Monster Inspiration Active Noise Canceling Over-Ear HeadphonesAs many of you know, my job requires me to do a lot of traveling. Because of that, I spend a lot of time sitting in airports & airplanes. And, like most frequent travelers, I’m always looking for ways to keep myself entertained during my travels. Since there is always work that can be done (and I have a huge list of personal projects to work on), the majority of my time is spent writing new apps or enhancing existing ones. While working, I enjoy putting on my headphones and cranking up my music. When I’m not working, I enjoy watching movies on my tablet. Whether I’m listening to music or watching a movie, a nice set of headphones not only keeps me entertained, but it also drowns out the noise of the plane, crying babies, and people that are obnoxiously loud. Until Christmas, I have been relying on a cheap pair of ear buds that aren’t very loud, become very uncomfortable after a short amount of time, and do a horrible job of drowning out nearby noises. The only reason I have continued using them is because they are small enough to roll up and stick in my pocket. Thankfully, I have a gracious fiancee that realized my need for some nice headphones and bought me the Inspiration Active Noise Canceling Over-Ear Headphones from Monster for Christmas which I want to discuss with you now.

Before my fiancee went out and bought whatever headphones she thought would be nice, she first asked me to look around and find something that I felt would be best for me. Since I already have several pairs of ear buds and already know how they feel, I didn’t bother looking at any more of those. Instead, I started out by looking at some of the biggest names in headphones available today. I looked at the Beats by Dre, SOUL by Ludacris, Crushers by Skullcandy, a few pairs from Bose, several from Sony, and the top of the line from Sennheiser. Even though the Beats and SOUL are extremely popular right now, I didn’t think that they sounded as good as some of the others. I also didn’t like the fact that both of those sat on my ears instead of covering them completely. The Bose and Crushers both sounded extremely well, but my ears got sweaty after just a few minutes of using them. Most of the Sony’s sounded good and felt comfortable on my ears, but the ones that I liked didn’t get very good reviews online. As for the Sennheisers, I liked the HD-280 PROs the most. But, all of the reviews I read about those said that the headband was made cheap and didn’t last very long. Since I will be putting the headphones through the ringer, I wanted something that would be extremely durable and could hold up to the abuse my traveling will put on them.

Aside from wanting something that could fit over my ears, could withstand the punishment from frequent abuse from traveling, sounded terrific, and was comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, I also wanted some headphones that included noise cancellation and had the least amount of leakage. If you aren’t familiar with what leakage is, it’s when the people sitting around you can hear what you are listening to just like they were wearing the headphones instead. I can’t stand being on a plane and having to listen 5 hours of Katy Perry being blasted from the headphones of the teeny bopper sitting behind me because her headphones have a high leakage. Since I can’t stand listening to other peoples’ music and movies, I don’t want to force everyone else around me to listen to mine. Besides, I have horrible hearing and have to turn up my audio more than others. Because of that, I desperately need headphones that have the lowest leakage possible.

Of all the different headphones I tested and read reviews about, the headphones I finally decided on are the Monster Inspiration Active Noise Canceling Over-Ear Headphones which are available on Amazon for $300.00. As the name suggests, the Inspirations include noise cancellation and they fit over my ears instead of sticking in them or sitting on the lobes like many of the others. The Inspirations are extremely durable and very comfortable. As a test, I listened to music using the Inspirations for an entire day while working last week and they never got uncomfortable. My ears didn’t sweat and I didn’t feel like I had pencils sticking out of my ears like I did with my previous ear buds. The audio coming out of these headphones is amazing! They include plenty of bass, but not so much that you can’t hear the rest of the sounds coming out of them. The Crushers I tried from Skullcandy also had really good bass. However, the Crushers’ bass was so much that it was almost impossible to hear the mids & highs of my music. Plus, my head began pounding after only about 2 minutes of wearing the Crushers. Even though my ears & head would probably hurt if I cranked up the music on the Inspirations too much, I felt like I could listen to them a lot longer than I could any of the others. During my tests, I tried to make sure that the audio level was turned up the same amount for each headphone so as I could test all of them equally. Since I had a chance to test the Crushers and the Inspirations back-to-back, I know that the audio level was the same for both and that’s how I made the decision that the Inspirations sounded much better for me.

As mentioned, the Inspirations include active noise cancellation. For that, you have to insert 2 AAA batteries (included) in the right ear cup. There is a separate switch on the back of the same ear cup that allows you to turn on / off the noise cancellation. When noise cancellation is turned on, the right-side seemed to be a lot quieter than the left when no music was playing. When music was playing and the noise cancellation switch was in the on position, the audio seemed to almost double which makes for a greater listening experience. When not being used, both ear cups collapse allowing you to store the headphones in the included case which is very, very nice! It includes a strap on the back which allows you to easily carry them along with a metal carabiner that you can use to clip the case onto your backpack or belt. Inside the case you will find a side-pocket that can be used for storing any of the 3 included audio cables. One of the cables is a standard male-to-male cable with a 3.5mm jack on both ends. The second cable is the same, but also includes an inline switch for controlling the sound level on your iPhone or iPod if used with those. The third cable is the same as the second, but also includes an inline microphone as well as a mute button which allows you to use these bad boys with your iPhone for making phone calls. Since I carry an iPhone for work, it’s nice to be able to pull the cable from my tablet (or iPod) and connect it to my iPhone when receiving calls and never have to take the headphones off of my head. Also included with the headphones is an interchangeable headband which I will never use, but is still cool that it’s included and you have the ability to customize your Inspiration headphones for your style.

Overall, I am extremely impressed with the Inspiration headphones from Monster and would highly recommend them to anyone else looking for a good music / movie / audio experience. The only thing I didn’t really like about them was the price. But, since they provide everything I could ever ask for in a nice pair of headphones, $300.00 is actually well worth it. Besides, all of the other comparable headphones had similar price tags as well. If you don’t mind having used headphones, it’s possible to find them for about half the price too. One word of caution though, almost all of the pictures I saw of the headphones online made them look like they were capable of being used wirelessly. In fact, I even remember reading some reviews where people bought them thinking they were wireless. They are not. Instead, you have to use one of the 3 cables as explained above to connect the headphones to your device of choice. If you don’t mind having a cable between your headphones and MP3 player, tablet, or laptop, then I think you too would be extremely happy with these headphones. But, don’t take my word for it. Head on over to Amazon and pick up a pair of your own and try them out for yourself.

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