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A Review On: Monoprice 8320 IEM

Monoprice 8320 IEM

Rated # 10 in Universal Fit
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Recent Pricing:
Review Details:
Audio Quality
Comfort
Design
Isolation
Value
Purchased on:
Price paid: $8.23
julian67
Posted · Updated · 23491 Views · 17 Comments

Pros: None.

Cons: Sound irredeemably awful with voices and natural tones. Left vs. Right drivers very unbalanced.

Purchase and Receipt:

My Shure SE215 were stolen last week and I wanted a very cheap temporary replacement with over the ear cable routing. I have seen the hype and the hand waving and smelled the BS, but also noticed some reasonable people say some reasonable things about these so thought they would be worth a try.

I bought these on Amazon UK from the Monoprice UK marketplace seller (fulfilled by Amazon). They cost £5.31 which at the moment is US $8.23. Delivery was free.

They arrived boxed, with medium size tips attached and a small packet containing one pair each of small and large silicone tips. The model number is MEP-933 and these are the metallic looking style with fabric covered cord.

First Impressions and Fit:

These are big for an In Ear Monitor. The driver is very large for this type of 'phone, so the housing is correspondingly large and the tube which holds the eartip is quite long and unusually angled. The silicone tips sit right on the end.

The cable is fabric covered and routes up and back over the ear. It is shorter than usual for this type of design and at its limit when you take your player out of a trouser pocket or unclip it from a belt or waistband. This is acceptable but not ideal. This is the most tangle prone cable I have encountered. Usually this type of design has a slider on the cable so the cable can be kept snug against the back of the neck. This prevents noise from the cable (often called microphonics) and keeps things tidy and convenient. The Monoprice cable has no such sliding keeper. It doesn't seem important until absent at which point the absence is constantly irritating and inconvenient as the cable slips off the ear and twists and tangles. A zip tie with any excess trimmed does just as well. The cost to a manufacturer of doing this properly could only be in fractions of a penny so the omission looks mean.

I suppose my ears are medium to large because I have no trouble accommodating these IEMs in my ears and they are perfectly comfortable in normal use. They are extremely light. The tips don't go deep into the ear but are sit in the ear canal entrance and should seal it. Despite the size these don't protrude but sit flush inside the shell of the ear. At first glance these might appeal to anyone who likes to fall asleep with earphones in, however the point where the cable exits is designed without regard to the shape of the ear. It does press onto the ear, there is no avoiding it, and over time causes a pressure point.

The product description/name/claim "Noise Isolating" is a bit misleading. Almost any other IEM will offer as much or usually more isolation than these. As well as failing to isolate you from external noise the Monoprices also leak sound - people nearby can hear your music. If you expect the kind of isolation offered by Shure, Klipsch and Etymotic IEMs you will be disappointed. Probably the worst aspect of poor isolation is that to mask external noise you tend to raise the volume to extremely high levels without realising it has become loud enough to damage your hearing. These Monoprices are sensitive enough that they can be driven very loud indeed even with a small player so if you need IEMs for use in a noisy environment then avoid these or risk hearing damage.

Sound Quality:

NOTE: HUGE EDIT!! I've now spent many hours with these and have tried them with a wide variety of music and they fail so badly in important areas that I have had to rewrite this review to reflect this..

To clarify: I have used these with the supplied tips, with Sennheiser tips, and with Comply TX-400 tips. With the Monoprice and Sennheiser tips I have also used them modified with material from foam earplugs. I am perfectly familiar with getting and recognising a good seal. With the Comply tips there is no doubt that the foam tips expanding to fill the ear canal makes a very good seal. The modified silicone tips also work really well. The deficiencies I describe in this review are not related to seal or fit issues. I used the Monoprices with good quality sources: iRiver H140 and H340 and a Sansa Fuze+ (all Rockboxed) and also with a Yamaha Home Theatre receiver connected via TOSLINK to my PC. My music files are lossless, flac ripped from CD.

