Impressions: VE's Monk+

These things are absolutely legendary among the chi-fi world, so I feel they don't need much introduction. Since my lowest price-category is still pretty wide, I'd like to clarify that these are $10. And you get a whole lot for your money, as I know has been echoed around since their release. I purchased this pair, myself, for review.

As with the coming impressions of the Advanced Sound Model 2, please excuse the single image in these impressions. I am currently out of town, and had limited time to photograph the things that I was releasing impressions on this week, as I've got a lot of reviews to complete this month. The full review will, as with the Model 3, include many more pictures that will give a better literal view of these headphones on the whole.

The gamut of accessories included with the package that i ordered is impressive. I ordered the balanced configuration of the Monk+, so a 1/8" TRRS to 1/8" TRS adapter is included, as well as an 1/8" TRRS to 2.5mm TRRS adapter. Additionally, I got four of Venture Electronic's "Ex-Packs" which consist of foam covers for the earbuds, which I will touch more on later. Also included were a few sets of rubber rings that go around the edge of the earbuds themselves, to allow for better stay in the ears, and a set of fins that serve the same purpose as the rubber rings, sitting in your concha for grip.

The first thing I'd like to mention is the foam coverings. They do affect sound; in my experience the full coverings extend the bass further, but at the cost of clarity. No covering seems to be much less bass, with more accentuation to the midrange, and the set that have a 5mm hole in the middle (as pictured) allow for an (in my opinion) ideal balance of bass and midrange clarity, without taking too much away from the clarity that no covering offers. Additionally, it allows the earbuds to get closer to a true seal in my ears.

Speaking to the configuration that I mentioned above, the bass is noticeably reduced when compared to the midrange, but certainly still present in reasonable quantity. It is definitely a shift from the very common V-shaped sound signature that pervades consumer headphones these days. The bass has surprising slam and power behind it, even if the quantity is reduced. I haven't had the time to play around with equalizing these headphones, but I will be sure to before the full review. The mids are where this pair of headphones really shines. They are detailed, but air more to the side of clarity than lushness. I appreciated this, as it allows tracks a lot of room to breath, as per my experience thus far. The treble is airy and well-extended, rarely becoming sibilant, as far as I've heard. The soundstage is surprisingly large, although it certainly doesn't rival the iSine 20s that I had and reviewed a while back. Imaging and separation are commendable, with little blur between vocal lines, instruments, and basslines.

I will touch more on sound and with much more detail in my full review, which should be coming in the next 2-3 weeks.