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Review: Monolith M-TWE earbuds bring personalized audio with SoundID [Video]

True wireless earbuds on the affordable end of the spectrum are rarely known for their sound quality and rarely offer any support for tweaking the EQ. Monoprice is shaking things up a bit though by teaming up with Sonarworks for the Monolith M-TWE that incorporates profiles with SoundID to create a personalized sound signature to fit your specific sound preferences. Matched with other great features like ANC and ambient modes, the Monolith M-TWE with SoundID earbuds has a lot to offer for the $99 price point. Be sure to hit the video below to check out all the details. 

Positioning the Monolith M-TWE

We’ve taken a look at quite a few budget-minded true wireless earbuds like the EarFun Free Pro that is packed with features but doesn’t offer any EQ customization. We’ve also tried the Jaybird Vista buds that rely heavily on personalization but are a bit more expensive and don’t have all of the features of the M-TWE. The Monolith M-TWE sits as an interesting option with some nice features like ANC and a 10-hour run time as well as incorporating a 3D party app to help personalize the sound to the listener’s preferences. 

Monolith M-TWE: design

Starting with the overall design, the case has a solid build quality to it, but I’m not a fan of the glossy bit on top. I would have much preferred to see the textured metallic finish and maybe just the glossy logo. With the entire top of the case being glossy, fingerprints show up easily and can be a bit maddening. 

Otherwise, though, the case has a solid snap closure to it with a USB-C port in the back for charging and feels weighty and substantial. 

Monolith M-TWE: video

Inside the case, the earbuds feature a fairly large overall design that does stick out of my ears more than some other smaller offerings. On the outside of each earbud is a capacitive touch button that also holds the Monolith logo. A nub houses the microphone and juts out from the main body of the earbud to pick up voice easier and also has a small LED status light. Around the earbuds are a few other holes that I imagine have additional microphones to help with ANC. 

Comfort

With that larger design, this has made the Monolith M-TWE a little bit harder to fit in my ear than a smaller earbud like the Earfun Free Pro. The fives sizes of eartips are pretty standard, but to get a good seal it feels like I have to push the earbuds pretty far into my ear which makes them more fatiguing. The part of the earbud that comes into contact with my ears is quite large, and there is a little lip around the edge. So if you rotate the earbud in your ear to try to get a good fit, which I almost always do, that can be uncomfortable due to that lip. Of course, comfort is largely subjective, but for me, the Monolith M-TWE earbuds aren’t as comfortable as other true wireless earbuds that I’ve tried.

Sound quality

With some nice tech like Bluetooth 5. and aptX, and AAC, the Monolith M-TWE earbuds have a powerful sound with deep bass right out of the box. It’s great fun for pop tracks like Titanium from David Guetta. The 20-20,000Hz frequency response provides plenty of oomph for fun listening. Bass is punchy and powerful. 

Otherwise, frequencies seem to be scooped quite a bit with an emphasis on higher and lower frequencies and a significant dip in mids. This is probably great for a lot of electronic and pop tracks, but not so great with other genres like metal. 

As true wireless earbuds, the soundstage isn’t anything to write home about, but stereo separation seems to be on par with most earbuds.

With Sonarworks SoundID

Where things get interesting though is by setting up personalized sound profiles. Sonarwork’s SoundID is a pretty neat addition to headphones, especially True Wireless earbuds like the Monolith M-TWE. Through a series of hearing and A-B preference tests, the app creates a profile for a specific user. In the app then, you can do an on-off comparison to what the app is doing to the sound of the earbuds.

Updates to EQ settings must be uploaded to the headphones and I found this to be hit-or-miss whether it would adjust successfully or not. Nearly a quarter of the time that I tried to update the profile it would say upload failed, but if I just tried it again usually it would work the next time. 

Within that customization, you can also just make your own tweaks to the EQ and create different profiles. It’s easy to dial in specific frequencies and levels. 

According to the app, running more tests and comparisons will tweak the profile more to your listening preferences.

Navigating to the connect screen at the bottom of the home page in SoundID lets you select the currently connected headphones and toggle sound personalization on or off. It makes a huge difference and can help to offset that significant scoop or emphasize it more if that’s what your ears crave.  Or, if you’re listening to a podcast and want to boost vocals but then are exercising and want to pump up the bass to energize your workout, that’s easy to do with the different profiles.

Touch controls

One unique feature here is that turning the volume up or down is accomplished by swiping up or down on either earbud. I’ve never seen that gesture on a pair of true wireless earbuds. Also unique is that a single tap will toggle between ANC on, off, or ambient mode making it easy to focus on the music or gain awareness for what’s around you. 

ANC seems to work very well in my experience as well as the ambient mode.

How’s the mic?

In my limited testing of the microphone inside my studio, it works and sounds pretty similar to other true wireless earbuds – nothing to write home about here. You can hear for yourself what it sounds like recorded on my iPhone 8. It seemed to pick up a lot of boomy room noise.

Monolith M-TWE: auto-pause

Another handy feature built into the M-TWE earbuds is auto-pause. When an earbud is removed, the earbuds will pause the currently playing song or podcast. This helps to keep your place in a song or podcast if you need to communicate with someone nearby and will resume when the earbud is placed back into your ear.

Monolith M-TWE: battery life

One impressive spec with the Monolith M-TWE earbuds is battery life. With 10 hours of standalone time and another 20 hours with the charging case, it’s ready to power long adventures. 

9to5Toys’ Take

For the price point, Monolith M-TWE earbuds have an impressive list of features, and using Sonarworks SoundID really helps to tailor the sound coming out of the earbuds to the listener’s ear. Comfort is going to be subjective, but I found them uncomfortable compared to some other earbuds that I’ve used.

If you like to play around with sound and EQ then these are a fun way to do it, but if you can do without that, you can get similar features in more affordable options like the Earfun Free Pro that usually comes in around $60

Buy Monolith M-TWE with SoundID

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