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Monster Turbine Pro Anyone?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
There hasn’t been much discussion or reviews of the Monster Turbine Pro, so I thought I would start one here. There is a thread on the MOT forums, but no review so far.

Background
I have been into headphones for well over 20 years, starting with low-end Sennheisers then moving into Stax Lambda Pros until a few years ago. Due to my travel schedule, I tend to use IEMs mostly, and until recently enjoyed the UE Triple.Fi Pros as my preferred travel set. However, I enjoy the SE530s (I actually purchased them when they were known as the SE500s), E4c/SCL4, E5c, UM2, ER-4P/S, and Super.Fi 5 Pro. They each perform well, and each have a unique sound signature. I enjoy the TFP due to their extended treble and good bass (and replaceable cable), but notice they have a recessed midrange, especially compared to any Shure or the Etys.

That said, I received a review pair of the original Monster Turbines about a year ago, and was very very impressed for 1) the quality Monster provided and 2) the quality a dynamic transducer provided compared to the balanced armatures with which I was accustomed. While not perfect, the Turbines quickly became a favorite of mine, especially as they burned in and continued to improve over the year.

The pluses of the Turbines include a phenomenal (visceral) bass foundation, that while slightly elevated, never seemed to intrude into the mids or treble. I found the Turbines to be very balanced all-in-all, and they allowed me to hear deep into the mix in ways that I could not hear with my other IEMs. The minuses include more the physical build, with a lack of molded strain reliefs being a constant concern, an occasional tangling of the cable, a straight plug instead of an right angle/L-plug, and some cable microphonics. Again, the sound was mildly on the warmer side, but not in any way what I would term bass-heavy to my ears (and I am not a basshead by any stretch, favoring neutral components and no equalization), and the midrange and treble were very clean and well-represented. All-in-all, an impressive first product from Monster.

My experience with the Turbines finally pushed me to get the Sennheiser IE8s, which are still burning in. They are also incredible, with a characteristic Senn warm sound that is not fatiguing or lacking in any part of the spectrum. They produce as broad a spectrum as the Pros, but with that warmer sound. I do not know if this warmth will be reduced over time, but the IE8 is an exceptional IEM.

Based on the improvements (improved neutrality and physical build) that the Pros are supposed to have, I purchased a pair a few weeks ago and want to share my thoughts.

I also want to note that I am not going to comment on Monster as a company. There have been too many comments on Head-Fi about Monster, and while there may be some legitimacy to some of the issues, this review is about Monster’s Turbine Pro IEM, not the company or other product lines.

Physical Build
The first three things I noticed on the Pros are 1) a nice, thick cable from the right-angle plug to the splitter, 2) adequate strain reliefs on the splitter and monitors, and 3) a right-angle plug. The cable appears to be 2x-3x as thick up to the splitter as the original cable, and certainly adds a feeling of sturdiness the original Turbines lack. The strain relief moldings look OK, but do not seem to have the same type of design as Westones or Sennheisers. I have to note that my original Turbines have survived 100K+ miles of travel in 2009, and still look new, but the Pros’ strain relief additions are welcome improvement.

The right-angle plug seems sturdy, but has a layer of gold molding surrounding it that seems needlessly blingly. A simpler molding may prove to be stronger over time, but no issues so far.

One other item to note on the cable is that it appears to use a different compound from the original Turbines. The Pros’ cable is softer and does not have the inherent friction that the original Turbines’ cable has (which tends to stick and bind to itself). While again not a Westone braided cable or Sennheiser’s soft tangle-free Kevlar-reinforced cable, the Pros’ cable is another welcome improvement over the original model.

Regarding the IEM themselves, they retain the same size as the original model, but colored gold instead of black. I am not one to care that much about color or basic looks of my IEMs, but these fit me the same as the original Turbines. I also use the large round rubber tips, but the selection of other tips is nice. I cannot comment on the new SuperTips as I have not used them yet.

Sound
I have been a fan of the Turbines, and while they do have a warm bottom end, I was continually surprised by their overall balance across the spectrum. The Pros were supposed to be have a more neutral bass while not sacrificing the rest of the spectrum, and this is what I have found. The bass extends extremely low and to me is well-controlled all the way down, while the mids and treble are both a bit more forward (especially the mids compared to the original Turbines). This results in a very balanced sound that does not force any specific spectrum into the music. A subtle but still noticeable improvement over the original Turbines, and one that I believe can be compared favorably against other top range IEMs. If the recording and ripped file contain good sound, the Pros will deliver it, and if not, you will hear the imperfections also.

One of the reasons I enjoy the Turbines is their reproduction of acoustic instruments and electronic guitar (but in no way are limited to these). I have a large collection of CDs from the 80s that were mastered before compression and other newer mastering techniques were implemented. Some of these CDs are not available anymore, so comparison with today’s copies are not available. However, especially with well-recorded selections (Joe Jackson’s Body and Soul, the Indigo Girls’ first two albums, the Cowboy Junkies’ Trinity Sessions), the Pros are excellent in their reproduction of acoustic guitar, saxophone, trumpet, vocals, and piano. The reediness of saxophones and metallic sound of a trumpet are reproduced exceedingly well, and add to the musical experience.

My wife is a pianist, and we have a number of pianos at home that she plays. One characteristic of the original Turbines that is retained in the Pros is the ability to reproduce the sound and sonority of well-recorded pianos. Not all pianos are meant to sound forward (it depends on the pianist, type of piano, and recording technique), but the Pros come closest to reproducing pianos better than any of my other IEMs. It’s interesting, but my other IEMs treat some piano pieces very politely, while the Pros treat them as pianos. It’s a little complicated to explain, other than to state that I like my piano recordings best through the Pros (and original Turbines). The original Turbines may reinforce the bass maybe a bit much, but the Pros even it out with a neutral sound. The attack, decay, and tonality are excellent, but of course vary with the quality of the recording.

