Nokia Monster Purity HD headphones - Unboxing and first impressions

Earlier today we ran a story about AT&T discounting the Nokia Monster Purity HD headphones from $199 to $99. While many of you will still balk at such a price, we’re sure a few of you have a cocked eyebrow and are considering the purchase.

Being the tech geeks we are, we figured we would help you out by springing to our local AT&T outlet and pick up a pair. While we won’t full on review them now, you can watch our video below to see what’s in the box and after the break, I’ll share my initial thoughts...

First impressions

The Nokia Monster Purity HD headphones (whew, that’s a mouthful), are actually lighter than I thought. Not that I expected weights for headphones but they are surprisingly nimble. Traditionally, I’ve had mixed results with on-ear designs as they’re comfortable for the first 30 minutes but if you wear them for a few hours (say on a trans-continental flight), they can become unbearable. From my experience there are two crucial pressure points: the apex where the headphones make contact with the top of your skull and ear pressure.

After wearing the headphones for 20 minutes, I have to admit they are quite comfortable. For reference, I’m comparing them to my Sony MDRNC200D (opens in new tab) Noise-cancelling, on-ear headphones (Retail: $199). While I would have expected the padding to be more substantial, so far I’m not getting any ache on the top of my skull, unlike my Sony’s.  Likewise, the headphone ear pads are rather large—that’s a good thing, as it more evenly distribute the pressure on the ear. While I can’t say they won’t hurt after 2 hours, I can say they are very comfy to wear. The seal for sound is also very good.

  • Frequency response: 20 - 20000 Hz
  • UI features: Call controls, Music controls, Volume controls
  • Weight: 180g

In terms of audio, it’s a very rich, almost ‘warmfuzz’ sound. In listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor, I quickly toggled between the Sony’s and the Nokia Purity HD—I was kind of shocked at how much better the Purity’s sounded (this is with the digital noise-cancellation off on the Sony). I then put on an electronica mix album Good Fellas (opens in new tab) (Goa-Psy Trance) and was also left impressed.

On the Nokia Lumia 920, I found myself turning on Treble boost under the graphic equalizer, which tells me these are a little heavy on the bass side—more so than I would have thought. Boosting treble though worked for me, which is a departure from my usual setting of Loudness when I use the in-ear Purity headphones.

We’ll do a more in-depth report in a few days but my off-the-cuff impression is I don’t feel ripped off. In fact, I’m quite impressed how well they compare to my Sony’s, which due to comfort problems I barely use. Even forgetting the comfort issue, the audio quality to me is much better as well.

In other words, I’m very happy with ‘em. Time will tell if that holds, especially with the newer Nokia Purity Pro headphones supposedly right around the corner. Those feature NFC pairing, Bluetooth streaming and 24-hour battery life, quite the step up in technology from these wired Purity headphones. Of course, there's a price for that too, which is estimated to be $300.

