Heavily hyped. Heavily advertised. Heavily delayed.
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The Heavys H1H headphones, like the Dyson Zone, are another fascinatingly unique pair of headphones getting a lot of press this year. These “headphones engineered for heavy metal” started life as a Kickstarter in late 2021.
Boasting many interesting features such as eight drivers, forward-mounted tweeters, and development by legendary Sennheiser designer the “Godfather of German Sound” Axel Grell, the Heavys immediately made a lot of waves in headphone communities. Unfortunately, after the first year went by without shipment, grumbles and speculation started to replace the anticipation.
However, in late spring 2023, the first backers started receiving their sets, and my pair arrived in August. Heavys claims they’ve sent out over 12000 pairs by mid-October 2023.
Unboxing and First Impression
- Battery Life: 50 hours (ANC off), 40 hours (ANC on)
- Charge Time: 5 hours
A nice feature (that is only sometimes the case with ANC headphones) is that you can continue to use Bluetooth to listen to the headphones while charging.
The USB-c port serves double duty as a charge port and for the wired DAC listening mode when connected to a digital source. With the USB-c cable plugged into your computer, the Heavys will show up as an audio device, even with Bluetooth turned off.
- Control Mechanism: All mechanical. No touch controls.
- Touch Accuracy: n/a
- Control Symmetry on both ear-cups: No
- Mono Use: No
A few expected AWS headphone features are missing from the Heavys, most notably touch controls and wear detection, so the headphones will not automatically pause when you remove them from your head.
Those of us used to tapping or stroking the ear cups to make changes will be disappointed.
The button placement and usage are a bit of a mixed bag. While I like the (actual) metal volume knob/button, it is somewhat awkward to simultaneously press the two tiny buttons, closely flanking it on either side, to enter transparency mode.
There is no 2.5mm to 3.5mm cable included.
The 2.5mm port hole on the headphones is relatively small, so finding an aftermarket cable to fit may be challenging. The safe bet is to order the official cable.
- Profile: Over-Ear
- Material: Plastic, spring steel band, pleather ear cushions and headband
- Fit and Comfort: Good
When you first pop the Heavys on your head, you’ll notice that they are no lightweights. Tipping the scales at a little over 400g, they are noticeably heavier, larger, and bulkier than many other ANC headphones.
The Heavys are big and heavy for ANC cans.
The next thing you will likely notice is that the Heavys have a tight clamp force. The good news is that the pleather ear pads are nicely padded and plush, so this does well to offset the weight and maintain comfort.
It may be necessary to stretch the band out a bit to find the happy medium that works best with your noggin. The headband pad isn’t overly cushioned, so you will likely feel hotspots after a few hours.
Even with the tight clamp force, their size and shape mean they don’t stay put for excessive headbanging. The Heavys do better walking or commuting than with dancing, gym, or running use.
The generously sized plastic cups and pleather pads should fit most ears out there, and unsurprisingly, the faux leather does get warm with use. The outer shell faceplates clip on and off, and customized replacement shells are available directly from Heavys to personalize the looks.
The headband design sits flat across the top of the head and sticks out on the sides when wearing the Heavys – not my favorite silhouette.
- Noise Cancellation: Average
- Voice Pick-up: Average
The five microphones sound more than decent enough for casual conversation. Still, you are unlikely to choose the Heavys for business or professional use in anything but the quietest work setting.
Environmental noise cancellation is minimal, and callers will hear your surroundings. My transmitted voice sounds muffled when in a noisy space.
- Driver: 2x 38mm dynamic drivers, 2 tweeters (per side)
- Sound Signature: Boosted bass, subdued midrange and treble
- Bass: Good
- Mids: Average
- Treble: Average
- Soundstage: Good
- Imaging: Average
- Dynamics: Good
It should be no shock that these colored-sounding headphones are not intended for critical music listening. As with any pair of headphones deviating from standard tuning curves, they are bound to be controversial, creating both avid fans and fervent detractors.
You might love ‘em, you might hate ‘em.
Like many of their ANC competitors, they are indeed bass-heavy, but the overall tuning deviates from the norm. I genuinely don’t enjoy listening to music on the popular Sony and Sennheiser ANC offerings and find them claustrophobic due to their strong ANC and tuning.
In contrast, the Heavys’ dynamics sound dialed up – more energetic and engaging, at least at higher volume levels. They also do a good job sounding less closed in than most closed-back headphones and have a relatively wide and expansive soundstage – likely due to their unique driver positioning and structure.
This spacious presentation seems to come at the expense of accurate positioning, as audio cues in games and movies don’t seem to translate as well.
The bass response is very strong, with good depth and rumble. Heavys proclaims that they employ technology and tuning to enhance the sense of loudness without SPL increase or potential hearing damage. Through audio tomfoolery, the listener’s perception is louder than reality. Undoubtedly, this is what gives the Heavys their unorthodox frequency response measurements.
