Spotted in Japan: D-Bros 2009 Creator's Diary
The User is Out

Spotted in Japan: ONTO Headphones by Audio-Technica

ONTO Headphones

Like most designers, I spend a lot of time with my headphones on, rocking out while I'm putting together layouts. I can't wear earbuds. Through some quirk of my ear canals, they just won't stay in my ears.

As a result, I've burned through a number of headphones, both with headbands as well as the behind-the-ear variety. But I've always been on the lookout for a pair of headphones that balance audio quality, affordability, and real design style.

You can't easily find a pair of headphones like that in America. But in Japan, sure you can!

These ONTO Headphones, which you can get online in the U.S. through Urban Outfitters (at a 3x cost markup, ugh), are made for small-headed, balding music junkies like myself. What makes them work for me is the following:

1) Instead of a headband, there's just a thin, sturdy wire whose sole purpose is to balance the earpieces on your ears while barely contacting your head.

2) The earpieces don't enclose your ears... instead they sit directly on your ear, poofily, which doesn't hurt me like my Sony studio headphones after an hour or two.

3) The headphone designers were very clever in how you can adjust, turn, and extend the headphones without adding any extra material into the earpiece, thereby keeping the sound quality pretty good for what amounts to a pair of 2000 yen ($20) headphones.

My wife, when trying these on, said they were uncomfortable and hurt her head, so I'd assume by our focus group of two that the ONTO is not for everyone. But wearing these at work, home, and play has been a real pleasure. These headphones have been on sale for over two years, and I'm really surprised they haven't jumped the pond.

[EDIT: I saw these headphones for $60 at Sonic Boom Records in Ballard, Seattle. Go get 'em!]

ONTO Headphones



The best headphones I've used are the Denon AH-D5000, also made in Japan. Fabulous sound quality, mahogany cans, super comfy. Unfortunately I can only afford one pair -- for the home and not the office. I'd checkout ONTO as a replacement to the Sennheiser headphones I'm using at work but not from the evil UO.


Man, I truly want a pair of these but too bad they're like $70 at UO.


I'm using it right now! It makes online radio sounds like NEAR CD quality. awesome.

Javier Saldana

My head is really big and they work perfectly with it. I bought them in Tokyo yesterday for a mere 1500 yen. YAY!!
Barcelona, Spain


How do the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 headphones compare to the Denon ones?
We retail most brands of headphones at our store but I haven't heard the Denons...

The comments to this entry are closed.