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Friday
Dec302016

Podcast #772: Monoprice Monolith M560 Planar Headphones


When we first got into the HDTV thing way back when Monoprice was our goto company for high quality cables that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Since then they have grown into a big company that sells so much more than cables and rock bottom prices.

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Monoprice Monolith M560 Planar Headphones


When we first got into the HDTV thing way back when Monoprice was our goto company for high quality cables that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Since then they have grown into a big company that sells so much more than cables and rock bottom prices.

Let’s go back to September when Monoprice announced that they were releasing two new Planar headphones, the Monolith M1060 ($299 Not available until February) and the Monolith M560 ($199). Now we have to determine if the they are doing the same thing with headphones as they did with cables back in the early days. Are these high quality and at low price?

A planar magnetic driver is a flat membrane that is surrounded by magnets. When current is delivered, the membrane produces sound. The size of the driver in the Monolith M560 is 56mm. 

Planar magnetic transducers offer numerous benefits:

  • Responsiveness - Since the force created by the magnetic field is distributed across most of the diaphragm surface, the planar magnetic diaphragm moves faster and with far greater accuracy to the input signal.

  • Frequency and Distortion - The magnetic force that drives the lightweight diaphragm delivers rapid acceleration thus achieving a wide frequency response, low distortion and excellent sound quality.

  • Durability - Because the circuit pattern is spread flat across the diaphragm surface it can dissipate the heat generated by the current passing through it more efficiently. Additionally, planar magnetic transducers have few moving parts and can maintain performance without any sonic degradation. Dynamic drivers continuously degrade in performance over their life due to a multitude of moving parts and use of glue joints.

  • Amplifier Friendly - The circuits found in planar magnetic diaphragms present an almost purely resistive load to amplifiers, making it easy to drive.  The impedance over the entire frequency range is completely flat vs. dynamic speaker which could have variances in impedance values over the frequency range.

Fit and Finish

The M560s don’t look like your typical headphones, They are bigger than anything I have ever owned. You may have heard the term “Cans” being used for headphones well that’s a good description. But they are beautiful cans! They have wooden cups that are held in place magnetically the can easily be removed to give you a more open sound stage. The M560s are well built and look sophisticated. Monoprice includes a nice detachable braided cable and a carrying case. I took these on a recent trip and the case fit in my laptop bag but it was not really something I would recommend for airplane use. However, it was nice to be able to use them in the hotel.

Performance

I have only had one other set of headphones that I would say was high quality,  B&W P5, so my sample size is pretty low. I have listened to some real high end headphones at T.H.E. Show as well so I wouldn’t say I am an expert on headphones. My review will be about how good the audio was and the fact that almost anyone can afford these without a lot of heartburn.

First word of caution. These headphones need to be broken in. Don’t do any critical listening until you have put about 48 hours of audio through them. Your patience will be rewarded. The frequency range of these things is 16 Hz ~ 40 kHz. To verify that I had to employ my daughters and the neighbor dog. Fortunately I can hear the low end! I ran tones through the speakers and was able to hear down to 40hz and up to 16KHz. My daughters could hear the tones clearly up to 18KHz. The neighbor dog didn’t really say if he could hear anything past that. Now I know I can get fancy equipment to measure these things but that’s not how we work. We just tell you what we experience ourselves.

As far as listening to music goes I listened to all kinds of music, Rock, Jazz, Blues, and Classical. All sounded great. I really liked the low end and when I removed the ear cups the bass seemed deeper to me. It did feel more open kind of like I was listening in a room as opposed to hearing the music piped right into my head. The high end was good, not too bright, but not as good as the low end either. I was able to clearly make out the triangles in Ode to Joy. It is clear to me that the low end is where these headphones really shine

I also watched some movies and I could hear nuances in the sound track that I couldn’t hear even on my Kef Q-Series. I am sure it's because there is no there sound pollution to interfere with the watching experience.

Wearing the headphones for extended periods was easy to do. They are very comfortable and not too terribly heavy.  

Conclusion

Can I say these are as good as the Oppo or HifiMan? I can’t because I have never listened to those headphones. But it's a good bet that most of you don’t want to spend better than a thousand dollars for audiophile grade headphones. However, there are many of you you who do want a high quality experience when listening to your music. And for $200 the Monoprice Monolith M560 will definitely deliver! I was going to give these away as a contest for the new year. But after spending some time with these headphones I decided to keep them!

 

 

Download Episode #772

Reader Comments (1)

OK Ara, so you say this, " The high end was good, not too bright, but not as good as the low end either. " right after saying you can only hear to 16kHz...while your daughter can hear to 18kHz. Could it be that you just can't hear anything that is "too bright" anymore?

I'm kinda old(er), too, so I'm not casting stones. I have no idea what my range is...maybe I'll ask the doc at my next physical, but, this is just an observation. ;-)

January 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterERick

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