Venture Electronics (VE) Monk

Tayyab Pirzada

500+ Head-Fier
Pros: Surprisingly good bass, very comfortable foams, fairly wide soundstage, non-recessed vocals
Cons: Bass quality could be better, detailing could be more, soundstage could be wider
The VE Monk is a $5 earbud that produces high-end quality sound. This type of value is pretty unfathomable. 

Pros: Surprisingly good bass for $5 headphones, the foams included with them (and not sold anywhere else) are probably the most comfortable foams I've ever tried, vocals are not recessed, soundstage is mid-level
 
Cons: bass could be better quality, soundstage could be wider, could have more details
 
Sound signature: warm-ish, "sparkly" sound, very energetic; perfect for hip-hop
 
Overall ten times better than Apple Earpods because they are more comfortable with similar bass, way cheaper, and very non-fatiguing (they won't hurt your ears if you listen for hours).

Aornic

Member of the Trade: Acorn Audio
Pros: Quality of mids several times the price point. Immense soundstage and accurate imaging. High resolution (Monk+)
Cons: Not the greatest sub-bass. (Remedied by Monk+ with extra foam) Treble can be a bit piercing without the full padding.
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I was introduced to these by a classmate on the 15th of March and I was so impressed based on just a minute or two of listening that I decided to order them the same night. Impulsive decision yes, but the low price of $5 (+$2 shipping) convinced me that it was a good purchase. As I told myself, it's cheaper than a meal at Nando's.

Well I just received it this morning, the 31st of March. I plugged it into my Fiio X1 and was immediately impressed all over again by the sound quality. The first song I played was "Trains" by Porcupine Tree as I felt it would be a strong start for my ownership of these earbuds.

As I expected, the acoustic guitars sounded lifelike and clear. As the song picked up pace, it never lost the sense of clarity that is so essential when listening to such complex compositions. (compared to pop music) The middle section with the acoustic guitar on the left channel and the banjo on the right convinced me that this was money spent extremely well.

You see, these earbuds don't look like much. They look like the cheap Sony/Panasonic earbuds I used as a kid with my first Sony Walkman. I haven't used earbuds in over a decade. These do not sound like any earbuds I remember. The soundstage is vast, the widest of any audio gear in my current lineup and the imaging is extremely accurate. The separation is also breathtaking, I listened to "Space Oddity" by David Bowie and felt that the two vocal lines were lifelike and satisfyingly equal in sound without any sort of overlap.

Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" album also benefits from the sound of the VE Monk as it gives a very "surround" feeling that is a good pairing with the album - which has many samples of voice recordings darting from channel to channel to add a sense of paranoia/madness to the album theme.

The bass is good but nothing to write home about. I was advised by someone in a HeadFi thread that the full foam pad (it comes with two sets, one with a hole in it and one full) leads to a loss of resolution. I feel that the loss in resolution is quite minute and the benefit of the full pad is more warmth (and bass) to the sound. Also, it makes acoustic instruments sound better - especially guitars. Along with my ZMF Omni, this reproduces acoustic guitars the best in my current collection. For this reason, I would not recommend trying to use equalizer on these earbuds. A neutral as possible source works best with them. In my case, this is my Fiio X1 as my Dragonfly 1.2 DAC is a little bright.

But don't get sidetracked with thinking about bass. These earbuds are all about the mids. These beat my Grado SR80i at their own game by having an aggressive and fast mid reproduction but with the clarity that the Grados don't have. However, the Grados handle EDM and beat-heavy music a bit better than the VE Monk. This isn't an earbud for fist bumping, but rather for hearing an incredible vocal and acoustic sound. MTV Unplugged recordings sound right at home with the Monk, you can actually place yourself front and centre in the crowd.

As for comfort, they are extremely light and you can easily forget you have them on. They don't need to be adjusted harshly or pushed in deep as they give the full experience with a light attachment to the ear. The cable is twice as thick as those of my Zero Audio Carbo Tenore so I'm grateful for that, less anxiety for me. It literally arrives in a small and clear plastic pouch with a push-to-seal and a few promotional cards from Venture Electronics.

It's quite incredible that this experience can be made available for its price + a wait. I just checked AliExpress and found them to be sold out currently, for good reason. The hype is quite real and for what this does well, it is exceptional. Just don't expect to be able to listen to it in crowded public places because of the sound leakage and don't expect any deep sub-bass.
 

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yacobx
yacobx
Now, they are collector items :) new version just released

d marc0

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Excellent Sound, Clarity and Detail are extraordinary for an earbud.
Cons: only comes in black.
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RETAIL PRICE:         US$ 5
DRIVER SPEC:         15.4 mm Dynamic Driver
IMPEDANCE:            32 Ohm
SENSITIVITY:            112 dB SPL/mW
FREQ RESPONSE:   18Hz – 22500Hz
TERMINATIONS:       3.5 mm straight-plug
INCLUDED CABLE:   1.2 M OFC cable
WHERE TO FIND:      Venture Electronics (AliExpress)

 

Disclaimer: This review unit was purchased directly from Venture Electronics through AliExpress.

 

It’s been a while since I’ve used earbud earphones. The disadvantage of using the earbud design is the lack of seal resulting in the loss of bass sensation and impact. Aside from that, most of them lack the clarity, detail, and treble energy to engage me with the music. Well, the search is over! Venture Electronics introduced the VE Monk last year and my first reaction was “What?! 5 bucks?”. For this jaw-dropping price, I was even more amazed at how good the sound was considering these are earbud earphones. I never expected an earbud, with a 5 dollar price tag, to provide this much clarity and detail. Bass is quite decent, having enough weight and impact to sway you to the music. Vocals in the midrange comes out with enough presence to keep the balance in the overall sound presentation. The VE Monk is a warm-sounding earbud earphone with an engaging midrange and sparkly treble to boot.

