Based in small-town Pennsylvania, USA, Grain Audio is a personal audio manufacturer that makes liberal use of wood in its products. The company has just four offerings listed on its site, and ships directly to buyers. Of the two pairs of headphones listed, the OEHP.01 is the larger, over-the-ear model. Featuring solid wood casings, the OEHP.01 is our review product of the day. We go into the details in our review.
Design, specifications and comfort
The Grain Audio OEHP.01 headphones feature a unique design, with the entire driver casing made out of grain-matched solid walnut wood. This keeps the headset fairly light at just 220g, and gives it a beautifully natural look. The padding on the ear cups and headband is soft and comfortable as well. The headband is made of plastic, and unfortunately doesn’t go too well with the wooden casings. The OEHP.01 uses 40mm dynamic drivers, and comes in a rather large box that includes a carry pouch and a 3.5mm-to-6.3mm adapter.
The two ear cups are connected by a wire which runs under the headband padding, but is slightly exposed near the casings. The adjustment mechanism is on each individual casing, which means that you have to fiddle with both sides equally to ensure a proper fit. Fortunately, this is easy enough, and the headset usually fits comfortably with minimal effort. The over-the-ear fit also ensures that your ears aren’t put under any strain and sonic isolation is excellent.
The cable is detachable, with standard 3.5mm plugs on both sides and an in-line remote and microphone. Although the cable fairly sturdy thanks to its thickness, it’s also somewhat tangle-prone thanks to its plain texture. There is faint cable noise, but this is usually overpowered and inaudible when you’re actually playing audio through the headphones.
We used our reference Fiio X1 high-resolution audio player, an Android smartphone and a Windows laptop as source devices while reviewing the Grain Audio OEHP.01. Focus tracks for the review were Pendulum’s 9000 Miles, Dee-Lite’s Groove Is In The Heart and Shur-I-Kan’s Conundrum.
Starting with 9000 Miles, what was immediately noticeable in the sound was the loudness and fullness. The track starts out gently, but felt aggressive and full-bodied from the word go. The sonic presence is fantastic, and the headphones managed to fill up the soundstage with ease. Despite this, there wasn’t much loss in detail, with the OEHP.01 maintaining a decent level of openness and three-dimensionality. It’s possible to detect even the softer elements distinctly, and the quality of the sonic imaging can be disorienting in a good way.
Moving on to Groove Is In The Heart, we could hear the Grain Audio OEHP.01’s ability with low and high frequencies. The iconically peppy track starting out with some impressive low-range kick, but was suitably complemented by the highs. Grain Audio touts the OEHP.01 as neutral, aiming to reproduce the sound as the artist intended it without any sonic colouration or boosts, but there does seem to be a slight drop in the mid-range. However, this doesn’t negatively affect the quality of the sound, which remains entertaining and exciting.
Finally, we experienced some deep house with Conundrum. This is an excellent track to test frequency response, and we were immediately treated to thump in the bass. Although it’s aggressive and powerful, it never feels overbearing or excessive. The same goes for the top-end treble, which rings through comfortably despite the powerful bass. Although this headset doesn’t achieve the same levels of response quality as a good pair of hybrid in-ears, it’s still an interesting sound for an over-the-ear option with dynamic drivers.
(Also see: Headphones 101: Choosing the Right Type of Drivers)
We quite enjoyed our time with the Grain Audio OEHP.01, thanks to its combination of looks, comfort and sonic prowess. Although the plastic headband detracted somewhat from the style of the wood driver casings, this is still an attractive pair of headphones and was a pleasure to wear over long periods of time.
The sound is an excellent combination of exciting, aggressive and detailed. It’s clear and full-bodied, while maintaining great levels of detail and drive. Although the $199 asking price might seem a bit high for a brand with no serious name value, it’s definitely a worthwhile investment if you’re looking for a good-looking, sonically capable pair of over-the-ear headphones.
Price (MRP): $199 (Rs. 13,300 approximately) plus shipping and duties. Available via Grain Audio.
- Good looks
- Thumpy bass and decent high-end responses
- Full-bodied, exciting sonic signature
- Detachable cable
- Minor drop in mid-range
- Plastic headband doesn’t go with the natural look
- A bit expensive
Ratings (Out of 5)
- Design: 4
- Performance: 4
- Value for money: 3.5
- Overall: 4
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