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Onkyo's FIRST Step into Portable Audio Bandwagon! Impressions/Comments/Thoughts Welcome!

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  1. Deadlovestory
    Dunno if anyone posted about this already (at least I can't find any thread on it so far :p).
    But following the footsteps of other Japanese electronic makers such as Sony, JVC, TDK and many others, Onkyo, a renowned Japanese high-end home audio-video equipments maker is officially launching a line of IEM and portable headphone (finally!) : ES-series headphones and IE-series IEMs.
    Street rumors has it that they're coming up with a whole line of portable audio products such as DAC/Amps, DAPs and whatnot, but don't quote me on this as I have no confirmation about it so far.
    They're late to the party but considering the reputation of their home AV equipments, I'd predict that their portable audio products will be good. Well ok, I'm actually using Onkyo products for my home theater set, so I do have some sentimental feelings about Onkyo stuffs.
    These were announced during CES 2013 and this spring' Fujiya Avic portable audio festival, but now they're available for pre-order apparently, at least from e-earphone.
    The IEMs might be of some interest for AT lovers because the IEM's shape roughly resembles Audio Technica's CKS series IEMs. It uses big-ish dynamic driver as well; 14.3mm titanium driver to be precise. In Japan it's priced right around CKS1000/CKM99 territory, so I'm left thinking that Onkyo intends to place this as a competitor to AT's CKS/CKM series.
    As for US retail price (quoted directly from Onkyo USA's press release) :
    The Onkyo ES-HF300 and ES-FC300 will have suggested retail prices of $179 and $149 respectively, and IE-HF300 and IE-FC300 will have suggested retail prices of $129 and $99. They will be available in the first quarter of 2013.
    Anyways, the IEMs and headphones comes with MMCX-based removable cable, and it is swap-able with Shure SE-series and UE900 :
    Apparently the leftmost (Silver -- IE-HF300) one comes with 6N-grade OFC cable, although it has higher retail price than the other three colors (IE-FC300). Their price is quite competitive for IEMs with removable cable, right around $150~ territory.
    The headphones :
    More pics from e-earphone's blog post : http://ameblo.jp/e-earphone/entry-11448612664.html
    Those will eventually go on sale worldwide, but I read that distribution for local market will be slightly earlier than worldwide distribution. I'll listen to those products once the demo units arrive at the electronic store near where I live; I'll post my impressions after I demo it.
    Anyways, links in Japanese :
  2. Deadlovestory
    Reserved for future impressions and whatnot
  3. DannyBai
    Will look forward to your findings.  I've been curious about these since I first heard about them.  I think I might have to order a pair of the earphones and headphones once released.  I have high hopes for the new Onkyo goodies.  
  4. RoMee Contributor
    This is news to me, so thanks for the heads up. 
    I'm really interested in the ES-HF300 but they kinda look like the AKG K618
  5. Deadlovestory
    Had the chance to demo the headphones at a local electronic store today, so here's my preliminary impression about the headphones :
    So basically the difference between ES-HF300 and ES-FC300 is only the cable; as mentioned before, HF uses 6N-grade OFC cable whereas FC uses flat-type standard cable. The headphone body itself is practically the same; no difference in sound or build whatsoever. This means the 6N cable better justify the price difference; the difference in sound is indeed noticeable compared to the standard flat cable, I'm hearing more depth and separation, but that's all I can tell and I'm not sure if that's enough to justify the price difference.
    Build & Comfort
    The headphone's aluminum body feels sturdy and well-built, no rough edges or clunky parts. The earpad is on the thick side, and the surface material is quite comfy. The headband clenches quite tightly, although the supple, thick earpad negates the tightness. All in all the fit is quite good, the headphone sits tightly on my ears without hurting it, and stays that way after 20 minutes or so demo-ing it. Not sure about extended use (2 hours+), but so far so good.
    Lows : It's definitely not for basshead, though the bass itself is not anemic in any sense. The bass is there, but the quantity is definitely not MASSIVE, perhaps just a tad bit north of neutral. Decay is medium, not too short or too long. The one thing that impresses me about the bass is the amount of air movements; combined with the deep-ish extension it makes for enjoyable bass to me.
