The Monster DNA Pro Over Ear Headphones are made for those who want a bit of flare paired up with true-to-life sound reproduction. But do they stack up against the rest of the pack of designer audiophile sets?
Deep, true-to-life sound takes center stage, surrounded by a headphone that is quiet, comfortable and stylish. No batteries are needed for the noise isolation which keeps the headphones lightweight.
The design of the headphones are made to definitely stand out, which made not appeal to those looking for a more subtle set. The finish on the cups are glossy, leaving smudges which could bother consumers who may not have the cleaning cloth handy. The low-end frequencies lack a bit of punch that most will desire.
The Monster DNA Pro Over-Ear Wired Headphones are a great choice for those looking for a realistic sound profile, a sleek design and a comfortable fit, all in one headphone. At $299, they do sit on the upper-end of the consumer pro audio market, but back it up with high sound quality, durability and style. However, those looking for a deep bass response in their headphones shouldn't be looking here to satiate that need and its unique look may not suit everyone.
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I can sum up the design of these in one sentence: the DNA Pro headphones stand out in the most unique way ever and I love them for this reason. The ability to throw out the playbook on how headphones are supposed to look, and get rid of the notion that everything must have a weird lower-case letter on it, is a bold move and one that works for Monster in this regard. Both the over-ear and on-ear models share this note of brilliance and also retain the shiny triangle-design on each cup. Some may find these to be a bit loud, in the design sense that is, and it may be a turn off for those people. However I absolutely love the look and have received more questions about them than any other pair I've worn in public.
The Head Monster Noel Lee has been a huge proponent of Pure Monster Sound, which is Monster's idea of making sure you are hearing precisely what the artist intended for you to hear. And with all Monster headphones, that's exactly what you get; you "hear what the microphone is hearing" as Noel so eloquently puts it.
As far as sound response goes, the DNA Pro headphones get it almost 100% right. The highs are crisp, the mids aren't drowned out and the lows have a nice punch. However, given the size of the headphone, I did expect a bit more low-end response, but not in that bass boost sort of way. They do a pretty great job at replicating the full range of sound, even with the less-impressive depth of bass. What's nice is that the amount of power in these headphones stay inside the cans; there was not a lot of sound leak to the outside world from the DNA Pro.
Now, unlike some of the competition, these headphones aren't just for one genre of music. Monster says that the headphones are ideal for any type of music, so I decided to put that to the test. With the help of HDTracks, the leader in re-sampled and audiophile-quality music files, I was able to really dive into the true quality of these headphones. I picked a few tracks that had varied instruments, vocals and arrangements.
As always, I'm using my audio production machine to listen to the tracks, running a cable from my soundcard to an ALESIS mixer-amplifier, with the headphones plugged into the "PHONES" jack on the mixer. For comparison and to reflect a more common scenario, I am listening to the same tracks on Spotify, with the high-quality option enabled.
"Mirrors" by Justin Timberlake - Vocals are bright and the harmonies sound incredible. You can hear the entire layered chorus of the track and they're not overshined by the synth. However the Timbaland-produced track does lose a small bit of its flare at the end, when JT and Timbaland seem to like to change the style as a lead-out. There is a deep, driven bassline in this song and a bit of it is lost through the lack of deeper bass response in these headphones. The entire piece can still be felt but if those familiar with the song will notice a presence slightly missing.
"Unconditionally" by Katy Perry - Katy Perry's vocal range is always something that can stand out with nicer headphones and the DNA Pros are no exception to that rule. During the build-up to the chorus I also was able to pick out subtle guitar riffs which I usually am unable to hear. When the song moves into the ending bridge, the high-end mix of individual vocals could still be picked out.
"She Will Be Loved" by Maroon 5 - Adam Levine is always nice to listen to, no matter what you listen to him on. But it was an extra treat to hear him on this track with the DNA Pro headphones, as his voice has a tiny bit of soul in it and I was able to identify it through the verses. The bass flaw does stand out here, too, as the song picks up before the finale and I felt like I wasn't being driven to the end.
"Pretty Young Thing" by Michael Jackson - I had to go back to one of my favorite songs of all-time from one of my favorite musicians. The synthesized voice saying "pretty young thing" at around 2:15 is actually one of the cooler things to listen to on premium headphones. The iconic pop single really stands out on these over-ears and the entire song is crisp and clear.
The headband is made of a rubber-like material with foam underneath it, making it comfortable while keeping the headphones in place on your head. The earcups themselves are made with extra padding on the outside of the unit, not only to prevent noise leak but to ensure they stay comfortable even in extended wearing sessions. As someone who wears glasses as well as contacts, I often find some headphones will press against the glasses in an uncomfortable way. With the DNA Pro, I did not encounter that problem, even during the nights of my live show, which usually involves me wearing the headphones for 90 minutes to two hours. Monster's statement of "pillow-soft" certainly holds true here and as one who is visually less-fortunate, I thank them for it. You can definitely tell a lot of thought was put into keeping these as comfortable as possible, and much like the design on the outside, Monster shines here, too. As mentioned earlier, the headphones don't weigh you down either and that, in part, is thanks to the passive noise isolation technology, so there are no batteries or extra electronics in the unit.
One thing I really don't like about fold-up headphones is when they don't stay open or closed, or when you feel like you might break them. The great thing about the DNA Pro headphones is that I did not get those bad vibes at all. Opening and closing the headphones has a certainty to it, that I meant to do it. The triangle shape of the unit's speaker enclosures are beefy, but in a good way. They have a great feel that is both durable and rigid. The headphone's cup arms are adjustable in length, as expected, and each click along the route is sturdy and doesn't move to the next one if you don't want it to. Added to the bottom of each speaker is a 1/8" headphone jack, so that you can plug in on whichever side is easier for you. And in true Monster style, you can plug in another set of headphones to the open jack so you can share what you're listening to.