 

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One of two potential issues I can think of is the fit. The earbuds are on the larger size for its category. Those with small ears may find it difficult to get them to sit securely in their ears. Installing the foam covers may help in keeping them on, but they still may not work for some. I’m not too concerned about the build quality because these are priced so low. The second potential point of failure is the cable; there are no strain reliefs so pulling or tugging on them is a bad idea.

 

So, if you’re looking for a replacement for your failing ear pods or other earbud earphones for that matter, look no further. Order the VE Monk and I promise, you’ll never look back.

 

--thesoundfreq





Lorspeaker
Lorspeaker
the build quality feels solid enough for me :p
the sound is addictive, this bud is so convenient that
i left all my big cans in the storeroom .
waynes world
waynes world
Nice review d marc0! I'm glad you liked these gems :)

Whataudiophile

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Warm non- fatiguing sound;headphone type soundstage;full life-like vocals;overall sound quality;excellent soundstage for money.
Cons: May make you hate other expensive earphones or earbuds that you already have.
I was introduced to the Monk by Ozkan and Peter.Yeah,these guys know their gear.
 
I don't know how to start this! I can't believe Lee from Venture Electronics has offered so much for just $5.Nobody would believe this unless they hear it themselves.It takes some burn-in period.So don't expect miracles right away.I know what I am taking about here because I am used high-end headphones like LCDx and LCD3.The monk screams quality. To run the Monk to its fullest potential, you will need an amp,something like Fiio or anything with enough power.If you are going to run it through your phone,you may get an acceptable sound quality,but not the best out of it.When you hear the word 'earbuds',the word might put you off,but I sincerely urge you to buy the Monk and try for yourself;you have got nothing to lose here.
 
The monk is not for bassheads.This is for those people who truly appreciate the true sound of music.
Whataudiophile
Whataudiophile
Haha,but I don't appreciate all my gears,dude.That is why I mentioned the word 'may', not 'will'.
mochill
mochill
:wink:Its ok ☺
apmusson
apmusson
Monk is amazing value.  I also have the Zen V2 which scales better with quality amplification in my opinion (additional bass depth and quality being a key factor).  I have found the Monk to be able to match very with most portable sources and is the earbud that I recommend to the most people.

Coldheart29

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Addicting, outstanding vocals, mindblowing value for the money, thunderous bass, spacious sound.
Cons: Addicting, not suited for small ears, isolation.
Disclaimer and some info about me: I'm a 21 years old male. I've been listening to music since i was a baby, mostly through headphones. I like various genres, but especially metal(symphonic, gothic, trash, death) and rock. This is my first review, and i've never praticed critical listening. Also, i haven't a lot of gear to which compare the Monk, so, take my impressions with the proper grain of salt.
 


The package contains just the earbuds, two pairs or foams, and the two little flyers pictured here
 
First off, the fit: although i'm no longer used to earbuds (haven't used one for at least a decade), i've had no real issues with the monk. I easily found the best way to wear them to get the best sound, almost right away. This with the foams on, i didn't even try them without the foams (doughnut foams), as i already know from past experiencies that without them i'm less comfortable.
 
Isolation: well, as this is an earbud, and a particularly open one, too, isolation is almost non-existent. The monks aren't a really good option for particularly noisy environments like trains and such.
 
Microphonics: without music, i can clearly hear the cable rub on my beard, and that's something i had never experienced. Also, swiping the fingers along the cable the noise is audible. But all of this is not too loud, in fact, with music playing, none of those noises are heard.
 
Build/Design: at first look, these are just another 5$ earbud, but the build is actually quite good. No fancy cables or materials, but the cable is thick enough to suggest it won't disintegrate after a month and doesn't feel too cheap, the jack is quite bulky and seems rugged enough, and has also a nice, long strain relief. The earpieces shells also seem quite durable.
 
Sound:
  1. Bass: Well, these things deliver LOADS of bass, and not just in relation to other earbuds, but also when compared with quite a bit of IEMs. For example, the monks have quite a bit more bass than my se215, which are already a bassy IEM. Luckily, the bass is of good quality too. It's quite punchy, and for a earbud goes down low. There seems to be a bump in the mid-bass, that is usally fine, but with some tracks can get in the way. All in all, quite a good performance here;
  2. Mids: Lovely. These are the best mids i've heard to date. Even thought that mid-bas hump can sometime get in the way, the mids are really clear and lively. Really lifelike. On acustical tracks (well, the few i have, at least) the mids really shine. Vocals are so warm, present, yet it all feels really airy, spacious;
  3. Highs: I quite like the highs, now, keep in mind, i'm a bit of a treble sensitive guy, so i don't like particularly enhanced highs. The monk's highs are a bit recessed in relation to the mids, but not by much. They're also quite a bit more extended than the se215's one, for a comparison, and less recessed, too.
  4. Soundstage: really good. In comparison, the se215 feels quite a bit closed in, and congested.
 
