Fanny Wang On Ear Headphones Review

In the world of headphones, there are many, many choices that range in price from a few bucks to a price requiring a second mortgage on your house. It’s that wide of a margin. And let’s face it, most mortals wouldn’t dream of spending over a couple hundred dollars to get the sound we want – and even that’s pushing it for some. Which brings us to a new kid on the block: Fanny Wang.

At first glance, the Fanny Wang On Ear headphones look like Monster Beats. There is no getting around that. Fanny Wang proudly states that they used the same sound engineer who worked on the Beats. Now, Monster has sued Fanny Wang, but that’s a matter for another time. I will say up front that I have not heard the Monster Beats, so even though they may look similar, there will be no audio comparison. My job here is to evaluate the On Ear Wangs on their own merit.

First, let’s look at the headphones. I have the black model with red accents and a removable red cord. They are quite stunning and look like they cost more than they do. White and red are also available. The outer shell is a shiny plastic with an indented pattern for grip. The headband and earcups are nicely padded and comfortable. They can be a bit tight on the ears after a few hours, but no more so than many other brands I’ve used. The red cord even has a cleverly added 3.5 mm Duo Jack for sharing music.

The On Ears are foldable, with a white, soft velour-like carrying bag for travel. The bag will not protect the headphones if dropped or crushed, but will help keep them clean. And since it’s bright white, I expect it to look dirty in no time. I hope it’s washable.

But as good as the On Ears look and feel, it’s the sound that really matters. And as I’ve said before, you can’t see them while you are wearing them; you can only hear them.

I’m not one of those persons that does a long burn-in on headphones right after delivery. I’m much too impatient for that. Burn-in is when you play music and/or generated noise patterns through headphones anywhere from 40 to 200+ hours. What that does is break the headphones in. The audio vibrations help make the diaphragm more flexible, resulting in a more natural, relaxed sound. Keep in mind that a burn in will happen anyway just from use. Performing a burn in 24/7 just speeds the process up.

But I like to listen right out of the box, so I can hear how better they get over time. And since I use headphones about 6-8 hours per day, they get burned in pretty quickly anyway.

One thing I noticed about the On Ears is how clear they sound. While the 40mm drivers do lean to the warm side and are forgiving sounding (meaning not too analytical), there’s an accuracy there that usually comes with more expensive models. That was surprising. I was expecting a more bassy headphone from all the marketing. But the bass was more complimentary and realistic than overbearing. To me, that’s a good thing. Too much bass becomes very tiring over an extended period. And that’s not a good thing.

Things didn’t begin well for the On Ears while listening to some older 60s music. Spirit’s “The Great Canyon Fire In General” from their debut album was too muffled to be enjoyable. I may as well had cotton over my ears. Part of the problem is the over-compressed analog mix, which – well, let’s just say we’ve learned a lot in that area since then. And a lack of a decent, remastered version didn’t help. A different problem became apparent with another song from that era. Peter & Gordon’s “A World Without Love” has a great instrumental sound that was clear and engaging but was ruined by atrocious vocals that were so pushed back, it was as if they were in another room. And the absolute stereo separation so popular back then just made it worse by killing any chance of soundstage. It was fast becoming clear that the Fanny Wangs – and many newer headphones, also – are geared to a more modern mix.

“Shameless” from the Bryan Ferry album, “Olympia” really shines with the On Ears. Even though the mix is a bit too muddy for my tastes (as is the whole album), this song still has sparkle courtesy of Groove Armada. There are electronic repetitions overlaid  on Ferry’s smoky, aging voice. It’s a study in contrasts that challenges the On Ear’s drivers to be able to differentiate it all without bleeding into each other. It works here.

The On Ears strut their stuff on songs like Engma’s “Sadeness (Part 1)” from their greatest hits album, ‘Love Sensuality Devotion”. The mixture of gregorian chant, heavy bass and bright flute accents cover the whole range from highs to lows. Even though the mids of the chants are recessed and the bass is dominant, it’s not buried in the mix. The On Ears make this song a lot of fun to listen to. Heck, that’s true for the whole album. It’s a headphone masterpiece.

Another headphone tester is New Order’s “Blue Monday” in the 12” dance mix. You want bass? You got bass, and then some. This song is a brain shaker. I turned up the volume on my iPod Classic to painful levels to see when distortion would kick in. It didn’t. But I did end up with a nice headache.

Cat Steven’s “Tuesday’s Dead” from “Teaser and the Firecat” features a bright acoustic guitar punctuated by a bass drum. Steven’s mid-range vocal performance breaks through this seeming conflict nicely. A recent remastering process gives the song a punch that’s exploited for all it’s worth on the Fanny Wangs. Older mixes of this song got bogged down in muck.

Originally, I had the Fanny Wangs connected directly to the audio-out port on my iMac.  They just sounded so… lost with no volume, power, or presence. It was pathetic. It became apparent that they sounded much better direct from my iPod Classic or iPhone. Compared to the muffled iMac audio, it was more airy and realistic. The soundstage opened up quite a bit and that made all the difference.

Fanny Wang is off to a good start. The On Ear headphones are made well, have killer looks and most important of all, sound great. At this price range, it could make choosing new headphones that much more difficult.

