Monoprice - don't believe (all) the hype!!!

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supersatisfier
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Monoprice - don't believe (all) the hype!!!

Post by supersatisfier » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:02 pm

Like so many others, I was very excited when I read the series of Monoprice gear reviews in Tape Op lately. I couldn't wait to stock up on the cables, headphones and cheap condenser mics that I'd heard so much about! I now have a theory that Monoprice must be sending special units to Tape Op reviewers (or that they are stakeholders!) I got my order yesterday: 4 each of their 25ft. XLR mic cables, 3ft. XLR, and 3ft. TRS patch cables, their LDC, their pair of SDCs, and a couple pairs of headphones.

I'll start with the phones- they are awesome. Totally worth the money, though not a whole lot more. They are sturdy and they sound good, but my only complaint is that the input jack area for the cable makes a lot of noise when the cable moves around (but it's pretty masked when there's program material.)

Speaking of moving cables, I was trying out one of the mics (with a new monoprice cable) and noticed a lot of bad scratching/crackling going on. . . I eventually determined it was the cable. I spent the next two hours testing all 12 of the cables through two different signal chains, and comparing them with ones I already had. EVERY monoprice cable was noisy, crackly (like intermittent white noise static), and rumbled with the faintest movement (though the static was present even when they were not touched.) Just to be sure it wasn't some unknown issue, I used my own cables in every instance to compare to- they were silent. I can understand if there was a bad run, but there were 12 cables of 3 different types from at least 3 manufacturing runs (judging by the differences in the cable coloring and packaging labels.)

After that major disappointment, I might have been expecting the mics to sound bad, but they did. The whole review about how they should have a better price tag seems a bit much after hearing the LDC. Both the SDCs and the LDC sound about like one of the MXL type ones you'd find anywhere, and for not a lot less. I tried them (all) on acoustic guitar (okay), cymbals (LDC okay, SDCs awful- lots of harshness), and some various hand percussion - the truest test of clarity (all were ok-ish on both types, except any of the 5 different shakers I tried! Both mics made them sound like poorly encoded mp3s.) Just to make sure I wasn't being harsh in my judging, I was also using an MXL9000 and MXL603 to compare. All of the mics shared the brittle, washy highs, at least to my ears. Cheap condensers is cheap condensers- if you were gonna buy an MXL or similar, save some coin and get the monoprice- if you already have a few cheapo condensers, don't think the monoprice stuff will add anything new to your toolbox.

In conclusion, the headphones rock, and I'll be using the return credit to just get more of them- I'm 86ing the cables, whoever got good audio cables from monoprice should go to Vegas and continue their streak. The mics are okay, I'm gonna try them out a bit longer before I decide. Thankfully, monoprice has a really streamlined return policy and system- presumably because of high volume.
SS

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Post by kslight » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:33 pm

Yeah I'd kind of raised one eyebrow at those reviews.


Headphones would be nice enough...for someone else to use, maybe...because last time I left someone use my expensive headphones in the studio they broke the (molded) connector off and I had to solder a new one on.

But when it comes to cables and microphones, I have to say that "nice for the price" often is not nice enough for practical application.

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Post by blungo2 » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:38 pm

I pretty much really hate to say this, as i truly love tape op, but i take the reviews with many grains of salt.
Everything reviewed is pretty wonderful with often no down sides. You pay what you get for i guess.

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Post by Gregg Juke » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:45 pm

I've been hearing (here and elsewhere) how the headphones rock. I also have heard on another forum, corroboration for SS's experience with the MP microphones, which is a shame, but again "get what you pay for" seems to be a fair-enough truism.

As a long-time music journalist, all I can say is that things have changed in many ways over the years, and reviews should always be taken with large grains of NACL, as the term YMMV is fully in-play...

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Post by gregovertone » Tue Oct 08, 2013 7:25 pm

i have at least 20 different monoprice cables in my studio, as well as a pile in my home theater.....

granted they are a few years old.....but they have a 100% success rate here.
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Post by supersatisfier » Tue Oct 08, 2013 7:53 pm

I'm jealous of your success with the cables, I really wish I'd had the same!

I accept the caveats about reviews, I guess I was just excited that I could finally afford some of the things they were talking about! I am gonna need to find another source for cheap, usable cables. . . I'll search the forums, but anyone want to post a lead here?
SS

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Post by kslight » Wed Oct 09, 2013 4:49 am

supersatisfier wrote:I'm jealous of your success with the cables, I really wish I'd had the same!

I accept the caveats about reviews, I guess I was just excited that I could finally afford some of the things they were talking about! I am gonna need to find another source for cheap, usable cables. . . I'll search the forums, but anyone want to post a lead here?
DIY all the way.

Never bought premade stuff from them, but Audiopile.net might be worth checking out... I've bought their raw cable before and it was fine, and a big prewired snake box that's flawless.

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Post by Gregg Juke » Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:09 am

I was just going to suggest Audiopile.net!!! (make sure it's "net" not "com").

Our experience with them has been awesome as well...

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Post by dfuruta » Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:11 am

the mic cables from audiopile are fine and cheap enough to not worry about making your own. soldering cables makes me cranky, so i buy the ones from audiopile instead.

redco also make good cables for reasonable prices.

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Post by agershon » Wed Oct 09, 2013 9:01 am

For cheap cables I head to http://www.seismicaudiospeakers.com

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Post by Jim Williams » Wed Oct 09, 2013 9:45 am

Like Yelp, on-line reviews are "virtual". Anyone can say anything about everything. And they do.

Like they said at the coloseum, "buyer beware".

Like they say in the 'hood', "you's got to checks it out for your own self".
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blungo2
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Post by blungo2 » Wed Oct 09, 2013 3:51 pm

I've gotten some ok cables from Seismic as well. Never had any prob with their patch cables.

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Post by chris harris » Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:34 pm

Oh, that's how they say it in the hood? Jeez... :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll:

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Post by supersatisfier » Thu Oct 10, 2013 2:27 pm

Ok, got an order in to audiopile! Hoping this is the minimum price point for usable cables that need no assembly! I gotta say, though, the name is a bit regrettable. . . I can't recall many good things coming in the shape of a "pile."
SS

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Post by vvv » Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:44 pm

Not to mention the the illness associated with "mono" ... :twisted:
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