Onkyo is a home cinema giant, one of the most popular makers of surround sound gear. But now it’s branching out. The Onkyo ES-FC300 are headphones that want to grab a slice of this booming sector of the market. And from our audition of them, they deserve to.
The Onkyo ES-FC300 are headphones that want to be used out on the street. With closed backs, light frames and a pretty funky-looking design, they’re versatile cans. You can get these headphones in purple, white or black finishes, none of which is embarrassingly loud. As a first attempt at making headphones, they make a solid impression.
Each earcup’s rear is finished in aluminium, with a low-key brushed finish, and the rest of the outer frame is made of plastic. With a ratcheted steel-skeleton headband, the Onkyo ES-FC300 don’t try to do anything too out of the ordinary design-wise.
Onkyo has tried to strike a balance between comfort and portability with the pads of the ES-FC300. They’re over-ears pads that ring around the outside of your ears, but provide a fairly tight-around-the-earlobes fit. The pad shape and pressure is something that could be improved with future headphones – they’re comfortable, but not quite as comfy as the best from Bose, Sennheiser or the Beats by Dre range.
The Onkyo ES-FC300 get a thumbs-up for using a removable cable, though. The standard model uses a flat cable, coloured-in using the same shade as the headphones themselves. Onkyo also plans to offer a version with a higher-end copper cable too, for around £20 more – the ES-HF300. However, we wouldn’t be too surprised if that model isn’t widely distributed in the UK.
If you fancy an after-market upgrade, you can always purchase the fancier cable separately. The Onkyo ES-FC300 feature MMCX connectors, removed with a swift yank rather than a twist manoeuvre.
The Onkyo EF-FC300 use 40mm dynamic titanium drivers, the most common size for headphones of this type. We were impressed by the sound quality of these headphones immediately.
They are vibrant and fun, with a solid bass kick that doesn’t veer into bass bloat territory, as many stylish headphones of the day do. This is matched with a sparky treble, a nice wide soundstage for a closed pair and reasonably good separation. They’re not going to replace our open-back headphones for at-home use, but they certainly attract our attention more than the pricier Beats Solo HD – a hugely popular set. They could even challenge some of our portable favourites, such as the excellent Sennheiser Momentum.
We’re planning on getting the Onkyo ES-FC300 headphones in very soon for an extended test and full review – in case our judgement was affected by the air in Las Vegas, where these headphones launched during CES 2013. Onkyo says that these headphones will be available in Q1. The Onkyo ES-FC300 are set to retail for $149, and the high-end cable ES-HF300 $179. We’ll be back with UK pricing in the review.