am still a fan so this was my streaming channel of choice.
Right from the off I could you hear that these headphones really do offer something extra when compared to other headphones I have hear to test.
The sound is very clear and full with all the notes are neatly separated across the range. I was particularly impressed by the level of isolation that these on-ears actually managed to offer.
Cranking up the dial with some FLAC Fleetwood Mac and even at loud volumes the sound quality is still good. The mids are especially clear with guitar and vocals harmonising rather than fighting for space.
The bass has a very strong presence without being overbearing or muddied, even when playing the classic grungy stylings of Mudhoney and early Nirvana.
OK, so not everyone is willing to pay for Tidal or even the better version of Spotify so it was time to test it with some of my older MP3s which were ripped at embarrisingly low bit rates because players had small memories back then.
After some rather toe-curling moments getting past that hissy, washy cymbal sound that you get with low bit rate rips, I did notice that the mids in the headphones also dropped away slightly. The sound was still good, level-wise, but I was glad to get back to the comfort of a more lossless environment.
Onkyo H500M review conclusion
The H500M costs £130 and for cans this good that is more than a fair price in my mind.
If you don’t want the isolation of over-ear headphones and the weight or chunkier look of ones that offer a purer sound, I have no hesitation in recommending the Onkyo H500M. Saying that, you will most probably also have to add a fair wadge of cash too as these sound really good for the price.
For a mobile headset I would’ve loved it if they could fold up smaller to pack away – but that’s a very minor point.
I guarantee that these headphones, with good quality material, will have you grinning like a Cheshire Cat, especially if you are only just discovering the pleasure of lossless digital audio.
They are available now from Selfridges and Argos. For more details head over to the Okyo site.