Headphones have quickly become a large part of our lives, and if you care about music – or technology in any way – then chances are you're intrigued by different headphones. What they're made out of, what they look like, and most important of all; which sounds best to you. Grain Audio is a brand that have been focusing on their core element of producing items out of honest, natural wood. We recently reviewed their PWS 01 Bluetooth speaker, and now we've been lucky enough to take a look at their OEHP 01 headphones. With ear cups made out of genuine, solid wood and an unassuming design that's supposed to let the music speak for itself, have Grain Audio created the headphones they set out to?
Features and Specifications
Here's a list of the nitty gritty to get us started:
- 40mm custom driver, with CCAW voice coils
- Protein leather ear pads with memory foam cushioning
- In-line microphone with remote.
- Detachable cable
- Including carrying pouch
- 3.5mm to 1/4" headphone connector
- 15 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response
The headlining feature of the OEHP 01's design is of course the real wood used in the ear cups, and while this does stand out, the rest of the design feels a little generic. To my eyes, they remind me of a wooden version of the AiAiAi DJ headphones have been around for some time. Of course, Grain Audio were going for "simple" and I'll definitely agree with them, and I'm a big fan of simple. The grey color of the one-piece headband and leather ear pads does go well with the natural wood ear cups, but I do wish there were a little more to it. Over time, they grew on me, and the more I admired them on a headphone stand or on my desk, I understood why they went this route; to draw your eyes to the wood. They're unassuming in their approach as well, which I like, as despite these being quite large, they aren't exactly showy. They're classy and edgy in the same breath, and they're never "too much" unlike the glossy plastic cans we see out and about these days. Besides, how can anyone not be drawn in by the look of these ear cups:
The fact that the headband isn't round, and sort of flattens out throughout the center is a great thing. These are exceptionally comfortable. I've used these for listening sessions for hours at a time, and my head didn't even get that hot. This is probably because they're incredibly light, and the memory foam ear pads on the OEHP 01 are firm, yet cushy. They don't feel stiff against your ear, but they make a solid seal around your ear and they didn't touch the edges of my ears once, which was surprising for someone with a massive head like mine. No complaints here with comfort, these are seriously comfy and they stay on your head through a good head-nodding session.
They might be good-looking, and they might be comfy, but how do they perform in the most important area? How do they sound? The tagline of this review is "reference with a punch", and I'll explain what I mean here. Grain Audio have billed the OEHP 01 as a set that presents music as close to "the original recording as possible". In terms of headphones, this would be a "reference" set of cans, something that doesn't color the sound with artificial bass, elevated highs or anything else like that. The OEHP 01 sound fantastic, we'll get that out of the way first. They sound this good because they uncover all of the subtleties in a track, all the layers are there, separation between instruments is here, and vocals are sublime with just a touch of warmth to them. I say they have punch, because they have some tight, tight bass on offer. It's not the deep, thud you might find with other cans, but these are one of the few pairs I have come across that do the music justice while also being good fun.
Grain Audio would like you to "Play Loud" and if you take the OEHP 01 just above your usual medium listening level, they really come alive. Over time, this can be a little fatiguing on the ears, but it's totally worth it. With a little more juice in them, vocals take on a textured, and smooth tone while the rest of the track comes alive with a tight punch and layered complexity. Listening to all sorts of music on this, including synth pop from the likes of CHVRCHES and hard rock from bands like Royal Blood and Muse, these can keep up with everything. Grain Audio went for simplicity here, and this same approach has delivered a good-looking set of cans that doesn't color the sound, but still brings that bass we expect from modern headphones. It's a great combination, and over time I grew to really enjoy the sound signature of these, even from the mediocre output on my Moto X.
If you're looking for massive bass, or perhaps just a rich warm sound, these might not be for you, but if you're looking for something to play everything, and do everything justice, these are a good choice.
When it comes to headphones, the Grain Audio OEHP 01 are more than a breath of fresh air, they're like an aural detox. Not only do they look good, but they're not flashy; they're just right. The overall look might not be to everyone's taste, and indeed many of my friends aren't keen on them, but over time they grew to admire the simple, yet sophisticated look of these. The use of real wood, I'm sure, has something to do with the overall acoustics of these, but the sound signature of these suits modern music excellently. There's no coloring of the sound here, no added bass, no tinny highs and everything has its place. Yet still there's some good, realistic and satisfying bass to be had here. They might be a little pricey at $200 or so, but for a set that delivers everything, no matter what you're listening to while looking good for everyday usage, this isn't too bad a price. All-in-all, a surprising performance from a newcomer, the OEHP 01 are an impressive and satisfying pair of headphones for all listeners, besides having a little natural wood around your ears can't hurt.