VE MONK Plus unboxing: How good can $5 sound?


The audio and sound industry has been booming as of late. Quality manufacturers like Audio Technica and Sennheiser have begun to receive more respect and recognition, while companies Apple and Xiaomi start to up their audio game, at least to a degree. More people are even starting to see Beats for the overpriced marketing jargon it is.

While headphones and IEM (In-ear monitors, like the Mi Pistons) have been thriving, earbuds have begun dying out. The only real competitor in the earbud game is Apple, and it’s easy to see why. IEM’s are simple superior in many ways like noise isolation and comfort. And as for Apple, they don’t need to prove anything because anything they make will still sell.

That was true, at least until a friend introduced me to Venture Electronics and their line of earbuds. The Shenyang based company has been making earbuds for a while now, to rave reviews. And their most popular products were the VE MONKs, a pair of super cheap $5 earbuds.

I was intrigued, but for whatever reason I neglected buying a pair, at least until they announced the VE MONK Plus recently. With this, I purchased a pair from a local retailer, out of pure curiosity. Surely, a $5 pair of earbuds couldn’t sound all that good?

 

VE MONK Plus: Unboxing

The Venture Electronics MONK Pluses come in extremely simple packaging, and it’s the first time I’ve genuinely laughed at a packaging for good reasons. You can tell these are a budget pair, but also that the company must be really proud of them.

cof

There’s no box to speak of, the Monk Pluses come in a simple plastic bag, with some very funny designs on the front. Seriously, the person who designed this is a genius. At the front, we’ve got the name of the product, along with the words:

“The biggest bang You’ll ever hear for your buck”.

Glorious. Under that we have an image of Lee, the company’s CEO, on a magic ghost sperm looking thing. And right above his delicious face, we get another pair of fantastic quotes in:

“Dare to challenge me?”

Yes folks, he’s challenging you to use these earbuds. Speaking of the Lee, he’s by far one of the most outspoken, transparent and outspoken CEOs I’ve ever seen. He straight up demands honest reviews from people on his products to improve, which is refreshing.

Lee is the proud guy in the middle

My unit was purchased by me, but I’d still like to highlight this because it’s really cool. There’s close to no barrier between him and his fans, as can be seen from his Reddit AMA. It’d be great to see more companies attempt to replicate this honest behavior.

Continuing on with the unboxing, we’ve got even more quotable words next to the CEO. Here, we have a fine specimen of marketing done right, people. We’ve got an image of a guy falling into a hole, along with the message:

“More information to go deeper into the HOLE”

And right under that message is their company’s website address. There are some Chinese wordings I can’t read as well, and some skull looking designs at the very bottom. Flip the pack over and you’ll company’s website, official stores, Facebook Group and emails. There’s also the product’s name and company logo, with the words “Keeping it Real”.

sdr

Inside the small plastic pack, we’ve got the VE MONK Pluses themselves along with an assortment of foam earbud covers. The foam covers come in three colors, those being red, blue and black, which should ‘cover’ most consumers wants.

My units are the limited Violet colored ones, and as such they’re a nice shade of purple. On the side, there’s the VE MONK branding in a pixel look, along with the R/L indicators. Honestly, at first glance they look like a simple pair of el cheapo earbuds you can find anywhere.

Thankfully, the earbuds feel very well built with their plastic exteriors. They don’t feel like too cheap, though there’s also no chance someone would mistake these for an expensive pair. Of course, what I’m here for is the audio quality, so how do these $5 earphones sound like?

 

VE MONK Plus: First Impressions

I’ll go much more in depth in the full review, but for now you’ll just have to settle for this. These MONK Pluses are amongst the best earphones I have listened to in a long time. It’s no wonder these things are so popular, they’re ridiculously good.

I’d even go further and say these sound comparable to some earphones that cost close to $300, they’re really good. And for just $5, they’re an unbelievable value for your money. Seriously, these should go on everybody’s ‘must buy’ lists.

For starters, the clarity is great and natural. Mids are fantastic without a grain of muddiness which means the vocals in songs like ‘Under Pressure’ sound great. Bass isn’t as impressive as a pair of expensive IEMs, but for the price you’re not getting anything close in terms of bass quality.

cof

Dynamic and transient is pretty good as well, quite lively and fast without ever sounding slow and lazy. Even the treble, where many other companies tend to screw up, is good on the Monks. It’s sparkly and definitely there, but never does it interfere with the mids or ruin the clarity with harshness.