So, all in all, the monks are REALLY good. The sound is lush, spacious, and lifelike. It feels like listening to a pair of good bookshelf speakers. These are definitely smooth sounding, but still lively. The bass is good, imponent, but still quite punchy.
The monks are exactly the kind of earphones that one buys as a backup unit, but eventually ends up using as a main earphone. Something every audiophile should have in his rotation!
DJScope
DJScope
Great review! Just for the record, Ive got small ears and they fit just right for me. :wink:
Coldheart29
Coldheart29
Thanks!
I let my mother try them (she's got smaller than average ears), and she had to press the earpieces with her fingers, otherwise they would've fallen, and couldn't get them inside her concha. that's why i say small eared people can have a hard time with the monk.

ozkan

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Great sound at an affordable price; great clarity.
Cons: Not any cons for the price.
First I want to thank @DJScope and @golov17 for making me aware of the Monk. I'm using the Monk as my primary earphone from the first day I've got them. Because this is not an ordinary earphone that is bundled with some Chinese mp3 players. It was a quite shock when I first heard them. Actually I didn't expect the Monk to be this good and addicting. Now I'm addicted to its sound which makes me forget my other IEMs. No, I'm not kidding. These are so good with a beautiful midrange and bass which isn't expected from an earphone. 
 
ABOUT ME:  I'm a 37 year old guy who loves listening music as my forum signature tells. I listen to a wide variety of genre and artist from classics to metal.
My portable music journey started with an Aiwa walkman and bundled Aiwa earphone back in 90s and those were the days they were the best in this hobby I guess:) 
I had several DAPs, IEMs, earphones and headphones since that I haven't listed on my profile here. 
 
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SOUND: 
I had some earbuds when I first got into this hobby. Sennhesier MX200/400/500, MX270/271/471, Hisound PAA-1, some other unknown brands. I remember myself sitting in the balcony and living audio nirvana paired with my Meizu M6 SL a few years ago. Then I first got my IEM which was Sennheiser CX300 and never go back to earbuds again. And never thought I would buy and earphone and enjoying it like before. They are all lifeless when you get into the IEMs world and there is no going back at least for me until I listened the Monk!!!
 
Well, I prefer mid-centric sound with good treble quality and quantity. I'm definitely not a bass head and always stay away from bassy and V shaped sound. That is why RE0 is still one of my favorite IEM. Honestly I wasn't expecting the Monk to sound this good when I order them and thought "why not they are only $5" however I was shocked when I first heard them. Wow! They were unbelievable for what I paid and I was hearing some beautiful natural sound with good seperation and detail and bass. That was just out of the box impressions. Oh sorry it should be "out of nylon bag impressions" not box since it come in a nylon bag. 
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  It was seriously a good earhone which has some potential so I let them to burn in for 9 hours.

 
They were a bit muddy in the mids and bass a bit loose at first but it changed dramaticaly after some burn in. What grabs me in the Monk is the naturalness in the mids and life-like vocals. The treble is just perfect for me not upfront or recessed and has the perferct extension. I can swear I could hear some deatials I didn't know they exist in some songs. The presentation is lively and 3D but never fatiguing. I felt like I was in the concert when I listening to Deep Purple's - Perfect Strangers. Listening guitars is a pure joy on this song on Monk. The guitars have an amazing bite and crunch like Grado headphones, they are so natural and beautifully rendered. Overall mids have a perfect fullness not too thick or thin just have the perfect thickness that gives life to both male/felmale vocals. It has wonderful timbre. 
 
Bass is punchy and quite detailed for an earbud. I wasn't expecting especially this kind of bass. It is beatiful and never owerhelming the other frequencies. It doesn't have the ear shaking sub-bass but what it does it does it right. Some can find them a bit bassy but could be easily fixed with thinner foams or cutting a bigger hole on the foam or wearing them over the ear as on my avatar. I think with thinner foams and over the ear style they are more balanced. 
 
I also liked the treble presentation of the Monk. You don't hear any sibilance definitely. The tone is wonderful not too sweet or cold. It has good decay and presentation. 
 
After having a good time with Monk, I decided to go back to my IEMs.Well, let me say it was a shocking experience for me! Before the Monk I was a big fan of Audio Technica and CKR9. When I put CKR9 back, it sounded like a cheap IEM with screaming mids and some peaks in the mids and highs. I could only listened them for a few minutes. I don't know why maybe my ears are adjusted to the Monk's sound. RE0 was so lifeless. Is there something wrong with me? I don't know. 
 
 
 
CONCLUSION:
Well, this is an earphone you shouldn't miss with an unexpected sound quality. For me listening to Monk is like listening to a good quality speakers and they get the highest recommendation from me if you still couldn't decide. I really appreciate Lee's effort to make the Monk for such a low price and his magical tuning. I now wonder how Zen 2.0 sounds. 
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yalper
yalper
I like it. especially your reviewing style. 
ozkan
ozkan
Lionlian
Lionlian
so are u saying this little cheap sound better than CKR9, How brave.

DJScope

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Natural & organic sound signature, open presentation, $5, good build quality for the price
Cons: Could be more expensive =P

[size=24.57px]A little story about the VE Monks[/size]

 

First part is a snippet of the post I made for the Monks and the rest is the actual review. Enjoy!

http://www.head-fi.org/t/783669/venture-electronics-ve-monk-a-5-earbud-that-seriously-deserves-a-place-here
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Disclaimer: Please read the story before making judgement.

 
I'd like to start by saying that before trying the Monk, I absolutely hated earbuds and thought that they are an outdated technology which has no place in today's market. I've tried numerous earbuds some that were over $300, and thought that they were all trash. Uncomfortable, sound atrocious, clunky, ugly, cheap looking and feeling too, are some of the reasons I had in mind.
 
But please bare with me...
 
Not the best of first impressions, I know.
 
 
I got the VE Monk randomly with a review sample of the VE Duke IEM and the VE RUNABOUT portable amplifier. Inside the package was this very plain looking earbud which I didn't even look twice at. I simply picked up the ziplock bag it came in and lobbed it into a drawer, and never thought of it until today.
 
