Onkyo H500BT: Sleek, loud and punchy

The H500BT is Onkyo's latest mid-tier headphones that delivers powerful, bassy performance.
The H500BT is Onkyo's latest mid-tier headphones that delivers powerful, bassy performance.PHOTO: ONKYO

Japanese audio manufacturer Onkyo is famed for its home audio and cinema equipment, and only in the past three years did it dabble in the last piece of the audio puzzle - headphones and earphones.

The Onkyo H500BT is the company's latest mid-tier headphones that delivers powerful, bassy performance.

While it is slightly pricey at over $300, the set of over-ear headphones is very effective at delivering loud, punchy audio across a variety of genres.

It puts out a decent amount of kick that's enough to drain out most ambient noises despite not being active noise-cancelling cans, which tells you how loud it can go.

Putting on indie rock band Bastille's latest single, Good Grief, showed the headphone's ability to balance between the thumping bassline and lead singer Dan Smith's falsetto.

Onkyo's sound signature leans heavily towards the warmer end of the spectrum, and the H500BT does add a distinctly warm, bassy undertone to most tracks.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $319

    DRIVER DIAMETER: 40mm

    FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 7Hz - 23.5kHz (Bluetooth); 7Hz - 40kHz (wired)

    WEIGHT: 200g (with cable)


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

It doesn't, however, overpower the mids and the highs, which come through cleanly. Those who like bright, shimmering clarity may not warm to the H500BT's roundness.

Sticking to the brand's minimalist Japanese design roots, the H500BT looks pretty nondescript, and comes only in two plain, stark colours: black and white.

It is very light and comfortable, with cushy earpads that fit snugly. Each earpad is anchored to the headband by a small metal rod, allowing the earpads to rotate freely, which makes them sit comfortably on the ears.

The faux leather earpads and headband, however, left me a little wary about the headphone's longevity, as they tend to flake after a period of use.

Pairing a music device via Bluetooth or near-field communication is quick and simple.

When used wirelessly, the right earcup functions as a touchpad for track and volume control - swipe a finger forward or backward to skip tracks, or up and down to adjust the volume. It's cool and pretty futuristic, save for the slight lag between performing the action and actually having it executed.

For best performance, use the rugged, coiled detachable cable that's capable of delivering up to 40kHz of high-resolution audio from your player to your ears.

It won't matter for the majority of the iPod-carrying crowd, but for rising numbers of those looking into high-res portable audio players - like Onkyo's very own DP-X1 - the difference in sound quality can be rather discernible.

• Verdict: The H500BT offers a punchy, warm sound signature that sounds great across a wide variety of genres. However, it is priced at a premium for an over-ear headphone that doesn't come with noise-cancellation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'Onkyo H500BT: Sleek, loud and punchy'. Print Edition | Subscribe