Monster is full of contradictions. While teaming up with Beats Audio to make a series of oh-so-cristicised and yet still top-selling headphones, the firm is also behind the truly expectational Miles Davis in-ear headphones. The manufacturer is therefore capable of great things ... but not every time. Will the fruit of this new partnership with Nokia's Lumia range prove seriously sweet? Time to find out!
DESIGN & BUILD
Rectangular Headphones ... Interesting
No matter which colour WH-930 you choose, the all-plastic design seems perfectly decent at first glance. Hinges and folding mechanism aside, once the headphones have been in your hands a little longer, they don't feel like the toughest of the tough. In fact, quality feels pretty mediocre.
These headphones can be folded for storage or transportation, with one headphone folding in to the middle of the headband then the other folding in on top. However, the metal hinges are so swamped in plastic that you may need to keep an eye on wear and tear. Thankfully a semi-rigid carry case is supplied.
The rectangular headphone design is certainly interesting. Then again, why not ... even if it does risk affecting the noise-isolating qualities of the memory foam lining.
The flat cable is quite similar to the one used in Beats Audio headphones– what a surprise! It therefore has the same faults—i.e. a certain sensitivity to folding, questionable durability and an annoying tendency to end up looking like a plate of tagliatelle after spending a few minutes in a rucksack.
Once on your head, the Purity HD headphones are a real let-down. For supra-aural headphones to be worthy of the name, the foam earpads are supposed to sit on top of your ears—in other words, you're supposed to be kept well away from the plastic behind the padding. We don't think our ears are particularly unusually shaped, but we found the foam padding was very squishy. So squishy, in fact, that the layers of plastic just behind the padding can be felt through it, which isn't particularly pleasant or comfortable.
Good ... For Phone Calls
To be honest, we don't need to go much further than the frequency response graph to understand what kind of headphones we're dealing with here.
Frequency response for the Nokia Purity HD by Monster: Left = low frequencies (bass) / Right = high frequencies
The output peaks at 1 kHz, which is just above the centre-point of our frequency response scale. This is something we rarely see in products other than Bluetooth headsets. To the left of that point—in the bass department—the level drifts slowly but surely downwards, all the way down to -8 dB at 20 kHz, in fact. To the right of that point—in higher frequencies—the level goes into free-fall!
Obviously then, these headphones don't sound great to listen to. Apart from voices, you can't hear a whole lot else and the overall output is dull. The touch of bass present is soft and lifeless while high frequencies fall off into a deep, bottomless pit. The bandwidth is just about OK for making phone calls, but it otherwise leaves a lot to be desired.
Left: THD+N / Right: harmonic distortion
As is often the case these days, the Purity HD headphones' harmonic distortion is so low that they can't be faulted on clarity, stereo effects and sound positioning. But the output is so denatured that it's ultimately quite confused.
Noise isolation isn't particularly effective either—mainly because the rectangular earpads provide poor contact. Plus, the cable is Nokia only (although it can be replaced). All in all, you have to wonder exactly what these headphones have been designed for ...