There’s no doubt that the category that has received the most reviews here at Techaeris are headphones. Wired, wireless, wire-free, on-ear, over-ear, in-ear, gaming, audiophile… you name it. Our Monoprice Monolith M1060 review takes a look at a pair of over-ear wired headphones with an audio tech we haven’t reviewed yet here — planar driver technology. I usually reserve my glowing recommendations (if warranted) for the end of the review, but these are easily the best headphones I’ve tested to date. Read on to find out why!
The Monolith M1060 Over-Ear Planar Magnetic Headphones have the following features and specifications:
- Model: 16050
- Style: Open
- Transducer Type: Planar Magnetic
- Magnetic Structure: Linear Symmetry Magnets
- Magnet Type: Neodymium
- Driver Size: 106mm
- Maximum Power Handling: 10W (for 200ms)
- Maximum SPL: >130dB
- Maximum SPL: >130dB
- Frequency Response: 10Hz ~ 50kHz
- Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 1% at 1mW; 1kHz
- Impedance: 50 ohms
- Efficiency: 96dB / 1mW
- Optimal Power Requirement: 200mW – 4W
- Weight: 1.1 lbs (500g)
What’s in the box
- Monoprice Monolith M1060 Over-Ear Planar Magnetic Headphones
- Braided wired headphone to 3.5mm jack cable
- 3.5mm to 1/4in (6.35mm) adapter
- Carrying case
The Monoprice Monolith M1060 Over-Ear Planar Magnetic Headphones have an interesting, but rather classy and stylish floating headband design. The 3/4″ metal headband is super thin at barely 1/32″ thick. Three oval cutouts adorn the top which flattens out when worn. The sides of the metal headband are curved where they meet the top and have eight small holes cut into them.
A sturdy rubber cuboid shaped piece is attached to the metal band around the holes on each side which allows you to adjust the fit of the equally thin, but padded, faux leather inner headband. The inner headband is also 3/4″ thick near the adjustment pieces and angles out to 1 3/4″ thick at the top. While the actual band is just over 1/32″ thick, there are seven padded bumps for added cushioning.
The metal headband is attached by a screw to an inverted U-shaped metal piece on each side which is then attached at each end to the respective earcup. The portion where the metal attaches to the earcup is 1/2″ wood with a walnut-looking finish. Each earcup is 4″ in diameter and is covered on the outer side with a black metal cover screwed into place and featuring some slats and the Monolith logo in the middle. At the bottom of each earcup, again located in the wood section, is a gold 2.5mm port which is where the detachable cable attaches.
The inside of the earcups have nice thick faux leather earpads. The back is about 3/4″ thick while the front widens out to about 1 1/4″ thick. At first, I was a bit confused as to which way these should go on, but given the back have a seam through them it made sense to me that the thicker part goes forward. They also seemed to be a tad more comfortable that way. Given that the 2.5mm ports can be used with either left or right jacks, you can wear them either way based on your comfort. The inside of the pads are nice and thick most of the way around and have a rectangular cut out for your ears which, at least in my case, fit just fine and are super comfortable.
Speaking of jacks, the nicely braided cable is about 6 1/2′ long, not including the end jacks. The 3.5mm jack is angled at 90º and is gold plated on the angled portion. The portion which attaches to the cable is silver. The last 17″ of the cable is split into a slightly thinner braided pair of cables and each jack is labelled with an L or an R so you know which side the cable should go on when listening to the headphones. Like the main 3.5mm jack, these two 2.5mm jacks are gold plated and attached with a silver piece to the cable. Unlike the main jack, however, these two jacks are straight and not angled in any way which makes sense given the design of the headphones.
Make no mistake, the M1060 headphones are rather large with their 4″ diameter earcups. They are also a bit on the heavier side, coming in at 1.1lbs (500g). That aside, they are very comfortable with the faux leather inner headband and cushioning on the ear pads. The thin black metal coupled with the darker walnut wood finish and faux-leather give these headphones a really classy and stylish design.
Finally, the headphones also come with a large hard clamshell case. Round in shape, upon opening it, the headphones sit in a molded cutout in the base of the case and on the top half is a mesh pouch for storing the cable and included 3.5mm to 1/4″ adapter. When closed, the case can be carried by a nylon handle located at the top hinge. It’s a pretty non-descript and simple case but works well enough for storing your M1060 headphones.
