Drop: passions lead here


Another green world. Walking. Running. Cycling. Skateboarding. In-line skating. Terrasailing. Kite flying. These are the many activities undertaken by visitors lớn Tempelhofer Feld, a slice of the country tucked away in the centre of Berlin.

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Where two-channel (loudspeaker) system-based Review demand reviewer’s occupy their customary listening chair at trang chủ, portable audio sets us không tính phí. We have sầu room lớn roam.

The twist in this recreational tale is Tempelhofer Feld was not too long ago Tempelhofer Airport. After ceasing operations in 2008, the airport was turned over lớn the community for recreational activities, a bird sanctuary and a rechristening.

The runways however – they remain fully intact. Going from one end khổng lồ the other, a full 2km with two wheels or two legs, is one of Berlin’s most interesting outdoor activities. Not least because Tempelhofer Feld is closed lớn cars & motorbikes. A safe space for cycling outdoors whilst also listening to music. The ikhuyến mãi destination for this L.S.G. die-hard lớn connect the virtual motion of Oliver Lieb’s 20th anniversary rework of 1997’s Netherworld lớn the physical motion of a bicycle.

With which hardware vị I presently listen? At home page I might reach for the greater audible nourishment of full-sized headphones. For đô thị walkabouts, commutes & exercise the need for something more portable presses harder.


At Tempelhofer Feld, I don’t use what I can’t afford to lớn đại bại. That rules out high-kết thúc pieces: Noble Audio’s Katamãng cầu & Campfire Audio’s Andromedomain authority. A headphone/earphone that sells for well under a hundred dollars is called for. Xiaomi’s Piston series springs to mind – they sell for ~US$25 và up. Can we go even lower on price & still maintain listening pleasure?

Let’s see.

Venture Electronics’ (VE) Monk Plus are as no-frills as their plastic bag packaging: a 3.5mm plug terminates a Y-shaped cable in the middle of which we find no in-line remote/microphone và a somewhat pedestrian aesthetic at the business kết thúc.

Through the translucent ‘smoked’ plastic earshells we spy a single dynamic driver – the bag’s reverse side fills out the tech info: 1.5cm diameter; 64 Ohm nominal input impedance.

The Monk Plus aren’t in-ear monitors (IEMs); they’re earbuds. In the 90s, almost all earphones were like this. Earpieces don’t seek a snug fit against the walls of the inner ear but instead choose khổng lồ rest in the outer ear. An optional chin slider helps loông xã ‘em tighter in place.

What we hear is therefore less seal-dependent than the aforementioned Noble và Campfire models; less physically intrusive sầu too. The Monk Plus are an earphone for those who don’t get along with IEMs.


Back in Berlin, The Factory is a co-working community space located immediately adjacent to the Berlin Wall Memorial that runs along Bernauerstr. in Mitte. I am a member. Occupying the floor/s above sầu is Soundcloud’s headquarters.

On external noise isolation, the Monk Plus sit somewhere between the Audeze iSine và an the Noble/Campfire IEMs. The VEs don’t leak as much high frequency detritus as the Apple earbuds of yore but that which does spill might irritate others working in cthua trận proximity and/or in quieter offices.

I couldn’t use the VE in The Factory’s “Quiet Room” without drawing frowns from co-workers. In other rooms, where full conversation and phone calls are permitted, there’s no issue.

For the walk to lớn và from The Factory, I prefer lớn be aware of traffic noise when crossing busy intersections. If it rains, I take the U-bahn where any audible leakage is completely drowned out by train noise.

With the relative sầu quiet of Tempelhofer Feld, hooking the VE Monk Plus into lớn an iPhone has me questioning the desire for more. Remaining cognisant of background noise – of the movement of fellow cyclists & runners – not only keeps us safe from collisions but also erodes any possible advantages held by lossless streaming over lossy.

Similarly, the audible advantages of the Sony ZX-2 / AudioQuest DragonFly Blachồng over the iPhone 6S Plus’ own 3.5milimet socket go up in smoke when out & about with the Monk Plus. Besides – where would I stash a second device when my other front pocket is occupied by keys and a credit card? Only the FiiO X1 gets a pass but its audible advantages just aren’t as keenly felt with the free-flowing Monks flying across Tempelhofer Feld.



The Monk Plus’ most obvious & arguably finest ‘feature’ isn’t found on their specifications sheet but at the checkout: €10 (from Amazon.de). Dig deeper into lớn the Internet to find a pair for even less.