Now, when it comes to electric guitars, I find the Pros (and originals) to reproduce electronic guitars and their distortion unparalleled. I would say that these IEMs come closest to the classic Grado sound than any other universal IEM I own or have listened to. The crunch, overdrive, or even straight-through sound of electric guitars come through very well, with the purity or distortion as recorded. I have not found any other IEM to have this characteristic (which may not be to everyone’s liking, but is to me). My Shures and UEs reproduce guitars well, but not with the “fuzz” of listening directly to the guitar amp and speaker right next to you.

A final comment, and one of the major reasons I really enjoy these IEMs, is that they let me listen really deep into mixes. I have many albums which I have listened to for close to 30 years. I really know these recordings, and have learned things about them from listening to my Shures, UEs, Etys, and Westone IEMs. However, none have let me listen as deep into the subtleties of the recordings as the Monster IEMs. Maybe this is due to the use of a dynamic driver compared to balanced armatures, maybe it has to do with the phase response of dynamics compared to BAs, I don’t know. What I do know is that these provide me with a lot of musical enjoyment, which is the whole point.

Take these comments as one person’s opinion. I like the Pros, am not ashamed to say so, and believe these are serious, well-built, and well-sounding IEMs. However, your mileage may vary.

While I am an audiophile, it’s still about the music, and the Pros deliver this for me.
post #2 of 36
Thread Starter 
Reserved for future comments.
post #3 of 36
post #4 of 36
Thank you very much, this has been long awaited. I wish they would have sent me a pair for review and I've also got all the Concertos/Symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven.
Where are the reviews of the 4 pairs sent out earlier this month anyways?
I like to hear they got rid of the "sticky" cable, that drives me crazy sometimes. What about tangling? Is there an improvement on tangling, by changing the cable material and thickness?
Thanks
post #5 of 36
Thread Starter 
david1978jp, I haven't listened to that Mozart recording, but will look through my collection. My wife recorded some piano holiday music, and I listened to Alfred Brendel's Farewell Concerts CD today, and both sounded incredible and very natural.

Modifiedz, yes there have been a lot less tangled cables with the new design. The cable is a large improvement over the original design, less tangling, more durable, and with less microphonics.
post #6 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Modifiedz View Post
Thank you very much, this has been long awaited. I wish they would have sent me a pair for review and I've also got all the Concertos/Symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven.
Where are the reviews of the 4 pairs sent out earlier this month anyways?
I like to hear they got rid of the "sticky" cable, that drives me crazy sometimes. What about tangling? Is there an improvement on tangling, by changing the cable material and thickness?
Thanks
The cables are very well made. They neither tangle nor are they "sticky". They have the feel of something that will take plenty of use and abuse. The mini jack is very solid and even the Y is heavy duty but lends itself to enjoyable portable use. I would like a little longer cable but for getting around with portable equipment it should do the job.
post #7 of 36
Hi Dobber, how's the turbine pro sounds compared to westone um2? i'm using um2 right now and been thinking of upgrading,just haven't decide with what yet
thanks
post #8 of 36
Thread Starter 
I find the UM2 very warm and not as extended in the treble (I actually prefer its less-neutral cousin, the Shure E5/SCL5). The Pros are much better extended in both the bass and treble compared to the UM2, and I don't find that the Pros' bass overshadows the mids in any way. The Pros have control, extension across the spectrum, and the ability to provide a realistic timbre to music that is very very good.

I believe the Pros (or for that matter the IE8s, Triple.fi, SE530, etc.) would be nice sonic upgrade over the UM2. Again, the Pros' build quality is a major improvement over the Turbines, and should help keep these in good shape for a long time.
post #9 of 36
i bought them and returned them,not because they didnt sound good...they did...but because i had trouble getting good isolation with them and i couldnt use my comply tips or shure tips because the stem is too big on the IEM....
post #10 of 36
The Turbine Pros are priced to match the IE8. Do they deliver a commensurate sound?
post #11 of 36
Thread Starter 
The Pros deliver a slightly different sound, but I am still burning in my IE8s. The Pros seem to be more upfront right now, while the IE8s are a bit laid back and somewhat warmer. Both deliver detail, but the Pros seem to have a more-forward midrange. The IE8s are supposed to settle down after 20-100 hours of burn-in, but I haven't reached that level yet.

Both are very good. What I like about the Pros are the impact and detail across the spectrum. The Senns also have this, but maybe not quite as much. However, the IE8s have a larger soundstage, and while the Pros build quality is very very good (and a worthwhile improvement over the original Turbines), I like having the replaceable cable on the Senns.
post #12 of 36
Would you say the turbine pro has better bass extension but less bass quantity than the original turbine?
post #13 of 36
Thread Starter 
I would say the Pros have better bass extension, and flatter response which may be interpreted as less bass quantity compared to the originals. While I am not a basshead, in comparison between the original Turbines and the Pros, the originals have a large bass/mid-bass hump that adds a bit of fun to the sound. The Pros seem to be more neutral in the bass (in comparison), while also opening and improving the mids and treble (which to me were already very good in the original Turbines).
post #14 of 36
Interesting, I thought their copper model was supposed to be more neutral sounding while the gold model retained the bass heavy sound of the original. Sounds like the Gold Pro is more neutral than the original Turbines though
post #15 of 36
This review is pretty much spot-on. I am listening to them now with a big smile on my small face. Very, very good earphones, though I do have reservations about a few build points. Overall, though, when I finally get my review done, I will be pretty damn positive!
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