You can pick up the Nokia Purity HD headphones from AT&T (opens in new tab) (online or check stores for availability) or through online retailers.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • 180 grams... Wow they must really weigh your head down. Just like I have to work out just to hold my 920 for extended periods of time.
  • You now can pump out some bicep curls with a 920 in one hand and purity HD in the other :)
  •   Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online(Click on menu Home)
  • Can we ban this person please?
  • + a 1000
  • Relax, sounds like the guy was cracking a joke.
  • Do you know how they compare to the audio technica m50s?
  • Ah... The venerable M50s. I miss mine.
  • Highlight of the set at 1:44
  • Thinking about getting a pink pair for my woman lady ;-)
  • Oh no! Round and Round accused somebody of being racist the other day for something...very far from it. Be prepared, I sense an ensueing "You sexist pig are you implying only women can wear pink earphones blah blah blah" rant.
  • Well ill be damned I comment before the page refreshes and what do you know, as soon as my comment posts I get to see that my theory was true!
  • He/She is highly entertaining. We use to ban 'em but now keep 'em around for laughs. We poke 'em every once in awhile, get a reaction, then delete their posts :0
  • He didn't say anything this time, because he knows what pootbutt is all about!!!! >_< Jk!
  • Oh he did. He just got his posts deleted :)
  • Just like me Daniel? :)
  • lol its so awkward to wear such big onear headphones outside... I prefer the apple earpods
  • Honestly, apple earbuds are downright terrible. If you enjoy earbuds, you can easily get a far superior pair for the same price or less than a pair of Apple branded ones.
  • No, I dont mean the earbuds, I mean the new earpods! They havecan amazing soundquality! If you know such things with equal formfactor I would be thankful. In dont like InEars, they hurt, and I also dont like OnEars like this nokia headphones...
  • You're in for a surprise. Those Apple "earpods" are a joke compared to the real stuff made by companies that only make headphones. Sennheiser, Audio-Technica, etc. all make much better headphones for not much more money.
  • And you'll be also surprised, when I tell you that those companies only make InEars and OnEar headphones... I know my english is bad bc Im not a native speaker, but Y U NO UNDERSTAND?
  • Not true AT makes over ear, on ear, in ear and sport fit headphones. Senn also makes all the above options as well.
  • Tried the Philips Citiscape Uptown yet?
    I think they sound pretty good. They are AroundEars but they look damned sleek, I have no problems wearing those outside. And they get pretty good reviews even compared to the AudioTechnica M50.
  • Just cause almost everything here is Windows Phone doesn't mean that you have to hate on other companies. Personally, the new earpods are really good just like the iPhone is a really good device. Personally I prefer Microsoft producs, but Apple products aren't bad.
  • I wasn't hating, any headphones that come with a phone aren't going to be very good. He said they have amazing sound quality, but I guess if you compare them to dollar store headphones that might be true.
  • Nobody was hating from what I read. I agree, I too can appreciate that Apple's products are rather attractive, and for the most part work well at what they aim to do (Macbooks are lightning fast when it comes to everything but gaming), and i suppose that's to be expected considering how expensive their products are. However, their earbuds are downright terrible, especially considering their price. They're basically the equivalent of every other pack in pair of earbuds that ship with most phones nowadays. You can get vastly superior sound for the price of a pair of Apple earbuds if you do just a bit of research.
  • Apple products are quite good, the problem lies in the company, that I find a little arrogance and too closed...
  • It might be awkward to you, but teenagers are actually all using one. We're walking backwards lol
  • As well as what the other guy recommended you can look into westone, and shure headphones. For the record apples new ear buds are technically in ear headphones.
  • Meh. I don't like my over heard purtiy headphones at all. My purity in the ear ones are much much better.
  • I feel the same way, I was not impressed with the sound or the fit of these.  I do love the in-ear Purity's though.  I'm really looking forward to the Purity Pro set. 
  • I so want to get these but I think I'll wait for the Purity Pro ones. I need more wireless!!!! Hey Dan, is that the nike Fuelband I see you wearing? I wondered cuz I want to get one but Windows Phone isn't supported yet...or is it now?
  • Yes, it's the Fuelband and no, still not supported :-/ Hopefully soon though.
  • @daniel off topic from the comment, but you mentioned it kinda bassyish, what size drive does it have compared to you Sony set?
  • Great question but I have no idea. It's not for lack of trying though as there is no documentation on those kind of specifics either on the box, the documentation or from Nokia. 
  • Daniel....other somewhat offtopic question.
    Have you heard of any updates to the release of the Purity Pro? I know Nokia originally said Q4 but obviously that is going to miss.....any update?
  • I wonder if these first impressions would be the same if they were Beats purity or HTC purity.
  • Probalby not because I don't like the way Beats sound. But call me when HTC actually makes some worthwhile accessories and I'll check 'em out. Until then, I'm not sure what the point of your post is besides trolling.