These Monoprice IEMs have severe defects which are especially obvious when listening to unamplified voices or unamplified instruments. These Monoprices are quite tolerable for short periods with amplified music, and especially electronic musc where natural tones are absent but even then the harsh, unconvincing mid highs become intolerable. I was trying to like these but it isn't possible. I played my lossless rip of my CD of "Christopher Gibbons: Motets, Anthems, Fantasias & Voluntaries" and this was the final proof that these IEMs are irredeemably terrible. This is an album of beautiful solo and choral works and consort music, so there are some exceptional singers supported by a small ensemble of players. It is music composed for the acoustic of an English church (a stone chamber with long decays and reverberations) and was recorded brilliantly in such a place. With good or even just modest headphones it sounds fantastic. Unfortunately these Monoprices produce a hideous and ugly sound as they fail to even begin to offer any lifelike reproduction of natural tones. Out of curiosity I found my iRiver ear buds from about 8 years ago that were supplied with my 2005 model iRiver H340. In 2005 these were low end Sennheiser buds rebranded for iRiver player, real throwaway stuff. They sound way better than the Monoprices! My even more ancient Sennheiser MX-5 buds (good quality buds from the 1990s) were better again. My 2009 Sennheiser CX 95 IEMs sound utterly fabulous in comparison with these Monoprices on this kind of material. Next to the Monoprices my Koss KSC75 seem like they arrived from heaven carried by a unicorn and sprinkled with magic pixie dust. I am sorry to say it but unless you only ever listen to artificial and over produced sounds that are all bass and top end then these Monoprices don't belong in your ears but in the trash, they are that bad. They are easily outperformed by disposable OEM earbuds from decades past, the kind of things people throw out, and so massively outperformed by very modest modern IEMs and portable headphones that any money spent on them is money wasted.

These earphones are horrible, hideous and not worth even their tiny price.

Monoprice 8320? Bleeeuuurggh.

edit: I had another session with these, taking some time with parametric eq to see if/how they could be made usable. It is possible to tame the huge spike at 3000 Hz and to introduce a little warmth at the bottom end but eq only corrects frequency response, it can't help with ringing, distortion, imbalance and other issues and these still sound like ess aich eye tee even with a seemingly quite balanced tone. And it gets worse: what became apparent with attentive listening is that the left and right drivers are seriously unbalanced, one being obviously much louder than the other! These things have not a single positive attribute and the people hyping them (the same few who regularly hype mediocre and poor products) ought to be embarrassed, and a lot quieter too. My advice is to look at the people who started the hype on these, look at the other stuff they relentlessly hype (usually just ordinary or below average even for budget gear), remember their names and in future ignore everything they say.

17 Comments:

The lack of bass and harsh highs are remedied with an amp. Once you give them juice they become warm and euphonic with a good but small soundstage.
Comply tips are a good idea for these.
Hi takato14, thanks for your response.

I already mentioned in the review that I've been using these with a Yamaha HT amp (which has a ruler flat frequency response curve). Amplification is not the issue. An amp inevitably sounds better than a low powered personal player it doesn't make that big a difference in the case of these IEMs either to the tonal qualities or the soundstage. The word "Euphonic" looks good on the page though....so much more interesting than plain old "nice" :-)

I have some Comply TX-400 tips, bought for use with Sennheiser CX 95 IEMs. I agree they can be an improvement over the Monoprice tips as they offer better isolation. This improves the bass a little and maybe attenuates the treble spikes a little but the overall sound is still unsatisfying. The Complys here in UK cost almost three times as much as the Monoprice IEMs and don't last all that long so over the course of a year this gets hideously expensive. I think the same, or better, will be achievable with large triple flange silicones that cost less than the price of the IEMs and last almost indefinitely so will be trying that soon. A good Equaliser is still the better option in my opinion.
One of the worst earphones I've ever bought. The ergnomics are ridiculously poor. I believe the people praising it's sound quality are likely comparing them to the buds you get when you travel by plane.
Which is why I never buy into marketing bs and hype train or FOTM here on head-fi. These are no better than your cheap Meelectonics buds (which sound better).
Somebody didn't get a decent seal.
Somebody.
I won't say who.
But I think you may know him very well.
I got a good seal. With these Monoprices I've used the supplied tips and also Sennheiser tips and Comply TX-400. When Comply foam tips have expanded to fill the ear canal this constitutes a good seal. I also modified some Senn tips with foam from expanding foam earplugs and these also made a very good seal. The issue is not the seal.

