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Easy on the Eyes, Ears, but not on the wallet

The bit that your ear will get most intimate with is the speaker element, ensconced in a thin mesh prophylactic layer over the sensitive electronics to prevent biological gunk from getting in places where it’s not supposed to be. To the outside world, all passers by will see is the slick, triangular casing; Monster offers several iterations of the DNA in different colors, like white, chrome, and any one of a number of different patterns.

See if you can try these on before buying.

Measuring in at 3.93 feet, the flat, rubber-insulated cables included with the Monster DNA are not very special. Then consider the fact that both cables, the one with the remote and the one without, are removable in case of damage. This is awesome if you tend to break cables, as it grants you the ability to get your own replacement. Capping off those cables is a regular ol’ 1/8th inch TRS pin plug, meant for mobile devices.

If you have a smallish head, the will sit on your noggin with very little pressure, and as far as on-ear headphones go, will remain comfortable from the minute you plunk them on your head and adjust the band. There aren't many issues, as the band does not dig into your scalp, and what little weight there is to the headphones is distributed well.

If you have a larger head, the is not for you. Why? Like many headphones with a plastic band, they do not extend out far enough to accommodate those of us with bigger brain-cases, and consequently will not feel all that great. It stinks, but it's the truth. See if you can try these on before buying.

The DNA marks a departure from the norm for Monster.

You'll find that many of the high notes and harmonic frequencies to instruments will be muted or muffled.

Unlike Monster's original flagship, Beats, the has a far smaller affinity for the bass. Is it perfect? Of course not. You'll find that many of the high notes and harmonic frequencies to instruments will be muted or muffled, making the music sound a bit off from what you're expecting. For most mobile use, this should be okay, but it is definitely a bit annoying when you're using these headphones at home. Though fans of Beats may be disappointed, the are more attuned to general audiences.

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Could be a lot better, but the DNA is a stylish addition to the Monster line.

After Monster’s breakup with Beats Audio, we were surprised to learn that they teamed up with another company to debut a line of headphones. It makes a lot of sense, however, and for all the shortcomings of the Monster DNA, these headphones will have a very powerful marketing team behind them. However, the performance of these headphones is only incrementally better than Monster’s Beats line, and that’s only if you like to equalize your music, and you have high-end hearing loss.

For the price you’d pay for the Monster DNA, you’re getting some of the best-looking headphones money can buy, but the audio performance is a bit lacking. With a high total distortion measure, and a short range of frequencies that can be reproduced, many people will find that they might do better with another set of cans.

That’s not to sell the Monster DNAs short however: to their credit, they have very good options to replace broken cables, or tailor your experience to the source of music you have. Additionally, they’re very portable and attractive, and many people look for exactly that when they pick up expensive headphones. The list of custom designs are also quite impressive, and should satisfy any fashionista. If you’re in the market for better sound, however, we’d recommend looking elsewhere for your mobile audio fix.

The are a stylish set of headphones. Though far more balanced than their other products, they still have issues dealing with higher end of the scale. There was also an issue with general distortion.

Thankfully, you'll never hear nails on a chalkboard.

Fans of the Beats headphones looking for a huge bass emphasis will be surprised to find a relatively flat response, with a gradual fade as the frequencies get higher. Typically headphones meant for outdoor use emphasize bass to a large degree, and the 's predecessors were guilty of maybe taking it a bit too far. For many people, this frequency response might leave them disappointed, but the real beauty of a flat frequency response is the fact that if you listen to music on your smartphone (as more and more people are doing nowadays), you can use an app to equalize your music to your preference without many errors. For the modern consumer, a flat response is a very attractive thing.

The suffers from general distortion

While there are no obvious errors, there is a relatively high general level of distortion. No one frequency sound will sound better than another, but you may notice that overall the quality of your music isn’t as great as it could be due to said distortion. However, the Monster DNA can blast music at 120+dB (higher than most MP3 players can output) without hitting a 3% level of total distortion. Granted, this is a bit unnecessary as you must be very careful with your own ears, as listening to music at a level close to the aforementioned 120dB will damage your hearing if you listen for extended periods of time.

Tracking, Isolation

Tracking response measures the volume difference between the right and left channel. Overall, the tracking of the Monster DNAs isn’t anything to complain about: it’s got its swings in channel preference, but as they max out at 2dB at worst, so you’re not going to notice that your left or right speaker is louder than the other.

While it lets in low-end noise almost unimpeded, the Monster DNA blocks out an appreciable amount of high-end noise. The Monster DNA also corrals their own sound well if you can manage a good seal on your ear, so feel free to bump your tunes without bothering those around you.

Meet the tester

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging

@cthomas8888

A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.

See all of Chris Thomas's reviews

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