Monolith by Monoprice M1000ANC Headphones Review: Affordable Travel Headphones with Decent Sound

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Monolith M1000ANC headphones are cheaper than AirPods and offer ANC, algorithmic spatial audio, and 60 hours of battery life.

Monoprice uses the Monolith brand for high-end audio equipment, and the M1000ANC headphones are the base model for that brand. Their low price and advanced audio capabilities serve as a bridge between Monoprice’s consumer and professional products.

Unlike the previously reviewed Monolith TrueWireless earphones, the Monolith M1000ANC headphones lack a clear competitor in Apple’s AirPods or Beats lineup. That makes these headphones a more attractive option for anyone looking for headphones with noise-cancelling capabilities for less than $ 200.


The Monolith M1000ANC headphones are plastic over-ear headphones with a memory foam protein leather pad. While these headphones can be folded and stored compactly, Monoprice only has a small storage pouch and does not include a hard shell case.

Fold M1000ANC headphones for travel

Fold M1000ANC headphones for travel

The headband can be adjusted using a slide mechanism that exposes the metal support band when stretched. Headphones should fit comfortably on most people’s heads, but they had to use a fully extended setting.

The structure is what you would expect from headphones in this price range. Some parts are a little rattling, but you won’t notice them even if you wear them. The single mounting point of the earcup to the headband seems to be a potential breakpoint in the future.

Expandable headband exposes metal support

Expandable headband exposes metal support

The right earcup has three physical controls, but only one is used regularly when worn. It has a power and pairing button, Dirac feature toggle, and an ANC switch.

Dirac feature toggle has a mysterious microphone icon because the button seems to be used only to turn Virtuo Spatializer on and off. The raised bumps on the button allow you to find the button without looking, but users rarely use the button frequently during long listening sessions.

The battery life of the Monolith M1000ANC headphones is 60 hours without ANC and 40 hours with ANC enabled. Fast charging via the USB-C port allows for 2 hours of playback in just 5 minutes.

Using Monolith M1000ANC headphones

We enjoyed listening to music and podcasts with the Monolith M1000ANC headphones. The audio is crisp, minimizing bass and emphasizing treble and mids.

What we immediately noticed was the volume level. We tend to use over-ear headphones to block external audio and listen to music at a medium level, so it’s big enough to hear, but not big enough to be out of focus.

The volume level of the M1000ANC was lower at the same volume level when compared to other headphones.

The volume level of the M1000ANC was lower at the same volume level when compared to other headphones.

The Monolith M1000ANC headphones seem to work at a lower volume than other headphones. When using the volume slider on iOS, quiet levels from 0% to 50% give you the right audio level ramp, from barely audible to background sounds. The audio level is soft and quiet quality up to about 70%, then quickly rises to a much higher level.

At 100%, the audio is significantly lower than the other headphones, but I’m not sure if this is bad. The sound is just below the point where it grows unbearably loud in our ears, and the audio is not distorted at this level.

As with any headphone, he argues that the volume needs to be adjusted more evenly and the audio level from 50% to 70% needs to be louder and more robust. We found that these headphones have a lower noise cap, so they listen more often in the 70% to 90% range.

ANC mode

On the side of the headphones, there is a physical switch that toggles between ANC low, ANC high, and ANC off. A low setting blocks up to 20 decibels of sound, and a high setting blocks up to 35 decibels of sound.

Physical buttons and switches are easy to find with a touch

Physical buttons and switches are easy to find with a touch

ANC mode has been found to act as a sufficient filter for loud noise and constant drones in the machine. When you start listening to music with ANC mode, the outside world disappears.

ANC mode isn’t as good as its competitors, but these headphones start at $ 100 cheaper than other ANC headphones.

Virtuo Spatializer

Virtuo Spatializer uses algorithms to play audio with a “spatial” effect. It works with a button on the headphones, and the effect is clear, but it can be ruined depending on the song.

Simulate 3D sound with a virtual spacer

Simulate 3D sound with a virtual spacer

Some tracks have a wider sound stage where each instrument is easier to hear. However, some tracks seem to have the stadium effect applied, and there is too much reverb and echo to miss.

Users’ perceptions of Virtuo Spatializer vary from person to person. Many may find the effect cool or desirable, but others will want to listen to the music as the producer intended.

Algorithm-based music listening can hit or miss because the algorithm doesn’t get hints from the music file about how to play the song correctly. This is in contrast to Apple Music Dolby Atmos files and AirPods Spatial Audio mode. In this mode, the data is burned into the album to intentionally reproduce the track in 3D.

Gestures and controls

Standard controls work on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch, so you can control volume and playback as usual from your device. However, the Monolith M1000ANC headphones have gestures on the device to control playback.

  • Double tap to play / pause
  • Swipe forward from the center to skip tracks
  • Swipe backwards to skip to the previous track
  • Swipe from bottom to top to increase the volume
  • Swipe from top to bottom to turn down the volume
  • Cover the earcups with your palm to mute the audio

For the gesture to work, you need to hit the center somewhat accurately. After some practice, I was able to perform the gesture without error.

You need to buy Monolith M1000 ANC headphones

Like any audio device, there are many options at almost every price point. Monoprice headphones tend to stand out for their better construction, decent sound, and interesting smart features.

These headphones are black, but the plastic can be very reflective in direct sunlight

These headphones are black, but the plastic can be very reflective in direct sunlight

If you need a set of over-ear headphones with active noise canceling, it will be difficult to find another pair with the same quality and features at this price. Apple doesn’t offer this range of competing products, making it more difficult to choose the right headphones.

If the headphones aren’t too loud and you don’t need to enjoy the algorithmic spatial audio, the Monolith M1000ANC headphones are for you.

  • Sufficient sound quality
  • Incredible 60 hours battery life
  • Simple pairing and control
  • comfortable
  • Volume lamps are uneven from 0% to 100%
  • Algorithmic spatial audio is a gimmick
  • Construction casts us doubt on long-term durability

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Where to buy Monolith M1000 ANC headphones


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