  • I didn't take it as trolling as it was a literal question as to if one is better than the other, seeing as to how bears cost alot more and gets alot of attention
  • Trust me, it's trolling. That's not the implication. Round and Round is what you would call an "HTC enthusiast" to be PC about it and his posts are often very inflammatory, like this gem. He's implying that I liked these because they are Nokia but that I would not like Beats because they are HTC.  I don't ban him because like a king's jester, I use him for entertainment here. I let him troll around, then randomly delete his posts. Makes us chuckle around here.
  • I meant that they're the same headphones but with beats or HTC branding. I'm not an HTC enthusiast I want all WP OEMS to get treated equally
  • That's what I've been saying..
  • Also Monster makes Beats Audio headphones not HTC..
  • Actually I just found out that Monster isn't manufacturing the headphones for Beats Audio anymore.. Contract ran out and will not be renewed.
  • They'll start getting treated "equally" when they put an "equal" amount of effort in. These headphones are being branded alongside the Lumia line up - why doesn't HTC do the same? Doesn't it hold a majority share in Beats Audio? 
    Fact is, apart from putting the effort to make the phones stand out, HTC just hasn't really bothered with much. It is really their fault.
    And why do people think WPCentral are biased against HTC? Seriously, half of the staff put down the 8X as a serious consideration and some of them use it as their primary phone (Jay Bennett being one, I believe), not just that they've been reporting actively on the 8S - a phone that isn't even coming to the U.S. Sure, Samsung (and up to an extent, HTC) do get some flak here but when you compare the amount of effort being put in by the two to the amount of effort that Nokia is putting in its Lumia line up then it is not hard to see why they praise Nokia more. 
  • yes round and round, take his posts with a grain of salt.
  • ... And a palm to the face
  • Will the review address jogging or working out? My gf hates in ear music solutions but over ear ones just seem to not work well either. Any suggestions?
  • Bose MIE2, they might look like inears but they actually aren't. They are very comfortable and never fall out of your ears. Therefore they are perfect for jogging.
  • I can address that right now: these won't work for that. I exercise 6 nights a week and would not even fathom wearing these. I'm sure you could technically use them for a light jog but I'd never dream of actually doing it. For that, you have to bite the bullet and get some Moto BT--you'll loose fidelity but they will stick. However, I've been meaning to do an "exercising with Windows Phone" segment where I'll cover cases and BT headsets soon.
  • I have a pair of bt moto s9, she hates them (I love them). Something similar but not in ear she would like. Those bose mie2 look...freaky, maybe we'll try those.
  • cool yeah I would love a segment like that, I run and work out 6 times a week like you.
  • How is it a fidelity loss? BT uses a 48khz LPCM digital audio signal compared to the analog 3.5mm connector with no DSP.
  • How do these compare to the Sony headphones you reference with their noise cancellation turned on, since you noted (at least I believe you did, correct me if I'm wrong) that they were tested with the Sony's noise cancellation off. I'd love to see how these things stack up against other brands well known for quality headphones in the same price range, such as Sennheiser and Audio Technicas. For now though I'm rather fearful that they share the same con that afflicts Beats, where the headphones, despite looking stylish and beautiful, are only decent in the performance department and vastly overpriced in that regard.
  • Well, these have no "active" noise cancelation, meaning there is nothing powering a circuit like the Sony's, which is why I turned it off. In addition, the NC would reduce audio quality too, so I tried to  keep it even. If I had to choose between Sony and Purity, it'd be Purity hands down. The Sony's I'm a tad disappointed in but bought them because I was literally about to fly to Barcelona. I'm not an audio enthusiasts though, so don't expect us to test them against Sennheiser and Audio Technicas--we just don't have the time, let alone the budget. Not to mention let's be honest: liking headphones is like liking a pair of shoes. It's highly dependent on the indvidual. 
  • True, true. I'm no audiophile myself, but I asked out of curiosity since many Audio Technica and Sennheiser earphones can be found for less than or equal to the original $200 msrp of these. Though considering these just dropped in price so drastically, I may have to pick a pair up, as from what I'm hearing they may not be worth $200, but definitely $99! :)
  • I wish they made some like these but wireless.
  • They do. Click the link at the end of the article for Nokia Purity Pros that are coming out.
  • Problem is the Purity Pro's have already missed their original Q4 to market date and no one sees to know when they will actually come to market.
    I am eagerly awaiting them as well.
 guys should check out the JayBird X in-ear buds for working out. They are outstanding in terms of build quality and audio output. Trust me on this.....they will never come out of your ear or get water damage
  • Pootbuttlafunk88  I dont know if they are offering them in colors, as far as i know is only black
  • Why doesn't Nokia use the "Purity" name, like HTC uses the "Beats Audio" name, for their sound processing algorithm in WP devices??? Purity, and Beats Audio are both just products made by Monster.. So, in theory Nokia could badge their devices likewise... Not sure how this would work with Dolby being behind Nokia's audio processing, but like I said these are only names.. Either way, Nokia needs to come up with some name for its audio processing and badge its high end phones accordingly.
