Don't Spend $300 on Headphones: Alternatives to Beats, Bose, and Sony
There Are Cheap Alternatives to Expensive Headphones
I recently received a pair of Beats Solo3 headphones in a promotion when I bought a new computer from Apple. I was pretty excited. After all, I see these headphones everywhere, so they must be good.
Then a friend told me that they really weren't that great and the sound on them was just okay.
Then I remembered that I own a really inexpensive alternative to Beats. I bought them from a company called Monoprice and the headphones cost $15 plus shipping. Remembering this, I ordered a second pair. This time, the headphones were wireless earbuds and cost $15 (compared to the similar Beats version for $200). Guess what? They sound great too.
Premium Hi-Fi DJ Style Over-the-Ear Pro Headphones with Mic
The above-pictured headphones currently sell on Monoprice for $15.99. That's right, $15.99. Can headphones costing 1/10 the price of more popular ones be any good at all? Just read the CNET review below this capsule if you had any doubt.
Monoprice produces its own products, so think of them like the Kirkland (Costco's own brand) or the Trader Joe of electronic products, though at savings that far exceed either Costco or Trader Joe. In fact, I'm not exactly sure how one produces a pair of $15.99 headphones, but apparently it's possible.
In terms of comfort, the headphones have nice, cushy ear pads and fit nicely around the ears. The ear pieces move in a number of different directions and the tension on them doesn't feel particularly hard. Certainly, they don't look as good as a pair of Beats, but if you value function more than form, you'll appreciate these headphones a lot.
One nice aspect of these headphones, and a lot of Monoprice headphones, is that the cord plugs into the headphones, so if you damage your cord, you just replace it with another one instead of having to buy an entirely new pair of headphones.
The sound in these headphones, like a lot of monoprice headphones, is nice and flat. That's not to say that they can't churn out heavy bass or anything like that, but over the headphones have a nice, even quality to them. The sound is excellent and detailed, but they don't tune the headphones to make the bass the prominent feature of the sound. Monoprice provides an important note when buying headphones and that is that for really high-quality sound, over-the-ear headphones are necessary. No matter the quality of buds, they won't rival the quality of over-the-ear headphones.
The Monoprice Hi-Fi DJ Style headphones are an amazing bargain and I can't imagine anyone who has shopped for headphones and is aware of how much they cost would be disappointed with these were they five times the price.
These also now come in a wireless version for $24.99.
- How good can $21.59 headphones be? - CNET
Monoprice's Premium Hi-Fi DJ Style Over-the-Ear Pro Headphones sell for just $21.59, and they're really nice.
Large Driver Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds Headphones
These currently sell on Monoprice for $14.99 and are a reasonable alternative to other wireless earbud headphones costing ten times as much.
Although these earbuds look a little bulky, they are actually very comfortable.
A lot of people look for noise-reduction features on earbuds, but I actually like these for the amount I can hear while I have them on. When I use the DJ headphones or the 2-in-1 headphones (reviewed below), I can't hear a thing. With these in, I can hear the television and my wife fairly well, which is nice.
One of the things about most Monoprice headphones is that the sound is relatively flat. Contrary to what you might think, this is a good thing. Manipulation of bass is a way for many headphones to tout their "beats", but it's not a great way to accurately represent the sound. And usually, it's at the expense of other frequencies.
These headphones use an extra-large driver to deliver a full sound that seems very well balanced. They're also comfortable and the weird shape is actually quite conducive to long use.
You sort of have to figure out how to pair them, as they don't come with great instructions, but it's just a matter of holding down the power button. Once I paired them once manually, my computer did the work for me every time after that.
This is another great value from Monoprice.
2-in-1 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones with External Speakers
I purchased these headphones because I was so happy with my wireless earbuds and I couldn't wait for the DJ headphones to become available in their wireless version.
These headphones are interesting in that they include an external speaker on the outside of the headphone that you can turn on (thereby turning off the inside speaker) allowing other people to hear. They can also be used as a pair of speakers.
I didn't think I'd ever use this feature, but I have already had times where I'm laughing at something and my wife will ask me what's so funny, and I'll use the little switch and let her listen. I haven't seen another headphone with this feature.
The headphones feel substantial. They also fold up nicely. The bluetooth has worked flawlessly for me and the sound is the same, flat sound of most Monoprice headphones, which is to say, it's a good sound that doesn't favor a particular frequency. The headphones have held their charge well too.
I will say, I don't find them quite as comfortable as the DJ headphones, but they are still comfortable. In terms of comfort and sound, I prefer the DJ headphones, but I still like these and they are currently my go to when listening to music because they are wireless.
The Advantages of Monoprice
If you're looking for high quality, but don't want to pay high prices, Monoprice is the answer for a lot of audio gear. If you own a pair of Beats, Bose, or Sony headphones, give Monoprice a try and do a little comparison. If you just want to save hundreds of dollars, I think you'll be very pleased with your purchases.
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