Meters has delivered a pair of headphones with a unique look in the OV-1-B-Connect, and while they perform well in a few areas, at this price there are better all-round performers from the likes of Bose, B&W and Sony, plus they’re cheaper than the Meters, too.
- Clear, spacious audio
- Unique looks
- ANC reduces low-frequency noises
- Light on the head
- Bulky appearance
- Earpads can cause discomfort
- ANC not as effective in noisy areas
- Distinctive looksVU Meters dance when music is played and light up at night
- Stamina16 hours of battery with audio puts the Meters at the low-end of the market
- BluetoothThe OV-1-B Connect support aptX-HD Bluetooth for high-quality audio playback
The last time we reviewed a pair of Meters headphones was back in 2017. Despite giving that unit a 7/10, we weren’t too disposed to some of their quirks.
Little has changed in the intervening years in the case of those quirks. The Meters OV-1-B-Connect continue the ‘look-at-me’ aspect, with their unique and stylish built-in VU meters.
What has changed, though, is that the headphones have joined the Bluetooth age. Given the price, they’re not short of compelling rivals. So what reasons does Meters offer for picking the OV-1-B-Connect over other illustrious pairs?
The OV-1-B-Connect are priced at £349 in the UK, which puts them among the likes of the relatively still-new Sony WH-1000XM4, and they’re a more expensive alternative to the older Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and Bowers & Wilkins PX7.
- Unique look with VU meters
- Bulky design
- Cushy build quality…
- …but earpads can feel uncomfortable
Little has changed when it comes to the appearance of the OV-1-B, which is great if you love quirky looks. The integrated VU meters remain the stand-out aspect of the headphones’ design.
The dial twitches as music is played (the louder the music, the more it twitches), and the VU meters light up (the colours can be customised in the app). Like the AirPods Max they’re conspicuous, with three finishes available: black (this review sample), white and tan brown.
They’re a big pair of over-ears and the oval-shaped earpads come with a generous level of padding. Despite this, the way in which the earpads sit on the ear results in some slight discomfort.
The headband is well padded, and despite all the fancy accoutrements, the Meters OV-1-B-Connect are surprisingly light for a pair of headphones that weigh 380g; helped by a plastic construction given a metallic-looking sheen.
The design is collapsible but the earcups don’t fold flat. They do swivel slightly for some more maneuverability when affixing the Meters to your head, and ‘affix’ does feel like the right word given their size. There’s a hard carry case for keeping them safe from scratches, too.
On the right earcup is an ANC slider with a ‘Bluetooth’ slider on the left. There’s no actual power button, since either slider can perform that function. They’re a little stiff and don’t display quite the quality expected from a £350 pair of headphones, but at least Meters has tweaked the design so the sliders aren’t hidden behind the metal-alloy cup anymore. On the left cup sit the controls – although, like me, you may miss them at first.
Playback, calls, track skipping and volume are integrated, but finding the buttons isn’t all that easy with the headphones on your head – you might find yourself jabbing at the glass that protects the VU meters at first. You’ll know you’ve found them when you hear a click – although, again, the feel of it doesn’t translate to a sense of premium quality. The placement of the USB-C connection and 3.5mm jack is still a little odd, but less of an issue with Bluetooth connectivity present.
- ANC targets low-frequency noises
- Non-adjustable noise cancellation
- AptX-HD Bluetooth
- App is bereft of features
- Battery life not the biggest
Where the Meters has gone big on the looks, the company has chosen to go rather minimalist on the feature front. Other than just looking fancy, there’s a practical application to the VU meters. They’re a line-level signal indicator to show how loud music is playing. Of course, the wearer won’t see it – but, according to Meters, it’s designed to make others aware of how loud the music is and can be viewed as a safety feature for “parents and guardians”.
Given the month of May is Better Hearing Month, you can see the positives of having the meters onboard (even if you need to take the headphones off to see it). The meters dance from 55dB (safe) to 110dB (not so much), so you’ll want to dial down the volume if you’re listening loudly over prolonged periods to protect your hearing.
Bluetooth 5.0 is par the course these days, but more interestingly, the Meters OV-1-B-Connect support aptX-HD. That’s 24-bit/48kHz playback, opening the Meters to be used with the likes of the Tidal and Qobuz music streaming services. Battery life is a rather paltry 16 hours compared to the competition, likely because of those VU meters. In standby mode, when no music is played, that stretches to 28 hours.