  • Also,, for all we know Dolby does the sound processing for Beats audio/Monster.. Think about it.
  • That's actually not true. The Purity line is made *with* Monster by Nokia. But Nokia sound engineers are involved with the Purity line. Monster merely manufactures them. It's like of like Inventec made Palm Treos. Same with Beats. They're their own company who work *with* Monster. But they have not as of yet re-newed their contract with the company, meaning Monster may not be making Beats in 2013.
  • So you don't think that it's a good idea for Nokia to badge their devices with some kind of Audio enhancement labeling? I'm looking at this "purely" from a marketing standpoint.
  • Daniel, will you try them on the 8X? I'm considering getting a decent pair of headphones for mine. I didn't like the way my old Optimus 7 sounded but now I ditched my old iPod Nano 3G and started using the 8X to listen to music. The beats audio enhancement really makes a difference on some cheap headphones and a Sony mid-range I use.
  • Yes, will definitely try them with the 8X
  • Thanks for the review! You might need a second person to test this out, but how much "sound leak" do these have. As in, if someone is standing near a person wearing these, would they be able to hear any sounds from the headphones? I'm in quiet places like libraries a lot, so I need to make sure that others around me won't be getting disturbed. Thanks!
  • I'd put sound leak at *very* low for these. They seal right up and you can't hear anything from someone else wearing them.
  • I can confirm this as well, my brother find the amount sound leak very very very low
  • I have a set, they seem blown out compared to other similarly priced headphones...maybe I have a bad set?
  • It looks like the edges are easily scratched.  Look at the main picture on the edge near the ear cushion.
  • Yeah, I noticed that later...I'm fairly certain they came like that :-/
  • Is you guys ever going to do like a breakdown of headsets that work to answer phone calls and listen to music? I know in the forums we have had issues with some headsets and I want to make sure headsets are compatible before buying. I know the purity line works but someone earlier in here mentioned the Mi2 Bose & Apple ear buds.
  • Don't the headsets that came with your phone have suitable controls? All of my HTC ones do. My HD7 headset has command & volume up/down but I've seen some only with the command button. I've always been really happy with them, and keep my sennheiser's in a drawer.
  • I tweeted Daniel Rubino this question earlier, maybe he didn't see it or didn't have time to answer... So I'll ask the forum here... With the Nokia Purity HD Pro's that are coming out, won't they not sound that good being that they are wireless/bluetooth?
    My Nokia 920 seems to only allow you to use the EQ when you actually use headphones with a plug. Not sure why this is, but it gives me the idea that they won't sound as well on the 920 as the $99 pair that are out now.. Anyone know why they won't allow you to use Dolby or the EQ on Bluetooth headphones??
  • Honestly, these headphones are not that great. My store has them for sale and we took a pair out to test out in order to sell to customers. Theyre too expensive for nothing. I even tried them using my Lumia 920, and they sounded very lack luster.
  • I agree. Bought, listened, & returned to the AT&T store within 15min.
  • I have them since couple of months ago, got them for my Lumia 800, they simply rock! audio quality is awesome. Looking forward to the new models with NFC and wireless.
  • "...if you where them..." Really Daniel? Your title reads Editor-in-Chief. Such delicious irony!
  • I do it on porpoise. 
  • I was thinkn on choosing Bose or monster over ear headphones for work idk yet
  • Good choice in testing music. Glad to see a price drop on these even if on-ear headphones are a no-go for myself due to glasses. That is one aspect of comfort which definitely can't be discounted for people with poorer eyesight. The discomfort and pain inflicted by compressing the ear against headphones and the legs of a pair of glasses is not to be underestimated.
  • Really? I've worn glasses my entire life and never had much of a problem with over ear headphones. :/
  • Remember, guys: this is the Purity HD that was released last year, not the Purity Pro that has NFC.
  • I, personally, prefer studio monitors if I am going "over the ear".  I might give these a listen, however.
  • Fun fact: The FREE Nokia Purity Headphone offer with a purchase of a Lumia 920 is BULL! I purchased the 920 from a corporate-owned AT&T retail store, sent all the necessary paperwork in, and got a mail back a week later saying my store was not participating in the offer. I HATE YOU, NOKIA. I sold the phone after it bricked and wanted to sell it before then since IE10 Mobile still gets stupid WAP pages and because Nokia Maps sucks ass -- can't find my location correctly or public transit schedules. Worst phone experience ever. Back on iPhone 4 for now, looking forward to the Nexus 4 being back in stock.
  • If you would have read the terms and conditions of that offer, you would have known that it was only offered to UK residents.
  • Desig is good...and as Nokia laways improve it's hardwares....Sound will be good too...
  • On AT&T website it has been mention that it ll be compatible with Lumia 900 , Lumia 920 , Lumia 820 only. I have Lumia 800, will it work for Lumia 800?
  • Bought this at AT&T store. Listened to them outside the store & immediately returned them to get my money back. They sounded hollow...awful...perhaps a bad pair.