I really want to go into more depth, but I still need stuff to post in the full review. For now however, I can say that these are some of the best value earbuds I’ve listened to. If you’re contemplating buying a pair, take the plunge, they’re only $5. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed in the slightest.

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48 Comments

  1. Airyl
    December 31, 2016

    Inb4 outspoken, honest and outspoken

    • Lazar Prodanovic
      December 31, 2016

      “The only real competitor in the earbud game is Apple” really? With what exactly?
      Now read!
      http://www.androidpolice.com/2016/12/20/ouch-ifixit-slams-apples-airpods-as-low-quality-unrepairable-and-unrecyclable/
      Telling someone how 5$ in ear earphones have fantastic; sound stage, clarity, frequency response and spectrum is at least to say childish & 7 years old child wouldn’t buy it. If they can for instance beet 7$ Panasonic HPJ 130 that is far from anything fantastic then you might have something, still it will be hard convincing people in to it. I for instance have HPJ 190 & wouldn’t recommend them to anyone because out of the box they sound like trash & have asymmetric L/R output. Still it’s possible to extract a lot from them & have a rather really good clarity, really good higs, good mids and satisfactory lows with a decent sound stage but to get that you need to hassle a lot. They cost under 15$ & as I stated at the beginning out of the box they sound like garbage. I don’t like & certainly don’t use much in ear headphones, they are unhealthy & bad for your hearing health. In a lo budget and budget best buy over the ear category I own Panasonic HTF295 probably still the best ones for around 16$ & Superlux HD-668B that is certainly a best buy ever for around 30$.
      Best regards.

      • Airyl
        December 31, 2016

        I’m not talking about IEM’s though, I’m talking about earbuds. The ones that don’t go into your ear. The earbud market has been all but stagnant in the past few years if memory serves. IEMs are super popular, just about every company under the sun has a pair for sale now.

        Personally, I hate the Airpods. On top of being unrepairable and overpriced, they’re also pretty bad. They don’t sound nearly as good as they should, especially at that price.

        I’ve never heard of the HPJ 130’s or HPJ 190’s, though I think I know which ones the HPJ 190’s are so supposed to be. And honestly, I don’t like them at all. Build quality is cheap, mids are somewhat muddy and it lacks good clarity. They aren’t even close to the VE Monks.

        IEMs being bad for your hearing and health is a myth. All they can do is do the same thing Q-tips do, cause earwax buildup. And earwax buildup has no real health concerns, it’s just uncomfortable and causes somewhat muted hearing.

        I’ve used a lot of Superlux over ears, I’ve just never picked up the HD668B. Out of the lot I’ve tried (HD660, HD330, HD440, HD681, HD681 Evo, HD661), the ones I liked the most were the HD681 Evos. They were comfortable and sounded great. Maybe I’ll try and pick up the 668B’s soon. From what I’ve heard, they’re really analytical.

        • Lazar Prodanovic
          December 31, 2016

          It’s actually HJE, sorry about that.
          The HJE 190 does have a good clarity (much better than 120~130 series) but it’s a bad product as I explained.
          You can’t go wrong with 668B & you won’t find any better ones regarding sound up to 120$ category.

          • Airyl
            December 31, 2016

            Ah, that makes sense. I was thinking about a completely different pair of no name earphones also branded as 190. I’ve never used those before, though they seem pretty affordable so I might pick up a pair soon.

            I’ve no doubts that the HD668B’s will impress, I’m just not sure if they’ll knock the crown off my beloved HD681 EVOs with their velour pads. Superlux in general are the kings of the budget over ear market, so I’m excited.

            • Lazar Prodanovic
              December 31, 2016

              I don’t recommend you to buy HJE 190. Superlux whose the king but recently (last two years) they didn’t launch anything new all do headphones market isn’t much turbulent.

            • Airyl
              December 31, 2016

              I see. Yeah, Superlux haven’t been doing much recently. The last release they had was the 662 Evos and a bunch of nice mics. I really wish they’d come out something new.

              Though, I definitely do recommend you try the Monks man. They’re really good.

            • Lazar Prodanovic
              December 31, 2016

              If I find some Monks near where I live will buy them for my father as he destroys headphones by the speed of light (not even really quality ones can last him more than 6 months).

            • Airyl
              December 31, 2016

              Same here, just my brother. Stepped and smashed my poor Superlux HD-381F’s two weeks ago.

