The Onkyo H500M on-ear headphone provides a stylish design and a removable cable, useful for longevity. The overall sound signature has a good presentation, but is severely let down by its closed soundstage, making the headphones sound clustered. Its on-ear design also limits the isolation and comfort of the headphones, making it hard to recommend for busy commutes.
Onkyo has been around for decades, in fact it has been around since 1946 and through the years it has built up a reputation of having high-quality amplifiers, receivers, turntables and home theatre systems. Onkyo has now put their name on a set of on-ear headphones with the H500M offering a detachable cable and an in-line mic. Read next: Best headphones 2016.
Onkyo H500M review: Price and competition
The Onkyo H500M can be found in either black or white for £129.99 at Argos and face a lot of competition from competitors. Headphones which offer similar functionalities and come at a similar if not cheaper price include: The AKG K451 found for £45, the AKG Y50s at £49, the SoundMAGIC P21S found at £50, and a little higher-up the scale the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 at £140.
The Skullcandy Grind doesn’t quite offer the same portability functionalities, but is an on-ear headphone we would recommend at its given price tag of £40.
Onkyo H500M review: Build quality, design and comfort
The headphones are terminated by a straight gold-plated 3.5mm jack, where we would have preferred to have a right-angled jack for better longevity. The cable is a double braided black and copper-looking cable which looks unique in appearance.
Moving up the cable there is a one-button remote and an in-line mic that allows you to answer and reject calls with ease and to also control your music on a smartphone. The highlight of the cable is that it’s fully removable and is terminated on both ends by a 3.5mm jack, making it easy to replace if it ever breaks.
The headphone’s driver housing is beautifully finished in a brushed gun-metal colour, giving the H500M a stylish look. The headphones’ drivers pivot, allowing you to store them away much more easily. However they do not fold, meaning they’ll need a bag to be taken on-the-go. We were disappointed not to find a carrying bag included within the packaging to aid transportation of the headphones.
The headband is well-made and the left/right indicators are beautifully presented by a black and red colour – a simple yet nice touch Onkyo has implemented in the design process of the headphones. A more traditional L and R symbol can be found within the headband of the headphones, but it’s slightly hard to see without the headphones’ drivers being pivoted.
The headphones’ headband expands very easily and has a nice clicky-nature to it, allowing you to audibly hear the height adjustments.
The H500M’s pads are reasonably thin and quite small in diameter. These are truly on-ear headphones and we found that this negatively affected the isolation. The headphones do not leak music when being played, but we wouldn’t recommend the H500M for busy commutes where isolation becomes an issue.
In terms of comfort, we found the H500M good for short listening periods, but due to their on-ear design aren’t quite recommended nor designed for long listening sessions. Similarly, the top of the headband is not padded, which again leads to the headphones being used for shorter periods of time. On the plus side, the headphones don’t weigh that much and aren’t heavily felt on your head.
Onkyo H500M review: Sound quality
The H500M has good sound quality competencies, but is let down by its closed soundstage and instrument separation, making it lack depth and width.
Starting by its bass frequencies, we found the sub-bass to have no real extension or emphasis. We would have liked to hear the sub-bass extend and provide us with a good amount of rumble. The mid-bass impact is decent, but lacks conviction. It has a slightly wobbly mid-bass slam which somewhat lacks control, but has a nice, soft impact.
The mids are therefore a little pushed back and sound a little recessed. Despite having a slight V-shaped sound signature, we found the mids to present a forward-sounding reproduction of the mid-range frequencies.
The highs are rolled off and it’s a shame, as despite having a decent sparkle, the highs lack that extension and finesse we would expect in a £130 headphone.
As said earlier, we found its soundstage to be the biggest let down for us – if it hadn’t been for the soundstage being so closed, we feel the headphone would make for an easy recommendation due to its beautiful design and functionalities. Due to having a closed soundstage, the overall sound frequencies are negatively impacted; the lows could have had more extension and depth, the mids might have had more room to breathe and the highs could have had better extension.
Read next: Best budget headphones 2016.
Onkyo H500M: Specs
- Type: On-ear
- Frequency response: 7Hz to 40Khz
- Nominal impedance: 16 ohms
- Sensitivity: 105dB
- In-line remote: Yes
- Mic: Yes
- Extra tips: No
- Carry case: No
- Cable length: 1.2m
- Weight: 190g
- Warranty: 1 year