- Smooth and refined sound
- Superb build
- Useful, real world features
- Not always able to create a perfect seal
- Slightly overcooked bass
- Carry bag not as protective as some rivals
What is the Aedle ODS-1?
Those of you with good memories will know that we have looked at another Aedle product in the past. The VK-1 headphone didn’t necessarily deliver a lethal blow to the challenging pack in terms of its sonic performance but the build, use of materials and general attention to detail that went into them were worthy of note. After a period of relative quiet – the company has focussed on some upgrades and add ons to the VK-1 – they have now launched the ODS-1.
Design & Specs
The ODS-1 is a structured in-ear design that is built around a single dynamic driver per enclosure mated with a single armature for high frequency work. The thinking is logical enough. Armature drivers offer outstanding sensitivity and effortless reproduction of high frequencies but their bass response is dependent on a decent seal in the ear. Conversely, dynamic drivers offer considerably more low end extension but do their best work unencumbered by the need to be full range. Aedle has placed these two drivers in an enclosure that sits in the pinna of the ear and outputs via single port.
The use of aircraft industry grade aluminium is something of a speciality of the company and the ODS-1 is a beautifully engineered piece of equipment. The finish on the housings is exquisite and the leather trimmings on the earmount is probably gratuitous but looks and feels lovely. Earphones are not generally devices that manage to feel special, even the most expensive ones we’ve looked at don’t generally ‘do’ much more physically than affordable models but the Aedle does have a feel to it that makes it a luxury item.
The ODS-1 might be a fractionally more affordable design here but still comes with some useful equipment. It has a remote control and mic built into the cord and this makes for a more real world friendly device but, on the flipside, the carry bag is nice but not as protective as a proper case.
The Aedle is also a good fit although I find myself periodically tapping the enclosure with a fingertip to ensure that they stay seated. The clip around the ear is a snug fit when you put them on but they otherwise feel comfortable and work well. The Aedle sits in the middle ground for sensitivity, they are easy enough to drive and can be used with a phone but do undoubtedly benefit from the extra power of the external DACs.
Sonically, the ODS-1 is refined and well-balanced. It sounds even and consistent across the frequency response and manages to avoid sounding harsh or aggressive while not sounding dull or over warm. There is also a tonal sweetness to the Aedle that makes it extremely easy to listen to for extended periods. The way it reproduces the Tidal Master of Sturgill Simpson’s In Bloom has a lightness of touch that is hard not to like. This sweetness doesn’t seem to affect the tonality either. Simpson’s vocals sound rich and weighty and the supporting instruments sound correct as well.
Where the Aedle is fractionally less assured is the sense of space that it generates. There is always a good reproduction of the soundstage that the music has to it but there isn’t the effortless vista of sound with the Boom Boom satellites On a Painted Desert that some other models can manage. There is plenty of energy to the performance with upbeat music though and no shortage of bass energy, although this can be fractionally overblown at times and the Aedle does it best work with the Pioneer XDP100R which has the ability to tune the output to better work with the headphones or earphones you have chosen.
This beefy low end does give the ODS-1 a hand when used on the move in noisy environments. Its ability to keep the outside world at bay is consistently good and it also means that you don’t need to drive them to high levels to be completely free of external noise. They are also usefully forgiving of less than perfectly recorded material although the slight counter to this is that very high quality recordings don’t always see the leap in quality that they should.
Summarising the Aedle ODS-1 requires you to perform a similar mental exercise to that which was required with the original VK-1 headphone. This is a gorgeous object to hold, to look at and to interact with and for many people that will be enough. Thankfully, it has some more tangible attributes too. It’s extremely easy to listen to and use on a day-to-day basis and if you want an earphone that demands little of the user while delivering a great deal, you should check them out. For some, other models might have a little more to offer though.