So today, Im sitting around, in a curious mood, and remember that I've got them. Mind you that I didn't even know what they were called at that time. I asked @H20Fidelity (who has passed them onto me, as he had some misfortune and could not review them) and even he did not know what they were. So I decided to plug them into my desktop DAC (Audio-GD NFB15.32) and give them a listen, just for Schiits-n-giggles.
 
As they settle in, I start to flick through track after track until I get to a live recording of "The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Medley".
 
 ​
 ​
What I got is this wonderfully open, natural and organic sound signature with a very natural and effortless soundstage and imaging. Sound performance that I've not experienced before in an earbud.
 
So then I went asking around. And to my absolutely surprise, I find out that these VE Monks are worth 5 freakin' dollars. $5?... $5?????
 
 ​
 ​
 
This just might be the best value for money earphone/IEM/headphone that has been ever made. For $5, you cannot deny this statement. I own it! I'm actually considering going out and trademarking this statement. But seriously, this is absolute madness! (not Sparta)
 
For those curious, more details on the VE website here: http://eng.52ve.cn/product.php?cm_id=205
 
Just wanted to share my experience, and explain why I think a $5 earbud deserves to be on Head-Fi. 
 
Cheers!!!
 
beerchug.gif
 
 

 

Specifications

 
Frequency response​
  18 ~ 22500 Hz (±10dB)
Impedance​
  32 Ω @ 1kHz
Sensitivity​
  112 dB @ 1mW
Plug​
  Gold Plated 3.5 mm (1/8”) Straight
Cable Length​
 1.2m (47")
Driver​
  15.4mm
Maximum Input Current​
  1000mW
 

 

Purchase them here:

International: AliExpress
 

 
 
[size=24.57px]Design[/size]
 
The overall design of the Monks is as "standard earbud" as it ever gets. There is no packaging what so ever, and truth be told, it really doesn't need it. The housing is made of black plastic which is extremely light at 2 grams for each housing and a total of 17 grams for the whole unit including the cable. Being so light means that you can stick them in your ears and just forget that they're there, and this is what happens to me when I use them at work every single time; I put them in, press play and just work away, and time just flies away.
Because it is an earbud, the isolation is non-existent, meaning that they are extremely good when using them where you need to interact with people or even just hearing the world around you, like taking a stroll or riding a bike. This of course means that if you like to listen to music loudly, it will leak a lot of the sound out.
The cable is of really good quality; it's soft and bends very well without memory or kinking. It's easy to untangle and most importantly it feels like it will last a lot time. The jack is somewhat big and so is the strain relief, which also gives the impression of longevity. 
 

Comfort

Fit in you ear is of course dependent on your ear shape. I have particularly small ears and the Monk sits inside quite loosely but they seem to stay in very well. I've not yet had them fall out even once. But, I do need to readjust them from time to time if it pivots in the ear from movement. 
 

Drivability

The Monks are extremely easy to drive but do require a little extra volume to get them to the same listening volume as IEMs. This is of course because they do not seal. Nonetheless, I can drive them no problem with my Moto G and they sound just fine. However, they do scale up quite nicely with more powerful gear, and I notice a huge improvement in imaging performance when using my Audio-GD NFB15.
 

Sound

You maybe sitting there and asking, "But, Igor! Where exactly are all of my $5 really going?", and the answer is here. This is where all the fuss is located.
The Monk is by far the best earbud I've heard to date, and yes, I've been hearing a lot about VE's TOTL earbud the VE Zen, but I have not yet auditioned it and my statement stays true at the moment of me writing this review. 
The way I like to describe the VE Monk sounds is like listening to decent bookshelf speakers, or maybe even a full sized open headphone. To describe the Monk in a few words, it would be: natural, organic, open, immersing and detailed. The overall sound signature is quite balanced, somewhat low to mid fi in terms of clarity, and with a really awesome soundstage that is very immersing and natural.
 

Treble

Treble is clear and present, without any noticeable peaks or dips. It's detailed enough to get pops and static, but a little cloudy in the lower regions. No sibilance what so ever, even in sibilant prone tracks. Cymbals shimmer but are a little smoothed. The treble maybe a little slow but it's enjoyable.

Mids

Mids are maybe just a tad forward but mostly neutral. They are full and warm but can get a slightly chesty, but not too much and can get a little shouty at high volumes. Vocals and acoustics is where the Monks really shine with it's smooth and organic timber for both female and male vocals. Dare I say that there is a little bit of the Grado sound going on here. 
The transition from the bass and to the treble is impeccable and extremely smooth.

Bass

The bass is great and very impressive for an earbud. There is a lot of warmth that fills the whole spectrum. Mid and upper bass is very neutral and is reasonable fast and punchy. Of course, because you cannot really get a proper seal with an earbud, this means that the bass rolls off quite dramatically after around 100Hz, so sub-bass frequencies are loss completely, even at high volumes. 

Soundstage & Imaging

You get the full concert experience when you listen to live recordings, especially orchestral recordings. The soundstage is really wide and deep, but in a very natural way. I don't really know how to put my finger on it, but I think there's some kind of resonance or reverb going on that makes them sound super open and very accurate and articulate in placement. This is probably what I'm mostly fond about with the Monk, as I am a huge sucker for great imaging.
 

Ratings

This is how I've scored the VE Monk:
 
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Click on the photo to see in larger resol
ution​
 
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Conclusion

Is there really more to say? There is really no argument that the VE Monks are by far the best value for money IEM/earbud/headphone ever made. I'd challenge anyone to find something better at this price point. For this reason alone and for the fact that I am absolutely smitten by the excellent sonic capabilities of an earbud that costs $5, it deserve a 5 star rating, and it deserves to be in the pocket of every Head-Fier out there. Huge kudos to Lee and his team at Venture Electronics, you guys are a bunch of wizards!
 
