Native Union is a small company founded in 2009 and based in Hong Kong whose aim is to provide solutions to challenges of our digital age. Here with me today I have the Native Union Monocle Speaker which you may have seen in Urban Outfitter stores around the world and also in Harrods, London.
Many speakers on the market claim to be ‘portable’ but what exactly is meant by the term portable? Whatever you define it as, the MONOCLE speaker takes the portability aspect of any speaker to the next level. The device allows you to have either a private listening session like a normal set of headphones, or indeed with a spin of the back will blast your music out like a speaker. However we don’t suggest you walk around blasting your music out aloud around town, everybody hates ‘that person’.
If you plug the MONOCLE into a 3.5mm port without switching the device on you’ll be able to use it as a headphone, or 1/3 of a pair of headphones in this case. The MONOCLE contains no sort of head band you would find on a normal pair of headphones and as the name suggests, only one ear-cup. Because of this we wouldn’t advise replacing your headphones with this product as you actually have to hold the ear-cup to your ear to listen if using it this way. If you’re more of a social listener or simply want to share your tunes with a friend then you can twist the wheel which will turn this small headphone into a nice compact little speaker.
Despite being small the speaker packs quite a punch in terms of volume but if that still isn’t enough you can connect or daisy chain up to 10 of them together. The headphone/speaker has a nice threaded nylon cable in which an inline microphone can be found. This gives you the added function of being able to make calls through the MONOCLE, and if you happen to own an Apple device use Siri – but as we always say, who actually uses that?
The device is available in 4 standard colours which cost £39.99 and there’s also 2 specials which’ll cost an extra £10 at £49.99 a piece. The standard choices are Coral Red, Marine Blue, Mint & Slate which are all matte colours. The specials are inspired by traditional vinyl records and use aluminium with a grooved finish giving it a great look and feel. The inner grill of the specials also reflects your colour choice which sets it apart from the standard block collection. The 2 available choices are Brushed Black Diamond and Brushed Copper which is our favourite as the copper colour and black contrast looks fantastic.
Straight from the box the speaker will be charged, but when it runs out simply use the included micro-USB cable to charge it again. The USB cable also uses the nice threaded nylon cable, as well as the loop attachment. We managed to get around 5 and a half hours of playback time once fully charged. The loop attachment can be quite useful when travelling and can be plugged into the 3.5mm port on the MONOCLE and then attached to a backpack or similar item.
What’s In The Box
- Loop Attachment
- Nylon Micro-USB Charging Cable
- Quick Start Guide
In terms of sound quality for your average user it performs just fine, but don’t expect to be replacing your Hifi system with 10 of these daisy chained together. With a moderately noisy room the MONOCLE will still produce a clear sound that can be heard clearly thanks to the 40mm driver packed into it’s body.
When using it as a single headphone the sound produced was clear and crisp if not lacking a little bass. The leather cushioning around the outside does well to help prevent background noise but obviously this will depend on how much pressure you apply when holding the headphone to your ear.
The MONOCLE is a nice product and definitely one of those which you would show off to your mates. In terms of overall sound quality it’s not threatening your high end headphones/speakers just yet but for your everyday average music listener it performs well. The main selling point of this device is definitely it’s looks which are absolutely outstanding especially the special versions with the grooved metal finish.
At only £40/£50 we think it’s a reasonable price and we think it’d also make a great present for just about anyone you know. To learn more about the MONOCLE or to purchase one, head over to the Native Union website below.