- For many good features, the lower zone is at the level of pleasing any Bass-Heads.
- Different profile to mainstream.
- Emotional, sweet, warm and analogical sound.
- Excellent packaging and conceptual design, possibly one of the best in its class.
- Lack of some shine and air.
- Weight of the capsules.
- It may not be the best cable.
Link to the Store
DB is short for Debauche Bacchus, a new brand that brings to the market some daring IEMS, which have a totally retro air, almost eighty. The entire design is a tribute to the radio cassettes: from their packaging, which simulates the complete device, the transport box, which is the cassette itself, and the capsules, with their play symbols, light witnesses and grilles. Quite a waste of imagination made IEM.
- Driver: Dual Dynamic Driver 10mm Graphene + 8mm Titanium film
- Frequency range: 18Hz – 22kHz
- Sensitivity: 99dB±3dB
- Impedance: 32Ω
- Maximum Power: 10mW
- Shell Material: 316L Stainless steel
- Plug: 3.5mm Gold-plated
- Type of capsule connection: MMCX
The presentation of the DB Monroe is especially unique, an apotheosis tribute to the analogical world of our beloved and ancient cassettes and their reproducers. The box, once opened, simulates a radio cassette, with a ribbon inside it, which is nothing more than the box, decorated for this purpose, which contains the capsules. As the box is unpacked, more details appear that make this experience unique: now a numbered plate, with a slogan by Andy Warhol; now a metal and glass box, decorated like a cassette; a pile of small cardboard with retro drawings, small booklets with instructions; folding sheets where you can see the multiple color options… A lot of small surprises almost impossible to reproduce with words, or even with images…
Among the most common accessories are:
- 3 pairs of hybrid silicone tips, sizes SxMxL.
- 1 pair of foam tips, large size.
- 1 adapter from 3.5mm to 6.3mm
- 1 MMCX cable
- 1 transport box.
I would like to make special mention of two elements: the numbered plate and the transport box. The gold plate is inscribed with the following quote from Andy Warhol:
“The most exciting attractions are between two oppsites that never meet”
In addition, the serial number is also inscribed on it. Quite a luxury of detail.
On the other hand, the transport box is drawn like a cassette. The sides are metallic and the upper and lower faces are made of some kind of glass. It opens by sliding a spring loaded pin to the left side. Inside, in a generous foam mould, the capsules are embedded. It is clear that in order to store the complete set of IEMs with cable, this foam must be removed. To protect the capsules, the inside of the box is covered with a velvet simile. The box is unique, but the combination of metal, the glass surface and the size do not make it the most suitable transport box.
Without detracting from the final result, the presentation of the Monroe DBs is possibly the most special and imaginative that I have been able to unpack from all the products I have analyzed.
Construction and Design
DB Monroe take their analog tribute to the extreme: the capsules follow the line and their outer face represents a cassette. In this case the colour is yellow. The shape of this face is an irregular pentagon. The capsule is divided into two parts: the exterior, yellow, with the grids and symbols of Play and Rec. The interior, sober and black, with the letter of the channel and a hole near the mouthpiece. This nozzle has two levels of diameter: the closest to the base measures 4.5mm, the outside, which houses the metal grid that makes the filter, 5.4mm. Its approximate length is 5mm from the base. They are constructed in stainless steel 316L. The connection is MMCX and the cover of the connectors of the cable, reminds to the models of JH Audio, whose elbow is covered with plastic and have a kind of nut. In this case, this nut is merely decorative, because the connection is the typical MMCX. The cable, after this elbow, is protected by semi-rigid and curved plastic, which gives it the shape on the ear. When this protection ends, the cable has a fine rubbery protection, until it reaches the splitting piece. This piece is just a metal cylinder, with the letters «Monroe» in white. In this section there is an oval sliding piece, also metallic, for the adjustment of the cable. After splitting, the cable is covered with nylon. The sleeve of the plug is the same as the splitting piece, except that this time, the letters painted in white are «dB», as a logo of the brand. The pin is 3.5mm gold-plated.
