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Monoprice’s latest ANC headphones feature spatial audio

Monoprice is adding another set of wireless noise-canceling headphones to its arsenal, but this time, it’s leveraging Swedish audio company Dirac to give thes cans a bit of extra firepower. The $130 Monolith M1000ANC use Dirac’s Virtuo technology to give listeners the ability to upscale their audio into a virtualized spatial presentation that mimics real speakers. You can buy them starting March 17.

Monoprice's Monolith M1000ANC headphones lay on a black surface.
Monoprice

The M1000ANC look like a cross between Sony’s flagship WH-1000XM4 and Shure’s Aonic 40, and feature a fold-up design that help make them ideal for traveling. Inside the memory foam-cushioned earcups are a set of 40mm drivers with a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz. “Our Monolith headphones have an excellent reputation for superb performance at unbeatable prices,” said Hobie Sechrest, Monolith business unit manager for Monoprice, in a press release. “These headphones are no exception.”

The over-ear cans sport a hybrid active noise cancellation (ANC) system that Monoprice says will reduce noise by up to 35 decibels. They also feature a transparency mode that can be activated just by placing a hand over one earcup — something Sony also includes on its XM series.

Battery life is a claimed 40 hours with ANC turned on, and up to 60 hours when it’s turned off. A fast-charging feature will give you an extra two hours of playtime with only five minutes of charging. Included with the headphones is a USB-C charging cable, a 3.5mm analog cable for non-powered listening, and a travel bag.

But the big differentiator is the presence of the Dirac Virtuo technology. It uses special algorithms to modify the presentation of standard two-channel stereo so that it sounds as though you’re listening to a set of stereo speakers that are standing in front of your listening position, several feet apart.

I had the chance to try Dirac Virtuo recently on the Sudio E2 wireless earbuds. If the implementation of Virtuo is as good on the M1000ANC as it is on the E2, it should make for a very fun and immersive alternative to the sound from these headphones.

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