Cheers!
 
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flinkenick
flinkenick
Guess for $5 it's worth a shot, I ordered 2 for kicks can always pass them on.
slowpickr
slowpickr
Mine should arrive tomorrow.  Looking forward to it!
Max Choiral
Max Choiral
Attached images gave a nice vibe to this review. That was fun to read, thanks :)

Zelda

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Sound & Price
Cons: N/A ; 404 Error ; It's not Free, ... no, wait, it costs $5 so that's a Pro, right?
Venture Electronics (VE) Monk - High Sound in Smallest Price
 
 
View attachment
 
 
Specifications:
 
Dynamic Driver Diameter: 15.4 mm
Impedance: 32 ohms
Sensitivity: 112 dB (1 mW)
Frequency response: 18 ~ 22500 Hz
Power rating: 1000 mW
Cable: Y cable, 1.2m, OFC.
 
Price: $5 + Shipping
 
Website: 52ve.cn
 
Available from:
 
52vecn.world.taobao.com
 
aliexpress.com/item/Venture-Electronic-VE-MONK-earbud-earphone/32417311324.html
 
 
Accessories:
 
2 pairs of foam pads, regular and donut.
 
 
Build & Design:
 
The design is pretty plain. The housings are the very generic ones used on many cheap $1 earbuds that could be found online, but also the same that were used on the old Sennheiser earbuds or the Blox ones. Yet, they look pretty solid.
The cable is thick and quite strong. Rather stiff with a strong memory effect and kind of plasticky. The plug is large and very well relieved, though.
 
 
 
Fit & Comfort:
 
The housings are on the large side of things, and if we add the foam pads they get rather big. Small ears should not apply, but should be fine enough for medium to larger ears, even though there's need to readjust them from time to time as they tend to fall. The large driver asks for this size of shells, so the lack of ergonomics is understandable.
 
 
 
Sound:
 
Here's where the VE Monk truly stands out, and not just for the superb quality for its lowest price. The Monk's SQ is really good with a right tuning and detailed presentation. The overall signature is full, warm and well balanced in each freq.
 
Bass is solid and well positioned. The amount is surprisingly good considering it being an earbud. It shows enough depth and rumble in the sub-bass regions, while being fairly controlled in the mid-bass part. It can be a bit boomy at times with a slight bleed at the lower mids, but far from what would be called muddy or overly thick.
The midrange is warm on its whole. Instruments sound very coherent and don't show any priority over each other. Vocals are very detailed, well textured, towards the sweet side but with a hint of dryness. Luckily, the mids are not recessed or thin at all.
Treble does its best to keep the whole balance, but like the bass is very dependent on the fit and position of the earpiece and the use of foam pads; the usual thing as many other large earbuds. 'Neutral' would be the right word to describe the highs performance. They carry enough presence and energy without reaching the 'bright' category, with a very little hint of grain, at most, depending on the source. It's smooth and enjoyable for extended listening.
The micro detail level is very high, something impossible for the ridiculous price. Stage is not too big or wide but will put to shame most of the budget earbuds I've tried.
 
It's worth mentioning that the Monk asks for some extra volume to reach an acceptable level. No need for amping or real strong sources, just like the regular 32 Ohm sets, but it does show a nice improvement with better sources.
 
 
View attachment
 
 
Value:
 
So the Venture Electronics Monk is probably the best audio gear to get for the minimalist price of just $5. Yes, just $5, not $50, not even $15, although the shipping costs are extra (but still under the ultra budget $10 range). You won't even need to skip a meal or even a half one, ok, maybe just a small desert. Fit is ok, build quality is more than acceptable, and sound is amazing. So, should you get one? Definitely not, get two!.
 
 
Thanks to VE for the review unit.
Decommo
Decommo
Great Review. After reading your review, I purchased it and got it less than an hour ago. I have to admit that it is one of the best Bang for the buck in terms of sound and i decided to purchase another one just for back up. Thanks for review again.
Pros: Excellent value, great sound and comfort
Cons: For the price nothing, nicht, nada, ingenting
The Monk was included as one of the accessories when I received the review sample of the Duke from Venture Electronics (VE) a while back. I would like thank VE and Lee for including the Monk in my package. The Monk is available from Aliexpress:
http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Venture-Electronic-VE-MONK-earbud-earphone/32417311324.html?spm=2114.01020208.3.1.yF6d7o&ws_ab_test=searchweb201556_9,searchweb201527_4_71_72_73_61_74_75,searchweb201560_9
 
I’m not in any way affiliated with Venture Electronics.
 
Short introduction of Venture Electronics:
VE is a small and pretty new company, only three years old.
 
They’re located in mainland China and have fast become very popular in audiophile circles due to their line of earbuds (Monk, Asura and Zen) which offers excellent value for money.
 
The Monk is the first earbud I’ve heard from them so let’s find out how it performs.
 
 
About me:
I’m a 43 year old music and sound lover that changed my focus from speakers to headphones and IEM’s about five years ago. At that time I realized that it wasn’t realistic for me to have all the different setups that I wanted and still house a family of four children and a wife so my interest turned first to full sized headphones and later also IEM’s.
 
My preferences are towards full sized open headphones and I believe that also says something about what kind of sound signature I prefer (large soundstage in all directions, balanced and organic sound).
 
My music preferences are pretty much all over the place (only excluding classical music, jazz and really heavy metal). My all-time favorite band is Depeche Mode although I also listen to a lot of grunge/indie, singer/songwriter/acoustical stuff as well as the typical top 40 music.
 
I do not use EQ, ever.
 
I’m a sucker for value for money on most things in life Head-Fi related stuff is no exception.
 