One issue I did find, and it’s a pretty nitpicky issue, is that given the thin headband design, the headphones tended to twist up a bit oddly when setting them down. It’s not a huge deal but sometimes takes a bit of untwisting and twirling of the earcups to get the headset back the right way. The band also feels rather thin and looks flimsy and while it does have some give to it is pretty sturdy and solid but I’d still recommend some extra carefulness when handling them.
Before I get too far into the awesome sound quality these headphones put out, here’s a quick primer how a planar magnetic driver and open back design improves sound, courtesy of Monoprice.
A planar magnetic driver is a flat membrane that is surrounded by magnets. When current is delivered, the membrane produces sound that has lower distortion, better bass, and pinpoint imaging that is usually not found in your typical headphone driver. The size of the driver in the Monolith M1060 is 106mm.
Instead of an “inside your head” isolated experience that traditional closed-back headphones provide, open-back headphones provide a holographic listening experience. It’s as if you’re in the middle of a live performance, instead of being closed off from the world.
When I was thinking of how to start this section, my first thoughts were of how the sound washes over you… it’s almost like you’re drowning in the sound in a good way. Based on Monoprice’s explanation of both planar magnetic drivers and the open back design choice, it’s easy to see how it does feel like you are totally immersed with whatever music you’re listening to through the M1060s.
The sound output by these on-ear headphones is perfectly balanced, at least as far as I can tell. Highs, mids, and the low bass end never compete with each other and complement each other exactly as they should. This holds true for all genres of music from rock to pop, classical to opera (yes I had to try some with these), dance to EDM, and especially for rap and old-school hip-hop. It definitely helps that these have large 106mm drivers which definitely pump out the sound. Even at maximum volume, which is far too loud for extended listening, the audio was clear and crisp with absolutely no hint of distortion. If you’re lucky to have a device with Hi-Fi audio capabilities, you’re in for an even bigger treat with these headphones.
I even tried these out for a bit of gaming, both on a PC and the Xbox One X through the controller port, and I have to say the sound difference over traditional gaming headsets was absolutely amazing as well. Sure you don’t get your options for tweaking audio to hear opponent footsteps in multiplayer but the deep, rich, and balanced sound while playing games like Forza Motorsport 7, Call of Duty: WWII, and Diablo III for example, really made it feel like you were inside the game.
As for the open back design, it definitely adds to the feeling that you are in the middle of the music. When you cover the outside of the earcups while music is playing, you can definitely hear the sound getting muffled and sounding a bit canned. The main problem with an open back design? Everyone around you gets to enjoy your music as well! Unfortunately, given how great these headphones sound, that’s a major drawback and really limits where you can take or use these headphones to enjoy your music without annoying the rest of the world. Even while sitting on the computer listening to music with these, I’d often get complaints from family members that they could hear my music through them over the TV or just in general. Still, after experiencing audio over headphones with an open back design, it’ll be tough to find a closed back design that compares.
With an MSRP of $299.99USD, these definitely aren’t the cheapest pair of headphones on the market, but they’re also far from the most expensive. That being said, they easily outdo more expensive headphones I’ve tested in the past and as a result, offer great value and sound for the price. If you can’t afford a decent audio system, these are definitely a more-than-worthy alternative. Likewise, if you don’t have space for a decent audio system, these can easily take the place of one in smaller areas where louder volume levels may be an issue like an apartment.
To be honest, I can’t say it any better than Monoprice’s marketing team has on their product page:
The Monolith M1060 planar headphones are the perfect way to experience your music collection. Featuring a 106mm planar driver technology that produces a detailed aural landscape and resolves all the sonic detail from the best recordings. Spectacular imaging, low distortion, and perfectly balanced sound make the Monolith M1060 a true audiophile listening experience.
The well constructed and nicely designed Monoprice Monolith M1060 Planar headphones definitely offer a fantastic and detailed soundstage with balanced sound at a more than reasonable price. Even though the open back design means others in the vicinity can hear what you are listening to, the immersive sound really makes you feel like you’re in the middle of the music. Any audiophile would be remiss not to give these a go and that’s why they’ve earned a Top Pick of 2018 award here at Techaeris.
*We were sent a review unit of the Monoprice Monolith M1060 Planar headphones for the purposes of this review.
Monoprice Monolith M1060 Planar headphones$299.99 USD
- Sleek wood/metal design
- Absolutely fantastic soundstage
- Loud, crisp, balanced sound
- Carrying/storage case included
- Open-back design means others can hear your music as well
- Headband design is a bit twisty when laying headphones down
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