DB Monroe — dual dynamic driver IEMs with great presentation appealing to old school style and design. Full name is Debauche Bacchus — a new brand by DB Science and Technology Co.LTD., while Monroe is their first attempt to capture the minds of music fans. We would go over this product today trying to understand whether the sound quality is matching its remarkable appearance.
DB Monroe technical specifications:
- Drivers: 2 x dynamic, 10mm graphene + 8mm titanium film
- Sensitivity: 99±3dB
- Impedance: 32Ω
- Frequency response range: 18-22kHz
- Maximum input power: 10mW
- Shell material: 316L stainless steel
- Cable interface: MMCX
- Plug: 3.5mm
Other declared features:
- Precision double cavity design: requires smaller volume to accommodate two powerful drivers
- 10 mm graphene diaphragm driver: ultra thin, reduces low frequency harmonic distortions, better low frequency response, rigidity extends treble range.
- 8 mm titanium film: driver for mids|treble, rigidity of the diaphragm increases treble response speed, increases resolution of vocals
Frequency response graph (provided by DB):
Graphs shows U-shaped tuning with elevation of lows, upper-mids and lower-treble. Lower mids are recessed. Such tuning generally leads to more emotional delivery and additional voice clarity but might also result into some shouting on female vocals. We’ve paid much attention to this and would describe our findings in the sound quality test section.
DB Monroe structure:
- Double cavity shell (1 & 2 & 7)
- 8mm PET diaphragm cell (3)
- 10mm graphene diaphragm unit (4)
- MMCX interface (5)
- High precision Panasonic original decoration part (6)
- Low frequency balanced air hole for larger amplitude and better bass extension (8)
Packaging, design and materials:
DB Monroe packaging design and box content is the best we’ve ever seen for IEMs. Yes, the box is big and heavy but it encloses numerous accessories and features great design!
Box has the additional cardbord cover with good graphics showing how IEMs look like, describing its drivers and providing technical specifications. Information and prints also include company message about the product and extra elements like button images that address old analog audio players.
Danger red is the color for our particular unit. We would prefer to call it panic red Other options are blue, black and yellow. It seems that not only IEMs but the side parts of this cover would also change depending of the color choice.
Design of the box (cover was removed) is even more appealing: large window exposing IEMs that are placed in audio tape style protection case and a sticker representing radio frequency tuning bar at the top.
Even the inner part of the top box cover has special stylized prints.
First what you’d find inside the box is the soft foamy podium containing IEMs in storage case and thick aluminum plate with Andy Warhole quote embossed to its surface and product serial number. The quote says: «The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that would never meet».
Ok, digging deeper: there is a folded product leaflet underneath (icons actually remind us more about Sony PlayStation logos rather than audio equipment key indicators)
and a list with pin-up stickers (Marilyn Monroe describing different color options
Finally, we have reached zero level of the box. Although, there are some hidden surprises as well.
For example, product user manual is a thick book with lots of information about IEMs provided in six languages. Moreover, we’ve found another set of four old school style cards with four color options. Another surprise was to find 6.3mm male to 3.5mm female adaptor which is kind of rare accessory for IEMs. We believe that including cable with 2.5mm balanced plug would be even better. Anyway, good that 6.3mm adaptor was added at least.
Ok, now the box contents:
- 6.3mm male to 3.5mm female adaptor
- 3 pairs of silicone eartips (S|M|L)
- 1 pair of memory foam eartips
- storage case
- user manual
- list with pin-up stickers
- product leaflet
- 4 cards
- serial number plate
Storage case is made of aluminum with large glass windows covering front and back sides. Closing mechanism is represented by spring loaded slider that should be pushed to the left to get it opened.
There is another foamy podium inside that protects IEMs from movements during the transportation. Of course, we would have to get rid of that but the good thing is that the inner compartment is also covered with soft material. Unfortunately, some scratches on glass are inevitable.
Finally, we’ve riched IEMs: Monroe shells are made of two parts: 316L stainless steel top cover with glossy piano paint and black base. Parts are alligned well but there is a thin uneven gap between those elements and you can feel the edges of top cover when you swipe over the side. Perhaps, it is a result of having thick layer of paint applied to this part.
The look of Monroe IEMs addresses the old school design of audio tape era with some plastic elements, shapes and vivid colors. Top covers got model name imprints, some additional decorations and vents for bass driver. MMCX ports are located here as well.
Bases contain additional vents and channel indicators. Output nozzles are protruding from base and covered with aluminum protection grills. Even this tiny element resembles the overall design — not a mere square mesh but long openings instead.
Cable is 1.2m long, features nylon braid, aluminum Y-splitter, slider and 3.5mm jack housing with DB logo imprint and plastic housing of MMCX connectors with the corresponding channel indicators. We believe that plastic was chosen to give it a shape and look of aged jacks.
