VE Monk IE Biggie and Smalls - Discussion and Impressions
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Lonelyers

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Let me start by saying that I like VE Monk. At its price, it is very affordable, and I can easily buy a few pairs and put them in different places - in the office, in my backpack, in my laptop accessories bag ... it just makes things so convenient. Nonetheless, I long for an in-ear version of Monk. I once went on a plane with an Android phone filled with videos and a pair of Monk - bad idea. No matter how I wore the Monk, the isolation was not good enough. And to make matters worse, that particular phone could not drive the Monk very well - not enough power (I know, my fault). That made me wonder - if VE could just make an in-ear version, then I could use the Monk in the subway and on the plane.

And after a long, long wait, my wish is granted.

I am very grateful that I am among one of the very lucky individuals receiving the all-new Venture Electronics (VE) Monk IEs (in-ear). There will be more impressions after further burn-in, but I bet the new Monk IEs - the Biggie and the Smalls (yes, there are two different models) - will, like the Monk earbuds, blow our minds once again.

(Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with VE. I am among one of a small group of people offered the opportunity to try out the pre-production / production model of the IEMs. There may be further changes before the IEMs are officially released. As a long-time and dedicated VE customer, I paid a price slightly lower than the expected retail price. As a customer, I am free to offer my views on the IEMs.)

And without further ado, let's take a look at a few (unprofessional) photos of the VE Monk IEs - Biggie and Smalls.



VE Monk IEs: Smalls (white, left) with Opus #1; Biggie (black, right) with Aune M1S. Sorry for making this look like a mess, but I am not a good photographer. My package comes with one small case, the two IEMs, 3 cables and a pack of eartips. That's all. The retail version could be different.

This time, the cables are replaceable (standard CIEM 0.78 mm 2-pin cables). Each pair of VE Monk IE will come with 3 cables - the Espresso cable (paired with Smalls in the photo), the Silver cable (paired with Biggie in the photo), and the 1-button Mic cable (top right hand corner).



A closer look at VE Monk IE Smalls. The Smalls are easy to drive, and are supposed to pair well with mobile phones. Paired with Opus #01 and the Espresso cable, the balanced Smalls has a fun and enjoyable sound signature - nice dynamics, warm but not too bass-heavy. This is the IEM for casual, on-the-go listening.



A closer look at VE Monk IE Biggie. The Biggie are much harder to drive, and would benefit from an amplifier. Paired with the Aune M1S and the Silver cable, the balanced Biggie has a more mature sound than the Smalls - clearly it is the model catering for audiophiles. The mids and highs come forward in this model, as well as the vocals. Not sibilant even with the Silver cable. The soundstage of Biggie is wider than that of Smalls. Biggie is also more detailed and has better imaging. This is the IEM for more serious, sit-down listening.

Take note that the above are only initial impressions, as I have only burnt in the IEMs for around 5 hours - I just received them today. So far, I am very satisfied with the sound of both IEMs. On the design, I have the following personal comments:

(1) I do hope that this is not the final design. I would rather keep the faceplates clean, and put the words somewhere else - maybe on the inner side of the IEMs. I can't come up with what to put on the faceplates at the moment.
(2) Although it is easy for me to identify the left / right side, a L-R indicator on the IEMs would still be helpful for some. I noticed a small protrusion on the inner left side - but beginners could benefit from an L-R indicator. (Note: The cables have L-R indicators.)

And now, to the topic everyone is concerned about: the price.

With 3 cables, there is no way that the IEM will be for $5 or $10 per pair. I learnt from Lee of VE that the Biggie and Smalls will both retail at around USD$40 per pair (either Biggie or Smalls), and each pair will come with the 3 aforementioned cables. VE would encourage interested customers to get the premium package, at USD$60. The premium package would come with BOTH (!) Biggie and Smalls, same 3 cables, pack of tips, the carrying case, and most importantly, a premium version of VE Monk earbuds - likely the Monk in Espresso cable. You can choose between balanced or unbalanced options. Judging from initial listening, I think the price is very reasonable, despite a steep price increase when compared with the earbuds. I think both Biggie and Smalls punch WELL ABOVE their weight. I would definitely recommend getting the Premium package.

