Provides: Audio reproduction and iDevice control
Requirements: Audio device with 1/8″ stereo mini jack
Hello again, audiophiles. Today we’ll be reviewing the NCredible N-Tune headphones—a collaboration between Monster and Nick Cannon. N-Tune is a set of on-ear, can-tyle headphones with a good fit, very good sound and a pretty cool style.
Let’s start with appearances; after all, you will see them before you get to hear through them. The unit is a straightforward set of padded cans on a rigid headband. The color scheme is gloss black with a red pinstripe accent and some charcoal grey for contrast. There is a bit of “chrome” hardware, with the Monster logo embossed on it, on the outside of the can. To keep the dust out, the chrome accent piece is protected by a clear plastic dome which lends its own glassy accent. I am usually a bit of a minimalist when it comes to style, but the little accents and details on this model are pretty good looking and interesting without being gaudy or over-the-top.
Let’s move on to the fit. Each can is mounted to the headband on a swivel base. This allows the cans to tilt a bit to make sure they fit perfectly to your ears. The extra wiggle factor also means you can wear the headphones at whatever angle you like, or even wear one can off to the side (for a phone call, DJ work, etc.). The cushions on the cans keep out a lot of the ambient sound and provide a very comfortable fit. The tension provided by the headband is firm enough to sit on the ear well and block noise, but not so tight as to make the ears sore. I wore the N-Tune headphones for about an hour one day at lunch, and my ears felt fine. Most of the higher end, on-ear headphones I have tried fit very snugly, which keeps out ambient sound, but have the rather unfortunate side effect of forcing my ears into the temple/earpiece of my glasses. This is a pinch that produces real pain in about ten minutes, so the N-Tune headphones were a very pleasant change.
Speaking of the headband, it is, of course, adjustable. Each side can be extended by about 1-1/8 inches. The top of the headband is nicely padded to ensure a comfy fit. The whole unit only weighs 6.3 ounces so you don’t get big can fatigue if you wear them for an hour or two.
Function is the next and, in my opinion, most important part. The sound reproduction is clean and full with crisp highs and brain thumping bass. I played a variety of styles: Baroque classical, rock, heavy metal, and rap/hip-hop. Everything sounded good. For the sake of comparison, I started by playing some tunes through my iPod Touch using the stock music player. After a few selections I switched to a program that includes a graphic equalizer. The EQ enabled music player does sound better (that is an equalizer’s job) but the non EQ player sounded full and clean as well. The only distortion or clipping I encountered was when I used the equalizer with the bass and preamp gain turned way up and the volume up about as high as it would go.
[WARNING: I endured full volume only for a few seconds for the sake of evaluation. Do not turn your iPod up to 11 with these on your ears—you can do damage to your hearing.]
With a slight adjustment to the bass profile and turning the preamp gain down a little, everything was clear again even at full volume.
The cable is a rubber jacketed, single wire set up that has 1/8” mini jacks on both ends. The jack that plugs into the left can is a straight jack, while the other end is a reinforced 90 degree jack. The overall cord length is 53”.
More nifty functionality comes in the form of a small control pod on the cable. About 4” down from the can there is a 7/8” x 1/2” x 3/8” control cluster with a round button with the Monster logo on it. This button controls the call pick up and hang up function when you get a call on your iPhone, or as a play/pause toggle button while listening to music on your iDevice. While on a phone call, the sound quality is descent—it’s only a small condenser mic so “fair” is all I expected. The person on the other end should have no problem hearing you since the mic is well placed. The only oddity of taking/making a call with the N-Tune headphones on is that you don’t hear yourself as you might expect. Unless you are used to talking with your fingers in your ears, your own voice will sound muted and a bit different. But there is an easy solution—move the right can off your ear and the universe returns to normal.
Normally, I would include an audio nerd section with all the specs (driver size, dynamic range, frequency response, etc). I asked for the data, but the folks at Monster have declined to provide this information. Not only did they not provide the specs, they didn’t let me know if the cable was indeed available as a replacement part. I can only assume it is because it is detachable at both ends, but the only option that came close on their website was a refurbished iSonitalk cable for the Beats headphones. Actually, after 3 attempts over 5 days I got exactly zero response from Monster. Maybe their customer service is out to lunch… (double entendre intended)
All things considered, if the NCredible N-tune is within your budget ($149.95 on the Monster shopping site, $139.95 on Amazon), you won’t be disappointed. Between Mr. Cannon’s style and Monster’s technical prowess these headphones are very good gear.