Although well known for their high quality cables, thus a name Monster Cable, a lot of you probably more familiar with their association with another superstar endorsed product - Monster Beats headphones. Either if you are a fan of these headphones or have a critical opinion about them, there is no denial they started the revolution of making it cool to wear over-ear headphones in public and paved the way for other top brand headphone manufacturers to reconsider their designs toward a more fashionable appeal. Once their association with Beats came to an end, when 2009-2012 contract expired and Beats went on to manufacture their own products, the question remained if Monster will continue this winning legacy. After having a chance to test and to review their DNA Pro headphones, I can tell you with certainty they didn't just deliver it but actually surpassed it! Let's take I closer look.
From the moment you hold DNA Pros packaging box you know you are dealing with a high quality product. The high resolution cover picture of the headphones and detailed description of all the features provides a great walk-through even before you open the magnetic cover flap to reveal the actual product. In addition to headphones, the accessories include two types of cables, one audio only and the other with in-line remote control, 1/4 inch adapter, high quality carrying pouch, and cleaning cloth. The quality of these accessories is equally impressive. Although I would prefer a hard zipped case to fit their folding design, the included pouch is made out of quality velor material with a durable lining and internal storage pocket, draw string, and carabiner clip. The fitment inside of this pouch is feasible for a folded DNA Pros together with a set of cables, but it was very tight and not as easy to take it out afterwards, that's why I would have preferred a more practical protective hard case.
When it comes to cables, Monster stayed true to their legacy and delivered on that as well. ControlTalk cable had a flat tangle free cable with angled plug for a smartphone connection and a really cool in-line remote design with built-in mic. Obviously, volume up/down buttons are for iDevice only, but multi-function button works great for play/pause/talk, double-click to skip the track, and long-press for Google NOW on Android devices, tested successfully with my Galaxy Note 2. Although I did phone call testing in a noise free environment, Monster designed their mic optimized for near-field voice pick-up to reduce any background noise. The other included audio cable which is a mix of straight and short coiled section is by far one of the best designs I have seen, and I can see it becoming my go-to replacement cable for use with other headphones. That extra coil section of otherwise straight tangle free cable makes a huge difference for strain relief of the cable connector without adding a dragging weight of typical coiled cables. Of course, I don't even have to mention how important it is to have a removable cable to extended the life of your headphones where cable connection is usually the weakest point. Plus, removable cable allows future upgrades with other pro cables or using cables with different in-line controls. And speaking of cable connection, each earcup has it's own 3.5mm port thus allowing MusicShare with daisy-chaining to another headphone pair or simply a choice of cable connection to either left or right side.
Now, lets move on to the main subject of the review - the headphones and their design. Although not exactly featherlight at 268g, once unfolded they still feel light and very well balanced. While using mostly plastic material with an exception of durable metal hinges and metal guiding rails for headband extension, the plastic didn't feel cheap at all, and I really liked its matte finish. The shiny triangular pieces on outer earcups are the only in-your-face shiny parts which hopefully "stick" around for awhile. Now, I would like to talk a little bit more about "triangular" bold design of these headphones. For sure they look aggressive and make headphones stand out from a crowd, but I have a slightly mixed feeling about it. We are so used to a traditional round design, that anything outside of that shape makes it look gimmicky. Don't get me wrong, DNA Pro looks super cool, but this shape made the look skewed more toward gaming or sports headphones rather than something intended for relaxed audiophile listening. Everything else is designed to a perfection from a unique foam pad with a rubbery cover finish of inner headband to a marshmallow soft memory foam earpads encapsulating your ears like pillows while a floating inner earcup adjusts to a curvature of your head. Though I have an average size head, the clamping force was just perfect and they provided an incredible seal with one of the best passive noise isolations I have ever experienced. With a clever sense of humor Monster mentioned on their packaging box "no batteries needed", obviously pointing out their passive noise isolation is as good as an active one. Also, headband had a precise click adjustment for those with OCD who like to keep each side symmetric
The sound test I approached being a little nervous considering previous reputation of Beats known for their bloated muddy bass and lack of details across frequency range. But I was in for a big surprise!!! We are talking about a quality balanced bright sound with a nice emphasis on mids to bring some of the best vocal rendering I heard in a long time. Though I listen to a lot of EDM music, I'm not a basshead and always struggle to find headphones with a perfect balance of bass/treble and mids without an exaggerated v-shaped response. Here, mids were perfectly leveled, crystal clear and bright, and with so much details that I had to re-listen to some of my favorite vocal tracks. The treble had a very nice sparkle to it, great extension to reveal details missing in a lot of other headphones I previously tested, while still being easy on your ears during an extended listening without any hint of sibilance. Bass also had a great deal of details with a nice punchy mid-bass and warm sub-bass layer, all nicely separately and controlled without spilling into mids. Furthermore, I found soundstage to be wider than average, very satisfying and rewarding while watching movies with 3D sound effect. Also, stereo separation was excellent. In addition, I was able to drive it easily from my smartphone and laptop, and actually found it to be forgiving even with a few of the lower quality tracks. When used with X5 DAP, beside better sound quality, I also noticed that upper mids had a slight boost with a more upfront character, so I believe the sound can benefit from being amped but it's not necessary in order to enjoy DNA Pros.
Overall, discovering DNA Pros turned out to be one pleasant surprise!!! Everything from a built quality to comfort and fitment was expected knowing their previous history, but the quality of their sound is what really caught me by surprise to the point where I had to re-evaluate all the headphones in my collection which elevated DNA Pro to the top. I'm also excited regarding their recent announcement about DNA Pro Wireless which supposed to take advantage of the BT 4.0 with aptX codec and deliver a wireless sound on par with a wired one. In conclusion, it's really hard to find one pair of headphones that are good at everything and can cover all genres of music, but I think DNA Pro comes very close to accomplish that! Also, in their price range they outperform headphones that cost at least $100 more which make them a great value as well.
Here are the pictures.