A few weeks ago, we reviewed the Shinola Canfield On-Ear Headphones and were extremely impressed with the company’s high-quality debut into the headphone market. However, if you’re like us, and prefer over-ear headphones to on-ear, you couldn’t help but feel a little reservation. As luck would have it, Shinola sent us a sample of their Canfield Over-Ear fast enough that we can compare them side-by-side. We’re happy to report that the Over-Ear has everything we liked about the On-Ear, just bigger: bigger pads, bigger drivers, bigger cushioning.
In our review of the Canfield On-Ear, we gushed over that headphones’ build quality and materials — metal driver cups and sizing mechanisms, tasteful chrome accents, and a watchband-like leather headband. The Canfield Over-Ear features the same excellent cable as the On-Ear — sleeved in tangle-proof fabric, with a microphone just under the right ear and a three-button control pod at the Y-split.
The overall solid construction is also carried to the Over-Ear in full — the Over-Ear just has more of it. Where our review sample of the Canfield On-Ear came in a stealthy gloss black colorway, Shinola sent us the “cognac” version of the Over-Ear. Though we would probably prefer the black version of the Over-Ear, the Cognac’s silver metal contrasts very nicely against its tan sheepskin leather; the “built like a watch” impression that we got from the On-Ear is even more pronounced here.
The main differences between the Canfield Over-Ear and its smaller sibling lie, not surprisingly, in its size. Where the headband of the On-Ear had relatively small headband padding, the Over-Ear features a series of thicker pads that seem to better distribute pressure. This is a good thing, as the Over-Ear weighs almost a full pound — almost 25% more than the On-Ear. The Canfield Over-Ear’s namesake feature — its lambskin ear pads — are in fact bigger, deeper, and have more generous padding than that of the On-Ear.
However, if we’re honest, they strain the definition of circumaural — compared to some other over-ear headphones we’ve tried, the Canfield Over-Ear’s pads will be a little small for those with larger ears, and their stiff construction doesn’t give them any flexibility to adjust to those with ears that are taller than they are wide. Still, the Over-Ear’s pads are a major improvement in comfort over the On-Ear; though this headphone’s weight can be felt, we found them far easier to wear for long periods than the On-Ear.
One thing that does not seem to have changed substantially from the On-Ear is the Over-Ear’s sound — they seem to maintain what may be Shinola’s “house sound.” The Canfield Over-Ear ‘s drivers are a bit larger (50 mm dynamic), a bit less sensitive (115 db), and have a slightly higher impedance (41 ohms); they’re a bit harder to drive than the On-Ear, but otherwise perform very similarly. With the Canfield Over-Ear, we heard essentially the same warm, laid-back sound that we heard in the On-Ear. This isn’t a headphone where bass is boosted or bloated, but rather one where treble is softened. With the right music, this can be an extremely easy-listening sound signature; sounds that ordinarily have piercing, fatiguing treble are calmed to be much more listenable. On others, however, vocals can lack presence and the entire mix can sound a bit muddy.
While the Canfield Over-Ear amplifies all the best things about the On-Ear, it also comes with an amplified price tag. As we noted with the On-Ear, the Canfield Over-Ear isn’t ideal for critical listening; there are plenty of headphones with a more balanced, uncolored sound signature available for less money. However impressive its construction, the price of the Canfield Over-Ear combined with a sound that doesn’t exactly play well with all genres of music necessarily limits its audience. However, if you find the On-Ear’s build quality, materials, and laid-back sound signature appealing enough to justify its price, we think the Over-Ear is equally compelling a purchase.
Company and Price
Model: Canfield Over-Ear