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Order directly from the manufacturer’s trang web or AlieExpress và options present for 3.5milimet và 2.5mm TRRS balanced termination, alternative sầu colours, cable upgrades & in-line microphones for iOS or Android. Fully-loaded, the most one can spend is US$35.

Must be a piece of crap, right?

Nope. Not by a long shot.

Overall sound unique takes us a long way north of initial expectations phối by numerous similarly-priced convenience/dollar store earbuds, where tack-flat dynamics và a narrow headstage often conspire to sound lượt thích paper being finger-flicked next khổng lồ the ear.

What we get is a spaciously clean and crisp sound with a few degrees of dry warmth added presumably to lớn counteract audible anemia. Don’t expect lớn hear this with the VE fresh out of their bag — it only shows up after some serious burn-in time (200+ hours).

An opportunity to bring things full circle. Via the Monk Plus earbuds, Brian Eno’s classic Another Green World comes on as airy và open with a decent helping of mid-bass fleshing out that which sits beneath Eno’s own vocals (when they show up).

The soundstage is impressively large which in turn affords space plenty khổng lồ the interplay between Phil Collins’ drum work and Robert Fripp’s otherworldly guitar sounds. You’d probably have sầu to lớn drop ten times the cash elsewhere – minimum – khổng lồ realise the same degree of inner-Tardis-lượt thích capaciousness.

From B12’s Archive Volume III to lớn Regis’ Gymnastics khổng lồ Julian Cope’s Jehovahkill to lớn Robyn Hitchcock’s Eye, the VE Monk Plus impress at every turn. Yes, even techno benefits from the Monk Plus cavernous và deeply-detailed mid-bvà.


Fans of Joanna Newsom’s Ys or Bright Eyes’ Fevers & Mirrors will find even more to lớn admireenjoy here. And not simply with what occasionally feels lượt thích pre-cognisant vocal extraction. String instrument tone shines through nicely, albeit more noticeable once baông chồng at the DARhaus where the noise floor is considerably lower và D/A conversion / amplification is handed off lớn an AudioQuest DragonFly Blaông chồng.

Proving the existenc of truth in every clibít, these earbuds benefit from better upstream electronics; However, an iPhone (or similar) will get you off to lớn a cracking start. And for street life only the iPhone is where I (would) remain.



1. Perc’s relentlessly bleak Bitter Music – more Brit techno – tells us that the Monk Plus are featherweights in delivering low-kết thúc wallop. In a similar vein to standmount loudspeakers, the deepest lows are hinted at more than they are explicitly called out. The VE’s mid-bass (hump?) does most of the work here.

2. A peaky lower treble maintains keen listener excitement during the percussive attacks of Peter Gabriel’s “Kiss Of Life” but Built To Spill’s Keep It Like A Secret demands the application of foam earpads lest that same audible peak becomes too much khổng lồ bear. Even more so when digging deep inlớn The Flaming Lips’ magical The Soft Bulletin; the fluorescent yellow marker-pen of late 90s indie rochồng.

Besides, without earpads – xanh on the left, red on the right – how vì chưng we tell left from right without squinting at the ‘L’ and ‘R’ etched inkhổng lồ each earbud arm? Be warned those earpads tear easily. Thankfully, VE supply four pairs with the Monk Plus.


Such subjective quibbling dissolves in the context of the Monk Plus’ bargain basement asking price. Even at €50/pair we might look past such weaknesses in light of these earbuds’ midrange unique.

No – these aren’t the best earphones on the planet. Not by a long shot. They don’t even get cthua thảm to lớn the Noble Katamãng cầu or the Campfire Andromeda which are both more detailed và are both capable of going lower with ease. Momentarily removing price from the conversation, if the Noble & the Campfire

At €10/pair, the VE Monk Plus knoông xã it out of the park and inlớn the next zip code. A super affordable earphone that pleases immensely. An earphone that can be lost & replaced in the blinks of an eye. (They’d cost more to repair than replace). An earphone for friends và family. No need khổng lồ wait for Christmas or a birthday.

No need to lớn wait for friends though. Treat yourself to an earphone that will henceforth keep costlier models’ price/performance rattiện ích ios in kiểm tra.

VE’s packaging does not lie: the Monk Plus are indeed “The biggest bang you will ever hear for your buck”.

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Further information: Venture Electronics


UPDATE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that VE are Singaporean. They are from mainlvà Đài Loan Trung Quốc.

Chuyên mục: Tin Tức