            • Lazar Prodanovic
              December 31, 2016

              ???
              Well my father if he doesn’t somehow menage to rip the cables off then he steps on them.

            • Airyl
              December 31, 2016

              ???

              OK, my brother can’t beat that. Best he’s done is bite my cables to shreds, but that was a long time ago.

  2. quodvadis
    December 31, 2016

    pretty much the best earbuds you can get for $5. and it scales absolutely well, try plugging it into a Chord Mojo.

    • Airyl
      December 31, 2016

      I know, right?

    • Natsumi
      December 31, 2016

      Try KZ.

      • quodvadis
        December 31, 2016

        KZ don’t do earbuds and they’re just pretty okay for the price. v-shaped with overblown bass and high. still better than many big brand like sony for the price though lol.

        • Natsumi
          April 7, 2017

          The ones I bought insert in the ears. I don’t get the rest but ok XD

  3. goodwill
    December 31, 2016

    Monk is really good for what you’re paying for but in my experience, it’s a hit or miss. I bought 2 and 1 works while the other is faulty on purchase. But if you got a hit, you got yourself a pair of a good earbuds

    • Airyl
      December 31, 2016

      You should hit up Lee if you’ve got a faulty unit. He regularly responds according to Head-fi users.

  4. Airyl
    December 31, 2016

    Inb4 outspoken, honest and outspoken

    • Lazar Prodanovic
      December 31, 2016

      “The only real competitor in the earbud game is Apple” really? With what exactly?
      Now read!
      http://www.androidpolice.com/2016/12/20/ouch-ifixit-slams-apples-airpods-as-low-quality-unrepairable-and-unrecyclable/
      Telling someone how 5$ in ear earphones have fantastic; sound stage, clarity, frequency response and spectrum is at least to say childish & 7 years old child wouldn’t buy it. If they can for instance beet 7$ Panasonic HPJ 130 that is far from anything fantastic then you might have something, still it will be hard convincing people in to it. I for instance have HPJ 190 & wouldn’t recommend them to anyone because out of the box they sound like trash & have asymmetric L/R output. Still it’s possible to extract a lot from them & have a rather really good clarity, really good higs, good mids and satisfactory lows with a decent sound stage but to get that you need to hassle a lot. They cost under 15$ & as I stated at the beginning out of the box they sound like garbage. I don’t like & certainly don’t use much in ear headphones, they are unhealthy & bad for your hearing health. In a lo budget and budget best buy over the ear category I own Panasonic HTF295 probably still the best ones for around 16$ & Superlux HD-668B that is certainly a best buy ever for around 30$.
      Best regards.

    • Airyl
      December 31, 2016

      I’m not talking about IEM’s though, I’m talking about earbuds. The ones that don’t go into your ear. The earbud market has been all but stagnant in the past few years if memory serves. IEMs are super popular, just about every company under the sun has a pair for sale now.

      Personally, I hate the Airpods. On top of being unrepairable and overpriced, they’re also pretty bad. They don’t sound nearly as good as they should, especially at that price.

      I’ve never heard of the HPJ 130’s or HPJ 190’s, though I think I know which ones the HPJ 190’s are so supposed to be. And honestly, I don’t like them at all. Build quality is cheap, mids are somewhat muddy and it lacks good clarity. They aren’t even close to the VE Monks.

      IEMs being bad for your hearing and health is a myth. All they can do is do the same thing Q-tips do, cause earwax buildup. And earwax buildup has no real health concerns, it’s just uncomfortable and causes somewhat muted hearing.

      I’ve used a lot of Superlux over ears, I’ve just never picked up the HD668B. Out of the lot I’ve tried (HD660, HD330, HD440, HD681, HD681 Evo, HD661), the ones I liked the most were the HD681 Evos. They were comfortable and sounded great. Maybe I’ll try and pick up the 668B’s soon. From what I’ve heard, they’re really analytical.

    • Lazar Prodanovic
      December 31, 2016

      It’s actually HJE, sorry about that.
      The HJE 190 does have a good clarity (much better than 120~130 series) but it’s a bad product as I explained.
      You can’t go wrong with 668B & you won’t find any better ones regarding sound up to 120$ category. You can get & Samson SR850 for cuple buck’s more that is basically the same as Superlux 668B with a different head band (more comfortable & better looking) but those come with non detachable cables & no additional accessories that you get with Superlux so Superlux is actually better value.

