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February 8, 2014 • Reviews

HEADphone to HEADphone: Can $23 Monoprice Headphones Measure Up?

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What happens when you pit headphones that cost under $23 against premium headphones costing 7 times more? More specifically, can Monoprice Premium Hi-Fi DJ Style Over-the-Ear Pro Headphones hold their own against Scosche’s $150 RH1056mds or $200 HR1060s? Are the Monoprice headphones a bargain, or do you get what you pay for? Here’s our first in-depth Monoprice Challenge.

THE UNBOXING EXPERIENCE

Scosche RH1056md Headphones Review  They Will Rock Your World  Gear Diary

In my review of the Scosche RH1056md, I shared just how impressed I was with the unboxing experience and the extras included with the headphones. A hard box cover lifts off to reveal the hard case holding the headphones.

Scosche RH1060 Bluetooth Headphones Review  Cut Cords Not Corners  Gear Diary

Beneath this hard case is a second case; this time a soft bag that won’t protect the headphones from damage but will prevent the shiny black finish from being scratched.

Scosche RH1060 Bluetooth Headphones Review  Cut Cords Not Corners  Gear Diary

As I wrote at the time, the inclusion of both a soft-shell protective case and a light bag “struck me as an example of a company going the extra mile to make sure consumers feel like they are getting significant value”. In addition to the two cases Scosche includes a cable with tapLINE III remote and mic, a straight cable, a gold-plated 3.5mm to 3/4 ” adapter, a PC adapter for gaming/VOiP, and a cleaning cloth. The cable with the tapLINE III remote and mic is a nice piece of kit. The 6.5ft tangle-free flat cable has a goldplated 3.5mm connector and feels substantial.

In all, the unboxing experience of the Scosche RH1056md is truly impressive.

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Sadly, the same cannot be said for the Monoprice Premium Hi-Fi DJ Style Over-the-Ear Pro Headphone. They come in a flimsy box and the unboxing experience goes down from there. Open the box and the headphones are sitting there in an even flimsier plastic insert.

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Thrown in (and yes, I use that word intentionally) are a cheap 11.5 ft long 3.5 mm M/M audio cable, a 50” long 3.5 mm M/M audio cable and a 3.5 mm F to 1/4″ M adapter plug. The cords are thin, cheap-feeling offerings that won’t win any awards at the annual Best Cables of the Year Show. The unboxing and inclusions that come with the Monoprice Premium Hi-Fi DJ Style Over-the-Ear Pro Headphone aren’t bad, but they certainly aren’t worthy of a premium product.

 

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Bottom Line: The Scosche RH1056md unboxing and inclusions impress. The unboxing and inclusions that come with the Monoprice Premium Hi-Fi DJ Style Over-the-Ear Pro Headphones immediately communicate their sub-$25 price.

THE BUILD

Scosche RH1056md Headphones Review  They Will Rock Your World  Gear Diary

As I first wrote in my review of the Scosche RH1056mds, the headphones are largely made from plastic, but they feel substantial. The ear cups are made from thick memory foam covered in leather. The headphones collapse.

Scosche RH1056md Headphones Review  They Will Rock Your World  Gear Diary

The stainless steel hinges feel quite sturdy and lock into place with an audible click. As Scosche notes, “Fully adjustable headband combined with the 2 axis gimbal system ensures a flawless fit every time”. In all the build-quality on the RH1056md headphones is impressive, and I expect they will hold up quite well over time.

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Monoprice Premium Hi-Fi DJ Style Over-the-Ear Pro Headphone are also made largely of plastic. Unlike the Scosche headphones which feel substantial, the Monoprice offering feels… well… cheap.

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The hinges are loose, the plastic is not of the highest quality, and the ear cups are clearly synthetic.

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More importantly, while the ear cups are padded they don’t look like quality cushions. The shorter and thinner of the two cables feels beyond cheap. The longer cable is thick and heavy but won’t impress.

All is not bad however, since the build of the Monoprice headphones translate to a pair of headphones that are surprisingly light. That becomes an issue when we turn to… Comfort.

THE COMFORT

Scosche RH1056md Headphones Review  They Will Rock Your World  Gear Diary

The Scosche RH1056mds are heavy and substantial. That’s neither good nor bad, but it will impact the way the headphones feel. If you have a fairly large head and like a pair of serious headphones, then I suspect you will like wearing these. If, on the other hand, you have a smaller hear or are sensitive to weight on your head or pressure on your ear, I would wager these headphones will not be something you would choose to wear. This is certainly true for extended periods of time.

I find them quite comfortable;. Elana finds them too large and heavy.

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The Monoprice headphones are surprisingly comfortable. While they feel cheap in the hand, once they are on your head that is no longer the case. The ear cushions don’t look overly padded, but there is enough material resent to create a comfortable seal and keep the 55mm drivers from coming into direct contact with one’s ears. I found them comfortable… enough. Elana did as well. And since you can’t see how they look — or feel their build quality — when they are actually on, much of the issue in the second section disappears while wearing them.

THE SOUND

Scosche RH1060 Bluetooth Headphones Review  Cut Cords Not Corners  Gear Diary

The Scosche RH1056md and the wireless RH1060 sound great. They offer big, booming bass, nice clear definition and an impressive audio experience. The RH1056md headphones have 40mm drivers, “precision wound copper voice coils”, and “rare-earth neodymium magnets”. Each ear cup also has a “ported sound chamber” that helps “provide the exact air space necessary for optimal component performance”. The result of these quality materials and well-conceived design is sound that is sure to impress.

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The Monoprice Premium Hi-Fi DJ Style Over-the-Ear Pro Headphones have 50mm drivers and 100 dB sensitivity that Monoproice claims will help “ensure that these ‘phones produce good volume and premium sound clarity at all frequencies”. In both Elana’s and my assessment they sound good but not great.

Final Thoughts

Scosche RH1056md Headphones Review  They Will Rock Your World  Gear Diary

So by now it might sound like I think the Scosche RH1056mds are awesome, and the Monoprice Premium Hi-Fi DJ Style Over-the-Ear Pro Headphones are crap.

Truth is, the Scosche headphones are awesome, and they do blow the Monoprice headphones away. But at under $25, the Monoprice headphones can’t be expected to measure up to headphones costing five or more times more. As Elana put it, “The Scosche sound so much better, but do they sound $120-$170 better? That’s an interesting and complicated question.” My answer is, “YES they do sound $120-$170 better, but I’ve become spoiled.

08 Gear Diary Monoprice Headphones Feb 6 2014 5 08 PM 09

The Monoprice Premium Hi-Fi DJ Style Over-the-Ear Pro Headphones prove you do indeed get what you pay for. If you only have $23 to spend, and you want over-the-ear headphones that do a decent enough job and that have the tilting earcups many DJs like, and you don’t want to have to worry about getting your headphones lost, stolen, or broken, then you could do a lot worse than these Monoprice headphones.

Want to see how $23 over-the-ear DJ-style headphones look, feel and sound? Jump to our YouTube page, watch any Gear Diary headphone video and then share the link via Twitter or FaceTime making sure to include “@geardiary @dmcohen #headphonegiveaway”. (Make sure to subscribe while you are there.) We’ll give the Monoprice headphones away in this week’s newsletter.

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