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Circuit Breaker

These headphones have a built-in VU meter, and I’m not even mad

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What else would you expect from a company named Meters Music?

Meters Music OV-1

Headphone design is no stranger to invasions from other categories, whether you’re talking LED lights, belt buckles, or, um, cat-ear speakers. Usually, I snarl at those excesses, but I find myself smiling at the latest example: a fully functional VU meter integrated into the ear cups of the new Meters Music OV-1 cans.

Who’s Meters Music, you ask? I was pondering that same question when I first heard of them this morning, but it turns out there’s some decent sonic pedigree behind this new brand. It’s an offshoot of Ashdown Engineering, a company engaged in making bass amplifiers for major musical acts like Lenny Kravitz, U2, and System of a Down. Unlike, say, Marshall headphones that only share a name with the original Marshall amp maker, the Meters Music headphones are designed and produced entirely by Ashdown; the new branding is mostly to differentiate the consumer products from the pro gear.

Meters Music

Of course, a VU meter mounted on the side of headphones serves no discernable purpose other than to make them look different. You can’t see it while wearing them, and even if you could, it measures the volume of your music source, not the loudness of the headphones themselves. It’s not without its downsides, either, as you’ll need to charge up the headphones to keep those analog dials (one on each side) moving. But the fact this thing actually works and corresponds to the music you’re listening to is what elevates it in respectability for me. This is obviously silly design, but it’s the right kind of silly.

Meters Music will make its debut with the OV-1 at CES in Las Vegas next month, and it already has plans for a Bluetooth version later down the line. I can’t tell you what the OV-1 sound or feel like, but if their look is enough to capture your imagination, you can preorder a pair now for £279 ($355).