Monoprice True Wireless Plus Earbuds review: The same again, only better

At $50, I already thought Monoprice’s True Wireless Earbuds were very good. That’s why I was so surprised by its slightly more expensive earbuds, the $70 True Wireless Plus. The two pairs of earbuds look identical: They’re exactly the same size and shape, and they even weigh the same. Could Monoprice really cram in enough of an upgrade to make this worth it?

It turns out, it can. For a modest increase in price, Monoprice squeezed a huge upgrade into these earbuds. The new Monoprice earbuds sound better, reconnect faster, and last more than twice as long on a charge.

[Note: Monoprice has two different models named “True Wireless Earbuds.” This is the more expensive version, the “True Wireless Plus Earbuds,” model 38542. For simplicity, I’ll refer to them as the “Plus” earbuds in this review.]

Design

I like to think that Monoprice designed its line of wireless earbuds as a challenge to me personally, since I now have to find new ways to describe the same physical objects. The Plus earbuds are the exact same size as the lesser version, measuring 20mm x 16mm x 15mm and weighing only 3.5 grams. They’re tiny and relatively plain aside from a single physical button on the front face of each earbud. These earbuds won’t make much of a fashion statement—if they get noticed at all. I don’t hold that against them, though, since I want tech to work rather than look expensive.

monoprice twe plus04 Ian Birnbaum/IDG

The only spot of color comes from the blue and white LED ring.

The only real difference between the two Monoprice earbud options is microscopic. Specifically, the Plus earbuds use a different type of audio chipset to connect each earbud directly and independently to Bluetooth devices. The cheaper Monoprice earbuds instead use one earbud as the primary connection; sound then routes from the primary earbud to the secondary one. This setup, where one earbud is the primary connection, is pretty much the standard for inexpensive true wireless earbuds.

I don’t fully understand how that change alone can account for the spike in the Plus earbuds performance, but I can’t argue with results. The Plus earbuds have a great bluetooth connection that I found to be totally unflappable. Even turning away from my phone and cupping my hands over my ears—a sure-fire way to screw up many Bluetooth connections, in case you ever need to do that for some reason—didn’t give the Plus earbuds any trouble.

The Bluetooth connection also stays solid across different floors of my house and from one side of my office to the other. The auto-reconnect feature that I liked in the cheaper model is even faster in the Plus version: When I pull these earbuds out of their charging case, they immediately reconnect to my phone and resume playback.

The Plus earbuds charging case is smooth and sleek, but still a little bit too boxy to be comfortable in a front pants pocket. The top hatch of the case is slightly transparent, and I liked being able to look through it to see lit LED lights, indicating that the earbuds were still charging. I also appreciate the addition of wireless charging compatibility. If you really, truly despise wires, the Plus earbuds offer a total escape from their tyranny.