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Move over AD700 and other mid-fi headphones, Onn is in town!!!... Who??? (Canadian's REJOICE!)

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

A true Diamond in the rough - Onn Enhanced Bass Professional Dynamic Open Air HiFi


I thought I was finished with full size headphones. Honest I really thought I was just going to just use IEM’s, but a head-fi meet changed all that. One afternoon of listening to Denon AH D7000, Beyerdynamic T1, and Sennheiser HD800 and other full size headphones I realized I was missing something only full size headphones can give. But I’m on a paupers budget so struggled with the thought of buying even the most affordable of the high end headphones I had heard. But as many of you know, once the seed is planted it’s hard to shake. So I started strolling the for sale forum looking for a good buy. But I just knew $6-700 was really not realistic for me right now.


Then one day I was walking through Walmart’s electronics section and as has become my habit I looked over their headphone selections and low and behold they had something new. In Wal-Mart Canada they recently started to sell Chinese imported electronics gear under the branding “Onn” and here they had two full size headphones, one open and one closed. The open headphone had the awful name “Enhanced Bass Professional Dynamic Open Air HiFi” but its specs intrigued me:


  • Driver 54mm
  • Impedance 60ohm
  • Frequency 20-24,000
  • Sensitivity 105db
  • Jack 3.5mm
  • Cable length 3m


The specs combined with a decidedly Audio Technica influenced wing system and open grill design (as can be seen in the photo’s” was enough for me to decide to give it a try despite its price of only $40, that’s not a typo, you read it correct the first time I did indeed say $40. I figured with Walmart’s return policy I couldn’t go wrong, even if I just sat in my car in the parking lot and returned the headphone 10 minutes later.


So there I was with my son sitting in the parking lot, him playing with his trading cards, me taking a quick listen in case I was holding onto a pile of garbage. My expectations were low; after all how good can a $40 Chinese knock off sound, especially one that upon opening the box had such an obviously poor cable? I plugged them into my iPhone and found the specs were legit in regards to sensitivity and ohms as I had to crank the iphone up to ¾ volume, but then I had my first surprise, “hmmm these don’t sound nearly as bad as I feared”..., in fact the more I listened the more I knew I was going to have to take these home for further testing.


Once at home and able to use my sound card (Auzentech Forte 7.1 with headphone amp vs. my desktop amp which was having hissing issues) the surprises kept coming. Since these looked like an AT headphone I fully expected an AT AD700/900 type of sound. What I got instead was incredibly heavy bass, a nice midrange that seemed ever so slightly slightly recessed and sparkly treble that was a bit rolled off. As for detail I found these to be smack dab between the the AD700 and the AD900/Sennheiser HD600. The sound stage was as good as the AD900 or the HD600 but not quite as wide as the AD700.


By this point I was pretty excited by the find. Here I was, only $40 spent and I had headphones that sounded as good as any sub $250 headphone I had heard and almost as good as $400 headphones. But I have to admit I hadn’t been listening to full size headphones lately as I mentioned above, so I contacted two of the head-fi members that were at the head-fi meet I had attended, one of which was the owner of the D7000, HD800, and T1 all at the same time. After this member picked up a set and PM’d me with his surprise at how well this unassuming headphone sounded, I knew I was on to something special. So I then doubled my efforts to get a hold of my other head-fi contact as I wanted him to have a listen plus he is the gentleman who made my desktop amp, so I knew he might be able to recable the headphones since the only aspect of the cable worthwhile was a nice cloth covering.


A couple nights later (70+hrs of burnin) I sat at my friend’s house and he had his first listen. I could tell he was impressed by what he was hearing and like me was quite surprised. After listening to a couple of reference tracks he felt they were not as detailed as his HD600 but liked their signature except for the bass which was a bit too strong and boomy versus detailed. Upon looking at the cable he thought it should be replaced and I agreed. So he re-cabled the headphone with the cable he liked on his HD600 and we had another listen. The change was astonishing! Suddenly the bass had much better control. The mid-range became more pronounced and detailed, and the treble also improved.


So here I am sitting with a $40 headphone and $25 worth of aftermarket cabling and I no longer feel I need the D7000 or anything else.  I have a pair of Earsonics SM3, and a pair of Monster Turbine Pro Copper IEM’s both of which are close to 10 times the cost which are sitting unused for the most part. They both (especially the SM3) have better detail but neither one has such a nice full bodied sound.