    Mids : Vocals. It's the vocals. There are a lot to like from the mids. Vocals are leaning towards the thick side, rendered clearly and beautifully, if a bit too glorified for my taste. Placement wise the vocals sits behind lows and highs, but for some reason it keeps drawing me in, making me end up focusing on vocals. Other than that guitar twang sounds quite realistic. All in all I think the mids is the selling point of these earphones.
    Highs : I can't seem to put my hand (or more like, ear) on it, but there seems to be a bit of a suckout around 8k, followed by a slight peak near 10k~ region. Nothing too disturbing though, other than that highs is on the crisp & brighter side, but not bright enough to be annoying. Extension don't ask me, my ears can't hear anything past 15k-16k region :p
    Soundstage & Separation : Size-wise the soundstage isn't massive, but it's big enough for me. Instrument placements and separation are well-defined with lows, mids and highs all taking their own space around my head without intruding each other. Lows and highs sits closer than mids.
    Other : I think it has a shallow V-shaped FR curve. Good clarity top-to-bottom but especially from 1k to 10k region.
    Other Tidbits 
    Can be driven straight of an iPhone without problem, doesn't scale up that well to amps and whatnot since there's not much difference sound-wise when ran out of my Go-DAP X compared to straight iPhone. 
    Gears Used
    iPhone 4S and Go-DAP X with files ranging from 256 Kbps AAC up to ALAC lossless.
    Note that this is only preliminary impression based on 20-minutes demo! Also, what I hear is not necessarily what you'll hear!
    Personally I think as a whole the headphones are quite good considering it's Onkyo's first portable headphone. Bassheads or those in Beats camp should look elsewhere, but for the price, It sounded good-but-not-groundbreaking to my ears. 
    I wanted to try the IEM as well, but my local electronic store doesn't have it at the moment, so maybe next time.
  6. DannyBai
    Thanks for the impressions.  
  7. CEE TEE Contributor
    Onkyo has always been good value/quality.
    Onkyo making portable headphone amps should also help legitimize the need/concept of a headphone amp (along with Sony). 
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  8. Deadlovestory
    No problem, I'll keep 'em coming!
    I agree, Onkyo's value-for-money factor has always been impressive -- I'm usually picky with electronics, rarely sticking with one brand, but most of my home Audio/Video equipments are Onkyo's so that's saying something.
    More and more rumor about how Onkyo will eventually introduce a portable DAP and a portable DAC/Amp combo, possibly within this year -- If that is true, I hope the DAP will be AAC/Apple lossless compatible and the DAC/Amp iPhone/Pod/Pad compatible -- Not a stretch considering Onkyo once released a DAC (ND-S1) with iPhone compatibility.
  9. bhima
    Interesting find. I too have a place in my heart for Onkyo because of their bang-for-the-buck home theater receivers. Hope to see some impressions of their IEMs soon.
  10. Snowgoose
    I don't know about you, but I keep hearing that the dedicated DAP is on the way out due to people using their phones and tablets.
    But I don't believe it because I see many companies releasing new DAP's (Fiio, Hippo, etc).  And it seems to me they're releasing the kind I want to see: specifically audio players, not video/wifi/micro-tablet products like the iPod touch and the Galaxy players.  Not that there's anything wrong with those, but they represent a different aspiration, I think, that what we would be likely to see from an Onkyo product.
    I hope the rumors are true, because Onkyo always seemed (to me) to put sound ahead of bells and whistles.  And they have the size/R&D capacity to avoid the compromises some smaller companies have to make with parts suppliers.  It's an exciting time for portable audio.
    Are you able to tell us where you are hearing these rumors?
  11. dweaver
    These could be interesting as I could swap cables around with these and my UE900. I also like the comments about the mids for both on ear and IEM models.
  12. zzffnn
    I am interested in the Onkyo DAP and hope it will have flac support and huge storage.
  13. fnkcow
  14. kazuni
    I did exactly that, and was surprised that they can sound so different.
  15. Mackem
    Can't decide on where to upgrade from my Zero Audio Carbo Bassos. It's either going to be the ATH-CKS1000, IE-HF300 or Fidelio S2 but I can't decide. I like the sound signature of the Carbo Bassos but I just want something that is 'better' for lack of a better word. I want an upgrade rather than a sidegrade.
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