By: Justin McBride
$7 giant killers? Never thought I’d see the day when a pair of earphones selling for less than $10 would be able to compete with earphones in the $50 – $100 range but the Monoprice MEP- 933 does. After reading about them on Head-Fi, I was overcome by curiosity, as I often am, and purchased a pair, purely based on the massive hype these things received. I figured they were cheap enough to justify an impulse purchase that I wouldn’t feel too much remorse over if I didn’t like them. But when they got here, I was blown away. There’s no way something this cheap should sound so good.
This isn’t a formal review but I had to write something about these earphones because I think everyone should have a pair, purely for the novelty and to serve as a constant reminder of the fact that, when it comes to high quality earphones, higher price does not always mean higher quality.
The most significant aspect I can see someone taking issue with is their comfort, specifically the lack thereof. The massive 14.2mm drivers are cased in large, bulbous housings which require a large outer ear canal to fit even reasonably comfortably and somewhat sharp ribs along the outer shell make these less than what I’d call “comfortable”. This is a legitimate complaint anyone could levy against the MEP-933 and is a sacrifice that I’m guessing had to be made for the sake of making a $7 IEM with such a great driver at its heart.
And because of that great driver, these earphones just sound…good, probably far better than you’d expect. The sound signature is a tad on the lean side but the low end compensates for this quite well. Despite the manufacturer’s claims that these offer enhanced (which is usually code for “massive”) bass, the low end is even handed and while it is boosted a tad, it never gets out of hand and has nice texture and refinement. The midrange is lean and somewhat dry but detailed and smooth. The treble is also rather lean but has some nice sparkle and extends pretty nicely into the higher registers as well. The whole of the presentation is slightly warm and spacious but cohesive and surprisingly well refined. A couple downsides include a slight lack of dynamics, which can make the bass sound bland at times and some occasional reverb within the housings.
I don’t expect these to set the audiophile world on fire because audiophiles tend to be very snobbish. I’m referring to the kinds of people who willfully spend thousands of dollars on amplifiers and stereo systems because they think more money means better quality 100% of the time. The MEP-933 is a shining example of how this line of thinking is crap. Sure, the build quality isn’t up there with expensive IEMs but it’s $7! If they do break (and in the months since I got mine, they haven’t), getting a new pair isn’t going to break the wallet. The kind of sound quality you get from these is the same level of quality I’d expect from a $50+ IEM, not one that doesn’t even get into the double digits.
But don’t take my word for it; give the MEP-933 a shot. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you hear.
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