Apple's AirPods Max are a popular pair of wireless headphones for anyone hoping to experience the immersive sound of spatial audio - but a new alternative from Monoprice could be an excellent budget rival for anyone who doesn't want to part with $549 / £549 / AU$899 for a pair of headphones.
The Monolith M1000ANC wireless headphones cost just $129 (about £100 / AU$175) and come with their own version of spatial audio, which is powered by Dirac Virtuo.
According to Monoprice, this technology expands the sound stage "far beyond the physical limitations of the headphones, allowing listeners to hear their music in a more immersive, natural sounding way".
A cheaper way to get spatial audio
While there are lots of headphones that are capable of producing 3D audio (whether its the AirPods Max with Apple's Spatial Audio or the Sony WH-1000XM4 with Sony's 360 Reality Audio), Dirac Virtuo is especially clever - that's because it takes regular stereo content and makes it sound more expansive.
Whether the Monolith M1000ANC will sound as immersive as their pricier rivals remains to be seen. After all, Dirac Virtuo is designed to replicate the sound of a pair of high-end stereo speakers, rather than manually placing different elements of a piece of music in a virtual sphere to make it feel as though sound is coming at you from every angle, as with Dolby Atmos soundtracks.
Still, a great pair of stereo speakers can produce an incredibly engrossing sound; more audio channels isn't always better, and most audiophiles still use a left/right speaker setup for a natural, accurate audio performance.
Plus, stereo content is far more widely available than tracks mixed in Atmos, even if Apple Music and other streaming services are increasingly offering 3D audio versions of their songs.
While we're yet to test the Monolith M1000ANC for ourselves, the specs suggest they have lots going for them. Active noise cancellation should allow you to listen to your music without the sound of the surrounding real-world environment interrupting you, while Qualcomm's Echo Cancelling and Noise Suppression technology should mean your calls sound crisp and clear.
Most impressive of all is the battery life. At 60 hours, it's much longer than most wireless headphones on the market, and three times as long as the AirPods Max, which can only manage 20 hours of playback from a single charge.
If these over-ear headphones do live up to the specs, they could be a great alternative to some of the best headphones on the planet - and we're intrigued to see if Monoprice can rival the likes of Apple and Sony with its latest model.
- Read our guide to the best wireless headphones you can buy today