Pros: Very good noise cancellation. Removable cable. Extremely comfortable. Truly full-range. Stylish. Excellent sound quality.
Cons: Monster "brand" and former association with "Beats" made me wary, at least initially.
Dear AKG 701, I really enjoyed our time together. Our long-term commitment yielded some amazing memories. I appreciate your ability to turn heads, even to this day. You are a ravishing work of Austrian art and science.
Dear Pioneer HDJ-2000, our brief time together was a fun fling. I couldn't find anything to complain about, until one day I simply gave you up without a second thought. What happened there? Oh yeah, I forgot... I met a Monster.
OK here's the deal—last week I thought Monster = Bad. Now I think Monster = Good. It's that simple. My search for a pair of headphones that I can honestly describe as accurate, full-range, dynamic, detailed, and comfortable is over. After auditioning over a half-dozen pairs of cans in the $200-300 range, I found my ideal pair—and it was the last pair of headphones I thought I'd ever buy: Monster Inspiration
First: I think the Inspiration sounds best in passive mode, with NR turned off. Another pair of headphones I tried out recently—the UE6000 from Logitech—sounded better in passive mode as well, but was unacceptable in active mode. That's not the issue with the Monster Inspiration. Active mode sounds excellent. It's just that the Inspiration can take advantage of a good headphone amp in passive mode, and sound better than what the built-in circuitry is capable of. In other words, they are a great set of traditional cans.
In fact, the Inspiration in passive mode is so good, I have no issue with retiring my AKG 701s. They are thoroughly outclassed by the Inspiration in terms of sound quality. No competition. The fact that the Monsters can be switched to active mode and run off a phone is an ancillary bonus—the main revelation is how good they are in general.
After allowing for about 20 hours of break-in, I'm in audio heaven with the Inspiration—especially at-home and listening in passive mode through a Roland Quad-capture 2X2. One of the most notable qualities is the tight, accurate nature of the bass. In fact the sound is very similar to my four-subwoofer home system—not a hint of boom, just an uncanny ability to plumb the depths. Expansive soundstage and precise imaging is what truly sets the top-of-the-line Monsters apart from lesser offerings. The sound is never, ever "trapped inside my head," instead the Inspiration paints a properly-sized audio hologram. If the recording has depth cues and uses phase tricks, the result is surround-sound. If the recording is traditional stereo, the soundstage is projected forward. The illusion of sitting in the sweet-spot of a truly great stereo system is maintained.
After a lifetime of scorning Monster, now I find myself proselytizing on its behalf. I guess the company was "Inspired" to "Beat" the competition. My ears are very, very happy.
*There is a passive version that costs $50 less.