VE Monk Review: The $9.90 Miracle

Eli Moore, Entertainment Editor

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Introduction

As soon as you clicked on this article, you’ve probably thought to yourself, “What the heck is a VE?” Well, VE is an acronym for Venture Electronics. Venture Electronics is a Chinese company that does all of its dealings online, and they’re extremely well-known for their cheap pair of earbuds, the Monks. The Monks are the classic kind of earbud, lacking a tip that goes directly into your ear. And in my opinion, at least, it creates a wider sound stage opposed to something like the pair of earbuds you’re most familiar with. If you’re still unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, the Monks look like the cooler older brother of the classic iBuds that came with the iPhone 4.

Image result for old apple headphones

(These things.)

Worth The Hype?

If you’re familiar with the audio community, you know that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good sound. For example, my budget pick for headphones is the Koss PortaPro, a solid pair of cans that I recommend to a lot of people whenever they ask me about cheap headphones. Well, when it comes to the VE Monk, things become a completely different story. The VE Monk are five bucks. Five dollars for some of the warmest, deepest, and smoothest sound quality of any pair of headphones that I’ve listened to within the past six months.

Now, I will tell you straight out. The VE Monks are cheap, but they come with a little bit of a caveat. Venture Electronics is based out of China, with shipping coming from a long way’s away. And if you go on Amazon, you’ll find them with Prime Shipping for 10 dollars, more than double the price you’d find them on Chinese retailers. Now, this caveat does come with a minor solution. You can buy them on websites like AliExpress with Fast Shipping for a little more. If you do throw in the extra cash for Fast Shipping, it brings the total to about eight dollars. And if you’re cheap and don’t want to throw in the extra money, you better have a whopping amount of patience.

Build Quality

I’ll go ahead and tell you straight. The build quality on these things is just bad. The plastic cover protecting the audio wiring and drivers is thin, and it bears a logo for VE on the side. So, if you happen to step on these by accident, it’s gonna break. The wires connecting the actual buds to the gold-plated 3.5 mm connector honestly look like they’re prone to peeling if you treat them like a rag doll. And even though the plug is durable, the line itself is about as strong as a freeze-dried spaghetti noodle. So, I wouldn’t recommend tossing these around too much, or you might just have to cough up some more dough for a replacement. And if they do break, then so what? They’re literally cheaper than a pack of light bulbs.

Sound

Sound quality, for lack of a better term, is incredible for what you’re paying for.

The amount of richness in the treble and bass easily surpasses that of Apple’s EarPods (the earbuds that come with your iPhone). The mids are crisp and detailed, with main instruments like acoustic guitars and pianos sounding like you’re listening live. The closest comparison I could give to something like this in terms of sound quality is probably the Shure SE-215 CL, a pair of earphones costing $100. The Monks sound good, really good. And I’m really impressed with what China is doing in terms of audio. Companies like Mrice, KZ, and Venture Electronics are producing really good products for the money, and I can’t help but feel like Americans are passing it up.

But, even though the bass is present, it isn’t overwhelming like on most headphones nowadays. Bass doesn’t thump as much as something like the Koss PortaPro or the Final E4000, but it hits the sweet spot for me. I’m more of a treble guy, so for me, these are perfect. However, things tend to vary. Some people are more bass-oriented, and if you like that rich thumping sound, I’d most likely recommend the KZ ZST or ATE.

In conclusion, I simply adore the sound of these earbuds. It’s almost like you’re listening live. Except, on five dollar earbuds.

Caveats

As with every product, there are a couple of flaws.

As I said earlier, the bass doesn’t pop out as much as some other headphones. I like the treble, and the enhanced clarity because of the more lacking bass.  But, a problem that more people are more keen on is the unknown nature of the company, along with the long time it takes to arrive. On Amazon, there is a model of the Monks that is boasting an in-line microphone and controller. The model costs about ten dollars, but it takes literally two months to ship directly from Shenzhen. And there is a second option with Prime, although it is lacking the in-line microphone and controller. This is the option that I currently own, and I really don’t mind that much.

I also think that most people really would expect more isolation. Granted, isolation on earbuds is caused by cushions being inserted into the ear canal. This caveat does have a slight advantage, though. I can still talk to people, even with the earbuds in. It’s actually quite helpful, because you can still make slight chitchat without worrying about you screaming “WHAT DID YOU SAY THERE?” at the top of your lungs in public. Compared to something like Apple’s AirPods, the isolation on those is really good, but people wanting to have a conversation are always yelling at me trying to overpower the music.

Competitors

There are a few competitors in this space that are giving some features for the relatively the same money.

These are:

  • KZ ZST
  • KZ ATE
  • Xiaomi Mi Pistons
  • Panasonic ErgoFit
  • MEE Audio M6

Should I Buy These Earbuds?

I would recommend these to the following people:

  • People on a budget
  • Fans of a natural and immersive sound
  • Students (as a pair of school earbuds)
  • Those who like a distinct yet universal sound
  • Basically, anyone who wants a cheap pair of earbuds with a good fit, supreme sound, and low price.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a cheap pair of earbuds that sound as good as products ten times the price, get the VE Monks. If you want a sound that doesn’t overdo the bass, get the VE Monks. If you’re willing to have enough patience to await a product from halfway across the world, get the VE Monks. Basically, I think everyone should have a pair of these lying around as either a backup or for primary use. Personally, I keep these tucked in my pocket, bag, or ears most of the time. Other times, I just sit down in a quiet room and immerse myself in this bargain of ‘buds.