The budget-priced, sweet-sounding 1More Mk801 headphone

1More does it again; it's raising expectations for sound and build quality for budget-priced headphones.

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I didn't check the price before I opened the 1More Mk801 box. Looking over the sturdy design and admiring the look, then donning the headphones and listening to a few tunes I guessed the Mk801 would sell for $150-$175 (£105 to £122). Then I checked the 1More site and saw they list for $80/£68, sweet! They're also available from Amazon US and UK.

The 1More Mk801 in black


I shouldn't have been all that surprised; I loved the 1More Triple Driver in-ear headphone a few months ago, but making a great in-ear doesn't guarantee the full-size model would also be above par, but in fact the Mk801 is a real contender for best under $100/£70 full-size headphones.

While 1More claims the Mk801 is an over-the-ear design with earpads that fit around your ears, but on my not so large ears the Mk801's 'pads rested on my ears. Comfort was good, but after a half hour I felt some pressure on the top of my head from the headband, but overall comfort was good enough, and this closed-back headphone's isolation from external noise was pretty decent. A lot of headphones keep me guessing which earcup is which, but the 1More Mk801 has a large "L" and "R" on the inside of each corresponding earcup. The Mk801 comes in black and red finishes.

1More's product specifications are spotty, but the Mk801 weighs a not-too-heavy 8.3 ounces (235 grams), and comes with a detachable and tangle-free 47-inch (1.2-meter) cable with an inline mic and three-button control for smartphones. Impedance is listed at 32 ohms.

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1More makes a big deal about the sound, claiming that Grammy Award-winning sound engineer Luca Bignardi tuned the Mk801. The sound is indeed smooth, though treble detail is a tad muted. Bass and midrange are richly balanced, and the stereo soundstage is nice and wide.

Then I reached for my Beyerdynamic DTX 350p on-ear headphones and listened to David Bowie's last album, "Blackstar." The sound was very decent, but the Mk801 was clearer overall, and bass definition outpaced the DTX 350p's. As closed-back headphones go, the Mk801 sounds remarkably spacious.

The 1More Mk801 in red


So far so good; how would the Mk801 compare with one of my reference affordable 'phones, the Audio Technica ATH M50x? The Mk801 was lower in resolution, as if there were a thin layer of cotton between the headphones and my ears; it's a somewhat "soft"-sounding headphone. The ATH M50x was also livelier and more dynamic. To be fair, that one sells for nearly double the Mk801's price, so I thought the Mk801 put up a good fight.

Summing up: The 1More Mk801 won't be the first choice for buyers craving maximum detail, but this headphone won't make you cringe with harsh or glaringly bright recordings. The Mk801 has above-average build and sound quality for the money; it's highly recommended.