Portable

Monoprice Monolith M1070 Planar Headphones Review


There is just something about a great set of headphones. When you find the right pair, putting them on feels like slipping into a warm tub after a long day. You can just feel the stress leave your body. When Monoprice announced their Monolith M1070 Planar headphones, I had to get a pair in for review. Planar headphones have some of the highest resolution of any headphones I’ve tried but they usually have an equally high price tag. True to Monoprice’s reputation, the Monolith M1070 Planar headphones cost a relatively low $400 a pair. While that is still a lot of money, it is a lot less than you can pay. But the question is, how do they sound? Let’s take a listen.

Monoprice Monolith M1070 Planar Headphones Specs

StyleOpen Back
Transducer TypePlanar Magnetic
Magnetic StructureLinear Symmetry Magnets
Magnet TypeSymmetric Push‑Pull Neodymium
Driver Size106mm
Maximum Power Handling5W
Maximum SPL>130dB
Frequency Response5Hz ~ 50kHz
Total Harmonic DistortionLess than 0.1% at @100dB
Impedance60 ohms
Efficiency96dB / 1mW
Optimal Power Requirement200mW ‑ 4W
Weight20.5 oz. (580g)

Review Gear

On hand I have a slew of headphones. Primarily, I compared the Monolith Monolith M1070 Planar headphones to the Oppo PM-2 Planar headphones. The Oppos were $700 retail but were functionally identical to the $1100 PM-1 headphones except for lower quality aesthetics. I connected these to the Emotiva Stealth DC-1 DAC/Preamp. The Emotiva has dual 3.5mm outputs so that I could quickly switch between the two. Unfortunately, the outputs could not be individually level-matched. The Oppos appeared to be slightly more efficient than the Monoprice. I listened to many different tracks but primarily used Dr. Chesky’s Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc for comparisons.

Aesthetics and Accessories

The Monolith Monolith M1070 Planar headphones came with a case, a very long cable, two sets of earpads, and a 1/4″ adapter. The case is comically large resembling a hatbox of old. The headphones don’t collapse in any way for easier storage. The standard lambskin earpads are so large that my family mocked me when I first put them on. They also included a much thinner velour set of earpads but I didn’t end up using them.

Author’s Note: I didn’t switch earpads because I couldn’t figure out how. There is no manual included with the Monolith Monolith M1070 Planar headphones. I contacted Monoprice but they simply said to twist them off. Well, I tried until I felt like I was going to break something. And I’m not about to break a $400 pair of headphones that I only have in for review.

The included cable has a braided cover and is very long with two ends at the headphone side. There is a red tab and an embossed label for the right input. It would have been nice for Monoprice to include a red tab on the right earcup connection to make figuring out which cable goes where easier. The long cable was fine most of the time, but I would have liked a second, shorter cable to be included for when I wanted to use them on the go or sitting near my source.

One thing I really liked was how the cable inputs on the earcups were angled forward. This gave a very visible way to identify how to put the headphones on without looking for the L or R label. That said, the headphones were clearly marked on the inside of the headband.

The velour earpads flanked by the lambskin

Comfort and Construction

The construction of the Monolith Monolith M1070 Planar headphones is as solid as they come. These open-back headphones have a thick headband and a stylized metal grille. I really like how the Monolith Monolith M1070 Planar headphones look. They have a beefy look and feel that feels very high quality.

The one problem I had was the weight. At 1.25 lbs, they aren’t light. The headband is meant to take most of the weight, but I found them to be uncomfortable after a couple of hours. The clamping pressure was a little high and, even though they are over-ear, they still pressed a little too firmly on my head. With more use, or with a different shaped head, perhaps this would lessen. But I found I needed a break every couple of hours.

Sound Quality and Use

I primarily used the Monolith Monolith M1070 Planar headphones with the Emotiva mentioned above. But I did test them out with my phone (a Pixel 5) and had no problems. I think this is an important feature. While the Monolith Monolith M1070 Planar headphones aren’t exactly portable, you don’t want to have to only use them with a headphone amplifier.

The sound quality, as you might expect from a planar headphone, was quite good. The large earpads gave the presentation a more intimate feel than you might expect. They seemed to quiet the outside sounds more than I’ve experienced with an open-back headphone. That said, they are open-back and you can expect that everyone around you is going to be able to hear your music.

Bass response was tight and not at all overblown. With a sweep, I could feel very low bass but didn’t hear any significant output until about 30Hz. This is as much to do with how we hear rather than the capabilities of the headphones. Instrument separation and delineation was excellent, but not quite as good as I’ve experienced before. The Monolith Monolith M1070 Planar headphones did a great job of presenting every instrument realistically.

When comparing them to the more expensive Oppo headphones, you could hear the difference. The Oppos had a bit more realism, a touch more depth of soundstage, but they didn’t sound as intimate. But there were far more similarities than differences. All-in-all, the Monolith Monolith M1070 Planar headphones are fantastic sounding headphones that sound worlds better than anything else I’ve heard at this price point.

Conclusion

The Monolith Monolith M1070 are a great pair of planar headphones. I’ve heard better, but you’ll have to pay a lot more to get it. They are overly large and not nearly as transportable as I’d like. If you are looking to get into your first high-end headphone, the Monolith Monolith M1070 Planar headphones are an easy recommendation. They are very reasonably priced, you get a ton of performance and aesthetics for your money, and they sound great. Highly recommended!

For more information, visit Monoprice.com.


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