They seem to have managed to give me the best aspects of the AD700/900 and HD600 in one package. The detail is still not as good as the AD900 or HD600 but it’s not far off and they don’t have either of those headphones issues which caused me to sell them. To be specific, they offer the bass of the HD600, the midrange of the AD900, and the treble of the AD700 (minus the grainyness). The treble in particular is nice in that cymbals come across with a brassy sound versus a pingy sound (HD600) or a sibilant hissing sound (AD900). They also don’t have the veiled mids of the HD600 or recessed mids of the AD700.


So are these GIANT killers? Do they threaten the behemoths of the industry like the HD800 or T1? No not at all, they have nowhere near the detail of those giants but they are one of the nicest sounding midlevel headphones I have had the privilege to listen to, enough so, I can see myself using these for a good long while as I save up my pennies for the ultimate headphone.


They will not be for everyone. If you don’t want heavy bass, you will want to pass, if you live for the Grado midrange and treble, take a pass, but if you are like me and found the HD580/600/650 series close to your headphone bliss but couldn’t get over their few areas of weakness, this headphone might surprise the heck out of you.


So here is the kicker, these are only sold through Canadian Wal-Mart’s as far as I can tell and not all of them at that. So, if you’re lucky enough to be in Canada (or have a Canadian Head-fi buddy), you might be able to find one of these gems, if you do, shell out $40 and be grateful you have found one while they still exist (I personally am buying a second pair as a backup). I suspect that Walmart has NO CLUE about what they bought. To them these are just a cheap headphone they can mass sell. They have no idea of how good the drivers are inside this headphone, nor that they have a decent albeit cheap design. In fact I suspect they may get many of these returned by customers who will think they are garbage because they don’t have the right equipment to drive the headphone properly. Personally I am going to try and see if I can get some information from Wal-Mart about where these were bought or made as I would hate to see these simply disappear into obscurity.


To be clear, these need to be re-cabled to really reach their potential, in fact the hiss issues with my desktop amp disappeared after they were re-cabled. But other than $25 worth of cabling and a good burn in, you don’t need to do anything else but enjoy their sound and even the burn in can just happen naturally as their initial sound is pleasant enough to enjoy as they evolve. The build quality of these also bely their $40 price tag and while AT inspired are obviously cheaper quality but the build is quality is not so bad as to be completely off putting but does need to be mentioned. One nice thing about their design though is they lend themselves to DIY'ers who may have a heyday with these.




Original equipment:

  • Bass – HD600 > Onn/AD900 > AD700 – Tie between Onn and AD900 due to Onn’s boomy sound and lack of control.
  • Midrange – AD900 > Onn/HD600 > AD700 – Tie between Onn and HD600 due to HD600 veil and Onn being slightly recessed plus the Onn not having as much detail.
  • Treble – AD900 > Onn > HD600 > AD700, ultimately HD600 is more detailed than the Onn but the pingy nature of instruments like cymbals is a major aspect I dislike about the HD600, AD900 has sibilance issues but so much better detail it is the best treble.
  • Detail – AD900/HD600 > Onn/AD700, the poor cable definitely compromises the detail of the Onn bringing it down to the same level as the AD700.
  • Soundstage – AD700 > AD900/Onn/HD600
  • Cable quality – AD700 > AD900 > HD600 > > > > > > > > Onn, as can be seen the Onn cable is CONSIDERABLY INFERIOR!
  • Headphone design and material quality – HD600 > AD900 > AD700 > Onn
  • Comfort – Onn/HD600 > AD900 > AD700


Replaced Cable

  • Bass – HD600 > Onn > AD900 > AD700
  • Midrange – AD900 > Onn > HD600 > AD700
  • Treble – Onn > AD900 > HD600 > AD700, the increased detail in the treble of the recable Onn was enough that I prefer it over the AD900 because it doesn't have the sibilance issues I had with the AD900.
  • Detail – AD900/HD600 > Onn > AD700, recabled the Onn bests the AD700 landing somewhere in the middle between the AD700 and AD900/HD600
  • Soundstage – AD700 > AD900/Onn/HD600
  • Cable quality – Onn > AD700 > AD900 > HD600
  • Headphone design and material quality – HD600 > AD900 > AD700 > Onn
  • Comfort – Onn/HD600 > AD900 > AD700


As can be seen in my ratings the cable change has a significant impact on the quality of sound of this headphone. Re-cabled for me I find the Onn to be better than the three other headphones I have owned from an overall sound signature perspective. This of course is purely subjective as some might love the way HD600 produces cymbals, or prefer the detail of the AD900, etc. But for me the Onn has the perfect marriage of detail and sonic qualities to fit my needs. I am also feeling like these deserve some experimentation since they have a nice foundation, so will be doing several DIY type projects to see how much more these can be tweaked and improved upon.




post #2 of 10
Thread Starter 

Sorry just realized I plunked this in the wrong forum...


