Review: Monster Inspiration Active Noise Canceling Headphones
December 12, 2012 by Bill Palmer
by Bill Palmer
Beatweek Best Noise Canceling Headphones for 2013
Active noise canceling headphones tend to come with the caveat that when the noise canceling it turned off the audio falls off significantly, making such products only recommendable to those users who intend to leave it turned on most or all of the time. Earlier this year Monster CEO Noel Lee introduced me to the Inspiration headphones by telling me that his goal was to create a headphone product which was every bit as appealing with the noise canceling turned off as it was when turned on. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to test out Inspiration, I think he may be onto something.
The $299 headphones eschew the overtly flashy designs of Monster’s Beats era in favor of a sleek design with rounded rectangular over-ear cups where the contrast on my “silver” test unit comes largely between the various shades of silver and grey employed on the cups, the sliders, and the band (although there is a way to overly spice up the color scheme, which I’ll get to).
The audio experience is defined by balance and clarity. There’s no effort to emphasize one range over the other, or attune toward one genre at the expense of others. As seems to be the underlying theme for Monster’s 2012 lineup, the goal here appears to be to simply allow music to sound as it was intended to sound. And thanks to the clean enunciation of the lower, mid and upper ranges, these headphones are a treat to listen to. With the noise canceling turned off, a bit of the expansiveness of the audio is lost, but none of the clarity or tone.
For those who want to change up the color scheme, the entire top surface of the headband can be removed and replaced with a band of a different color in an effortless swap-out process. I felt that my silver test unit looked more pleasing with its matching silver and grey tones than with the contrasting red headband I swapped in, but such things are for each user to decide on their own.
My lone complaint regarding the Inspiration when it was first demonstrated to me is that Monster planned to ship the product with a cable which only had one button for playback and calls, and not three buttons for volume control on Apple products. But it turns out that it comes with both kinds of cables, along with a third straight-audio cable, giving users compatibility and choice.
Rating: five stars out of five • Price: $299 • monstercable.com