Built and accessories:
The VE Monk is a single dynamic driver earbud featuring a 15.4 mm driver.
 
The cable is pretty good. It doesn’t look or feel like anything special but in use I find it to be excellent with very little tangling, low on microphonics, soft and flexible. The plug is straight and although I usually prefer L-shaped plugs it feels very solid. Left/right marking is easily visible. The chin slider is also in place just the way I like it.
 
The build is all plastic but still seems very solid.
 
Since these were an accessory themselves there were no retail package nor other accessories included with my pair.
 
The Monk is quite easy to drive and works fine even with my weak (in power) Sony Z3 Compact phone. Isolation is pretty much none existent, after all it is an earbud.  As a matter of fact I find the lack of isolation also to be a great strength in certain situations.
 
The specs:
Housing
Plastic
Driver Unit
Dynamic 15.4mm
Frequenzy range
18Hz-22.5KHz
Sensitivity
112 dB
Impedance
32 Ohms
Cable lenght
1.2m
 
Ergonomics:
I’ve got to be honest and say that I’ve not used earbuds in more than 20 years. I’m certainly not going to claim that I’m an expert on them. As a matter of fact it was never my intention to review neither this nor any other earbuds but my experience with the Monk is so good that I really wanted to share it with others.
 
I’ve lived with the impression that the fit of earbuds are not for me for the last 15-20 years. After receiving the Monk as a part of the Duke package I was really surprised how easy they are to fit and how well they stay in my ears. They’re also extremely comfortable and are certainly lighter on the ears than pretty much every IEM that I’ve tried.
 
I do notice quite a difference in the sound by the way the Monk sits in my ear so it might be worth playing around a bit to find the sweet spot for your preference.
 
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Sound:
I’ve used these on and off for the last couple of weeks and they’ve played for well over 100 hours.  
I’ve used them with my Sony Xperia Z3 Compact phone, the CEntrance DACport Slim as well as the SHOZY Lancea paired with Venture Electronics own amplifier the RunAbout (separate review will come soon).
 
Demo list:
Mark Knopfler – Sailing to Philadelphia
Røyksopp (Feat.Susanne Sundfør) – Save Me
Ane Brun – These Days
Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana
Metallica – Die Die My Darling
The Peter Malick Group – Immigrant
Eva Cassidy – Songbird
Thomas Dybdahl – A Lovestory
Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why
Celldweller – Unshakeable
Jack Johnson – Better Together
Seinabo Sey – Younger (Kygo remix)
Dire Straits- So Far Away
Passenger – Let Her Go
Lupe Fiasco - Deliver
Morrissey – Earth Is the Loneliest Planet
 
I’d like to start this section with a funny story. When I first received the Duke and unpacked it the included earbud caught my attention. I’ve been seeing all this comments in here about the Monk, Asura and Zen from VE but never really paid any closer attention to it. I didn’t even know which of the ones that was in my package so curiosity got the best of me and I went straight to the earbuds before even trying the Duke. Two hours later I was still listening to the Monk’s with my jaw planted on the floor, I simply could not believe what I was hearing. I started to dig around and pretty fast realized that the Zen was white and that the Monk was $5 so I concluded that I had probably gotten the Asura. After contacting Lee I learned that it was actually the $5 Monk that I had in my possession, $5! Seriously come on.
 
OK, let’s get down to the description of what they sound like.
 
The overall sound signature is very well balanced, natural and entertaining. I don’t find the Monk to be neither dark nor particularly bright sounding. It shares a lot of the characteristics that I usually associate with open full size headphones. People knowing me also know that I’m a sucker for open cans.
 
The lows lack some extension in the sub-bass region not going as deep as I’d like. Apart from this the quality of the bass is very good. Mid- and upper-bass is clean and clear with absolutely no bleed into the midrange. The bass quantity is enough to keep them from sounding thin and both male voices and guitars sound full and natural with them.
 
The midrange is well in balance with the rest of the frequencies. In total the vocal reproduction on both male and female artist is very good though. Although the mids are not particular forward I still think it’s the greatest asset of the Monk. It’s rally liquid and smooth making for a very enjoyable and easy listening.
 
The treble is full and smooth bit may lack some extension in the top end for my liking. This is certainly not enough to be a dealbreaker and I'm judging them pretty hard here given the price. There's no sibilance whatsoever with them.  
 
Soundstage in all directions is larger than what one can expect from the average IEM but smaller than you’d expect from a full size open headphone. Clarity, micro details and separation is also quite good.
 
Comparison:
As already mentioned I find the overall signature of the Monk to be closer to that of full sized headphones than IEM’s. Still it cannot, naturally, keep up on all accounts to full size cans either. Especially deep bass extension and impact suffers from the driver being much smaller.
 
Given the differences in design with IEM’s and headphones and my lack of experience with other earbuds I see no reason to try to make any comparisons with the Monk.
 
Summary:
The VE Monk has indeed been a revelation for me. Not only have I learned to really appreciate earbuds from them but it also brings a smile on my face again and again.
 
I travel quite a lot in my line of work but never bother to bring any full sized cans along on my trips (except for the QC25 on longer flights) but on a recent trip I brought along the Monk and man was it nice to get that change from the IEM’s I’ve been wearing all day when I came to the hotel room. I don’t complain that the sound is seriously good and a great option to bring a long full sized gear as well.
 
Yes, sometimes I wish for a bit deeper sub-bass with more impact and some more sparkle and extension in the top end then I remember its $5 and the smile is back on my face. This certainly has to be one of the best value for money ever in the world of head-fi. 
 