I also learnt from Lee that the Monk IEs will be available for retail sales in November - December 2017. So don't spend all your money on Black Friday sales! Save up a little for these lovely IEMs! :)

Any questions are welcome, but I really need to get some sleep first - its well past midnight here in Hong Kong. And I still need to go to work ...

(Edit: After clarifying with Lee, the price for the Premium Package at 60USD should be for both Biggie and Smalls; while 40USD would be for one of the two. Balanced and unbalanced options of the IEMs are available. Changes have been made to the above text accordingly.)
 
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kydu

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Great review! I can’t wait to get my biggie and smalls in the mail, everything I’ve purchased from VE has blown me away so far. I bet these iems will leave my se846 collecting dust for quite some time.
 
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B9Scrambler

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Nice to see VE going with an original design this time around. The Monk is a good bud and I'm hoping these will be a worthy follow up. Will keep my eyes on them for sure.
 
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RyanM

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Both for $60 USD with three cables?! Consider my mind blown. I hope Lee can have these ready to order for 11.11. I’m chomping at the bit for these guys.
 
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Hypespazm

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With not many words I can say that This is my most anticipated audio piece of the entire 2017!!! I cant wait to get my set!!!
 
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Mboom

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Ok. These are cool looking and for $60 you get both ? Done deal.
 
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teesui

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Alright. Budget set aside for BOTH. Can't wait!
 
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NymPHONOmaniac

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Okay I was going to say construction of housing look a little cheap but after seing the price with 3 cables, price is ULTRA cheap for such IEM! Leaning towards the full pack...
 
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novem

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can you compare re400 with both these two
 
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DeltaRay

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Thanks for your impressions! Wonder if both will have the same profile (v-shape/flat). Also how's the isolation? Hope they'll make a good pair for daily commute :)
 
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Lonelyers

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can you compare re400 with both these two
I do not own the RE400, and I last heard it quite some time ago. So take this with a (huge) grain of salt.
From my memory, the RE400 should be more similar to the Biggie than to the Smalls, owing to its relatively neutral sound signature. As I hinted in my brief impressions, the Biggie is more neutral than the Smalls. Therefore, if you like the RE400, I think you should give the Biggie a try. The Biggie is better than the RE400 in terms of separation, transparency and imaging - provided that your DAP / setup is powerful enough to drive the Biggie. The Biggie is more difficult to drive than the RE400. While that doesn't mean the Biggie would sound terrible with a phone / a DAP with limited power, Biggie does scale well with more powerful sources. For instance, the VE RA 2.0b balanced amplifier drives the Biggie really well - although I would admit it may be a little overkill (more details to come later, when I have the time to do a more detailed review using other setups).

Thanks for your impressions! Wonder if both will have the same profile (v-shape/flat). Also how's the isolation? Hope they'll make a good pair for daily commute :)
They do not have the same profile. Based on the cables and pairing in my first post (I haven't got the time to try out other pairings yet), I think the Biggie has a rather neutral sound signature (not exactly flat or sterile, but I feel that the focus is more on the mids and highs; it is an accurate reproduction of the source material), while Smalls has a mild V-shaped signature. I think the Smalls should be more appealing to the general audience, given that it is easy to drive and has a fun, warm sound signature. The Biggie, in comparison, would be much more appealing to listeners interested in more accurate and transparent sound. It shares similarities with Monk Plus + Silver cable.

I tried out the Smalls with the supplied mic cable when taking the subway today. The isolation is good enough using stock tips - not better than my CIEM 1964 V6S, which is understandable; but you cannotcan only hear minimal outside noise when the music is playing. As long as you can get a good fit and use a suitable pair of tips, the Monk IEs should make a perfect daily commute IEM (the Biggie and Smalls have the same form factor). And I will try out the Smalls with SpinFit tips tomorrow.

(Edit: Minor change - see bold and underlined. I was too tired last night, LOL.)
 
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