We don't get a lot of Monster products for review, but the Elements Wireless On-Ear were intriguing, and in the battle for wireless over-ear supremacy these are one of the more premium offerings from the brand known for top-shelf audio/video hardware.
Coming in at $249 MSRP the Elements On-Ear are one of the flagship wireless headphones for Monster, so we were excited to give them a test run.
The box is nice and has a premium feel but is not over the top like some other brands; it's just enough to make you feel that you are stepping into a primo product. Inside you will find a welcome letter from Noel Lee the founder of Monster (he also personally tuned the headphones), headphones set in molded plastic, a soft case, USB charging cable, 1.8" cable, 1/4 inch adapter, and cloth wipe to keep your greasy fingerprints at bay.
How do they look?
In true Monster style, these headphones are bold and designed for attention with shiny components and some colorways like Rose Gold that arrive before you do. We are more fans of the less flashy versions, like Black Platinum model we received. No matter what colorway you chose, these headphones definitely stand out and have a very masculine aesthetic about them so if you are looking for something more fluid or discrete, these are probably not the look you are going for.
How do they feel?
Comfort wise the Elements are cushy, the soft memory foam cushions keep the pressure perfect and allow for longer sessions. The construction of the headphones is decent, although a little suspect in places. The lower portion of the headphones feels beefy and robust, while the headband seems like it could be an issue as it seems somewhat brittle and prone to breakage. The Elements don't come with a hard case which is quite disappointing at this price point.
Controls / Functionality
The power button, connection light, and micro-USB charging port are on the right headphone and pretty easy to find along with clear L / R headphone orientation indicators. One of the cooler features is the touch control function that works by swiping the right ear cup to skip tracks, take calls, handle the volume and start/stop playback. The sensitivity is set up quite well and is simple to use; it's probably one of the better touch controls we've ever tested.
We took the headphones on the road with us for about two weeks, and along with the handy touch controls, we also appreciated the hefty battery life. The manufacturer claims 24 hours of playback and 20 days of standby, which is more than enough to cover most short trips. The headphones still ran for another five days after our trip.
Like most Bluetooth headphones we test in this category, connecting is pretty straightforward. Press the power button makes them discoverable and voice confirms that you are paired, all pretty standard. You can also listen to them in wired mode with the included cable or via USB cable should you lose juice or just prefer the sound of wired cans, although we didn't notice any major difference from wireless to wired.
How Do They Sound?
The Bluetooth connection is super quiet, and you can stream HD audio easily with aptX if your player has that functionality, like the Astell & Kern AkJR HD audio player. The distance is also impressive, allowing us to be around 40 feet away from our source with no issues.
Sound Isolation is a weak spot here, and they don't have any onboard noise canceling unlike most headphone models in this class. You need to turn up the volume to override any loud ambient noise like airplanes, crowded areas, trains, etc. The Elements sounded a lot better in quieter spaces due to noise isolation issues with the earcups.
There are two listening modes on the Elements, and both have their advantages and just depend on the listener's taste. We liked club mode which gives the headphones a nice gentle boost in the lows and mids to create an excellent vibrant sound when paired with the crisp highs. The Natural mode was just meh, and didn't quite have the lush vibe of Club mode, so we spent most of our time in this setting, but again this is subjective.
Per usual we tested everything from jazz to electronic to hip-hop to indie rock in multiple formats (Mp3, Apple Lossless, and HD formats). The Elements in Club Mode brought everything to life and kept us listening for hours.
Summary - Worth it?
If you are not worried about the bold styling of the Elements or actually appreciate it, you are getting a pretty solid headphone overall that might be lacking some key features for some. If you are someone that is looking for an aggressive style with bouncy, full sound, comfort for long sessions and insane battery life you will be a happy bass junky.
Pros: Great sound, super comfortable, long battery life and excellent low-end color for bass enthusiasts.
Cons: No noise cancellation and mediocre isolation, questionable headband construction and no hard case.