British audio house Meters Music has announced a wireless version of its novel-looking headphones launched at CES 2017 in Las Vegas back in January. The flagship OV-1B model sports the same working VU meter on the outside of each earcup as its sibling, but gives users the chance to go cable-free for "better than CD" quality listening.

The functioning VU meter on the outer face of each earcup is a design nod to the legacy of Ashdown Music, from which Meters Music sprouted earlier this year. Ashdown has made bass amps for some of the biggest names in modern music – from Paul McCartney to U2 and System of a Down to the Foo Fighters. The amps can be identified on stage by their glowing VU meters.

Including active visual monitoring in the shape of meter needles that move to the volume of the incoming signal in real time seemed a logical choice for its offshoot's flagship headphones, and immediately set the design apart from other over-ear cans on the market. The meters appear to be of little use to listeners – you can't see them when the cans are on your head – but they will let others around them know how loud the music is, without having to hear the noise for themselves.

So if you get a tap on your shoulder while commuting, it may be that someone has noticed the needles edging dangerously close to the "not good for you" red zone. Yeah, sure. It is a bit gimmicky, but very cool nonetheless. And it's not as if the OV-1B headphones are all show and no delivery.

For starters, Meters Music says that the OV-1Bs are among the first headphones to use aptX HD Bluetooth technology, which caters for wireless transmission of up to 24-bit high definition audio. Active noise cancellation should help keep ambient noise from spoiling the music delivered through 40 mm dome drivers, and the over-ears can be used to take calls if paired to a smartphone, just by touching a button on the side of the earcup. Controls on the side of the headphones are used to adjust volume and playback, too.

The OV-1B headphones have a 20 Hz - 20 kHz frequency response, 94 dB sensitivity and 32 ohm impedance. And they can be cabled to a non-wireless music source for passive listening using a 1.5 m (5 ft) straight cord, or when the battery powering the ANC and Bluetooth tech runs dry after about 8 hours of continuous use.

The OV-1B headphones are up for pre-order now for US$434 in rose gold, black or tan, shipping is expected to start next month. If you don't need Bluetooth, the cable only OV-1 headphones are available for $368.

Product page: Meters OV-1B

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