I do find that it is necessary to increase the volume to moderate listening levels before the Heavys really sound alive. They tend to sound a touch muffled at low volumes, with the boosted bass frequencies overwhelming the rest.
The enhanced bass response is likely part of their proprietary tuning, playing with traditional Fletcher–Munson curves and tweaking the equal-loudness contour – which dictates that humans perceive that very high and very low frequencies fall off at quiet volumes.
The bass seems more sub-bass focused than mid-bass boosted, so things sound more weighty than overtly punchy. Interestingly, this makes the Heavys at least as adept with modern pop and electronic music as with their intended genre.
Fans of Black Sabbath and Taylor Swift will enjoy the Heavys.
Bass is the star of the show with the Heavys, and audiophiles wanting a neutral or analytical-sounding set should keep searching. Also, there are better choices than these headphones for singer-songwriter or folk music listening.
But this is clearly a deliberate choice from the designers, and FUN is the name of the game with these somewhat silly cans. I mean, anyone adding that voice prompt isn’t taking things too seriously.
The midrange is present but a significant step down from the low end. Even with such prominent bass, the Heavys do manage not to sound excessively warm and thick – instruments and voices can even sound a little thin, depending on the track. This sparseness helps to add much-needed clarity to the mix.
The treble continues the laid-back trend from the midrange frequencies. I assume this is to decrease listening fatigue with headphones intended to be played loud. As a result, the treble only comes into its own at higher volume levels.
The subdued treble surprised me, as I assumed the pair of prominent tweeters in each cup would give a piezo-like treble response. In fact, the experience isn’t excessively piercing or tizzy, and the Heavys do a good job maintaining cohesion with all those drivers.
Fingers on strings can sound a little sharp, and certain frequencies may come across as somewhat hot for treble-sensitive folks, but this is mostly in the upper-mids/lower-treble region. The highest upper frequencies seem rather rolled off – something common with Bluetooth cans.
Active noise cancellation
The Heavys have very effective passive noise cancellation. Even with ANC powered off, a lot of external noise is filtered out.
Those used to the high level of active noise cancellation that Sony, Sennheiser, and Bose headphones provide will find the Heavys much lighter-handed. I don’t enjoy oppressive ANC and can find the experience akin to being trapped in an acoustic submarine, so I really appreciate how the Heavys handle it.
Heavys calls their noise cancellation Hell Blocker.
No, it’s not as effective in a noisy environment such as an airplane, but I find the listening experience far more enjoyable due to the lighter ANC implementation. Just enough, rather than too much.
- Audio Codec: SBC, AAC, aptX, LHDC
- Bluetooth Version: 5.1
- Auto-connect when: Powered on
- Average drop-outs in an hour: 0
- Multi-point connection: Yes
Bluetooth performance is overall excellent, with high-quality codec support and a very stable connection.
- IP Rating: Very Poor
The Heavys have no waterproofness IP rating. Although, to my eyes, they seem no better or worse than other plastic closed-back headphones. I expect they will deal fine with some minor splashing or rain.
- No app available as of October 2023.
There is a promise of an app in development, but as of the time of writing, it remains vaporware. This is a big miss, as ANC headphones benefit significantly from the ability to dial in transparency and ANC levels as well as apply EQ. I expected the delivery delays would have helped app release timing, but here we are.
Who Should Buy This?
Whether your musical tastes run to Roan Chappell or Pantera, the Heavys make a fun traveling companion. Lean into the silly that are the voice prompts and crank up the volume – this is what the Heavys were designed to do.
Critical and quiet listeners need not apply. Any product marketed as “metal AF” doesn’t cater to that demographic.
A big plus is the great passive noise canceling and light ANC. This combo makes the Heavys much more palatable for listening in quiet environments, something I can’t say for many ANC industry leaders right now.
The Heavys aren’t for everyone – they are certainly designed to be a niche product. But for the right folks, I expect the Heavys will head-bang their way into many hearts.
A common theme in my reviews is that I generally like companies and products that do things differently. Kudos to those who set out not to add another copycat product to an already saturated market.
The Heavys manage to deliver something new to the ANC landscape. I miss wear detection, and the lack of an app is a bummer. But crank them up with the right music, and the Heavys will rock your world with their dynamic and fun presentation.
Where to Buy
What’s in the Box?
- Heavys H1H headphones
- USB-c cable
- User guide
- Thank you note
- Original backer certificate
- Form: Closed-back, Over-ear, ANC headphones
- Drivers: 4 x 38mm dynamic drivers, 4 x tweeters
- Frequency Response (Hz): 5 Hz – 46 kHz, 5 Hz – 24 kHz (Bluetooth)
- Distortion: 0.05% (100 dB SPL, 1kHz)
- Removable Cable: Y, 2.5-3.5 purchased separately
- USB: USB-c for charging and wired DAC mode
- Bluetooth Audio Codec: SBC, AAC, aptX adaptive, LHDC
- Battery Life (hrs): 50h (ANC off), 40h (ANC on)
- Bluetooth Version: 5.1
- Mic: Y
- Weight (g): 407g