The Meters OV-1-B Connect Headphone by the UK's Ashdown Engineering has fused together modern technology with a retro yet functional aesthetic. The first thing you notice about these cans, aside from their large size, is the analog needle display on the sides of the headphone. This needle display might be familiar to vintage gear heads or older folks who grew up with analog systems in the 70s or 80s, but for most, it seems like an antiquated meter compared to today's digital readouts.
So while this at first appears as simply a design choice, you realize that the charming little analog display actually monitors the volume (kind of) after a closer look - but only moving at loud and unsafe volumes. The idea being if the meters are bouncing into the danger zone, you should turn them down, but the functionality doesn't make that much sense to us other than a cool visual component. After all, if you are wearing them, you can't see the meters to get the cue they are too loud, and honestly, if you need meters to tell you your music is too loud - you probably should get your hearing checked STAT.
Once you cross over the $250 price point, people start to get skeptical of things that look like gimmicky design, but Meters remain in a defendable position here for the most part. The Meters OV-1-B-Connect retail for $350, so they are a bit of an investment and definitely a conversation piece. So before considering buying these, you need to ask yourself, are you ready for the kind of attention you will get, and are you ok with the large size? Because you are not going to be stealthy in these headphones.
Looks and Build
The first thing you notice about these conversation starters is the retro-looking display and the large size. So if you have committed, you are ok with this kind of attention. These headphones are what you might call beefy, with large ear cushions and components that are inspired by old school studio headphones, back in the day when people used to smoke Lucky Strikes in the booth.
The Meters are on the heavier side, and carrying them around will require some extra room in your backpack, roughly the size of half a soccer ball when they are in the case. So again, when you get these, you are making a bit of a commitment based on style and size vs. performance, which we will get to later in the review.
Fit-wise, despite being 13.4 ounces, they are comfortable because of the extensive padding around the ear cups and headband. We found them comfy for sessions lasting around 1-3 hours; any longer and you might get fatigued. The clamping force was also a bit intense, so it might be an issue if that is something that bothers you. One can only assume this clamping force lessens over time, but we cannot confirm that.
One of the reasons these headphones might be appealing to some buyers is the Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) feature, an excellent feature for people working in loud environments but can also create an annoying hiss in quieter environments. This hiss is a common problem with most ANC, and the Meters ANC is adequate in loud spaces, cutting out loud crowd rumble, fans, train noise, etc. We tried them in a coworking area, a mall, and on a commuter train down to Union Station here in Denver. If you are a commuter, these headphones might be too big for your average hustle to work but would be great for working at your desk in an open-plan office.
How Do They Sound?
When you buy $350 headphones, you don't want to compromise on sound, no matter how cool the design is. The good news is that the Meters deliver a solid, well-rounded sound that is well balanced with just the right amount of color to be exciting for most listeners. We always try different music to get a feel for the tuning, and the Meters worked well across all genres with a good blend across the highs, mids, and lows. They also support aptX HD codec, so listeners that are a bit more sensitive to sound can stream high-quality files. Don't expect a vast soundstage here, as they are closed-back headphones, but the Meters create enough space to satisfy and not feel jammed. Lastly, you have an EQ on the App that can help you dial in the sound, but no way to save settings that we could find - which was disappointing, especially if you like to EQ your music.
The App & The Meters
The App is pretty straightforward and allows you to mess with the lighting brightness and colors on your headphones to match your aesthetics or current mood - it's kind of cool. Still, again you will get some questions, especially if you are blasting those meters brightly with a flashy color. You can also get a pretty solid EQ on your music with the App, but as we said above, it's not savable.
For the most part, the meters are only good for aesthetics; they don't bounce with your songs unless the volume is turned up quite a bit, which seems counterproductive?
Overall the Meters are a unique headphone with some cool visual features and a cool retro-future aesthetic, which we like a lot. The sound is solid and will please the average listener looking for a well-balanced sound profile with just enough color to keep things interesting and exciting. The noise-canceling functionality is just average and not something you should buy these cans for specifically. It's nice to have it for loud environments like open-plan offices or trains, but the ever-present hiss might have many keeping it in the off position. If you are driven by design and not purely on sound, these might be a fun option and will definitely make you stand out.