 

Product Information

Price:$169.95 US
Manufacturer:Fanny Wang
Requirements:
  • mini jack AUX out.
Pros:
  • Sound more expensive than they are.
  • Foldable for easy storage.
  • Nice, modern look.
  • Removable wire.
  • Duo Jack for music sharing.
Cons:
  • Non-existent case. Cloth bag protects from dirt and scratches, not much else.
  • Not as suitable for older recording mixes.
Posted in: Audio, Video, TV Gear, Reviews

12 comments… add one

  • Jim February 6, 2011, 2:12 pm

    Very well insightful review and not to harp on any comparison to the Monster Beats.

    After reading your review, I would pass on these, for the sole reason of the carrying case of these somewhat pricey headphones. For over 100 bux I would expect some sort of protection. I am not sure if Monster Beats offer a protective case, but I have used the V-Moda crossfades and the case was the deal breaker for me because of the travelling and going through airport security. The V-Moda has what is called the exoskeleton case that protects the cans very well. And it comes with a carbringer to hook it up to your carry on. And as for the sounds that come out of these, they are great. These are my first v-moda’s so I cannot compare, but I have used various Sony’s and Skullcandy as well as the old school Koss headsets that recently released or re released it’s foldable headsets. Retro indeed!

    But all in all, to spend another 50 for a well made case and a well made set of headphones, I would recommend someone to try these as an alternative.

    1
  • Anne June 29, 2011, 12:29 pm

    Hi, I hope you can follow up on my question.
    I am checking these out at a discounted price on fab.com, as a possible gift for my husband. He does not listen to a lot of music in headphones, but he does work on post audio for films, etc with headphones- especially when he’s working at home. From your experience with these headphones, do you think they would be good for that kind of work? I read your review, and of course don’t quite understand different mixes and all of that (my husband would, though…) and just don’t want to buy and expensive pair of headphones just because they look cool if they will not really be that great for what he does.

    2
  • Bill Henderson June 29, 2011, 12:56 pm

    Anne,
    For the purposes you mention, I would recommend the Aiaiai TMA-1 headphones:

    http://the-gadgeteer.com/2011/02/22/aiaiai-tma-1-headphones-review/

    They are made for DJs and are almost indestructible. They are a little more expensive, but are very nice. Plus they look really cool.

    3
  • Henry October 12, 2011, 8:17 pm

    I just found these on Jackthreads.com for 120 should I buy them??
    And honestly I hate the beats headphone just over priced headphones

    4
  • Bill Henderson October 12, 2011, 10:05 pm

    Henry,
    If you want the style of the Beats without parting wth all your cash, then the Wangs for this price should be a good deal. I am not familiar with this retailer, so please do your homework on them.
    Bill H.

    5
  • Caleb May 28, 2012, 6:05 pm

    Hi Bill,
    Will these headphones do well with an ipod touch? I’m getting them becasue my other headphones broke. I listen to rap, dubstep, skrillex, and pop. would these headphones suit me well?

    6
  • Bill Henderson May 28, 2012, 7:56 pm

    Caleb,
    They should do quite well with an iPod Touch. I wouldn’t use them for commuting though, unless you want to make a fashion statement.

    Bill

    7
  • Karan May 31, 2012, 4:41 am

    Hie Bill!! I have a Nokia N8, i want to know whether these headphones will be great for me? I hear rock, pop, easy-listening, rap, hip hop and house music and prefer the sound which is more vivid and original!

    8
  • Kim July 9, 2012, 7:34 pm

    Hello! I usually listen to pop, ballad also including some dreamy songs thats background sound is really deep and low but the singer’s vocie is high, and ripping like. Do you personally think fanny wang can conver both pop (dance mostly), and ballads? Thank you so much for your review!! :)

    9
  • Bill Henderson July 9, 2012, 8:48 pm

    Karan,
    I really don’t know what kind of head port is on the Nokia N8 to answer that question. I will say that the headphone will be good for easy listening and pop, not so great with hip-hop or rap, though.

    Kim,
    I think the Fanny Wangs will do fine with pop, but if you are looking for more bass for the dreamy songs, you may want to consider the Aiaiai TMA-1 headphones.

    http://the-gadgeteer.com/2011/02/22/aiaiai-tma-1-headphones-review/

    10
  • Angie February 19, 2013, 3:43 pm

    I need a good over the ear headphone set that is good while working out. Lots of people complain the Beats cant handle sweat??? Wondering if these would hold up???

    11
  • Bill Henderson February 19, 2013, 3:54 pm

    Angie.
    I would avoid any bulky or heavy headphones for exercise. Plus you don’t want to use expensive headphones that can get sweat on them… at least, I wouldn’t. I would suggest earphones, but if you prefer headphones, there are some feather-weight models available:
    http://www.aiaiai.dk/store/headphones/tracks
    http://www.koss.com/en/products/headphones/on-ear-headphones/PortaProKTC__Porta_Pro_KTC_On_Ear_Headphone
    http://goincase.com/products/detail/pivot-ec30008
    http://www.urbanears.com/#/headphones/tanto/tanto-black

    Bill H.

    12

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