    • Airyl
      December 31, 2016

      Ah, that makes sense. I was thinking about a completely different pair of no name earphones also branded as 190. I’ve never used those before, though they seem pretty affordable so I might pick up a pair soon.

      I’ve no doubts that the HD668B’s will impress, I’m just not sure if they’ll knock the crown off my beloved HD681 EVOs with their velour pads. Superlux in general are the kings of the budget over ear market, so I’m excited.

    • Lazar Prodanovic
      December 31, 2016

      I don’t recommend you to buy HJE 190 (I personally hate them & they just collect dust as I don’t use them). Superlux whose the king but recently (last two years) they didn’t launch anything new all do headphones market isn’t much turbulent.
      Well both HD681 Evo & HD 668B are semi open back, tho HD 668B is a little different & peple say it have a better sound stage, most of the things are the same regarding specification. I don’t have the HD681 Evo so I can’t compare them but when you take in the account how HD668B is cheaper then you see how it’s a best buy. 😁

    • Airyl
      December 31, 2016

      I see. Yeah, Superlux haven’t been doing much recently. The last release they had was the 662 Evos and a bunch of nice mics. I really wish they’d come out something new.

      Though, I definitely do recommend you try the Monks man. They’re really good.

    • Lazar Prodanovic
      December 31, 2016

      If I find some Monks near where I live will buy them for my father as he destroys headphones by the speed of light (not even really quality ones can last him more than 6 months).

    • Airyl
      December 31, 2016

      Same here, just my brother. Stepped and smashed my poor Superlux HD-381F’s two weeks ago.

    • Lazar Prodanovic
      December 31, 2016

      😂😂😂
      Well my father if he doesn’t somehow menage to rip the cables off then he steps on them.

    • Airyl
      December 31, 2016

      😂😂😂

      OK, my brother can’t beat that. Best he’s done is bite my cables to shreds, but that was a long time ago.

  5. afghanPower
    December 31, 2016

    Read his AMA ; added to my shopping list 😉

    • Airyl
      January 1, 2017

      The CEO is really something else, huh?

  6. quodvadis
    December 31, 2016

    pretty much the best earbuds you can get for $5. and it scales absolutely well, try plugging it into a Chord Mojo.

    • Airyl
      December 31, 2016

      I know, right?

    • Natsumi
      December 31, 2016

      Try KZ.

    • quodvadis
      December 31, 2016

      KZ don’t do earbuds and they’re just pretty okay for the price. v-shaped with overblown bass and high. still better than many big brands like sony for the price though lol.

    • Natsumi
      April 7, 2017

      The ones I bought insert in the ears. I don’t get the rest but ok XD

  7. Muhammad Yasir
    December 31, 2016

    question no.1 = HOW to get your comment FEATURED by GizChina ?

    no.2 = doesnt that design feel PAINFUL AF in the ears ?!

    • Airyl
      December 31, 2016

      1. Be quick and be beautiful.

      2. They don’t, I assume it’s because they’re really light.

  8. goodwill
    December 31, 2016

    Monk is really good for what you’re paying for but in my experience, it’s a hit or miss. I bought 2 and 1 works while the other is faulty on purchase. But if you got a hit, you got yourself a pair of a good earbuds

    • Airyl
      December 31, 2016

      You should hit up Lee if you’ve got a faulty unit. He regularly responds according to Head-fi users.

  9. afghanPower
    December 31, 2016

    Read his AMA ; added to my shopping list 😉

    • Airyl
      January 1, 2017

      The CEO is really something else, huh?

  10. Guest
    December 31, 2016

    question no.1 = HOW to get your comment FEATURED by GizChina ?

    no.2 = doesnt that design feel PAINFUL AF in the ears ?!

    • Airyl
      December 31, 2016

      1. Be quick and be beautiful.

      2. They don’t, I assume it’s because they’re really light.

  11. January 2, 2017

    Went through a bit of the AMA, and man, this bloke doesn’t know what ‘holding back’ means

  12. Yash Garg
    January 2, 2017

    Went through a bit of the AMA, and man, this bloke doesn’t know what ‘holding back’ means

  13. balcobomber25
    January 2, 2017

    Anyone that buys Beats needs to get their heads checked. They are $30 headphones with $170 marketing expenses.

  14. balcobomber25
    January 2, 2017

    Anyone that buys Beats needs to get their heads checked. They are $30 headphones with $170 marketing expenses.