Premium quality headsets are a field that’s become wider than the diversity of species in the Amazon rainforest. Okay… perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit. But, seriously, I feel as though these choices used to be a lot easier.
There used to be two or three guys who did a certain range of products well; the rest were all pretty much substandard. These days, the words “independent developer with a small dedicated following” should not be taken lightly.
Thinksound has been around for just over a decade. Since they’ve started, they’ve stuck with its motto of “helping musicians hear music the way it’s meant to be heard.” This statement is particularly applicable to how they approach their headphone manufacturing.
Will they live up to that statement?
Thinksound headsets are known for having transparent frequency reproduction that makes for excellent detailed listening as required by engineers and producers. While their gear may look bespoke and unique thanks to wood inlays often used, they are famed for their neutral sound.
The OV21 is a set of dynamic closed-back, wired headphones that come in at around $400. While this puts them firmly in the premium price range, it’s not nearly as expensive as some other premium headphones.
So, I decided to take the OV21 for a run around the studio to ease the purchase decision-making process for our readers in my in-depth Thinksound OV21 Review.
Design and Build Quality
The OV21s are large but surprisingly very light. While the walnut cups do look very nice, they are somewhat noisy. Then again, this could be as much a result of how the components are put together as it is of the materials used.
The OV21s have premium memory foam on the inside of the earpads and headband cushion. The padding is plush, so you’re not going to be feeling any discomfort from your head making contact with the frame.
A lot of plastic…
The only metal parts on the OV21s are the yolks where the cups connect to the headband. As well as the inner layer of the headband itself. This makes for a sturdy enough design. So, it’s fair to say these are some of the most durable headphones around.
Additionally, the adjustability on the yolks is enough to fit most heads. But perhaps not the largest heads. It seems the lack of adjustability is due to the short length of the exposed wires on the sides and not the limitations of the mechanism itself.
Premium to a degree…
Overall, when holding the OV21s, you do get a bit of a pit in your stomach thinking you spent $400 on something that rattles and creeks so much. Still, lightweight and plastic aren’t always a bad thing.
They are durable enough, so they’ll last. But, there are competitors in this price range, and under that feel more substantial.
Fit and Comfort
When you put on the OV21s, there is some redemption; they are so light that they do a disappearing act. These are some of the lightest closed back headphones out there. The clamping force is just right, which is surprising considering the metal headband construction.
Unfortunately, the luscious padding on the earcups doesn’t make up for the fact that they are hopelessly too small. Perhaps the Canadian manufacturer forgot to take into account different ear sizes in other places of the world.
My ears are by no means abnormally large, nor are they what you’d call small. But, I found it impossible to get the OVV21 pads to cover them and create a proper passive seal. However, if you do have very small ears, the OV21s should be a joy to wear.
That said, the mostly hollow bodies of the earcups do make them prone to loud noises when shifted or knocked slightly. Furthermore, if you can’t get your ears to fit, good luck getting rid of background noise.
In the Box
The OV21 comes with two cotton pull string pouches to carry the cables and the headphones. These are not headphones you want to take to the gym or on a walk. So, they decided on cream/white-colored burlap material for the pouches, which looks and feels great.
There are two 3.5mm auxiliary cables included. Both are 4.5-feet in length. The first cable is a normal male-to-male 3.5mm cable, and the second has a one-button Android and iOS compatible in-line microphone.
There is also a 3.5mm to the quarter-inch gold-plated adapter. While the quality is above average at this price point, I would have expected better quality rubber or braided cable. Although, I understand not going that route as it is prone to more noise.
Describing the sound of the OV21s has proven difficult. But, in the end, I’ll settle for this – everything you need is there; there’s just not enough of it in certain places.
The area where the OV21 sound signature is most timid would be the low-end. While the quality and tone of the bass are there, it’s all the more frustrating since it’s never quite loud enough.
The low-end provides no foundation for the rest of the mix to stand on. This means that songs where the low-end is part of the “hook” of the material sound completely dull.
The mids are fantastic. But, not quite fantastic enough, thanks to having little to no support from the low-end. That being said, on their own, the mids are forward, warm, and have plenty of depth.
That’s not all…
The high-mids are a bit of a different story. There is a noticeable boost, which is a little overdone. This causes the higher mids to become somewhat bright at times. Especially when a singer intensifies their delivery, or a brass instrument plays a solo.
This slightly offbeat tuning can make the mids seem oddly imbalanced when pushed to higher levels. Unfortunately, the treble side suffers the same fate as the upper mids.
They are too forward and aggressively boosted, making them sound too sharp. The sound becomes unnatural and sibilant in the vocals.
The overall sound signature of the OV21 is unbalanced. That is because the upper-mids and treble frequencies are too in your face, and the low-end is too weak. As a result, there’s a lot of ear fatigue since you are constantly dialing knobs to try and save the sound.
On the other hand, the soundstage is impressively wide, astoundingly so, to be honest. It is indeed the widest soundstage I’ve ever heard on a pair of closed-back headphones. But, the size of the venue or space created by the mixing is not accurately represented, and that is what they are supposed to do.
These headphones aren’t meant to impart a stereo widening of their own. They are supposed to give a true and natural representation of the audio source. However, these simply do not do that because of the overdone soundstage.
I tried watching some movies and doing some gaming with the OV21s. I was astounded at how much that overdone soundstage added to the experience. Therefore, these are some of the best sounding gaming headphones you can buy. But, for critical listening, they are nowhere near up to the task.
Directionality and depth are fairly decent. You can track movements across the stage in live performances, and you can point to different instruments in a large band setup. So, it is fair to say these are great headphones for watching movies or videos.
As expected, with an in-line mic, the quality was not stellar but surprisingly clear. And, unlike the sound quality of the headphones, the sound signature of the microphone was not harsh or bright at the high-end.
It did sound a bit nasal due to the low-end being weak. But that’s a given with any small mic. And, in this case, it wasn’t ridiculously bad.
Thinksound OV21 Review – Pros and Cons
- Decent padding.
- Very lightweight.
- Nice soundstage for entertainment purposes.
- Decent-sounding microphone.
- Not good for studio use.
- Lacking sound quality.
- Lacking build quality.
Looking for Some Awesome Headphones?
We can help. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Headphones For Rock & Metal Music, the Best Headphones for Music, the Most Comfortable Headphones, the Best Headphones with Microphone, and the Best Headphones with Volume Control you can buy in 2023.
Also, take a look at our detailed reviews of the Best Headphones for Mixing and Mastering, the Best Studio Headphones For Home Recording, the Best Wireless Headphones for TV, the Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, and the Best Headphones Under $200 currently on the market.
Thinksound OV21 Review – Conclusion
For $400, you can most assuredly do better than the OV21. They simply don’t tick nearly enough boxes to justify their price or the marketing that goes with them. The build quality is not on par with competitors. The OV21 creaks and shakes like a Stephen King book.
The sound quality is lacking in powerful and decent bass. And, the upper mids and treble are over-boosted, leading to a gross imbalance in the overall signature. The final score is a 4 out of 10.
Until next time, happy listening.