I thought the shipping box seemed strangely large and heavy when I picked it up today, but it wouldn't be the first time I bought something that was packaged excessively. Well, it turns out the box was holding a pair of On2 headphones. What a pleasant surprise! I thought if you won an item like that, it's all you would get, but the box also contained the ms02 earphones. So I got what I wanted (earphones) and a pretty nice bonus, too!
My first impression of the ms02, which felt like they fit nicely with the pre-installed tips, was that they sounded really muddy; I was probably only going to keep them around as backup earphones. Fortunately I remembered that the included papers said to try different sizes before settling on one, so I decided to try the next size down. The smaller tips were rather difficult to install, but what a difference they made! Now they sound pretty great for music without much deep bass, e.g. piano and acoustic guitar – better than my Sony XBA-H1. Unfortunately, the size difference between the default tips and the next size down is rather significant, so without a good seal, I now feel like I've lost most of the bass. I much prefer the Sony earphones when bass is important. It seems there's no good middle ground with the ms02 for my ear canals. I can only get the right sound out of them if I use the smaller tips, push them uncomfortably far into my ear canals, and don't swallow or move my jaw at all, lest I need to reposition the earphones afterward.
I was excited to see that the ms02 came with a cord clip, but it's not a great one. It's difficult to attach it to the cable, and it grips so tight that I can see the cable perimeter takes on a rather oblong shape inside the hook. I would like to adjust the position of the clip on the cable, but it takes so much force to attach or detach it that I feel like it's going to break after only one or two more adjustments. Thinksound could take a cue from Sony in this regard; my Sony clip has a nice design that grips the cable without any pinching force at all, and it's really easy to adjust. One odd thing I noticed is that the ms02 came with 5 pairs of tips, even though the packaging states "Four pairs of flexible silicon [sic] ear inserts". The tips that are pre-installed on the earphones are the same size as one of the other pairs, though, so you get two pairs of that size and one pair of each of the other three sizes. The packaging also states, "Compatible with iOS and Android devices", but they are just standard earphones without any control features – which is absolutely fine with me!
Moving on to the On2, they are beautiful, lightweight, and seem to have the perfect amount of compression for my wide head. I've only had them on for about an hour, so I'm not yet sure how they would feel for extended listening periods. Mechanically, they feel solid and have the best-feeling size adjustment of any headphones I own. The detents are strong, yet the audible click is quiet, as if dampened. The stitches are tight and clean, including the logo on top of the headband. The red indicators immediately tell you which side is the right side without you even needing to focus your eyes and read a little "R". They sound pretty good with just about everything I've thrown at them so far.
One of the included cables has a play/pause button, but its design was a little confusing at first. The button is covered by a soft rubbery section that's about 2 cm long, but the button itself is in the middle of that area and is only about 8 mm long. The button is pretty close to the right earcup, so you really need to operate it by feel rather than by looking at it. The first few times I tried to use the button, I would press too far out from the center of the rubber part, and that didn't work. You need to either feel for the little symbol in the middle of the rubbery part, which isn't very pronounced, or feel for the middle of the rubbery part. It's not difficult, but I would have preferred a more intuitive design. I like the woven fabric cables, although I wish one of them were longer.
I like the packaging of both products, although the On2 box was difficult to slide out from inside its slipcase. Massdrop's packaging was also efficient and secure.
So my first impression of the ms02 is they seem like they would be nice if they included a set of tips that fit me. If you can't get the right fit, they sound much worse than other earphones do with a sub-optimal fit. If anyone has tips for getting a better fit, please let me know! My first impression of the On2, on the other hand, is rather good. I'm pretty impressed with the sound, and I'm happy to have a nice pair of closed-back cans. Now I have an alternative to my aging pair that I epoxied back together a couple of years ago after they broke from several years of heavy use. And these sound better than those ever did! I am very fortunate to have received the On2 headphones.