When you think of the word unique in conjunction with the word headphone or speaker, what comes to mind? Maybe a slightly different color or shape? What about a whole new paradigm… something you would never even think to think of? That’s kind of how I view the Native Union’s Monocle speaker ($39.99-49.99).
What’s so unique about the Monocle is that it’s a single speaker headphone/speakerphone. In other words, you can hold it up to your ear to listen to audio more privately or crank the volume up to high and use it as a standalone speaker or speakerphone thanks to the included mic.
This was a gadget that I wanted to test because I was sucked in by the intrigue of it. Why would anyone want a half a pair of headphones? The answer, I found out, is that it’s all about versatility. Add to that the fact that it’s nice and small and you’ve got the added bonus of portability (which in turn increases the whole versatility thing). Oh ya, it’s got some unique social features. I’ll get to that in a sec.
I mean, there’s an obvious coolness about the speaker. It says, “I’m different. Deal with it.” When you use it, you’re making a statement. If you don’t want to be like everyone else (ie seen with white EarPods or Beats or whatever), the Monocle will definitely stand out in a crowd.
I found that the Monocle is capable of blowing away your ear drums (in terms of volume) when held to your head, but not so much when simply used as a speaker. And that’s okay. A smaller size, and therefore a more portable speaker, isn’t going to be as loud as a larger portable speaker.
I think the social music sharing aspect of the Monocle is pretty awesome. If you want to share your music with someone else, they can plug their Monocle into yours. In fact, you can chain up to 10 Monocles together. That would be entertaining just to see! It’s a more physical approach to music sharing in a world where digital sharing (via music sharing apps or headphones that literally beam your music to another listener) is constantly gaining traction.
The Monocle can easily be taken with you wherever you want to go. Okay, probably not to the bottom of the ocean, but it will clip onto your bag or backpack and follow you around that way.
The Monocle is different sort of speaker. If you are looking for something unique, versatile and portable that has social music sharing capabilities built right in, Native Union’s Monocle might be just right for you. But if you need a speaker with a bigger “oomph” you might need to look elsewhere.