I just received my 10243s today (white version of the 10244s). This is the review I just sent to Monoprice.
I was eagerly anticipating these headphones, after hearing about them at NAMM with the cool guys in the Monoprice booth. Let me preface this by saying I've been a huge fan of Monoprice, especially their 8323 headphones. I've bought at least 10 pair for my studio and friends, and for the price, I've given them as stocking stuffers to family.
The packaging of these headphones is pretty nice, and gave the impression of a quality product. There's a nice vinyl pouch that includes three different pairs of cables. (Thank you so much, Monoprice, for including replaceable cables! I don't know how many pair of headphones I've ruined by stepping on the cable, and shorting out the connection!)
I plugged these headphones in and started listening to a variety of music. Since my computer audio interface is not currently here, I had to plug directly into my Mac — I know, not a great source, but it's what I've got to work with currently.
I intentionally A/B'd these with a pair of my 8323s. I started with the 8323s, listening to a familiar track. and then switched over to the new 10244s. My initial reaction was a bit disappointing. These seemed muddy, or better yet, tubby, compared to the 8323s. The highs are not nearly as crisp as in the 8323s. Which got me to wondering, are the 8323s simply hyped in the upper end? I then switched to some piano jazz (Chick Corea Expressions), and started critically listening.
The 10244s for my money have some amazing imaging. Listening to these, I felt as if I were sitting right in front of the piano. And these headphones definitely have low end, without getting loose or boomy. Nice and tight. After listening for about 15 minutes, I switched back to my 8323s. Now these sounded a bit tinny and artificially high. Hmmm. Are my ears simply playing tricks on me?
I then downloaded some HD (192Khz/24 bit) aiff files, to see if perhaps a better resolution file would give better results. I listened to The Yellowjackets "Madrugada", in 24 bit, and my overall impression was a bit more favorable regarding the 10244s. Still, when I A/B them with my 8323s, the ride cymbal and hi hat "sizzles" quite nicely with the 8323s. The upper end is much more of a 'warm' sound while listening to the 10244s.
With the exception of the upper high end, the 10244s sound pretty accurate. Listening to some tracks from "Thriller" in 24bit is quite a revelation. The bass is super tight, the imaging accurate, and MJs vocals sit nicely in the mix. Everything feels in place. When I listen to the same tracks through the 8323s, the overall mix doesn't have the same 'beef' to it, although the upper highs are definitely more present.
I've found that if I add about 2 dB at 8k, I can get the feeling of the high end I'm normally missing. So either my (52 year old) ears have lost too much high end, I've just gotten used to a hyped upper, or these 10244s are missing a bit in the upper high end. I find this a bit strange, given that these headphones have 3 high end drivers per side, as opposed to just 1 in the 8323s.
Initially I was ready to return these headphones, but the more I listen, the more I get used to them. They are very comfortable to wear, and I think that one won't experience ear fatigue nearly as quickly as with other headphones. I'll keep them, keep listening, and keep my mind open.