Monoprice recently sent out its Monolith TrueWireless Earphones M-TWE for review. And, at under $150, it seemed reasonable that I didn't set my expectations too high from the start. But these earbuds genuinely blow away the competition, in terms of earphones I've listened to, on almost every front.
To say that Monolith TrueWireless Earphones M-TWE is an exceptional value for the price would be to fail to capture just how good they are. The sound is akin to something that would ordinarily cost closer to $300 or $350. But that's hardly the entire story.
While these earbuds don't pack the flashy LEDs or the overtly future-forward design of some contemporaries, there's an obvious reason for that. Monoprice focused instead on what it does best. Brilliant audio quality, comfort, and long battery life. Summarily, it has succeeded. But there's more than meets the eye too. So let's take a deeper dive into what it is that earned these earbuds top marks here.
Monoprice utilized a design and hardware that are high-quality and time-tested
Now, the box containing Monolith TrueWireless Earphones M-TWE was fairly straightforward. So is the design. But, inside the box, Monoprice includes things that are anything but common. First, it contains the carry and charge case for the earbuds themselves. That's a solid rectangular construction with a light magnet to hold the lid and a lightly-wound spring to keep the lid open. Both make it exceptionally easy to open and close these earbuds with one hand.
The magnets holding the earbuds down to the charging pad was just weak enough to make one-handed operation easy too. At least in terms of removing them and putting them back in, the magnetic system felt well balanced for use with one hand. I had to shake the charging case quite a lot and work hard to get these earbuds to 'accidentally' fall out.
The design of the earbuds themselves is comfortable. They aren't the smallest when it comes to the hardware housing on the buds. But the portion that's inserted in-ear is standard-sized, while the larger segment sits outside of the ear folds.
So that part surprisingly doesn't ever rest anywhere near where it would cause major discomfort for those with smaller ears. And the weight of these earbuds is such that it would be easy to forget they're even being worn. If not for the fact that they block out external audio so well and deliver such powerful, great-sounding audio.
The accessories included with these earbuds take things yet another step forward. Separating them from other offerings typically found in their price bracket. Namely, Monoprice included a charging cable. But also a pouch-style carry bag and earbud tips.
The former is unique in that it includes a magnet in the liner of the pouch opening. So that stays snapped closed without the need to tug at drawstrings or any effort at all, really. A squeeze from the outer edges opens the pouch up and letting go snaps it closed. You can load all of the included accessories up and not worry in the slightest that they might fall out.
The earbud tips included pre-installed are a middle-size. That's what I used throughout my test because they provided the best seal. But Monoprice also includes four other sizes with the Monolith TrueWireless Earphones M-TWE shipped for review. Those are small, extra-small, large, and extra-large sizes. So the tips can be swapped out to fit a far wider range of users than is typical for these types of earphones.
Monolith TrueWireless Earphones M-TWE battery lasted more than long enough
Now, the battery life any given user will see from earbuds — or anything, really — is highly subjective. It depends on volume, distance from the source device, and many other factors. And my experience with the Monolith TrueWireless Earphones during this review is also subjective. So nobody should expect my experience to be typical at all.
For my battery test, I set the volume at 80-percent and kept music, almost exclusively, playing constantly. My average distance was between 10- and 20-feet. SoundID features and Active Noise Cancellation were also in use throughout.
With that said, under those conditions, these earbuds lasted me around an hour and a half under their claimed time. And that's not bad. Since that equates to 8-hours and 30-minutes or so per charge. Monoprice intended the case to allow another 20 hours. So, that's another 17-hours. These earbuds will last all day, even if the user doesn't stop listening except to charge.
One charging, the company's claimed charge-up time is also accurate enough to make very little difference. Around 5-minutes of charging gets close to an hour of playback. It takes under an hour to charge these earbuds up completely.
Compared to other ear-borne wearables, often lasting under 6-hours, these ones are fantastic. Especially with consideration for the next segment of this Monolith TrueWireless Earphones M-TWE review.
Audio is enormous with Monolith TrueWireless Earphones
No audible audio bleed at all. Those are words not typically able to be associated with any listening device. Let alone TWS earbuds. But Monolith TrueWirelesss Earphones M-TWE achieved that easily under review. The earbuds don't leak out any sound when they're worn. So nobody standing nearby is going to hear conversations and other audio you are hearing.
Speaking of conversations, the mics included on these Monoprice earbuds are great. They're a little muddier than speaking directly into the on-phone mic. But they still work at a greater distance, even if the quality is just slightly better than being on speakerphone. And it isn't so bad as to be described as anything other than "loud and clear" by the person I called to test this. So there's not likely to be any real issues on this front for those who need these earbuds for that purpose too.
Now, audio is one of the most important aspects of any earbuds. And these earbuds also include software to make the listening from a smartphone even better than out-of-the-box. But what I really wanted to see was how well these earbuds play music and media without that. When they've been tuned and balanced for a general audience who won't necessarily want to mess around with extra settings. We'll cover those in the next segment.
Audio out of the box is fantastic. The earbuds deliver bass that's growly or smooth. Or both, depending on what you're listening to. But there's plenty of punch either way. And the deep tones don't at all overshadow the mids or the highs, which ring through in crystalline clarity. Details often lost in translation over cheaper headphones are well represented as well. The balance is near perfect without losing power.
Connectivity is solid and SoundID is incredible
Now, Monolith TrueWireless Earphones M-TWE ship with Bluetooth 5.0, and that should offer more than enough to talk about in any review. The near-lossless format, coupled with a top-of-the-line Qualcomm audio chip, delivered great audio throughout. And at ranges in excess of what I've typically seen from hi-fidelity headphones in this price group. But Monoprice also included something else. Namely, Sonarworks SoundID compatibility.
With SoundID in place, the connected features for a smartphone grow immensely. The feature doesn't bring custom equalization. So if that's what you're hoping for, you'll need to look for music apps that feature that or use a phone with those features. But it does deliver custom equalization that isn't user-controlled. And that's all done automatically.
Additionally, SoundID tosses in adaptive volume, hearing optimization, and more. All fine-tuned to your individual ears.
Once connected to the SoundID app, users can take a hearing test. And another test specifically to set their sound preferences. The latter is based on the results of the first. That means that the earbuds tune individually per ear to offer sound exactly to user preferences. All without having to fiddle with tuning bars for individual frequencies.
After setting that up, the difference is night and day. The crystal clarity of tones and deep bass are adapted, as is the way each frequency is presented. Placing these earbuds far above many competitors when it comes to getting audio just the way you want it. The result is that details shine through in a way they don't typically with standard headphones. And audio that's tuned for that and to the medium. Whether that's a movie, TV, podcast, music, or something else.
Should you buy Monolith TrueWireless Earphones M-TWE?
As noted near the beginning of this review, Monolith TrueWireless Earphones M-TWE delivers monolithic sound. And it does so without sacrificing on long battery life, shorting buyers on accessories, or sacrificing comfort. At under $300, that would already be a big statement.
Of course, that's to be expected from this particular brand. But Monoprice set the price for these at under $130. And it has an ongoing sale that drops the price to just under $100. That says something else entirely. These earbuds are unquestionably among the best listening devices on the market. Or, at the very least, Monoprice has ensured they deliver the best bang for your buck.
Then the company stacked in SoundID technology from Sonarworks, as well as sweat-proofing and echo-cancellation in calls. So if you're in the market for some earbuds for just about any purpose, I can easily recommend these ones. Even audiophiles should find a lot to love with Monolith TrueWireless Earphones M-TWE.