Having made the mistake, have a read as this may be an excellent opportunity for anyone wanting to try the full-size headphone world without breaking their wallets.


I currently own the SM3 and Monster Turbine Copper IEM's and find myself reaching for the Onn almost exclusively when at home. They pants the Copper's in my opinion and while they lack the details of the SM3 are just funner to listen to for me.

post #3 of 10

Wow, very interesting. Reminds me of the craze there was with the JVC RX700, with people saying they sounded better than the Denon D1001/D2000, AKG 702, etc. I certainly like mine, especially after having modded them further a week ago, by just adding foam under the pads for a larger soundstage and removing the filter on the drivers.


That makes me very interested in these, although I haven't been able to find them online yet. As a poor college student, I am very fond of budget-fi =P I wonder what their closed headphone sounds like.

post #4 of 10

I have similar experience as well.


I bought a pair of open headphones, Sanwa Supply MM-HP116 for $8, thinking of taking the headband to use with my KSC75. However when I listened to these I was surprised at how 'right' they sound. No bloating bass, no piercing highs, no muddy sound. In my opinion, they sound better than Meelec M11, better clarity and headstage, for $8...


Then I took out my HD280, which have been collecting dust for a year. I have a pair of SM3 and IE8, which both claimed to be having a big soundstage, however these IEMs sing like 'babies' compared to HD280. Full-sized headphones are just different, they sound 'full' and 'big', in my opinion.


I am starting to question myself: is IEMs worth the money at all ^^;


Great find dweaver smily_headphones1.gif

Edited by KLS - 10/31/10 at 1:53am
post #5 of 10

Looks like you found something really good.


I have some super cheap headphones of a very similar design that with some modding are really very good indeed. I suspect that they may be variations from the same factory. The ones you have seem to be a big improvement on mine as a base, for instance the backs seem a lot more open on yours.


If you're OK to reduce the bass a little and give it a lot more control and at the same time make the soundstage larger then you can experiment with cutting out some of the paper panels on the baffle around the driver (you can glue in paper or transpore replacements with no negative effect if you don't like what you hear, so it's effectively reversible), the other thing you can do is to add a ring of acoustically transparant foam (speaker grill foam) under the earpads, so that those paper panels and any holes you add can do their thing without being smothered by the pads. The other thing that may improve them a little further is to damp the insides of the baffles and perhaps the edges of the cups with dynamat or any butyl tape or sheet material.


post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone, @lecky I will likely buy a second pair to practice modding on, at $40 I can afford to give that a try. If I do I will definitely be looking at the baffle system plus some form of dampening in the cups, I was thinking I might also play around with dampening paint as well as some of the things you mentioned.

post #7 of 10

which walmart did you get it from? too bad theres's no walmart in downtown toronto frown.gif

post #8 of 10

I'll have to take a look at my local WalMart and see if they have these there, thanks for the tip. If I don't like them, perhaps someone elsewhere in the world that can't get them would.

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

@JeFFz I am in Calgary and find they are now in all of the stores here. There is a thread for these in the full-size headphone forum which has more posts including some from the gentleman who re-cabled my pair. He provides a bit more balanced opinion than mine which is worth reading as I do get caught up in my gear at times. Having said that for Canadian buyers the fact that these can be returned so easily it's well worth listening to these and deciding for yourself. What I found was that I liked the initial sound enough I decided it was worth seeing what a re-cable would do to improve the sound especially since the cable they came with was so obviously poor in quality.

post #10 of 10

I've had this for a while now (just had it sitting at my parents' house, they use it occasionally). Just out of curiosity, I tried getting the Hifiman velour earpads on these today, took some stretching and fidgeting but got em on fully in the end.


Wow! The sound quality became sublime. Even my venerable modded Ksc75s are no match. Very, very neutral and open sound; I'm gonna have to do more indepth listening over the next few days.

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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Move over AD700 and other mid-fi headphones, Onn is in town!!!... Who??? (Canadian's REJOICE!)