Pros: Build, comfort and midrange
Cons: Overwhelming bass, soundsignature not as expected
I would like to start with saying thank you to Pro-Ject Europe for giving me the chance to check out the Pro-Ject Hear It One.
I’d also like to than my friend Felix (@WayneWoondirts) for making the tour happening and including me on it.
The Pro-Ject Hear It One is available on Amazon:
I’m not in any way affiliated with Pro-Ject.
Short about Pro-Ject:
Pro-Ject is an Austria based company that’s been around for quite some time (founded in 1990).
For people interested in listening to vinyl Pro-Ject is a well regarded and serious brand in turntables and accessories but they do also offer micro stereo components and headphones.
I’m a 43 year old music and sound lover that changed my focus from speakers to headphones and IEM’s about five years ago. At that time I realized that it wasn’t realistic for me to have all the different setups that I wanted and still house a family of four children and a wife so my focus turned first to full sized headphones and later also IEM’s.
My preferences are towards full sized open headphones and I believe that also says something about what kind of sound signature I prefer (large soundstage in all directions, balanced and organic sound).
My music preferences are pretty much all over the place (only excluding classical music, jazz and really heavy metal). My all-time favorite band is Depeche Mode although I also listen to a lot of grunge/indie, singer/songwriter/acoustical stuff as well as the typical top 40 music.
I do not use EQ, ever.
I’m a sucker for value for money on most things in life Head-Fi related stuff is no exception.
Built and accessories:
The Pro-Ject Hear It One is an on-ear dynamic headphone featuring a 38 mm driver.
It comes in only one version without a microphone.
The cable has a straight 3.5 mm connector. Although I personally prefer L-shaped (45 or 90 degrees) connectors this one seems very well built and should hold up for a long time. The cable is clothed and seems to be of good quality. It’s connected to the headphones through the left ear cup. Unfortunately the cable is not detachable. I would’ve really liked for Pro-Ject to have used a detachable cable solution to give the customer the option to use a cable with microphone if they want.
The build in general seems very solid. The housings are plastic with back plates in aluminum. The headband is made of metal and covered with leather. There’s no denying that the design of the Hear It One is more or less identical to offerings from Fischer Audio, Maxell and Brainwavz. I was lucky to get a hold of a pair of the Brainwavz HM3 for comparison and I can confirm that although the physical design is more or less identical the drivers are not.
The retail package is pretty basic for a product at this price point.
The accessories pack is pretty spare and includes the following:
A 3.5 to 6.5 mm adapter
A pouch to store them in when not in use
Pro-Ject also offers a second option in ear pads but unfortunately these are not included in the package but have to be bought separately.
The Hear It One is average hard to drive but still works fine even with my weak (in power) Sony Z3Compact phone.
38mm Neodymium dynamic
Fit and ergonomics:
I find the Hear It One’s to be very comfortable. The stock pads are plush and soft and even with third party pads the comfort is very high. I usually don’t like on ear headphones because they make my ears hurt pretty quickly but that’s not the case with the Hear It One. I’ve got a very small head and use the Hear It One in their smallest setting and they fit me will this way. Headband adjustment is very simple you just drag the cups to the position that suits you best.
As already mentioned the head band is made of leather but it’s also stuffed with memory form for higher comfort and this works very well.
Isolation is also quite good, I’d say about average for a closed can and above average for an on ear.
I’ve used these as my main Headphones for the last week and they’ve played for well over 100 hours. I’ve used them both around the house and when out and about and I haven’t really found any significant weaknesses in the way they’re designed.
I’ve used them with my Sony Xperia Z3 Compact phone (with and without the Elecom LBT-PAR500) as well as the the CEntrance DACport Slim. Although they work well with all of these combinations my favorite is that with the PAR500 due to it being the most lean on the bass out of these sources.
Mark Knopfler – Sailing to Philadelphia
Røyksopp (Feat.Susanne Sundfør) – Save Me
Ane Brun – These Days
Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana
Metallica – Die Die My Darling
The Peter Malick Group – Immigrant
Eva Cassidy – Songbird
Thomas Dybdahl – A Lovestory
Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why
Celldweller – Unshakeable
Jack Johnson – Better Together
Seinabo Sey – Younger (Kygo remix)
Dire Straits- So Far Away
Passenger – Let Her Go
Lupe Fiasco - Deliver
Morrissey – Earth Is the Loneliest Planet
The overall sound signature of the Hear It One’s is intimate, mid-bass focused and on the warm side.
