We all like headphones louder, and that’s because louder often sounds more real, live, and in your face. But loud headphones don’t always look loud, and that’s why Monster has designed a pair of headphones that look as loud as they sound, and the good news is they’re wireless too.
Shortlisted for a CES Innovations award this year (2013), the Purity Pro is the first pair of Monster headphones we’ve seen that looks well and truly designed for the modern day smartphone user.
Built with Nokia’s Windows Phones in mind, Monster has designed with a single block of colour per headphone, as that sits in line with the look of the Lumia range, which includes devices like the Lumia 920 which look, well, very similar.
That said, while the owners of the Lumia range are the intended market, anyone with a modern smartphone can use them, as Bluetooth is supported, and everyone else can plug them in using the supplied 3.5mm flat cable.
Modern smartphones and tablets can take advantage of an easy connection using Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology, and devices that support the Apt-X standard will receive the high definition standard.
Active Noise Cancellation is also included in the package, as is hands-free calling with a built-in microphone, while the battery is reportedly capable of lasting roughly 24 hours.
While some Bluetooth headsets use touch-sensitive buttons built into the headset to control audio playback, the Purity Pro headphones go back to proper physical buttons, with two sets, one on each ear. On the left ear, you’ll find the buttons for track forward, play/pause/answer call, and track backward. The right ear, however, sports a volume rocker.
At the bottom of the left can is two ports, with a microUSB port to charge the headphones up and the 3.5mm jack for using the headphones without the battery, controls, and active noise cancelling.
Rubberised padding sits at the top of the plastic headband, designed to be friendlier to your head than your traditional headband.
Big headphones seem to be the rage at the moment, and the bigger they are, the more colourful they tend to be. We’re not against wearing eye catching technology, and when Google Glass rocks up, you can bet we’ll be walking around town with our camera equipped eyes.
Until that happens, we’ll just stick to the future of time telling on our wrist, and some large colourful wireless headphones on our ears.
In this review, it’s the latter of those items that we’re looking at, with a pair of shiny yellow headphones ready for us to don, listen to music, and go nuts with.
Pairing is easy: you can either look for the headphones using Bluetooth and pressing a small Bluetooth button at the bottom of the pair, or rub your Near-Field capable phone alongside the edge of the cans, which will start the handshaking protocol and set the Purity Pro headphones to work with your handset.
Awesome. We like simplicity, and this is as easy as it gets.
Over in the audio department, it’s clear that the cans are designed for modern music, with the separation clear, but the bass a little heavy and destined to provide delight for tracks pumping loud bass.
For instance, the drums in Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope” were particularly punchy, but sat over everything else, similar to the bass line in Michael Jackson’s classic “I Want You Back.”
That said, most audio sounded lovely through the headphones, with the active noise cancelling on closing off the real world just enough to provide some isolation, and the distinction between different sounds in jazz, electronic, rock, classical, and soul all making these our go-to headphones for the moment.
We’re big fans of the automatic powering on and off the Monster Purity Pro features, and it means that you’ll be able to fold the cans to a compact state to switch the battery off, but open them up ready for use to switch them on automatically. It’s nice not needing to fiddle with extra buttons, and this is one layer of design we’re very much into.
The remote functions on the headset are all easy to get our head around – literally, since they wrap around your head.
Volume rocker on the right side of the headband while pause, play, next, and last track sit on the left, and these combinations aren’t just easy to remember, they also are marked on the actual buttons, something some of the newer earphones don’t often do, useful if you ever forget which side does what, or even what pair you’re wearing today.
While our headphones were yellow – a colour we liked more in headphones more than we expected – there are three other colours, with red, black, and white to choose from.
All of these are one single colour, and while that might not sound as flashy as the Beats by Dre headphone designs out there, it’s the simple mono-colour design that makes these quite eye catching, because once you see them, they won’t leave your view.
That big flashy streak of colour is one thing Monster hopes to get across with this design, but it’s not the only thing, as the long-life battery makes itself known here, too.
In this instance, Monster has told everyone that these headphones last around a full day, and that number is to be taken quite literally, with 24 hours of audio possible.
We didn’t jam on for 24 hours straight, but rather tried using them for an hour or two every day, or what basically amounts to travelling to and from work on a regular basis. That regular basis was two weeks, and throughout this time we didn’t have to charge the headphones once. Not once.
That’s at least 22 hours of use, and so we have no problems agreeing with the high performance battery estimates Monster has put out on these pair of headphones.
Once you do run out, you can always opt for using the flat wound cable, though this obviously isn’t as cool as the freedom of wireless audio, nor does it provide the same remote button usage, as these deactivate on most handsets.
That said, it’s nice having a backup option, and it means they’re also able to be cabled when you’re in-flight and aren’t able to take advantage of Bluetooth sound.
One thing that doesn’t appear to be as high class is the performance of the microphone on the Purity Pro’s hands-free. Testing it in the Sydney CBD at night, the person on the other end of the phone made mention that the sound quality was muffled. We tried this feature several time after and it always resulted in the same sub-par performance.
Perhaps the microphone is too far away, or perhaps it’s just not good enough. Whatever the issue is, the microphone is the weakest part of the Purity Pro, which is a shame, since as headphones, they really do rock.
Quality sound isn’t hard to find these days, what with the sheer number of headphones out there, but Nokia’s Monster Purity Pro sure do bring a smattering of stereo sweetness to your senses.
The microphone is the one part of the package that leaves something to be desired, though, so it might be worth pulling your headphones down for a moment and using your smartphone without the microphone whenever you need to make a call, because while the audio is awesome, it’s only with music and movies – and not your own voice – that you’ll want to keep listening.