It really, really makes me looking forward to the soon to be released Zen 2.0.
golov17
golov17
:arrows_counterclockwise::arrows_counterclockwise::arrows_counterclockwise::mag::unlock:❔❕:stars::volcano::musical_note::musical_score::notes::fireworks::fireworks::fireworks:
dineshkv
dineshkv
I'm looking for a good sounding value for money earphone under $10. Can I go for this or are there any other good ones in the same range?
peter123
peter123
@dineshkv As far as I know these will be your best option :)

earfonia

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Natural sounding; A good all-rounder; Excellent sound quality at a very affordable price.
Cons: Earbud shape and position might cause discomfort; Sound quality is position and fitting dependent.
Many thanks to Venture Electronics for the VE Monk review sample!

Product website:
http://eng.52ve.cn/product.php?cm_id=205

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I haven't been using earbud for quite a long time since my favourite Sony MDR-E888 died many years ago. A few months back I had a chat with Head-Fi'er @RedJohn456. From there I came to know about Venture Electronics. Thanks buddy!

In general, IEM might still be the preferable option due to the better noise isolation and generally better sound quality. But in some circumstances, earbud is quite useful especially when we prefer not to have isolation, and require awareness of surrounding sound. In office for example, I found earbud is more useful, as we can easily hear when being called, or when our phone ring. A few friends of mine prefer earbud simply because of personal preference as they don't feel comfortable to have something isolating their ears. So earbud does have its own market and fans.

VE Monk really did give me a nice surprise when I tried it for the first time! It looks like an ordinary cheapo earbud, but there is nothing cheap with the sound quality! It is actually a very nice sounding earbud! Excited with the discovery, I brought it around and asked family members and friends to try it, and the Monk never failed to impress everyone who tried it! From casual listener, to my friend a pro audio engineer, Monk gave them a smile when they tried it. When I told them that VE Monk is a $5 earbud, they were greatly surprised. They know from the look that it doesn't look like an expensive earbud, but having heard the sound quality, they didn't expect it to be a $5 earbud.

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Sound Quality
My memory and past impressions of earbuds are their usual midrange centric tonality, lacking bass and treble extension. I'm glad to say that VE Monk is different than those old earbuds I tried in the past. It doesn't have that mid centric signature. Tonality is best described as natural and balanced with good clarity. Well, don't expect bass level of a good sealed In-Ear monitor, though as an earbud the Monk has pretty good bass, but level wise it is still below a decent In-Ear monitor, for example Awei ES800M that cost approximately the same as the Monk. But the tonality tuning is so good that I don't feel the bass is lacking. Bass quality is good, good speed and texture, not boomy or muddy, and only slightly below the midrange level. Low bass extension is also pretty decent for an earbud. I like bass, and generally I prefer mildly emphasized bass, and still, I enjoy the Monk, and I don't feel the bass is anemic like I often heard from other earbuds in the past.

Natural clarity is probably Monk's most prominent signature. Clarity is very good and sounds natural. Texture wise, Monk is not the smooth and refined type, a bit grainy, but not harsh. No annoying peaks and dips in the frequency response, tonality is perceived as linear from bass to treble. Low bass and upper treble extension are smoothly rolled off, but quite sufficient. Please take note that earbud tonality is greatly dependent on position and fitting. For larger ears, the fitting might get loose, and less bass is expected. Midrange is natural with good detail and clarity, not warm and not analytic. Vocal sounds clear and articulated. Many earphones in this price category sounds muffled and lacking clarity. Monk's midrange is clear without any indication of muddiness or muffledness. Treble has enough sparkle and quite balance with the midrange. Dynamic and transient is pretty good as well, quite lively and fast, and never sounded slow and lazy. The open, non-sealing design gives quite an open, less 'in your head' stereo imaging. Imaging is rather flat and lacking depth, but pretty wide and not congested.

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Player Requirement & Build Quality
Due to less isolation, we tend to play it a little louder; therefore usually it needs a little extra volume to achieve desirable loudness. Using mobile phone, Samsung Galaxy S4, I usually play around 90% to 100% of the volume level. VE Monk is quite player friendly, sounds good from generally any decent source or player. The Monk is best used in quite environment. When using earbud in noisy environment, we tend to increase the volume of the music to be louder than the environment noise, resulting high level of loudness that might reach unhealthy level for our ears.

Build quality is good. Simple old fashion design that seems to be pretty durable for normal use. Cable is soft with no memory effect, so it is not coiling. The TPE cable jacket is smooth and not rubbery, therefore not easily tangled.
 
 
 
 
Comparison
The only earbud I have left that is still alive is V-MODA Remix M-Class Earbuds. I'm glad to say that comparing V-MODA Remix M-Class with VE Monk, the Monk is clearly the winner in sound quality department. V-Moda Remix looks nicer and more stylish with solid metal housing, but doesn't sound as good as the Monk. They have similar level of detail and clarity, but the Monk has better bass. Midrange and vocal sounds fuller on the Monk, with overall more balance tonality.

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Summary
Overall, Monk is a good all-rounder. I tested it with many genres and types of recordings, from classical to modern genres; Monk delivers them all in a natural and enjoyable manner. I've used it for long period of listening in office, no fatigue from the sound character, but occasionally I felt some discomfort from the shape of the earbud that slightly pressing some parts of my ears. I just need to change the position a little bit when I feel discomfort. Those with smaller ears please take note, that the Monk has the regular earbud size that might cause discomfort over a long period of use. I wish VE would come up with a better and modern design for their earbuds, especially to improve the comfort level. But this humble and old fashion look has some advantage. The simple old fashion earbud look won't grab anyone attention, so we can rest assure it will be safe wherever we left it behind. Or even if we lose it or break it, it doesn't cost much.