6.3mm -> 3.5mm adaptor does also have DB logo imprint.
The overall design is great. Lots of attention to tiniest details, every part and accessory are resembling the main theme. The most appealing product in terms of look so far.
Unfortunately, fit is not the perfect one, at least for us — shape is not very natural, IEMs are a bit heavy and might tend to fall out while moving actively. The choice of eartips is vital and it is really better to keep the cable with the earguides.
Tested with Hidizs AP80 DAP and Hidizs AP200 DAP
Couple of words about the equipment: DB Monroe IEMs is not the hardest load for DAPs but the combination of 99dB sensitivity and 32Ω impedance would result in low volume and lack of dynamics with regular smartphones or integrated PC audio outputs. More capable sources as dedicated DAPs and AMPs would drive DB Monroe to much better level.
Lows and midbass:
Monroe IEMs might be a good choice for bass lovers — the extension and texturing of this range is great and the presence is more than the average. Lower range is emphasized and clearly percepted. Bass guitar notes are always available no matter how many instruments are involved in the mix. There is an effect of low vibe sensations when bass reaches extremely low frequencies.
Midbass range is decent: fast, tight and dynamic. It doesn’t exhibit any harsh peaks even at higher volumes and would maintain full-bodied delivery and good presence even at lower volumes. Drums sound natural and engaging.
Mids and vocals:
Lower mids are recessed and some instruments or male vocals sound a bit thin and distant whereas upper mids and female vocals are brought to front, more emphasized and feel more lively. Such uneven distribution of gains is partially compensated by the mellow and smooth presentation with a warmer end to the mids in overall. This is mostly affecting male vocals, guitars or other string instruments and creating the feel that the sound is kind of originating from the audio tape, indeed. Such tuning would also create more emotional appeal, adding some clarity to vocals and resolving more overtones in mid range. In order to maintain the resemblance of the overall design in the whole sound picture we’d prefer if the gain of the upper mids would have also been descreased due to some tendency of «shouting» notes on female vocals and tendency to lisping. This would depend much of a DAP source: neutral delivery of AP200 is totally ok whereas AP80 with its brighter signature would emphasize this further.
Treble protion is balanced with other frequency ranges, has a moderate resolution and adequate extension. In treble-saturated tracks this range is totally fine, the presence is enough, neither recessed nor accentuated — sounds crisp and clear, creating airy presentation and adding some transparency to the sound. In bass-heavy tracks higher treble might feel a bit underpowered, especially at lower volumes. In overall, tuning of this range is suiting the main idea of providing mellow and smooth performance with no excessive sharpness or piercing details.
Monroe IEMs have actually surprised us with the ability to show wide soundstage with very good instrument separation and their distant locations from the center. Most of the instruments are well-cuntoured, precisely located, widely distributed in horizontal and vertical planes creating the feel of larger scene width and depth.
Sound in overall:
Sound produced by DB Monroe IEMs сould be described as having U-shape tuning, with very good low end extension and texturing, rich and powerful midbass section, elevated upper mids/lower treble and good presence of upper treble. Sound is kind of mellow and warm when used with neutral or dark sources. Most suitable for slow music genres, blues, old rock, jazz, etc.
Compared to Anew U1:
Anew U1 are single dynamic driver IEMs with more balanced presentation and more neutral tonality. They have almost the same extension but less resolution on lows and less recession on lower mids. DB Monroe feature better soundstage and bass texturing. Also comes with better box contents.
Compared to Kinera IDUN:
Kinera IDUN IEMs are hybrid type based on 1DD and 1BA drivers resulting in much more resolution and presence of treble, more transparent and airy sound and detailed midrange. At the same time, DB Monroe deliver more bass, have better midbass reproduction and warmer feel.
Compared to iKKO OH1:
Another hybrid IEMs with 1DD + 1BA structure. Almost similar to Kinera IDUN results — having better treble presence, clarity and extension together with better resolution on mids but would fall short to DB Monroe in terms of lower end texturing, presence and articulation/power of midbass. Very similar behavior in upper mids that might be prone to some shouting notes with brighter sources.
DB Monroe IEMs is a good example of awesome product design with the whole story behind it and an attempt to reflect visual presentation in its sound characteristics. This is the best product ever in terms of packaging, box contents and creating the first impression. Perfectly exteriorized idea with lots of tiny details chasing one main theme throughout all elements. Very surprising is that DB has managed to resemble the essence of old school appearance in the sound of their IEMs — feels kind of mellow, smooth and bassy which reminds us about audio tapes. Finally, we’d say that DB Monroe are having distinct sound signature and stand out from the crowd of rivals with modern sound.