An impeccable construction for a singular design, markedly retro and conceptual. Although I would have preferred a 4-core braided cable or higher.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
The capsules are made of stainless steel, which is why they feel somewhat heavy in the hand. Once put on, if the fit is good, as is my case, there is no problem. Personally, with my silicone tips filled with foam, the fit is perfect, because with its large size, I can plug the entire shell, getting an optimal fit and a fantastic seal. In this occasion, due to the limited length of the nozzles and the rounded body of the capsules, the use with tri-flange tips has not been adequate, as the insertion does not get to have the adequate depth. That’s why I think that the best tips for its use are made of foam or silicone.
The inner face of the capsules is quite rounded, as are the vertexes of the pentagon. In no case does rubbing the parts of the ear cause any discomfort, despite the generous volume of the capsules.
The ear guides provide an extra comfortable fit and the cable does not have microphony.
The profile of the DB Monroe tends towards a light U, due to its emphasis on the sub-bass zone and the mid-high zone. It is true that it also has a warm tendency, but they really have a good balance, as their means are not as sunken in gain, as can be seen in their frequency response.
A sound that claims to be Old School must be grounded in its lower zone. Said and done. DB does not leave anything in the inkwell in its first model of IEM and bets on a double Dynamic Driver, so that nobody complains, in that sense. But do not expect wasted bass, but quite the opposite. The Monroe is a clear example of a thunderous sub-bass, but very controlled, fast and very deep. The zone is executed with calculated mastery, with impetus, claw and strength, but very polite. The Monroe are for Bass-Heads with class and etiquette, because the control they possess is one of their great virtues. The lower zone is not visceral, but full of stadiums. It is a joy to perceive how the bass spreads in all directions, but without staining or leaving an infinite trace. Each stroke begins and ends, with an impeccable and highly enjoyable definition. Meanwhile, along the way, one can taste the natural texture, tight and contained, of each LFO and the rest of the bass lines, in general.
As I said, the Monroe has a low zone whose emphasis is on the sub-bass, so this whole range is very sensory and is perceived very much. Its color is adequate, each frequency sounds in its place, naturally and without darkness, but with a lot of energy. This is a warning to navigators: energy is neither created nor destroyed. This power level requires something more amplification/volume. The second warning is so much sub-bass can strike those who are not prepared. But, in the meantime, I’m enjoying what’s beautiful.
The bass gain descends smoothly towards 1kHz, compensating for the sensitivity of the human ear and respecting its natural perception. In this way, the lower part of the midrange does not appear too deep, just a little further away. Although it is true that the energy of the lower zone is so great, the initial perception does not seem to be so. Be that as it may, the Monroe offer, once again, a serious respect towards the vocal range and endows it with naturalness, clarity, detail and a certain spark. Although, perhaps, its main virtue is its softness. Again, and due to a greater emphasis in the high end of the mids, female voices stand out over male ones. Something similar happens with the instrumentation that occupies this area, something typical of that U-profile that the Monroe have.
But if there is something totally characteristic in the mid zone of the DB, it is, without a doubt, its marked analogical character. It’s clear that it doesn’t sound like a disc, but they want the soul of CrO2’s cassettes. It’s not a dark sound, but it’s a bit muted, not at all crisp, but with all its attributes there, conveniently softened and elongated. All this generates that very special warmth, which they possess; a tuning which, I think, has been totally sought after.
The first feeling I had with the Monroe was that they don’t have a regular tuning, it’s something you can feel in the treble as well. Where many IEMs go up, they go down: the initial highs are slightly sunk. It is possible that because of this, the means are perceived in such a particular way. However, a little further on, there is a small, but controlled, peak. This generates a sensation of greater initial extension, which also offers a slightly different sonority, slightly penetrating, not unnatural, just different to what I have been analyzing lately. This particularity achieves a very revealing level of detail and allows to extract different nuances to those offered by other models.
But, in any case, the trebles are conveniently moderate and do not offer wheezing or any sharp traces. Within that balance, the only one but, is a slight feeling of lack of air, something that has become quite common in many models.
The analogical character of the Monroe makes a new act of presence, offering a very natural and realistic scene, with enough depth, but not artificially extensive. The image expands pleasantly wide, high and deep, almost equally, achieving a semi-spherical instrumental recreation, with a slight point of darkness, but decongested and open. Another great virtue is the surprising spatiality and separation of sound, capable of providing great directionality to small details and subtle nuances, being able to easily locate each of them.
