At this point, everyone has at least one pair of earbuds. I know I’ve got a few that I’ve picked up throughout the years. Here’s the problem – if you’re like me, you have a nasty habit of throwing them out. Like USB sticks, they linger long past their usefulness as technology continues to march on. As such, I pulled out an older pair of Belkin earbuds only to find that they had limited range, charged slower than molasses, and used a MicroUSB connector. I thought about hunting down a MicroUSB cable, but frankly these needed to be put out to pasture. I’ve recently reviewed the Monster DNA Fit earbuds, but they aren’t quite as grab-and-go as the other headset Monster launched on the same day – the Monster DNA Go. Built with many of the same technological advantages of its bigger brother, these only clock in at $79.99, but contain many of the features that make the DNA Go a great pair of earbuds.
The first thing you’ll notice once you unpack the Monster DNA Go is that the case is an odd little tall triangle shape. It is smaller than most charging cases, but slightly taller. The earbuds snap in via magnets, and the door closes using the same. On paper they hold 24 hours of charge, with the earbuds purporting 7 hours of constant use. The case supports Qi charging as well as rapid charging, meaning just 15 minutes of charging time will yield a full hour of use.
While the DNA Fit has a very obvious workout focus, the DNA Go is your grab-and-go set. Lightweight and powerful they go head to head with their more expensive brothers, with parity in almost every feature. The latest in Rapid Qi wireless charging case and Bluetooth/NFC pairing tech is present in both. What surprised me was that they also both have IP5X water resistance. Let’s talk about what that designation means.
IPX, or ingress protection code, indicates just how well a device is sealed against the elements. Can it repel water? What about dust? The higher the rating the better, with most products in this category falling into the IP0X range, meaning they have no protection. For those who do offer protection, it’s often IP3X or 4X at most, meaning they are sealed from anything 2.5mm or 1mm and larger, respectively. The Monster DNA Go is IP5X rated, meaning that some dust smaller than a millimeter could get through, but never enough to damage the device. On the liquid side, it means it can handle a sustained low-pressure water jet spray, as well as water splashes from any direction. Translating that to the real world leads me to the biggest surprise on these devices – how to clean them.
Straight from the manufacturer, if you get these things grimy and gross from sweat, you’ll simply rinse them under running water. You didn’t misread that – just put them under the tap to clean them off and then let them dry and you’ll be ready for your next workout. Their IP5X rating ensures they’ll repel the water from hitting the internals, ensuring all the sensitive bits stay protected. You’d need to hit IPX ratings of 7, 8, or 9 to go swimming with them, so don’t go crazy, but it does mean you should wash these every once in a while.
The Monster DNA Fit are purpose built for workouts, with a number of features to ensure they stay put during the toughest workouts. While the DNA Go are IP5X rated, and certainly can do the job, you might confine your activities to less ballistic motion. Things like riding a bike will work perfectly, but something like Crossfit is probably a no-go. Still, it’s great that you can use the Monster DNA Go in a pinch.
Powering the DNA Go is the most recent Qualcomm aptX Lossless Audio tech. In the very highest of high end headphones you’ll find this tech helping bring sound quality that would otherwise be exclusive to a wired solution. Qualcomm has nailed it with their latest iteration, dubbed aptX, providing a lag-free premium sound whether it’s a phone call, music, game, or anything in between. I’ve seen many earbuds in this price range without it, and almost none with it, placing the DNA Go in some very rarified air indeed.
There is one piece of tech that the Monster DNA Fit has that the Monster DNA Go does not – Active Noise Canceling. On the Fit there are a number of microphones that help identify and isolate the noise, culling it. Here we have what Monster refers to as Ambient Noise Suppression. It’d be easy to conflate the two, but that couldn’t be further from the purpose or the result. In fact, Ambient Noise Suppression focuses on detecting the ambient noise in the environment you are in, isolating it, and then suppressing it. It’s not running an active counter sine wave, instead it focuses on a cleaner fit to your ear to prevent ingress of unwanted noise, or egress of sound and noise you’d like to keep. To support that, Monster provides a dozen ear tips that can be used to ensure you have a snug fit in your ear. In this way you should be able to listen to music at a lower volume and still have the desired clarity. It’s not quite the same as active noise cancellation, but it worked well enough on a plane with my Steamdeck, though I did find myself using more volume than I wanted to fully drown out the engine drone.
