Onkyo IE-HF300S and IE-FC300 In-Ear Headphones
Onkyo is one of a select few audio brands equally familiar to the audiophile and general consumer, so it came as no surprise when the company, in keeping with current trends, announced their first headphone line early this year. Onkyo’s starting lineup consists of the ES-FC300 and ES-HF300 on-ear headphones, already reviewed by Tyll, and the IE-FC300 and IE-HF300 in-ear earphones. In-ears can be tough to tune for companies not familiar with the form factorsee, for example, the disaster that is Paradigm’s Shift line. Onkyo, however, has done a rather good job and is sure to find a spot in the crowded market with these in-ears.
The IE-FC300 and IE-HF300, like Onkyo’s on-ear headphones, are identical save for the cables, which are interchangeable and user-replaceable. The FC300 earphones come with a thinner flat cord in one of three colors while the HF300, at a $30 premium, ships with a 6N copper cable. The 6N cable on the IE-HF300 unit I have here is certainly impressivethick and very sturdy. It has a semi-translucent outer sheath with a rubbery coating and attaches via small coaxial connectors at the earphone end. However, I would personally save $30 and go for the “basic” FC300 version instead as the upgrade cable has a tendency towards cable noise, or “Microphonics”. Microphonics are heard in the headphones when the cable contacts the wearer’s shirt or any other object, and are about average in intensity for an in-ear monitor.
The detachable cable is the highlight of the Onkyos’ construction. The driver chamber, which houses a rather large 14.3mm transducer, is plastic and doesn’t really match the premium feel of the cables and connectors but the overall durability should be very good regardless. I also rather like the unique styling of these earphones—the large stems housing the connectors can look a little goofy in the ear, but also do a great job of setting the Onkyo units apart from the competition.
The earphones come with four sets of silicone eartips and an excellent, roomy carrying case. The fit of the HF300 earphones is what I like to call “half in-ear”the driver chamber sits entirely in the outer ear with a nozzle protruding into the ear canal at an angle. As is usually the case with half in-ear earphones, isolation from outside noise is average at best, slightly worse than with the Philips earphones of this type I reviewed a while ago. Comfort is good thanks to the light weight and shallow seal in the ear - the Onkyo earphones make a great first IEM thanks to their straightforward fit and sound that is easy-going and enjoyable, as we will see on the next page.