I've bought and used long term Shure E2C, SE215, Sennheiser CX300, Sennheiser CX 95, various Sony, Panasonic and Razer Protone models. Additionally I used to retail various things including cheap generic mp3 players and IEMs. I know the difference in sound between professional quality IEMs, consumer IEMs of reasonable quality and no-name cheap generics and OEM junk.

Sit down and prepare for a big surprise: the Monoprices sound exactly like the super cheap junk that they actually are.

I don't know why you felt the need to post using such ridiculously coy and patronising "somebody this somebody that I won't say who" style but please save it for someone else.

I welcome any comment that is constructive, whether negative or positive, but I would prefer people who didn't bother to read and understand the review or who have nothing useful to add to actually add nothing, thank you.
I got the Monoprice 8320 and my to go IEM is the Westone UM3x that is a top tier very expensive. Plus I own The Vsonic gr07 mkii that is another well regarded top tier.
Back to the 8320, you need a good seal, and the right tip too!
Stock tips are really bad... I tried Vsonic tips and the sound was too unbalanced on the treble side. So Westone star tips, the green one is fantastic on the 8320!
I got a very good seal with this one (even with open mouth) and this really brings the bass out.
This IEM has really a balanced sound for me, and without the right tip can sound harsh and heavy on the treble side.
 
Sound quality is fantastic to me I really can listen to those and leaving the UM3x and the Sennheiser Amperior on the desk.
 
Even lJokerl ranked the 8320 very close to the se 215 in sound quality, and he has more credibility than both me and you.
 
Cheers
I'm not sure why it's so hard for people reading my review to note that I had no problem getting a good seal with a variety of tips. That includes Comply tips, Sennheiser tips, triple flange silicones, and now additionally Earphones Plus foam tips (actually bought to use with SuperFi 5 but fit the Monoprices equally well).

Here it is one more time for any inattentive speed readers:

THE PROBLEM IS NOT WITH THE TIPS OR THE SEAL OR THE FIT!

These Monoprice IEMs have a big spike in the treble. A foam tip helps a bit and is certainly better than the silicone tips supplied but it really can't disguise the deficiencies. It sounds kind of vaguely OK with electronic or amplified sounds if you're not too discriminating but is obviously bad with natural sounds such as well recorded voices, brass, acoustic strings etc... anyone remember that stuff...real human voices and actual instruments made of wood, metal, gut, glue and wire?

And maybe one of the fanbois can explain how a different tip is supposed to correct very imbalanced drivers?

I'm not the only person who found obviously imbalanced drivers. The innerfidelity data shows the same (and the hideous spike). Another forum whose name may not be mentioned here at head-fi also found their tested pair unbalanced and with a huge treble spike. This is not opinion or conjecture, it is all measurable and verified. A pair of IEMs with a huge treble spike, lousy square wave measurements and several dB level difference between each channel is not fantastic or high quality or good value even if cheap. If you like it then good for you, there's no accounting for taste and preference and each to his own.

To compare these with the SE215 is laughable. They aren't even remotely similar sounding: the SE215 has very emphasised bass, well maintained mids and a mildly rolled off treble. The drivers are perfectly balanced. The Monoprice has flat bass and the mids and treble are all over the place with really horrible harshness at 4-5KHz and the each driver is different!

My advice to anyone who only has $7 to spend on earphones would be to deliver some newspapers, wash some cars, run some errands - somehow get a little more money and buy something else. The Monoprices are badly made and don't even offer much in the way of isolation so spend the whole $15 and get Koss KSC75 instead. They actually sound good, measure well and have a lifetime warranty.

These are a poor quality and bad sounding product that has been heavily hyped by a couple of people who routinely astroturf completely forgettable crap like it's the second coming.
I just had a look to the innerfidelity frequency responce graph. Based on the measurement of the unit there is a peak in the upper midrange-lower treble. Peaks and valleys are common in headphone measurements and even the most expensive can have. Look at the frequency responce of the Westone Um3x, very big valley there!
 
