One of the reasons that cellphones have become so ubiquitous is that they are small — yes they are starting to get bigger now — but there’s no comparison with a landline phone in size or, if you can remember back to the early 1990’s, the WWII Walkie-Talkie chassis that phones first started out as. So is it any wonder that earbuds take the lead when it comes to listening to whatever audio the phone is putting out? Who wouldn’t prefer headphones if they weren’t so big or so bulky, especially if you’re going to be carrying them around? All of which points to the success of Ministry of Sound’s Audio On On-Ear Headphones.
Because they’re not designed to be big or bulky, is the short answer. The long is when you look at them you don’t see these big ovals like earmuffs, but sharp squares that combine with the ear cups to fit snugly on top of the ear. This makes for a smaller footprint, while incidentally also allowing surface noise to enter so as to avoid being cut off from the world while out and about (as in car horns, yelling guys on bikes about to smack into you, all that less than good stuff while walking on a crowded street).
Surprisingly enough, there’s some sound isolation working to provide a better bridge between what is coming out of the headphones and over to your ears and what is trying to come in — it’s enough of a barrier to keep the surface noise from polluting. Still, to be safe, you take the headphones off when it’s better to have both ears exposed, but since the Audio Ons’ fold down, they become a minor inconvenience to toss in a pocket or briefcase or knapsack. Or into the provided case. Want it to be even smaller? Then just push the adjustable headband back together rather than leaving it out and waste the couple of seconds later on realigning it to your head. All this comes from the way they are constructed and if they weren’t made this way, they couldn’t behave this way.
The headphones are also wired — as in having a cord designed for traveling about and a 3.5mm jack that fits into pretty much any mobile device made these days (an A/V receiver at home will need an adapter, but if you’re going to go that route, just hit the local electronics brick and mortar store or online for an under $10 adapter).Not being earbuds, there’s space for having larger audio drivers and this results in an improved sound field that earbuds can’t come close to — clear midtones and a nice solid reach to the bass are all standard. Of course there’s the expected remote for taking/answering calls and controlling how music tracks play — none of that is unusual these days, except when it’s not there for some unknown reason. But it’s here.
The Audio On On-Ear Headphones weighs not quite 11 ounces which means it has a firm feel to it, while still being quite light (especially in comparison to on-ears of the past). It comes in a number of finishes which are bright yet not garish (black, red, white, etc.), adds a travel case accessory (even a pair of club tickets), with the total retail being at the reasonable price for what it does at $129.99.