Monolith M1060 planar magnetic headphones are ideal for serious music listening or for home theater use, when you want high-end performance without the premium price tag. They feature a large-diaphragm planar driver and an open-back design that delivers a detailed sonic image with precise stereo imaging.
They’re made by Monoprice, a California company with a unique business model. Many of their products are aimed at the less expensive end of the market, but they always offer exceptional value, with more features and performance than their competitors, as well as offering excellent customer service.
Their Monolith M1060 headphones are a game-changer, offering a level of audio performance usually available only with headphones costing far more. Not only are they less expensive than other models using the same high-end technology, but they’re more sensitive, so they don’t need a high-power amplifier.
A big bonus is their full 5-year replacement warranty. And there’s a 30-day return policy, which gives you an opportunity to try them to be sure they’re right for you.
But before you do that, let’s find out all about them in our Monolith M1060 Headphones review…
What’s In The Box?
Inside the Monolith M1060 box are the headphones, a hard-shell carrying case, and some basic documentation. Also, you get a 6-foot Y-cable that connects the headphones to your amplifier.
All About Planar Drivers
A planar magnetic driver produces sound with lower distortion, stronger bass, and more defined stereo imaging than the magnetic drivers found in less expensive headphones.
The typical magnetic driver found in most headphones uses a strong fixed magnet surrounded by a wire coil. This is known as the “voice coil”, and conducts the amplifier signal. The magnetic field induced by the voice coil reacts with the fixed magnet. This causes the voice coil to vibrate back and forth, creating the sound waves you hear.
A planar driver, on the other hand, employs a large, thin membrane with an embedded mesh of fine wire covering a fixed magnet. When the audio signal passes through this wire, the membrane vibrates directly, creating sound. Planar drivers have much larger diaphragms than traditional magnetic designs; the Monolith M1060 diaphragms are a full 4.17 inches (106 mm) and use a powerful neodymium magnet.
Traditional magnetic drivers are a more affordable headphone option. And they reproduce bass frequencies pretty well, at least at lower volumes. But louder signals, especially high-frequencies, can suffer from distortion.
With a planar driver, vibrations are distributed evenly across the membrane’s entire flat surface. This “planar wavefront” produces sounds with far less total harmonic distortion (THD). Also, this architecture minimizes reflections inside your ear, which significantly increases the accuracy of the stereo image.
On the downside, planar headphones require more power to drive them at full volume. The M1060’s are more sensitive than most planar magnetic headphone models, but they probably won’t be loud enough with your phone.
M1060 headphones have been designed to be extremely comfortable for extended listening situations such as a home theater. The heavily-padded ear cups are made from faux leather. This feels soft and spongy but can start to feel slightly warm after an hour or two of listening. They have an internal rectangular shape that’s typical for planar designs, and they fit snugly over the ears without clamping tightly.
The headband is also padded and is suspended across a lightweight metal frame. This holds the cups in place and distributes the weight more evenly on your head.
M1060s weigh in at 1.1 pounds (500 g). That’s fairly typical for planar headphones but heavier than many magnetic driver models. But the headband design minimizes that, so you can wear them for a few hours without fatigue.
These phones also look stylish, in case that’s important. The strip of wood veneer around the outside of the ear cups is a nice classic touch.
At the bottom of each ear cup is a 2.5-mm audio jack to connect the headphone ends of the Y-cable. At the other end of the cable is a 1/8-inch (3.5-mm) angled stereo plug for the amp connection.
The included cable is fabric-covered and seems fairly sturdy, but you can always upgrade to a higher-end, braided option like the New Neomusica audio cable. These are both unbalanced cables. That’s usually fine for speakers and headphones, but M1060 also supports balanced operation, with the Meze 99 Series Balanced Cable or similar.
An Open Back
M1060 headphones feature an “open-back” design.
Open-back headphones have ear cups with an outer shell that’s perforated, usually with horizontal slits. These allow air to move freely between the back of the drivers and the outside. The open design can significantly alter your listening experience.
Closed-back headphones completely isolate you from all the ambient sound in your environment and can feel as if the music is all happening inside your head. But open-back phones place the music in the world around you. The result is a more 3D, holographic listening experience as if you’re in the middle of a performance.
M1060 headphones have been attractively designed with slits shaped in a triangular pattern, with their logo at the center. But in case you prefer closed-back headphones for greater listening privacy, Monoprice also makes the Monolith M1060C closed-back model.
First, the technical specs: With a sensitivity of 96 dB per milliwatt and a relatively low 50-ohm impedance, Monolith M1060 headphones can produce a maximum sound pressure level (SPL) of over 130 dB. That’s about 10 dB louder than a live rock concert.
They have a fairly flat frequency response from 10 Hz – 50 kHz. Then there’s a dip of 4 or 5 dB from about 5 kHz to 10 kHz. THD is less than 1 percent, measured at 1 mW and 1 kHz.
Listening tests reveal that M1060 headphones sound exceptionally good. With a crisp, focused sound typical of headphones costing twice as much. Movie dialogue comes through clearly, and music sounds natural and balanced. Some users claim the sound gets even better after they’ve been “burned in” for a while.
The M1060’s sensitivity means you probably won’t require a separate headphone amp in most situations, such as with a home theater system or hi-fi amp. But your phone or computer probably doesn’t have enough power to drive these phones at a comfortable listening level.
In this case, you’ll want to couple them with a separate headphone amp such as Monoprice’s Monolith Liquid Spark.
Monolith M1060 Headphones Pros & Cons
- Amazing sound quality.
- Excellent price point considering the quality.
- Includes all the basic connections.
- Low power.
- Incredibly comfortable.
- No noise-canceling feature, but they were not designed for that anyway.
- Heavier than most of the competition.
Looking For Some Quality Headphones?
If so? Check out our reviews of the Best Sony Headphones, the Best Studio Headphones for Home Recording, the Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Headphones with Microphone, or the Best Waterproof Bluetooth Headphones currently available.
Or if you’re looking for something a little cheaper, how about the Best Headphones under 100 dollars on the market?
Monolith M1060 headphones are ideal if you want audiophile performance for your golden ears but don’t want to spend a small fortune for the privilege. For critical listening, you’d be hard-pressed to find something that sounds better.
However, they’re definitely not the lightest headphones you can buy. This doesn’t seem to be an issue sitting down but could be if you’re standing. And the open-back ear cups make them not the best choice for a DJ gig or when you don’t want to disturb those around you (but the M1060C Closed Back Headphones might be).
Finally, Monoprice’s 5-year warranty is a reassuring testament to their commitment to quality, and their 30-day return policy provides some security that your investment won’t be wasted.