The Monster Inspiration is a recently released pair of headphones that promise great quality sound with noise cancellation and universal connectivity, all in a smooth looking package. And the Monster Inspiration definitely look great, with a minimalistic approach to design that at once shows how serious Monster is with these headphones without being overly flashy about it.
With glossy white (or black, or grey) square headphones highlighted by brushed aluminum, supple leather earpads and a sturdy thick headband on top, the Monster Inspiration certainly look elegant. And upon closer inspection, you’ll see his design philosophy carried over to the practicality of the product as well.
For starters you get three detachable cables packed in with the Monster Inspiration. There’s a an in-line remote with mic on the cords for both iOS and Android devices, as well as a simple 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable for simple usage with MP3 players or laptops. The Monster Inspiration also folds in, so a simple semi-circular carrying case is also provided with the packaging. Every retail unit also comes with another interchangeable handband, that’s clipped on as a magnetic strip. Separate bands are also sold for more customization if you like.
Wearing the Monster Inspiration was a pleasant experience, and the over-the-ear design certainly helped as I didn’t feel any fatigue while listening to them for long durations. Apart from the extending headband, the earcups themselves have multiple points of articulation which allowed me to make micro adjustments to the Monster Inspiration for the perfect experience. The headband pressure wasn’t much, but due to the slightly heavier weight, the Monster Inspiration did settle nicely on my head, even when waking fast.
Noise cancellation is a core part of the experience with the Monster Inspiration, and while the over-the-ear earpads certainly provided some level of noise isolation, the active noise cancelling part comes when you put 2x AAA batteries in the right earcup and turn on the switch. The immediate sensation of doing this was that the loudness of audio tracks increased ever so slightly, with a minor, yet distinct oscillating sound in the headphones. The sound wasn’t distracting, but it was annoying the first time heard it. It’s constantly there in the background, but after a minute or two I ignored it completely. The actual result is that external noise like air conditioners, or road noise you hear in cars or trains, or even the general “buzz” of a crowd is drowned out. However, the effect is only limited to the background noise, and can be easily replicated by good in-ear headphones as well, without the need of batteries. Basically if someone is talking close to you or you’re walking beside the road or in a mall, you’ll still hear the sounds; they’re just slightly muffled.
When all is said and done, the Monster Inspiration really are a decent pair of headphones. The sound was rich, with clear mid-range and vocals, and the treble hitting the right high notes. Bass was, as is usual in most Monster headphones, quite apparent, although it never intruded over the other tonal ranges as to result in a muddy sound. Different genres all sounded very satisfying, with the Monster Inspiration also amplifying how bad low bit-rate MP3s sound. Phone calls, when connected to an iPhone 5, were crisp and the other person could also hear me clearly, even in noisy environments.
One can argue that you get similar sound with other slightly lower priced headphones, for instance the Harman/ Kardon CL headphones that come in at AED 200 less than the Monster Inspiration. However, when you factor in the noise cancellation (such as it is) and the Monster brand name which does command a high price point, and the multiple cords, build quality and general design, the Monster Inspiration isn’t a bad deal at all.