If you're going to team up with a brand to make licensed earphones, you could do worse than Monster. It's behind the ludicrously successful Beats by Dr. Dre line-up, as well as tie-ins with all-time musical greats like Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. Next for the Monster mauling is Nokia. In all honesty, we haven't thought all that much of much of Monster's output, but can it pull it back for Nokia?
The Nokia WH-920 Purity is the in-ear entry in the Nokia-Monster partnership, sitting alongside the Purity HD on-ear headset. Available for around £70, they're not disastrously expensive, but unfortunately you can get better sound for less.
In true fashion earphone style, the WH-920 Purity In Ear come in four colours - black, white, pink and blue - and all are bold, block shades that cover the earphones from head to figurative toe. We were sent the black pair, which came as a relief after having to walk around town with the bright orange Sennheiser HD 229 and earmuff headphones in recent months.
However, they're not exactly normal-looking. All angles and bulges, they're not a million miles off the Heatbeats earphones Monster produced for spandex diva Lady Gaga. Given the block-colour finish, there are also quite a few splits and seams across the bud, as well as both glossy and matt finishes. Neither out there nor particularly demure, we're not quite sure what Nokia or Monster were trying to achieve besides a somewhat distinctive look (that'll be it then).
Control Talk Universal
The functional raison d'etre for these earphones isn't their style, mind. It's the handsfree and remote housing - hence why Nokia refers to these buds as a headset rather than earphones or headphones. Where most remote controls are made for iOS devices, and might cobble-together some sort of functionality for their Android and Windows Phone "poor cousins", the Purity headset will work perfectly with Nokia Lumia phones, which use the Windows Phone OS.
Using other smartphones you'll be able to take calls, but not control music or volume. With an iPhone 4, pressing the buttons during playback did precisely nothing. Nokia is rather overselling the thing in calling it Control Talk Universal, but it's good to see Windows Phone get some love for once - even if it is coming from Nokia.
Back to the earphones, though. They use a thin flat cable that claims to be tangle-resistant, although we found it certainly wasn't immune - better than some, worse than others but fundamentally nothing noteworthy. It's also fairly microphonic, causing rumbly noises as it rubs against clothing while you're on the move.
Much more annoying, the Purity In-ear headphones also tend to work their way out of your ears while you move around. It's because the tips used require being pushed in, then pushed out a little to get a seal, resting on the entrance to your ear canal rather than as far as they can reach down the winding aural road to your brain. The combo of the earbud design, cable style and perhaps the extra weight of the remote control - or something along these lines - makes this effect particularly noticeable. And it's not something we complain about often.