Pros - Fun sound, looks, lots of bass, comfort. no distortion.
Cons - Bass heavy., so it isn´t for everyone.
I was thinking about buying these cans when they were released, they sounded pretty good with my iPod, but i found the price too high, i thought i´ll wait. A few weeks ago i found a pair on eBay for 60$, brand new, i thought i risk it. Although i´m using an Fiio X3 II now, not my iPod, it was still a great deal. (With my iPod they still sound better tho, I´ll explain later). I opened the box, took out the headphones, plugged them in my Fiio, put on the song "Butterfly", from Brian Bromberg´s album Wood II, turned thevolume to max, and these cans blew my head off my neck. Wooooow. My first imressions were great, after half an hour i wasn´t THAT happy anymore. They can sound great. But, although i love deep, rich bass, these phones provide simply too much, overwhelming bass. The dynamics are amazing, the highs, mids are nice too, no trace of any distortion, even on extreme volume (in this sense these are probably the best cans i´ve ever heard), but even with low gain, equalizer off, the great quality FLAC recordings sound bass-heavy. So, if you are a true basshead, and you are looking for an affordable, good set of phones, give these ones a try. If your recordings are highly compressed MP3´s with low dynamics, then these Monsters are the ones for you. But if you are looking for a true hifi product, sort of linear sound, look elsewhere. I still love them,for certain recordings, as they are really comfortable too, so i haven´t regretted my purchase at all. Before i forget, i mentioned earlier that they sound better with my iPod Touch than with my Fiio. Yep, they do, because my iPod´s sound isn´t that dynamic as my Fiio´s, (and of course there are MP3´s on it, not lossless tracks), so in this case a bit "flat" sound provided by my iPod makes these Monsters more listenable, as that overwhelming bass isn´t there that much.
Pros - Very well built, fun sound, fairly decent noise cancelling
Cons - Uncomfortable, exaggerated bass, small soundstage
I must start this by giving a major shout out and thank you to Monster for giving me these headphones over 2 years ago. They were my first ever headphone in the $300 price range and probably played a role into getting me into this very rewarding yet very expensive lifestyle.
As stated above I've had these headphone for a couple years now but honestly haven't put that many hours on them in respect to my others. So I've taken them out of their box and have been listening to them again this past week so I may finally write my way past due review.
The Opening Experience
The handshake into Monster's former flagship headphone was enjoyable and memorable, the box is well made and doesn't feel cheap. When opened you're greeted with a nice smell of faux leather from both the case and spare headband. Under the accessories section is the warranty and how to guide but inside the case you're greeted with very nice looking headphones that I must say are exceptionally well built, you're also provided with 3 tangle free (flat) monster cables; 1 universal mic, 1 Apple mic, and 1 straight cable.
A very nice handshake I must give due credit, for it's been over 2 years and I still remember the excitement I had opening these for the first time, which sadly is something I feel other “mainstream” brands let fall to the way side.
These are built extremely well, better in fact than a lot of $500-$1,000 headphones I know of. The frame is almost entirely aluminum, and thick aluminum at that, which continues down to the driver casings themselves, which are your standard headphone quality plastic.
The cables are nothing special minus being tangle free flat cables, but they provide you with 3 options as mentioned above. Both the head bands and pads are replaceable which adds a good bit of longevity to the life of these for that’s usually the first thing to go bad. Overall I’m very satisfied with the construction on these and feel confident they’ll last for many years with respect to the treatment shown towards them.
One of the most important things under sound quality is how do they feel on one's head? The Inspirations use a foamy material in their ear cushions that I find a bit thin and could really use more of. I find that the foam pads almost immediately give way which leads to my ears brushing the cloth covering the drive units, this in addition to these using a smaller square style cup makes them at times feel like supra aural headphones. This quickly leads to ear fatigue and then pain within a matter of only an hour or so which forces me adjust them or take them off altogether.