Starting both from a very similar curve up to 2kHz, it is from there that the big differences glow. And, in addition, they are clearly perceived. But starting with the lower zone, the duel becomes quite hard, as both zones are produced by great dynamic drivers. But the Monroe has one more driver and you can see that in the power they provide. Thus, their bass enjoys greater depth, forcefulness and energy, sounding bigger, but content, very special. And it’s not easy to beat the Anew U1 in this respect. But the basses of the Monroe DB are so powerful, that you notice them with time, getting to fatigue in a silent way.
In the mid range, the Anew have a somewhat more complicated profile, while the Monroe’s tuning is practically perfect for my personal taste. Again, the power of the Monroe is perceived as inaccessible, showing a forcefulness and rotundity in its lower-middle zone, something that is perceived in the drums, even higher up, with the guitars. Male voices are also perceived with greater complexity, with more body and bass nuances. The U1 have a somewhat uneven mid-high part, they have more brightness and that makes them more sibilant, the voices are recreated thinner, but also with more nuances. Meanwhile, the Monroe move in a warmer and sweeter zone, less abrupt and also less distant, more homogeneous and linear. The Anew have a more distant central zone at certain points.
The highs in the Anew start high, stop decaying slowly. It is clear that in the upper zone there are several differences, because the U1 have a little more extension and brightness. The Monroe has a somewhat different curve in the upper part and its incidence in the rest of the sound makes it more peaceful, sweet, filing and less dangerous. The Anew are somewhat more sharp and edgy, but it also gives the sound more details.
The scene is perceived differently in both. The Anew have a brightness that enhances details, its clarity is greater and this benefits the scene, endowing it with a greater sense of separation. The scene in the Monroe is not reduced, far from it, it enjoys very good three-dimensionality, but the cleanliness of the sound of the Anew expands the sound more.
Cozoy Hera C103
The Hera are other IEMs with a curve similar to the Monroe. Again, the lower zone falls on the side of the Monroe, again their power and depth surpasses the Cozoy. The Monroe lower zone has more energy, especially in the sub-bass. In addition, the Hera’s mid-low sounds a more coloured spot than the Monroe, feeling colder and brighter. This lower part, in both IEMs, is quite descriptive, well defined, with soft and realistic texture, good speed and natural timbre. But Monroe bass has a greater incidence on the overall sound of the IEMS, for better or worse.
In the middle zone, the Hera stand out for their elegant cleanliness. But, again, the body is perceived more complete and closer in the Monroe, producing an analog sensation difficult to overcome, where the voices and instruments fill the whole scene, enlarging the sound to a greater extent. The voices in the Hera sound pushed upwards, higher, with a cooler face certainly, but they are also perceived in a closer plane. The instrumentation is better integrated in the Monroe, while in the Hera, they enjoy better definition and a little more air and detail.
In the upper zone, the Hera has a peak at 5Khz and the Monroe at 6kHz. At first glance, the Cozoy look brighter, while the Monroe has that warmer, more sensual and relaxed profile, even above the Hera. Although the length of the treble is greater in the Monroe, the enormous energy of its lower zone, affects the sound globally hindering its clarity and nuances, points that the Hera resolve better.
Despite the Hera’s clean sound and good sense of detail, the Monroe’s sound is bigger, with more scene and a little more separation.
Debauche Bacchus has created a first iconic model, clearly conceptual, a spectacular tribute. From the packaging, through the multitude of details and images of its contents, to the capsules, no one can overlook the great effort devoted throughout this process. But, after all, the objective are the IEMs and their sound. And truly, both are up to the task. It is also worth noting that their profile tries to escape, albeit moderately, from the Harman curve, offering a powerful U-shaped sound, quite balanced, with clear analogical reminiscences, warm, but with enough light, mellow but spacious. Without a doubt, something different, whose listening does not suppose any effort to adapt to them. The Monroe are a true romantic tribute.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Burson Audio Playmate
- Fiio Q1
- Sabaj DA3
- F.Audio XS03