The only thing more ridiculous than the model name of these headphones is the price that’s less than 20. It’s understandable for a studio professional to automatically disregard any audio product that puts both “Hi-Fi” and “Pro” in one sentence, but maybe these cheap headphones can be actually useful in your studio? Throughout this review we’ll refer to them by the model number 8323 though.

Pros
  • Unbeatable price
  • Detachable cable

Pros list with Sonarworks Reference calibration

  • Even frequency response
  • The flat frequency response greatly improves versatility
Cons
  • Not comfortable for long sessions
Use cases Best use case:
Tracking
Recreational listening
Mixing
Production
Tech specs Type
Closed back, Over-ear
Impedance
40 Ohm
Distortion
Not specified
Frequency response
20 Hz to 20 kHz
Connector
3.5 mm straight jack
Adapter
6.3 mm
Weight
237 g (without cable)
Require headphone amp
No
Headphone amp

Virtually any device will be able to drive them loud enough, audio interface or separate headphone amp is not necessary. 

Build quality

At this price point you just can’t expect to get anything else than an all plastic build and severe cost cutting at every step possible. However, the build feels more than fair for the price, apart from the 3 piece headband construction which raises concerns for durability – we didn’t try to break them, but it feels like if you would apply force right at the point where the parts are screwed together, it might snap more easily than other headphones. Ear pads and headband cushion are not of the softest and most conforming variety but they feel reasonable. Over time, all hinges and joints develop a very noticeable cracking sound when headphones are handled, which does feel cheap, but don’t take away any function of the 8323’s.

At this price point it’s impressive to see a detachable cable – you even get two 1.2 meter long cables, one with mic and one without.

Sound

As the graph above shows, high-mids are not the 8323 forte as there’s a massive 15 dB dip at about 3.5 kHz, good luck dialing in guitar tones and vocals with these not calibrated! On the other hand, highs are relatively very neutral for closed back headphones and lows receive a boost, but not a crazy one. Subjectively, the overall sound ends up being the opposite of harsh, but not that dull, and many will find it pleasant for recreational listening. Considering their price, sound is nothing short of amazing!

Channel balance

It’s common for cheap headphones to have poorly matched channels and 8323 too have issues in this department. You’ll find minor inconsistencies throughout the spectrum which might not be harmful to stereo imaging, but in the low end, 3 out of the 6 measured pairs showed dips and wide frequency band differences between channels of up to 5 dB for the worst pair. Channel balance is not great, but some popular headphones that cost more than five times as these perform worse.

Comfort

Ear pad inner diameter is medium size if compared to other headphones, larger pinnas will be compressed a little, while smaller ones might get fully enclosed inside ear pads. Even if you have larger outer ears, these headphones are relatively comfortable at first, but long sessions will be a challenge as ears get really hot after about 30 minutes of use. Big factor to this discomfort is the high clamping force which makes them a tight fit. On the bright side, this means that you can head bang freely without fear – your headphones will stay put on your head. If you need to use headphones while wearing glasses though – better look elsewhere and be prepared to pay way more.

Value

Value is ridiculous! Build isn’t fancy and it has some weak points but it’s sturdy enough for normal use and a detachable cable is a rare and welcome sight in this price range. Sound out of the box isn’t neutral, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the price tag might suggest. Run them through Reference plugin and you get capable tracking headphones for unbeatable price!

Observations on how headphones perform after applying Sonarworks Reference calibration Total Harmonic Distortion

While the performance in the low end is very impressive for any headphone, let alone sub €20 sets, the 4 k region is a bit problematic, as human ear is very sensitive to this frequency range. When comparing calibrated sound of 8323’s against some pricier models, the high mids does sound a little bit more harsh, thanks to the spike that almost reaches 2% at 4 k. When mixing distorted guitars, trained listeners might pick up this drawback, but if you’re working with electronic or acoustic music, there’s a great chance you’ll never notice it.

How accurate and consistent is the correction effect among different listeners?

8323’s are great at delivering consistent perceived frequency response and in this regard are up there with the best closed back headphones!

How much do they differ pair to pair in terms of frequency response?

To our surprise – not that much! Above 2 kHz there are inconsistencies in form of very narrow resonances, so narrow, that they’re largely imperceptible. The only truly meaningful issue that came up in our measurements – for one pair low end stereo balance was off by 5 dB. Overall pair to pair consistency is very good, so model average calibration profile should be reliable.

Rating

5.7 / 7.9 / 9

Sound rating is a weighted average of Frequency Response, Adaptiveness, Harmonic Distortion and Channel Balance scores, with Frequency Response and Adaptiveness having the greatest influence.

3 / 9 / 10

The flatter the frequency response – the higher the score. When evaluating the frequency response score with the Average calibration profile, the pair to pair consistency of the given model is taken into account – if we have measured a considerable frequency response inconsistency among multiple pairs of the given model, the score drops, as the profile loses accuracy. Individual calibration will grant perfectly flat frequency response.

8

Adaptiveness shows how capable these headphones are at delivering the same perceived frequency response to any listener. Headphones with high score will sound nearly identical to everyone.

7

Harmonic distortion – the lower the Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) figure, the higher the score. Headphones with prominent 3rd harmonic distortion above 100 Hz will score lower.

6 / 10

Channel balance – the closer to identical the frequency response of both channels, the higher the score. Individual calibration delivers perfect channel balance.

4.5

Comfort – shows if headphones can be used for long listening sessions comfortably. Every model is tested by at least a few individuals.

5

Build – evaluates how well the headphones are put together, the materials used and indicates the expected longevity. Easily replaceable (and easily available) parts will boost the score. We don’t do any stress tests and very few models are used for longer than a couple of days, so this is a fairly subjective score.

9

Value – indicates the price-performance ratio of the given headphones and how they stack up against the competition. High score means that you won’t find more neutral sounding alternatives for the price.

Conclusion

Sure, build quality feels cheap, yet still not as cheap as the price Monoprice is asking. What’s more important – these cans deliver where it counts and can be considered a serious monitoring tool once calibrated. If you’re after headphones for tracking, look no further! If you’re on a budget and you need headphones for production or mixing – they can do that as well, just be warned that long sessions might be a challenge.

Final Rating

7.7
With Sonarworks Reference 4
Calibration Enabled
5.8
Without Sonarworks
Calibration

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