There’s an app in the Meters Connect (Android/iOS), but the onus is on customisation over features. There are EQ settings to tweak the sound, plus the colour and brightness of the VU meters can be customised. Cute, but if you’re looking for more functionality then you won’t find it here.
When it comes to the OV-1-B-Connect’s noise cancellation, I’ve been up and down in terms of how I feel about it. Given the price, there are immediate expectations – and if you’re looking for Apple, Bose or Sony level of performance, then sorry, but no dice. That’s not to say it isn’t effective.
The focus of the headphones is on diminishing low-frequency sounds. Having used them in central London, I didn’t find it to be ideal when dealing with the hustle and bustle of the city. The realisation of their ‘strengths’ came on the journey home. All the bumps and knocks as the train chugged and grinded its way to each stop were smoothed out, and that made for a less intrusive experience.
The noise cancellation also has the effect of making external sounds more distant, so you can still hear them but with reduced intensity. Viewed in this context, the Meters OV-1-B-Connect are quite effective. If you’re looking for something more comprehensive for similar money, then two of the three brands I’ve already mentioned will do a very fine job – and for less money, too.
- A spacious and detailed listen
- Pleasant, balanced sound
- Good vocal presentation
- Spacious, wide soundstage
You’d expect quality for the asking price, but when style is as much a focus as the sound, there’s the fear the audio could be left behind. This isn’t the case with the Meters OV-1-B-Connect.
They bear all the ingredients for a good audio soup, as it were – confident from the first note. A listen to Outkast’s Roses (Tidal), the Meters give the track a spacious soundfield in which to reside. The piano that opens the track is portrayed with fine detail and clarity, with vocals pitched in the centre – I feel a little further back for the impression of depth – with Andre 3000’s intonations expressive and dynamic.
The OV-1-B-Connect come across as well balanced across the frequency range with bass tight, but also varied. The low-end avoids going ‘big’ or explosive, expressed with an unerring sense of confidence.
Every track I played through the Meters felt like it had the necessary room to breathe. The Meters’ rhythmic ability comes to the fore for its sense of timing and flow playing Talking Heads’ Once in a Lifetime (Tidal Masters). The beat through the headphones was persuasively toe-tapping.
High frequencies avoid being dull or harsh – more refined and sharper in GoGo Penguin’s Raven (Tidal Master), or expressing a sense of sparkle and brightness in Alexandre Desplat’s Snow in the Garden from his Little Women soundtrack (Qobuz).
The headphones’ sense of dynamism is given a good platform to showcase itself in the rising build of drums in Gustavo Santaolalla’s I Know What You Are, or more overtly in Ripley’s Rescue from James Horner’s Aliens. It isn’t far off the Shure Aonic 50, although the Meters are a bit weightier in tone and not as clear, but the soundstage has more width.
Throw in convincing stereo imaging and depth, as well as an adeptness with energetic and slow tracks, and there’s little to dislike. With their satisfying sense of transitions between quick and slow tempo and an ANC performance that doesn’t colour the sound, the Meters OV-1-B are a talented pair of headphones. Their looks may pique your interest at first, but these headphones have the substance to go with the style.
The addition of Bluetooth has brought the Meters OV-1-B-Connect more up to date. They’re still big in size and conspicuous in terms of looks, with effective enough ANC in certain situations that doesn’t alter the sound as it did with the previous model.
With aptX-HD Bluetooth, the sound they produce is very good. But there are options from Bose, Bowers & Wilkins and Sony – and all are cheaper, too – that put a dent in the OV-1-B-Connect’s ambitions.
Should you buy it?
If style is what you look for in headphones, then few are as distinctive as these Meters. The VU meters are conspicuous, but considering how bland ‘standard’ headphone design can be, the Meters are a sight for sore eyes.
There are better options at this price. A £349 RRP puts the Meters up against Bose, Bowers & Wilkins and Sony, and they all have better features and better noise cancellation, too.
Meters has delivered a pair of headphones with a unique look in the OV-1-B Connect, and while they perform well in a few areas, at this price there are better all-round performers from the likes of Bose, B&W and Sony – and they’re cheaper than the Meters, too.
The VU meters a) look stylish and b) also indicate how loud the music is playing. Exposure to loud volume over prolonged periods is not recommended