The headband uses the same kind of foam but is just thick enough as to not be uncomfortable. The clamping force however is where I believe these have the largest downfall. It’s not that it’s overly tight on my head as opposed to the angle at which these are restricted to moving; there’s just no mercy with them in regards to the up and down movement.
For those who don’t know, the Inspirations were originally designed to be the Beats Executive headphones before they split into their own entities. So one can reasonably expect these to be very bass biased but the big question is, does the bass flow well or is it overpowering enough to bleed into the rest of the sound?
A big thing these have going for them is the NC function with an integrated amplifier which allegedly increases the overall sound quality in addition to just eliminating annoying background noise, so from here I will split the review into two section, with and without the noise cancelling feature.
I’ve been listening to quite a few tracks that focus on the treble and I really want to say that the highs are pretty neutral BUT with the exception (or addition whichever way you look at it) not sounding lively at all. I don’t want to call the treble on these dead but they just do nothing for me. While listening to “Lindsey Stirling: Elements” this song usually really gets me going but with these all I got was a meh. Another characteristic is that the highs peek fairly early and then quickly recess. This can be an issue but for those sensitive to treble spikes, they may appreciate that aspect. Lastly, I notice the lower treble right above the upper mid range really doesn’t separate well, which I blame the powerful bass for dragging the response curve down.
Treble w/ NC
When the amp is kicked in I do notice the highs extend a little further but the meshing of the lower treble upper mids actually worsen for the bass gains a big step up and bleeds its bias even further.
Mids I’m actually quite surprised on how clean the mids are. I do notice a slur towards the lower end due to the powerful bass but still find them quite enjoyable. The vocals come through cleanly and if you’re a fan of the sax these play very kindly with them. The only drawback I’ve ran into is when I’m listening to a female vocals who has a really high pitched voice, she gets toned down a slight amount. Mids w/ NC
Pretty simply put, the mids get louder. I can’t tell any audible difference in quality other than dB.
The main focal point of the Inspiration’s. When these are placed upon your head and the play button is hit you’ll feel an immediate hit with somewhat exaggerated decay. The bass response is very heavy, punchy and overstated. Do keep in mind that like the Beats, the bass does overlap everything so bass lovers, eyes front.
Bass w/ NC
With NC turned on the bass gains a notable dB increase along with a stronger punch to it, but I feel it’s mainly due to volume gain. A down side I noticed is the bass also sounds slightly muddier.
General audio impressions
The soundstage is very close but I won’t call them intimate; that term I like to use for audio that is sensual and relaxing. I found these pretty good gaming headphones, the positional cues are quite accurate and transmute channels very well, however determining how far away things are were somewhat difficult. As previously stated the transitional abilities from left to right channel is amazing, easily competing with some of my higher dollar open cans.
I don’t get a real good sense of transparency or realism when listening to these, my personal preference is to relax and enjoy the music being presented before me but these just play music. On a different note the energy transfer is awesome. When I’ve some upbeat music playing I can’t help but snap my fingers and tap my feet (or maybe even dance if I’m feeling froggy enough).
I wish I could say I’ve enjoyed my years of owning these but it wasn’t until recently that I brushed the dust off the box to give them another listen. Though I did regain some appreciation for them I still found them to be too bass heavy for my personal tastes.
The noise cancelling feature on these works pretty well and can very efficiently drown out (or drastically lower) the loud noises of the airport overhead announcements and peoples ambient murmuring. Truthfully I rarely ever use the NC function because the built in amp makes things too loud and extends the bass way more than I care for.
The built quality is top notch and should be able to withstand even the busiest of people and the sound will definitely appeal to both bass heads and treble sensitive people with it’s strong and upfront sound signature.
Till next time my friends, also make sure to check out my unboxing video here, and my full video review here!
i had this pair and it used to get super uncomfortable after 15 minutes of wearing them. Honestly if you like rap, techno, dubstep, or hiphop I would go get the VModa crossfade LP2 for $100 off of microsoft.com because they are usually $140 on amazon.