VE Monk is a good sounding, fun and enjoyable earbud. For the sound quality and the price, there is no reason for me not to give 5 stars rating for VE Monk, mainly due to its value. Kudos to Venture Electronics!

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Pros:
A good all-rounder with excellent sound quality at a very affordable price.
 
Cons:
Large driver and housing might not be comfortable for smaller ears.
Sound quality is position and fitting dependent.
 
Suggestions for improvements:
More comfortable design like the Apple Earpods.
 
Evaluation:
Estimated Sound Quality : 3/5 Good
Estimated Value (SQ/Price) : 5/5 Excellent
Build Quality: 3/5 Good
Noise Isolation: 1/5 Poor
 
Perceived level of:
Naturalness: 4/5 Very good
Clarity: 3/5 Good
Detail & Separation: 3/5 Good
Holographic Imaging & Spaciousness: 3/5 Good
Dynamic & Transient: 3/5 Good
Treble level in comparison to midrange: 0
Bass level in comparison to midrange: -1
Relax (-) to Analytical (+) balance: 0
 
 
Score:
5 - Excellent
4 - Very Good
3 - Good
2 - Acceptable
1 - Poor

 
Balanced Level:
+/- 1 : Mild - Still within acceptable range for most recordings.
+/- 2 : Moderate - Generally acceptable, but may start to sound a little too much on some recordings.
+/- 3 : Strong - Generally sounds unnatural and too strong for most recordings.

 
 
 
Specifications:
Dynamic Driver Diameter: 15.4 mm
Impedance: 32 ohms
Sensitivity: 112 dB (1 mW)
Frequency response: 18 ~ 22500 Hz
Power rating: 1000 mW
Cable: Y cable, 1.2m, OFC.
Microphone: No
Price: $5

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Equipment used in this review:

[size=17.03px]Earphones / IEMs:[/size]
V-MODA Remix M-Class
 

DAPs & DACs:

Fiio X3 2nd gen
iBasso DX90
Samsung Galaxy S4
 
 
 
 

Some recordings used in this review:

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DJScope
DJScope
I wasn't planning on review the Monk, but after reading that great review I think I will. There is a lot that I agree on and would love to expand on some of my feelings towards the Monk. I've not stopped using it since I first tried them on Saturday morning and I cannot put them down. @RedJohn456 WHY U DO DIS TO ME??? I feel like an addict!
earfonia
earfonia
@DJScope So we both got this addiction thanks to @RedJohn456 LOL :D
Looking forward to your review :wink:
RedJohn456
RedJohn456

fleasbaby

Member of the Trade: Wabi Sabi Headphones
Pros: Super-cheap, well-built, very appealing sound signature
Cons: At this price, what's a con?
VE Monk Review             
A few months ago Clieos reviewed two pairs of new earbuds produced by a relatively unknown vendor in China, VE (Venture Electronics).
 
Since then, VE have developed a rapidly growing, cultish following…and for good reason. Their flagship, the VE Zen is almost universally praised by those who hear it properly driven (it has a whopping 320 ohm impedance, that from personal experience, sounds dreamy on the Pono player, especially when driven in balanced mode). Its little sibling, the Asura, is similarly praised (although not quite as rabidly). It follows in the Zen’s sonic footsteps.
 
VE is making great strides. They have also just released the Duke, an IEM I am slated to review. They have an amp coming out soon (a matter of weeks) rumored to be sub-$100 and designed specifically to drive the Duke at its lower gain setting, and the Zen at its higher gain setting. They also recently released the Monk. The Monk is an easy to drive earbud, a baby-brother to the Zen and the Asura. It too has what is now regarded as the VE “house sound”.
 
This review is devoted to the Monk. I received a free sample from VE, but couldn’t understand why it was free. See the end of the review, you’ll understand why. A more ordered and carefully laid out review is sure to come along soon. I am wont to write in a different fashion. You’ll hear what you need to hear though.
 
The Monk is extremely pedestrian in its build. The ubiquitous shells used by Blox, Dasetn and all of the other boutique bud makers make an appearance here. VE has the good taste to keep them basic black though (I have seen them appear in shiny silver, translucent red and all manner of other cheap and gaudy incarnations…), with a neat little logo in white. The simple rubber-coated cable is basic black as well, as is the plug. The plug is a sturdy, straight, no-nonsense affair.
 
Lee from VE recommends you use the Monk with any smartphone. It is designed to put up with the sub-par output of these devices, and still sound good. Does it sound good?
 
I am still surprised at what Lee and his silent partner “KK” have achieved at VE. All of their buds have a delightfully pleasing sound signature. After the suggested ten hours of burn-in using vocal music, the Monk is no different. Most earbuds fall short in some way, frequently bass. Not so the Monk. Some as a result of their bass-less-ness are shrill and tinny. Not the Monk. Some try to compensate for the bass-less-ness and tinny sound with lush and strong mid-ranges and as a result sound wooly rolled off at both ends. Not the Monk.
 
They are not the Zen (they lack the refinement and clarity) and they are not the Asura (which sits just behind the Zen in terms of performance). They do not scale like those two when paired with a stronger/better source. But like a scrappy little street-dog, it will survive and thrive wherever you put it. It needs no pampering…no DSD or 24/1952 files, no massive amounts of current, no careful equalization or special equipment. Drop it in a backstreet of Sowetho township, feed it trash and expect that great, toe-tapping, incredibly pleasing VE sound.
 
And the best part? The Monk retails for $5.98 for the in-line mic version and $5 for the plain version. At that price point it’s a no-brainer.
fleasbaby
fleasbaby
fleasbaby
fleasbaby
PS: the price on AliExpress is wrong. It should not be $995.98 :).
TheProCitizen
TheProCitizen
Thanks!
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