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Monster DNA Pro 2.0 Over-Ear review: These new low-profile Monster headphones earn their flagship status

These passive noise-canceling headphones from Monster pair the brand's booming sound with a fresh design that works best for smaller ears.

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Justin Yu
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Justin Yu

Associate Editor / Reviews - Printers and peripherals

Justin Yu covered headphones and peripherals for CNET.

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There's certainly no shortage of Monster headphones lining store shelves, but the DNA Pro 2.0 headphones take a step out of the box with a sleekly simple design that sets them apart from their showy linemates. The company's latest flagship model comes in white or "black tuxedo" and retails for $300 in the US, £249 in the UK and AU$229 in Australia.

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7.8

Monster DNA Pro 2.0 Over-Ear

The Good

The Monster DNA Pro 2.0 Over-Ear headphones are well-balanced and good-quality with two headphone ports for simultaneous listening. They come with a soft carrying case and two cables (one for extra length and another with an inline mic/remote for smartphone use).

The Bad

Listeners with large ears will have a hard time finding a comfortable position for these headphones.

The Bottom Line

The Monster DNA Pro headphones are a step forward in design and sound quality, but some users may find the earcups too narrow.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The design of the DNA Pro 2.0 will be a shock to fans who are used to seeing Monster's instantly recognizable oblong headband shape with circular earcups -- that specific style is so tightly bound to the brand that you can probably tell who makes these headphones without even looking at the logo.

The team took a new approach in aesthetics for the DNA Pro; the closed-back design is anchored by a new teardrop shape to the earcups, which also feature a faux-carbon weave and glossy reflective paneling. The semicircular headband itself is also draped in similar pieces with just enough padding underneath to require only occasional breaks for relief.

Sarah Tew/CNET

As with all Monster headphones, the build of the DNA Pro 2.0 is tuned for performance and mobility, and listeners will be pleased to find two 3.5mm "MusicShare" headphone ports underneath each earcup that can be used at the same time for simultaneous listening by friends.

Incidentally, the headphones also fold down easily for safe travel in the included soft bag, and the box includes two wires: one straight wire with a coiled section at the top for additional length and a separate ControlTalk cable with a built-in microphone and remote control for Apple devices. Pro tip: you can also control some Android music players, though not all are officially supported.

Sarah Tew/CNET

With all the headphones Monster puts out every year, it makes sense that not all of them will feature a universal fit -- the DNA Pro 2.0s are no different, and it should be mentioned that some users will find the upside-down triangular earcups uncomfortable to wear over extended listening sessions.

But those appreciate this model's fit and feel will be rewarded with small details like extra-supple memory foam earcups, a lightweight build that doesn't feel flimsy, and a bold soundstage that will breathe new life into your music.

Performance

While I wouldn't call these audiophile headphones, the DNA Pro 2.0s certainly won't disappoint listeners that shell out the money. The sound quality sings through the high end without sacrificing detail and bass supporters will be satisfied with the reach of the lower frequencies.

You probably won't be surprised to hear that the bass booms can sometimes drown out other aural nuances, but the headphones are generally well-balanced with decent warmth when paired with a smartphone. Compared with the Monster 24K (the company's other gold standard), the DNA Pro 2.0s are more acoustically pleasing if you listen to music that favors instruments to machines. They blend a sweeter tone than the 24K, which amplifies punchy kick drums and electronic tones.

The DNA Pro headphones also work just as well for watching movies as they do for sampling music, and they make a great Netflix companion as long as you don't forget to take breaks in between programs to give your ears a chance to rest. I'm also happy to report that they don't leak much sound either, and though they aren't actively powered for noise cancellation, they do the job to eliminate ambient sounds if you turn up the volume.

Finally, I was able to sample their performance with a variety of sources with positive results, including an Apple iPhone 6, a home audio receiver and turntable, and a DAC releasing music from a desktop computer.

Conclusion

The Monster DNA Pro 2.0 Over-Ear headphones are a formidable competitor in the $300 price range. Though perhaps not quite as garish as other Monster cans, the DNA Pro 2.0s will attract people with smaller-than-average ears who are shopping for versatile headphones to make their music (or movies) pop.

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7.8

Monster DNA Pro 2.0 Over-Ear

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Sound 8Value 8