When I first heard of“Monoprice”, I thought that it was a spin-off of a major French retail chain called Monoprix but they’re not linked.
Instead the US-based company, which was founded more than a decade ago, is a different breed altogether and is aiming, according to Buzzfeed reporter, John Herrman, to become the next big electronics brand on the block.
The company, which made a name in HDMI cables, is looking to branch out to sell other CE products and is already causing a lot of waves in the consumer electronics industry in the US.
I purchased a pair of Monoprice Enhanced Bass Hi-Fi (EBH) noise isolating earphones from Amazon for just over £5 (they now cost £4.82) to see how good (or bad) they really are after reading some interesting comments online.
At the time of writing, the Monoprice EBH earphones are the most popular models (both in sales and in wished for) on the online retailer after the JVC HAFX1X earphones.
More than half of the reviewers gave it a five-star (out of five) with more than 80 per cent of reviewers giving it three or more stars in all. The most helpful customer reviews claim that it was the best sub-£50 earphones the market, besting some well-known names on the market.
Inside the box are the earphones and the two pairs of earplugs (different sizes). The model I tested was the 8320 silver (also known as the MEP-933) which won a (coveted) place in Lifehacker’s best earbuds listing.
The earphones themselves have an odd shape that divided opinions with at least two of my colleagues complaining that it was very uncomfortable to wear. One thing I noticed is that you need to be very wary when it comes to how you use them. Preferences will vary according to your ear canal.
Specifications are as follows; 14.2mm driver units (which are located in a metallic coated plastic housing and explains why the earbuds are much bigger), a 32 ohms impedance, a 1.23m wire length (braided cloth cord, that looks like shoe laces).
When it comes to the audio quality, initial impressions were quite good. The bass was pretty heavy albeit distorted on low frequencies while vocals were clear though. I didn’t detect any noticeable audio artefact even when I pushed the volume on my smartphone to the maximum. Even fairly quiet podcasts had all the details I’d expect.
Note that I didn’t do any burn-in as recommended by many which means that, in theory, the sound quality can only improve as the earphone’s components “settle”. Choosing an earphone is a very personal choice which unfortunately means that tastes will widely vary form one individual to another. Ultimately, like food, the best way to check that earphone is to test one and find out for yourself, for little more than the price of a pint of beer in Central London.