Ortofon is almost definitely a name you have not heard of, but that doesn’t mean you should care about them. They’re a Danish company who specializes in making turntable cartridges– in fact they are the world’s largest producer of them. Founded in 1918, they have had a lot of experience with sound.
Since about 3/4 of their sales are to DJ’s, they decided to start making headphones for DJ use. Two models are currently o: the O-One and the O2. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to listen to the O-One and I was very impressed with Ortofon’s attempt at entering the headphone business.
Ortofon starts out with a custom driver built by Ultrasone which includes Ultrasone’s S-Logic technology. This is a fancy term which is used to describe Ultrasone’s “Natural Surround sound.” It works quite well.
Using a series of holes in a metal diaphragm between the driver and your ear, the sound is forced to hit your ear in multiple directions with different delays depending on the path taken. This allows your music to sound more dispersed and as if you were surrounded by speakers feet away from you.
Thankfully, S-Logic does not interfere with the sound reproduction. Instead, it adds to the sound creating a vast soundstage and with your eyes closed, a very wide image of the music appears before you.
What the O-One does best however is reproduce the sound accurately. The large dynamic drivers are surprisingly fast and can handle all but the most intense blends of instruments. Frequency response will please most audiophiles with quite flat coverage down to 40 Hz (below 40 Hz the bass tends to roll off) and all the way up.
The durability of the O-One is also impressive. It features two cables, one coiled and one uncoiled, with a screw 1/8″ jack adapter. It also comes with both velour and synthetic leather ear pads which are easy to swap. They also fold up for easy carrying in the supplied carry bag with the included 1/4″ adapter.
As for comfort– I have a big head and at first they were a little bit tight. After burning in however, not only did the sound improve but also the fit was better. I preferred the velour pads over the synthetic leather as the “leather” felt a bit plastic-y.
One of the first things I did once I got the O-Ones was to let a friend of mine try them on. He likes music with lots of bass drum in the background. He put them on and started listening. About 30 seconds later he took them off and said “What the hell– I didn’t even realize this was the song that was playing. It sounds like a whole different song.” Yes, he is used to stock iPhone earbuds but still the change in perception of a song is incredible for such a short experience. These babies really open everything up.
I’m used to wearing custom IEM for my critical listening, but since the O-Ones came, I am using them more and more. They create a slightly unrealistic soundstage that is sometimes just the thing I want to hear. Everything is clear with them. It’s very difficult to fatigue the drivers.
I think that overall the Ortofon O-One is a great headphone. It is definitely competitive around $200 and if you’re interested in hearing some very good headphones that you don’t want to break easily, these are my top choice.