You didn't like the 8320, that's fine I can't argue with that.
 
You can't argue with my ears, and my ears says I really like those IEM, and they stack up with more expensive one.
 
Again, Why Joker rank the 8320 so good in sound quality? He reviewed more than 300 IEM ! ! !
"You can't argue with my ears"....but apparently you can argue with mine :-)

"You can't argue with my ears" ranks with "talk to the hand..." and "lalalalalala I can't hear you lalalalala".

I don't know why lJokerl likes the 8320. It's his opinion so ask him, not me.

The Monoprices have really big problems which are easily audible. Their frequency response curves don't even slightly resemble the Westones and the comparison is bogus.

There is more to a headphone than a frequency response curve!

The square wave tests are an excellent indication of how and why these IEMs sound bad. I'd love to see someone try to use the square wave results to compare these with a pair of Shures or Westones.

Even if someone actually likes the unique and distinctive tonal qualities *cough* of the Monoprices it's amazing that such a severe fault as imbalanced drivers still goes unacknowledged. >5dB difference between drivers is so bad it's almost comical.

These are badly designed, made of poor quality components, supplied with inadequate accessories, measure badly and sound like crap. That they get an astroturfing campaign resulting in fotm status on head-fi doesn't make them any better. If I had the $7 again I would spend it on something reliable like beer or peanuts.
Try them with the Vmoda Bliss Fittings 3.0 tips. Using other tips I found the 8320's to be bass light and a prominent in the highs (ie those spikes), and overall too bright. But with the vmoda tips, they are transformed into amazing sounding iems to me. Nice bass, non-recessed mids, detailed highs, immersive/expansive soundstage - as takato said, very euphonic :)
You failed to notice I already addressed this several times. From earlier posts:

"Here it is one more time for any inattentive speed readers:

THE PROBLEM IS NOT WITH THE TIPS OR THE SEAL OR THE FIT!"

note the CAPITALS ! That's so you don't miss it ;-)

or this:

"And maybe one of the fanbois can explain how a different tip is supposed to correct very imbalanced drivers?"

When someone can rationally demonstrate how changing tips will correct a 5 dB driver imbalance, or the faults illustrated by the extraordinarily bad square wave plots, I may revisit these IEMs. In the meantime, back in the actual physical world, can the next speed reading monoprice fan please just take their magic tips and sit on them? Thank you. Yes I do know they won't notice or comprehend this any better than all the other stuff that they already missed. ha ha. My theory is that the sound waves given off by these IEMs are so unbalanced and disturbing to human musical sensibility that it negatively impacts the brain, inducing word blindness and the reasoning powers of a jelly. If anyone wants to turn back years of education, centuries of culture and the many thousands of years of evolution and become utterly impervious to language and reason, may I suggest you need do no more than get some monoprice IEMs and use them daily? Use whichever tips you like but don't tell me about it. kthxbye.
No need to get so defensive. Note the capitals: I WAS JUST STATING MY OWN OPINION AND IMPRESSIONS. And for me the tips that I mentioned made a marked improvement. I don't have the explanation for it, nor do I need one to know what worked for me.
And btw, I wasn't really directing the "Try them with the Vmoda tips" to you - I know that you wouldn't do so. It was actually a suggestion for others who might be open to trying them. Sorry for not being clear.
Not defensive, more like annoyed ;-) And mostly just very bored of comments that self-evidently are not a result of actually reading the review or previous comments.
Hey, we don't understand the bad review but there's different strokes for different folks. I see Guys with UGLY girlfriends too. That's ok. Guys like what they like. All of our ears aren't the same, Our brain processing the signal could be different too. As an example, how does anybody know that when we all are looking at the blue sky that we are all seeing (perceiving) the same color?  We can't possibly know that. I wanted to comment an argument with this review, but I can't tell him what HE HEARS. I can only tell what I hear, And in my ears these Monoprice sound GREAT!
I have the 9927 version, and they sound fantastic!!!
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