The problem I have found is that the more I listened and became involved with music and its creation, the more picky I became with how the music sounds. My first headphones were cheap because I was making purchases with allowance and money from my birthday and holidays, and also because I didn't know any better. What's bass, right? Well, now that I am working and have been exposed to more great and terrible sounding systems, I am beginning to place a higher value on great sound.
On a trip to LA recently, I was given the opportunity to try out some Panasonic RPHJE120. A good friend and fellow musician had me try them out. They were great! They were lightweight, incredibly comfortable, and they had a pretty full sound for a pair of $7.00 headphones. By far the best sounding value headphones I had tried. I was ecstatic, purchased a pair, and then read reviews of just about every other headphone set under $15 dollars. I purchased quite a few in my excitement. I ended up with a couple pairs of Sonys, a pair from Skullcandy, a pair of HTC (who then owned a stake in Beats) earbuds, and a pair of Monoprice 9927s. Monoprice? That was my reaction too, but they had pretty solid (in fact, sometimes unbelievable) reviews, so I went for it. What's an extra $10 in the quest for the best headphones to throw in a briefcase? Turns out, it was the best decision I made.
I have spent enough time with all of these headphones to say that the Monoprice 9927 Enhanced Bass Hi-Fi Noise Isolating Earphones are the best pair of headphones I own compared to how much I paid for them - no doubt. I liked them so much that I am compelled to do a full review. Here we go!
Initial Impression and Unboxing
These headphones are cheap, right? Well, don't expect much from the packaging. It's a really basic package with the headphones, the plastic form, and the headphones. That's it. No instructions, no warranty, no warnings, no stickers, not anything else. It was a mix of everything I had hoped for from all the other headphones when I opened them. It made me feel confident that all of my money was spent on the headphones.
Taking the Monoprice headphones out of the box, they made the impression of any other cheap pair of earbuds. The earbuds are a soft plastic and the cord is covered in woven fabric. The only thing that was different was the way the cord came out of the earbud. I opted for the black pair. They come in a chrome finish, but I try to avoid things I know will collect fingerprints.
The problem with Monoprice not including instructions is that these earphones are the first headphones that I've used that aren't just jammed in your ear or clipped to it some way. After a minute or two of some creative problem solving, I was able to figure out how these little guys are designed to sit in the ear. They are designed like in-ear monitors. You have to rotate the earbuds into your ear, where they nestle snug in your ear cavity. I was surprised at how well this design works. I could make all sorts of sudden movements with my head (think System of a Down or Coheed and Cambria) and they refuse to move; they are even resistant to pretty decent tugs if you get stuck on your backpack or jacket.
With all of my Sony over the ear headphones, comfort became a huge issue, with or without my glasses on. For me, having anything sit on the crotch of my ear begins to hurt after a while. Fortunately, because the cord is so light, I have yet to notice the cord even wrapping over my ear. Also, since they don't use pressure against the walls of my ear canal as the way they cling to my head, I have also found them to be more comfortable than the just-jam-it-in earbuds.
One thing I have had to adapt to is the way the cable sits on my ears. At first I ran the whole thing between my shoulders because I would put the headphones in and then throw the whole cord over my head, putting the split in the back of my body. This worked, but if I wanted to do anything on my phone while they were plugged in, the headphones would tug. I solved this by keeping the cord in front, like all other headphones are designed. Do it that way; there's no reason to fix something that isn't broken.
This is really where the Monoprice stands out in my book. The quality of sound that Monoprice has put into these cheap headphones is really amazing. I do all of my headphone listening through my HTC One and my iPod Nano (the watch edition). First of all, these are definitely the most clear sounding headphones. One of my complaints with most cheap headphones I use is that some sounds wash together or get drowned out by other sounds or frequencies. They are truer to the music than my nicer over the ear headphones, which really surprised me.
One thing I love about these headphones is the quality of the bass tones. One thing I've noticed about all headphones is that the level of quality seems to be directly proportional to the amount of bass sound the headphones put out; that's the myth that Beats and other headphone manufacturers is exploiting. The Monoprice earbuds put out enough bass, but what they do very well is define the bass tones. The kick drum and low notes are very well defined, are perfectly audible, and do not compromise the sound quality of the mids or highs in any way.
It has been a joy to listen to my music through these headphones. It's like upgrading my headphones to HD. I get to hear much more.
These Monoprice are loud enough. Think cheap earbud loudness - it's exactly what you would expect.
Well, this is really the only place I am left wanting more. It's really just a great sounding, cheap set of headphones. There's no inline microphone and no volume control. Just headphones.
Noise isolation is noise isolation. It's pretty good at isolating the noise. Again, very comparable to every other set of cheap noise isolating headphones
The only other complaint I had was that the fabric cord has to be the most tangle-prone cord I own. Even the best simple coil would come out of my pocket or backpack a complete mess. The only way to avoid spending your listening time untangling this cord is to wrap the cord and secure it like I've done in my picture or like it is done in this video. A little extra time spent making sure it's done right when you put the headphones away, the less time you will spend unknotting your headphones when all you want to do is listen to that glorious music.
It's a pretty easy conclusion for me. These are the only headphones I own that I would recommend to anyone. They are cheap and durable enough for a child, but the fidelity is high enough that I would recommend these to audiophiles who are looking for an pair of lighter headphones to which are easier to carry around everywhere. I haven't tried all budget earbuds, but I have tried a lot of highly recommended headphones, and these are the unequivocal best headphones.
If you want to pick up a pair for yourself (and you do), I purchased them through Amazon.com. They can also be purchased through Monoprice's own website. If you have friends, bulk ordering through Monoprice can save you money as well.
If you have any favorite cheap headphones or if you have tried a pair of the Monoprice 9927 (or 8320 for silver), let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading.