Monoprice Retro - modification attempt

Recently I purchased the Monoprice Retro along with the Monolith THX AAA 788; I needed something to help me qualify for $125 off coupon :grin:

I had viewed and read high praise about the Retros but to my ears the hype wasn’t confirmed. I made several videos and did a review, links below. In my review I was very critical of the stock form but did say I would modify the Retros to my liking.

Well today I decided to start the modding process. This is my first true modding attempt with adding dampening foam, all others prior were removing pads and the like. I first removed the stock pads, removed the drivers from the cups and then added thin craft foam to the inside of the undamped cups. I also added foam to the magnet side of the driver plate. I then reattached the drivers and put 3 pieces of one-ply toilet paper and a very thin felt layer on top of the driver. I then taped the Hifiman pad rings on top to secure the paper and felt. The final touch was the Dekoni sheepskin pads. I still need to improve the headband strap, have a comfort strap coming next week, and also tighten the clamp slightly.

The improvements are surprising and amazingly good. The bass is fantastically deep with good quality and quantity. The mids are no longer recessed in a cave but have a full body, romantic lushness and the treble is smoother and less sharp. The soundstage did take a slight hit but not enough to make the headphones clustered. The details are still present. The modifications turned the Retro from an uncomfortable bass lacking, thin, tinny treble monster to a darker, warmer, detailed and fun headphone. I now have a Monoprice Retro that I can listen to and enjoy.

I can now recommend the Monoprice Retro. If you’re interested in hearing my creation, send me a private message and we can discuss a loan.

3 Likes

Not a modder myself but I’ve enjoyed your exploits.

1 Like

Thanks. I had fun trying different things to improve the sound on the Retros. After watching several videos online and reading a lot of how-to’s of other modding attempts of various closed backs, I decided to give it a shot. I was skeptical of what changes would arise and afraid that I would break them or make them sound worse than they already did. This mod took a couple if hours but was fairly easy to do. Wiring is not my specialty so I may get someone else to do it for me or just live with the attached wire.

I was thinking that the cups were going to be empty/undamped upon opening, based on the sound being thin and cave like. Sure enough I found that to be true. The cups are completely hollow, the driver sits on plastic without any dampening of any kind. I am sure that helps to give the sensation of soundstage but in my opinion it gives the Retros a cave/hallway echo sound. Adding the craft foam did these headphones a world of good, a lot more than just changing pads.
The toilet paper and felt are pretty common mods for a lot of headphones. But adding the Hifiman rings was an idea I had because the paper and felt kept shifting while putting the pads on.

It was a fun day and I just had to share my experience :grin:

1 Like

Always good to hear people’s experiences. Changing the damping on headphones is probably one of the easier mods to undertake I would imagine though I have read of people going to huge lengths in order to mod their headphones. If I recall correctly there is a big modding scene with the Fostex brand of headphones T50 or something along those lines. I’ve probably made an arse of myself by giving the wrong headphone manufacturer and model details but never mind.

They do all sorts of tomfoolery to make the sound a more personalised experience. There in is the key I suppose. It’s the actual tinkering itself that gives the pleasure and if you hit on a good amount of improvement then your laughing.

1 Like

Yes, the Fostex T50rp is one of the most modified headphones around. I own the ZMF Classic which is one of them.

“They do all sorts of tomfoolery to make the sound a more personalised experience. There in is the key I suppose. It’s the actual tinkering itself that gives the pleasure and if you hit on a good amount of improvement then your laughing.”

My thoughts exactly about tinkering and finding the sweet spots :grin:

2 Likes

Today I did part two of the modification by adding a comfort strap to the headband. I did try the Brainwavz XL pads but I found the Dekoni sheepskin to be more comfortable and provides the sound I am looking for.

1 Like

Full review of the modded Retros. A vast improvement over the stock form in all aspects.

1 Like