The overall shape of the Monster DNA Go is very reminiscent of an In-Ear Monitor (IEM). IEMs try to fill the overall ear canal to help with noise leakage. As a side consequence they are also insanely comfortable to wear, even for long periods of time. I’ve worn them from full to empty multiple times and never once thought I needed to take them out because of discomfort or that they were making my ears feel itchy or the like. That’s a tough nut to crack for any in-ear, on-ear, or over-ear device, but the proof is in the use. These are the most comfortable pair of headphones I own, and by a long shot.
I put the Monster DNA Go through its paces the last few weeks, using it for music on my phone, gaming on my Steamdeck, sound for my various VR headsets, and on my Nintendo Switch. Firing these earbuds up gives you a pleasant little guitar ditty to let you know that it’s awake and ready for a Bluetooth connection. Making that pairing follows it up with another little guitar strum to inform you that you are good to go. It’s far better than a voiceover letting you know that everything is working, though you’ll still hear “battery low” when that occurs.
You may have heard the term “True Wireless” thrown around and not known that it’s more than just a buzzword. I mean, it’s not much more than that, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t know what they mean when it’s stamped on a package. True Wireless just means that there isn’t a connecting wire between the left and right earbud. Early earbuds would connect the two because they simply lacked the tech to keep them synched. Here you can run them without a wire, but more than that, you can run just the left, just the right, or both at the same time without a hitch. In fact, taking out the earbud reveals a cool trick that I didn’t expect.
Other than when you are done with them and putting them back in the case to charge, think about when you take out an ear bud. Somebody wants to talk to you, the stewardess wants to know what you’d like to drink, you need to get somebody’s attention, etc. — you take it out because you need to halt the sound for a moment. On every earbud I’ve owned to this point I’ve had to quickly fumble with my phone or device, pause the movie, song, game, or whatever, and then take out the earbud. Here, the Monster DNA Go immediately detects that the earbud is no longer in your ear and automatically pauses whatever you are doing. I didn’t realize how much I’d appreciate this feature until I used it several times in a very short span of time. I hope it becomes the norm, but to my knowledge, Monster has the corner on this tech for now.
During heavy use I did find that the Go did fall a little short of the advertised 7 hours of battery life. Throwing heavy bass tracks and some volume at it ran them closer to 5 hours in my estimation. I ran them to zero multiple times to test and that varied up to around 6 with less volume. It’s not scientific, but I was never able to get it to hit that 7 hour mark.
One thing to note, there is no risk to trying out the Monster DNA Go or the DNA Fit. Both carry a 30 day money back guarantee, so if you aren’t 100% satisfied with them, you have but to send them back for a full refund. When you have decided they work for you, you are covered for a full two years from the date of purchase. At a price of $79.99 they won’t break the bank either.
Ultimately technology is a moving target, and things like earbuds have a very real shelf life. New technologies are introduced, fresh audio codecs deliver even richer sound and compatibility, and as such, you’ll need to really assess just how long you’ve had those old freebie buds you’ve been rocking for years. As we finally reach parity with wires thanks to aptX, the Monster DNA Go is very easy to recommend.
Monster DNA Go
With excellent sound, IP5X water and dust resistance, and some cool new tech bits under the hood, the Monster DNA Go is an excellent choice for anyone looking to upgrade their earbud experience. While I wish they lived up to their battery life claim, the Qi charger is a great addition to the package and will have you back to rocking your tunes in no time.
- IP5X water / dust resistant! Clean em with water?!
- Crystal clear sound with robust bass and clear treble
- Works with everything I threw at it
- Priced to move
- Pause tech was something I didn’t know I needed!
- Ambient Noise Suppression vs. ANC might be a dealbreaker
- Shy of the 7 hour battery life advertised