I worked as a high-end audio salesman for 16 years and spent another 16 reviewing audio products. Here's what I learned: The very best gear is always expensive. Sure, there are occasional examples of affordable products that are remarkable, but they never get remotely close to what true high-end gear can offer. Beyond price the main thing that separates high-end companies from mass-market brands is high-end designers are all about maximizing performance. Mainstream audio companies rarely try to make the best possible sounding gear. They know that features, wireless connectivity, styling, compact size, cheap pricing, marketing, distribution, etc. -- … Read more
The Monoprice 8323 Premium Hi-Fi DJ Style Over-the-Ear Pro Headphones are, hands-down, the best full-size, over-the-ear headphones you can buy on the cheap.
I've written about Monoprice's high-value, low-price cables, and more recently raved about some of its superaffordable speakers and subwoofers, so it seemed like a good time to check out Monoprice's headphones.
Monoprice has quantity pricing for nearly everything it sells, so if you buy two pairs of 8323 headphones it knocks the price down from $21.59 to $21.23. In any case, Monoprice sells the 8323 model with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
I … Read more
MonoPrice's speakers and subwoofers may be priced at the extreme low end, but they offer respectable performance for very little money. I wrote about the company's subs a few days ago, today we'll look at two MonoPrice "bookshelf" speakers: the 8250 ($28 per pair) and the 8251 ($54 a pair). When the speakers and subs are used together they can serve as a viable alternative to a sound bar home theater system, for buyers who already have a receiver.
I've heard some surprisingly decent-sounding, dirt-cheap speakers over the years, but quality subwoofer prices bottom out around $250. Sure, you can find deals on closeout models for less, but $250 or so has defined the lower limit of what you'd have to pay for a nice subwoofer.
That's what I thought, until I heard MonoPrice's 8-inch, 60-watt powered sub (model 8248). It sells for $57. Granted, for that kind of money my expectations were low, but the sub's fit and finish are respectable. The black wood cabinet measures 13.75 inches by 11.75 inches … Read more
High-end cables are a controversial subject, even among audiophiles. I know an extremely wealthy audiophile who uses cheap hardware store wire in his $200,000 hi-fi system. He thinks audiophile cables don't make a difference, so he doesn't use them. That's fine with me.
When I was a high-end audio salesman I sold a lot of very expensive wires to my customers, including customers that didn't initially believe cables would make any real difference in the sound of their hi-fis. "It's just wire" was the classic rebuke, I've heard it thousands of … Read more
I get this question all the time, "Do I need to spend a lot of money on wire?" The short answer is no. It's like asking if you need to drop $50 or $100 to buy a good bottle of wine. No, unless you're a wine connoisseur; most folks are perfectly happy with a nice $10 variety. True, you'll use a cable a lot longer than it takes to drink a bottle, but I wouldn't recommend spending more on a single set of wires than you'd spend on wine--unless you're an audiophile.
Audiophiles obsess about the tiniest details of sound quality. That, and we frequently listen attentively, an activity few non-audiophiles ever do. Everybody else puts music on and then reads, talks, works, exercises, or cooks. So if you're not really listening, I wholeheartedly agree, spending money on expensive cables isn't a smart move. Another thing, you'd have to own a pretty decent set of speakers to hear the benefit of better cables, and if you already have a set of great speakers you're probably an audiophile.
So all of you non-audiophiles can rejoice. Don't let anyone talk you into spending a lot of money on a speaker or interconnect cable! Head on over to your local hardware store, Blue Jean Cable, or MonoPrice and buy dirt-cheap, decent quality cables. … Read more