The sub-bass’s not the most prominent but it’s still there when called for. The texture of the sub-bass is slightly loose. Mid-bass on the other hand is pretty much ever present. If there’s one thing that can make or break and headphone or IEM for me it’s the quality and quantity of the mid-bass. Unfortunately this is where the Hear It One falls short. The mid-bass are too overwhelming for my taste and the texture of it is also on the loose and boomy side.
The midrange, as long as it’s not interrupted by the mid-bass, is actually quite nice with good texture and liquid presentation. Vocal (especially male) comes out as clear and full and doesn’t feel recessed.
Treble is also soft, full and smooth but rolls of too early for my preference and also lack some sparkle to be engaging enough. On the other hand this means that there’s no sibilance at all with them.
Clarity and micro details are also pretty good, especially for a headphone this warm and bassy sounding. Soundstage width is nothing special and the presentation is quite intimate but soundstage depth is good.
I’d also like to add some extra information regarding sound and the possibility to tweak it with the use of different pads.
Since Pro-Ject actually offers a second design of pads for the Hear It One’s (although I’ve not been able to find any place that sells them) I’d thought that it’d be relevant to include this section.
By changing the stock pads with their very small opening to pads with a larger opening the sound changes quite dramatically. The mid bass presence are heavily reduced (albeit still slightly too much for my preference), soundstage is larger and details comes across better. Given the kind of customers already familiar with Pro-Ject through their other products it’s unbelievable to me why they didn’t include the pads with the bigger opening in the package (or at least shipped them with those instead) if they had I’m pretty sure that the Hear It One would’ve been a much more popular headphone. This reviewer would most likely have rewarded them with one star higher rating if this had been the case.
Alternative pads with large opening.
Stock pads with small opening.
Please note that the comments in the comparison section are not in absolute terms but in comparison between subject A and B. This means (as an example) that if subject A is found to be brighter than subject B it does not necessarily mean that subject A is bright sounding in absolute terms. I hope this makes sense.
Don Scorpio Dolphin’s vs Pro-Ject Hear It One:
Compared to the Hear It One the Dolphin’s is slightly brighter sounding with a bigger soundstage width and depth. Although the Dolphin’s has a lift in the mid-bass they never cross the border for what I’m comfortable with and they’ve got quite a bit less mid-bass compared to the Hear It One. Sub-bass is pretty similar in quantity but the Dolphin’s got better layering and tighter bass. The Dolphin’s also has better micro details, separation and clarity.
Although both of these are well built and very comfortable I’d give the edge on both accounts to the Dolphin’s.
They’re both equally easy to drive.
Isolation is slightly better on the Dolphin’s.
Takstar Pro80 vs Pro-Ject Hear It One:
Compared to the Hear It One’s the Pro80’s has a much bigger soundstage width while depth is pretty similar. Sub-bass impact is quite similar but the Pro80’s got better quality bass. Mid-bass has less quantity but is tighter on the Pro80’s. The overall signature on the Pro80’s is also brighter and the treble is thinner but has better extension. The Pro80’s also has better micro details, separation and clarity.
I find the Pro80’s to be more comfortable and both are very well built.
The Pro80’s are harder to drive.
Being around ear design the Pro80’s offers better isolation.
Brainnwavz HM3 vs Pro-Ject Hear It One:
Despite their extremely similar looks the HM3 and Hear It one does not sound the same (although similar). Compared to the Hear It One the HM3 has a more airy presentation with significant less mid-bass presence. Overall presentation is also slightly brighter and more air while details are similar.
Although the design is very similar I still find the Hear It One to be the more comfortable of the two due to its better materials used in the headband.
These two are equally easy to drive.
Isolation is similar on both.
Similar looks, different internals.
To sum things up I must honestly say that I’m struggling to see the red thread with this offering from Pro-Ject. I would’ve thought that with their position in the audiophile world they’d like to offer something in the same line when they turned to headphones. Instead they offer a bass dominated sound signature suited for young people listening to music on YouTube combined with a design that’s certainly more appealing to older people (like me). Also the on ear design sends a pretty clear message that this is a headphone to be used when on the move but still there’s no choice for a microphone with them.
Despite of this the Hear It One offers a quite enjoyable listening (with other pads than the stock ones), good isolation and very good comfort. In all this has been a very interesting and fun first encounter for me with Pro-Ject.
In the future I really hope that Pro-Ject comes out with a full sized bigger brother to the Hear It One that’s more oriented towards the audiophile public.