thinksound ov21 Review: Organic Build, Organic Sound

Pros:
  • Massive soundstage for a closedback headphone
  • Superb transparency
  • Excellent build quality
  • Extremely comfortable

Cons:
  • Minor shoutiness in the upper mids and some instances of sibilance

Introduction:
thinksound is a company based in Canada that produces portable audio gears. They started in 2009 and got known for using wood housing in their products. 11 years later, the ov21 is launched, which is thinksound's first over-ear headphones. In addition to wood, all plastic components of the ov21 are made of Eastman Tr─ôva, a bioplastic created from sustainable wood pulp that, according to thinksound, "reduces resonance, distortion, and improves acoustic performance". The ov21 currently retails for 400 USD, and was provided to me for free by thinksound in exchange for this review.

Specifications:
Driver unit: 45 mm dynamic
Impedance: 50 ohms
Sensitivity: not specified
Frequency response range: 5 Hz - 22 kHz

Source:
Poco X3 paired with FiiO KA3, iBasso DC03, Shanling UA1, Tempotec Sonata E35 and Zishan U1

Test tracks:
Africano - Earth Wind and Fire
Dark Necessities - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gurenge - Lisa
The Chain - Fleetwood Mac
Monsters - All Time Low
Ours - Taylor Swift
Stay - Mayday Parade
Snuff - Slipknot
Yesterday Once More - Carpenters
So Slow - Freestyle
Aurora Sunrise - Franco
Attention - Pentatonix
Blue Bird - Ikimono-gakari
You're Still The One - Shania Twain
Anyone Who Knows What Love Is(Will Understand) - Irma Thomas
Salamin - Slapshock
AOV - Slipknot
Hey Jude - The Beatles
The Way You Make Me Feel - Michael Jackson
...and a lot more.

Unboxing and Accessories:
The ov21 comes in a large, sleeved box. Upon removing the sleeve and the top lid, you will see the headphones and other accessories wrapped in a honeycomb wrapper and paper string. Inside, there are two drawstring pouches. The bigger one contains the headphones, while the smaller one contains two cables and a female 3.5 mm to male 6.35 mm adapter. There is also a small instruction manual. The unboxing experience here feels very organic, and you can tell that all materials used are recycled or recyclable.
Build:
The headband is made of metal with plastic edges. It has a thick and soft leather padding with the thinksound logo at the top portion. The yokes are made of metal. The earcups are made of plastic and has six holes in each side at the top portion that acts as ventilation. Beside the vents, there is a small rubber piece that prevents the earcups from grinding onto the metal yokes. The faceplates are made of walnut wood and also sport the thinksound logo. The earpads, just like the headband pads, are thick yet very soft. It is glued to a plastic piece that attaches to the earcups through a magnet.
There are two cables included. One with a microphone with a single button control and one without. They have average thickness and moderately soft, and sleeved with Kevlar fabric. The 3.5 mm gold plated plugs are made of plastic.

Now let's get to the sound.

Lows:
The lows have a tiny bit of elevation. Subbass is slightly more forward than the midbass, and those really low vibrations can be felt. The depth is excellent, yet the amount of rumble is at just the right spot as well as the decay. Midbass seems to be neutral, having adequate thickness and impact.

Overall, the ov21 does not overwhelm you with the quantity of its lows, but the ability of its drivers to output very low frequencies is praiseworthy.

Mids:
The mids are placed at the center of the stage. The mids feel airy, spacious and with great clarity. Lower mids are slightly thin, and then there is an obvious boost in the upper mids. This results in rare occasions of female vocals being slightly shouty, and lead guitars feeling a tad aggressive at times.

Overall, there are instances where the mids can become marginally uncomfortable. Nevertheless, vocals and instruments sound crisp, well-defined and have great transparency. It feels like a change in the headphone pads can reduce the peaks.

Highs:
The highs have an excellent level of crunch and shimmer. Treble reach and its decay is above average. Cymbals and guitar solos sound very energetic and lively. However, the highs doesn't reach the point where it becomes painfully piercing, but a slight sibilance is noticeable in some tracks.

Overall, this is the strongest point of the ov21's sound. The amount of detail, air, and clarity in this section is just simply remarkable.

Soundstage and Imaging:
Remember that the ov21 is a closedback headphone, but the soundstage is huge. The width has a bit more expansion than the height. It gives off that holographic vibe to the music without feeling unnatural or artificial. The accuracy and transparency of the imaging is superb. Instruments are nicely separated and layered well, and congestion is non-existent especially in well recorded tracks.

Conclusion:
The thinksound ov21 is an excellent pair of cans that is for those who aim for a natural sound with bits of added energy and excitement in the mids and highs. Additional points for thinksound being environmentally friendly with the materials that they used. The ov21 is not free from flaws, but without a doubt, its technical performance is its trump card against others.

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