OneOdio Monitor 80 Professional Headphones Review

There’s a steady push for listeners to experience music, movies and games exactly how the creators intended, and if you’re serious about it you’ll want a pair of monitor headphones. By their nature, these are tuned to have as close to a flat EQ as possible, replicating the original audio without embellishing the bass or other elements. Many monitor headphones are premium, expensive options, but OneOdio are continuing their drive for top-class audio in a budget package. Priced at £99.99, the Monitor 80 come close to achieving that aim, but there are some caveats to be found thanks to its pricing.

The OneOdio Monitor immediately stand out thanks to their huge, egg-shaped hard case. It’s encased in faux-leather, boasts a chunky zipper, and proudly sports the OneOdio logo printed on top. It makes a good impression, even if it is outsized.

Nestling inside, you’ll find the Monitor 80 and two cables, one coiled and one straight, both with 3.5mm cable tips to plug into at the headphones end. They connect to different sockets though, with one boasting an old-school ¼ inch head, and the other 3.5mm. The headphones boast a 250-ohm impedance and an open-back design, meaning that you’ll need a decent amp to get the most out of them, and that everyone around you will hear what you’re listening to.

The headband boasts a plush leatherette covering and is embossed with the OneOdio logo, setting a great first impression, but after that the first true signs of the lower pricepoint begin to show, with the connective arms and central joints being fashioned out of cheap-feeling black plastic. The plastic offers the advantage of a lighter headset, but it doesn’t feel at all premium. The sizing adjusters are at least metal, and click reassuringly into place, and stay in the same position even after repeated uses.

The velvet ear cushions are pleasingly soft, and feel comfortable against your skin for extended periods of time, but the headband turns out to be a little too hard once it’s on your head. It could have done with an extra few millimetres of padding to help keep things comfy, and you’ll definitely start to feel it the longer that you wear them. It’s a real shame, especially when the low weight and soft earpads lull you into thinking they’re going to be a gentle fit.

The Monitor 80 are Hi-Res certified, meaning that they’re capable of reproducing higher-resolution music if you’ve got a suitable provider, such as Tidal or Apple Music, and an output device that can produce Hi-Res audio. Fortunately, I was able to test the Monitor 80 with my MacBook Pro, and a series of Hi-Res music files, before also trying it with an external DAC.

As you’d expect, there’s little of their own colour to the Monitor 80, and if you’re listening with a flat EQ on the source device, you’re getting a pretty close approximation of the creator’s true vision. That said, the 40mm drivers pick out the top-end details with such clarity that they can be a little harsh unless you temper it in some way. As a work tool, for both music or audio production, they’re absolutely going to help you dig into every note and tone, but as a regular listening tool they might be too much for some.

That said, with some tuning I found a lot to like with the Monitor 80’s audio output, and Hi-Res music sang through. The new Nerv single sounded suitably epic, with its chugging guitars retaining a vicious edge that matched well to Dillon Jones’s powerful vocals. Meanwhile, ‘Apocalypse’ by Bridges Ablaze boasted plenty of percussive punch to its math-metal, with each kick drum beat feeling fully formed and well-rounded, without any hint of distortion or bloat.

The only true downside to using the Monitor 80 for an extended period became the headband. I found it really started to weigh on me, and while I admittedly have little in the way of natural padding thanks to shaving my head, it’s not something that’s a problem with the best headphones. The Monitor 80’s laser-focus on audio reproduction also means that there’s no microphone, something which headphones will often feature as a small unit on one of the cables.

In terms of competitors, the Monitor 80 isn’t a traditional pair of headphones, so you have to consider them against similarly focused sets. I own a wonderful pair of Philips Fidelio X2HRs that OneOdio have certainly cribbed from along the way, and are, surprisingly found at more or less the same price of £110. They’re similarly Hi-Res certified, have a more comfortable floating headband, are more premium-feeling and only really miss out by not coming with a case. Still, if I had to choose between the two, the Philips set would win every time.

Summary
The OneOdio Monitor 80 sounds precise and balanced, but their overall build quality is a step behind other offerings at this price point.
Good
  • Naturally flat tuning
  • Clear and precise output
  • Soft ear cushions
Bad
  • Cheap-feeling plastic
  • Lack of headband padding
7
Written by
TSA's Reviews Editor - a hoarder of headsets who regularly argues that the Sega Saturn was the best console ever released.