Pros: Has all the elements that make a mobile iem good
Cons: bad fit, mediocre tips, cable noise, overly flashy (IMO)
Thought I'd give a little love to this iem and write a quick review for it. In my opinion, its one of the closest that monster has gotten to its typical description of "clear highs, smooth mids, and punchy dynamic bass."
These are definite build better than some of the other monster iems. Feels sturdy in its metal housing and the right angle jack feels sturdy. The right angle jack is a bit on the stiff side so strain relief might come to question but so far it seems to hold on its own pretty well. The flat cable is tangle resistant and smooth. Not much to complain about there.
The Gratitude comes with a nice bit of accessories. The packaging, of course, is very well done like pretty much all monsters products. Two soft cases, one for the iem, and another that seems to fit an iphone or some sort of DAP well. The iems come with a large amount of tips, however the tips were a bit disappointing. The tips are sticky and rubbery and i couldnt get the biflanges or triflanges to actually fit into my ears. Theyre so soft that they just bend.
Something I do have to bring up is the cable noise. There is a LOT. Fortunately the gratitude does come with a shirt clip and i found that to be SUPER useful. I ALWAYS use it. It really reduces the cable noise by a significant amount
Fit and Isolation:
I felt like these iems could have been good looking. But theyre not. Theyre like the monsters version of the TF10s. The housing fits nicely into the ear but the metal connecting the housing and the cable just sticks out like crazy. Not only does it make the iems look a bit weird when inserted, but it also adds a lot of weight to the already bit heavy gratitude. Every so often, i do find these popping out my ears or start to lose its isolation. Asides from that, these are still fairly comfortable iems that i have no problem wearing for a few hours at a time.
Isolation overall is pretty good actually. It blocks out enough noise for me to walk around campus without having to turn the volume up beyond what I would be comfortable with.
Overall, i feel like the sound of the gratitude is just what someone needs when theyre commuting and just want a mobile earphone instead of carrying amps and all that. The inline mic also works nicely and adds to the deal.
As a whole, the sound is very forward and a little aggressive. Everything will jump at you a little. To me that works just fine as the sound is engaging and the sound isnt easily drowned out by outside noise. Again though, the isolation on these are quite good and do its job.
Trebles are forward and a little sharp. It really brings out the energy in the music. To me, the detail in the treble coming straight from an iphone is pretty good. I'm not particularly sensitive to harsh treble but I can see many people feeling the treble is a little too aggressive on these.
Mids coming out of the gratitude are a little thin to me. Part of that i feel like is simply due to the iphone 4S im using. I've always felt like the sound was a bit cold and thin through an iphone, but i also dont think amping these really gives it much either. Overall, the mids pass and i take it for what it is but nothing really special here.
One of the most well done part of the gratitude is the bass. To me, its just the right amount for commuting. Its always present enough so that it will never be drowned out by outside noise, but its not so overpowered like many monster products that it bleeds into the lower mids and affects the overall sound quality. Bass is surprisingly fast with quite a bit of impact. Bass extension quite good, much better than expected from a 60 dollar iem, though you will still be "hearing" more bass than you actually "feel."
Imaging and Soundstage:
Probably my favorite thing about the gratitudes, and where the gratitude really does much better than i expected it to do. Soundstage for a sub $100 dollar iem is pretty good, in particular, height. You can really feel a choir behind the lead singer floating over your head, which is not something i commonly find in sub $100 iems.
Imaging and instrument separation is probably the greatest wow factor of the gratitude. Simply put it, each instrument is well defined and clear while acting very coherently with one another in the music. Each instrument is easily pinpointed and fit well individually into the stage.
The music again, is very forward and a bit in your face. Vocals, especially is very much "in your head" rather than a more laid back singer actually on stage. Definitely not optimal for critical listening, but when in a noisy environment, i feel like the forwardness of the sound keeps the music engaging.
A lot of what I've stated about the gratitude might seem like a turn off for a lot of people, and it should be. Things like the vocals being "in your head" or having an overly forwards sound with harsh trebles or heavy bass are probably a lot of things that people (myself included) run away from. But its important to remember the reasons for owning such a piece of equipment. youre not in an optimal surrounding for listening to music, and so changes have to be made to the music to accommodate that. For an iem designed for mobile use, i think monster really has a winner here. I would be happy to pay more than $100 for it. For $60? Didnt really think twice on that and definitely didnt regret the purchase. Its a shame there wont be many left on the market.