First I would like to thank Monster for selecting me to review one of their latest IEM offerings. I received a free pair of Copper’s to review but would also like to point out that I also had bought a pair prior to being selected to review them. I accepted the free pair so I could experiment with the burn-in process and see if it could affect the way IEM ultimately sounded (more on this in the sound section).
To start I would like to say that Monster does one thing EXTREMELY well, they make it easy on the newcomer to Hi-fi. I say this because their products include everything a new IEM user would need to have a successful start with their new IEM. This isn’t to say that long time Head-fi won’t come up with ways to improve on their Copper experience such as different tips but for the new buyer, they can comfortably use what’s in the kit and find satisfaction. I also think the Copper (actually all the Monster IEM’s I have tried) while benefiting from burn-in are also quickly enjoyable so the customer can enjoy the evolution of their IEM as they burn in.
Packaging and accessories:
Monster has included the largest and nicest selection of tips I have ever seen in an IEM package. Their new gel-filled and foam tips may appeal to a lot of people especially with the variety of sizes they come with. If the new tips don’t meet your needs they also include triflange and unique single flange tips. For myself I have to admit I prefer their large single flange tip they introduced with the original Monster Turbine as it simply fills my ear and I forget it’s even there. Personally I struggle with the foam hybrids and the gel filled tips as my ears are very sensitive to physical contact but found that both types of tips sound better than the original single flange tip. As for the triple flange, I can not use them at all as they cause my ears severe distress. In the end though, being a long time head-fi member I found I still prefer an old wide opening large single flange tip I picked up somewhere along the line, but if I did not have that tip I would be quite happy with the stock tips in the kit (actually I ended up losing one side and have been happily using the original MTPC supplied tip).
As for the rest of the accessories the holder for the tips is nice as are the two cases. For those inclined to be very organized the tip holder may very well be a godsend. The kit also comes with a nice shirt clip and some little Velcro strips that be used to help wrap up and store the cables when being transported. There really is nothing left out of this kit.
The packaging for Monster is also top notch bordering on decadent but a very nice change from the cheap packaging most small items like this come in. I do wonder how much it adds the cost of the IEM though…
IEM and cable design and construction:
I feel the Monster Turbine series is one of the solidest IEM’s ever designed. They weigh a lot in hand or dangling from my ear (ya I let them dangle when I am listing to someone at work LOL) but in ear they are very comfortable and have decent isolation due to the solid metal design of the IEM body.
The cabling of the Professional series is a huge improvement over the original Monster Turbine but still has issues with microphonics, these can be reduced when worn over ear but are never completely removed when walking. The strain reliefs are well designed and I like the design of the L plug. I also like the design of the chin slider as it actually stays in place.
So now that I have established how well made these are, the real question is how do they sound?
I have alluded to differences in the sound of the two pairs of Copper IEM’s I own, these differences primarily take place in the bass and lower midrange. My original pair that I picked up used from another Head-fi member has 3-5DB less sound at the 20, 50, 100, 250, and 500 hz level than the new Copper’s supplied by Monster for this review. This translates into a heavier bass and added warmth on the 2nd pair of Copper’s with a slightly more forward intimate midrange. I will give a break down between each Copper throughout the rest of the review referring to the original pair at MTPC1 and the 2nd pair as MTPC2. I will also give my thoughts on why these IEM’s are different at the end of review along with instructions on how to get a brand new pair to sound like them each pair.
Bass – The overall quality of bass with both units is very good, they both are able to achieve a deep satisfying bass but only when required by the music as compared to many bass oriented IEM’s where the bass encroaches on the rest of the sound spectrum. Think of it as bass on demand.
- MTPC1 is very solid and impact full with most genre’s of music but due to the slight dip in DB’s it works better at louder volumes with genre’s or music that rely on detail in the bass such as cellos.
- MTPC2 with the added DB’s in bass, is capable of producing very nice bass even at lower volume levels but potentially at the expense of being a bit too powerful at louder volumes, this issue is made worse if the music your listening to has been mastered to artificially inflate the bass. This also makes the MSPC2 very nice for anyone craving lots of bass.
Midrange – The midrange of the Copper is very nicely situated in the middle; it is not excessively forward nor is it recessed. The quality of the midrange is also very high, providing a lot of detail which helps to bring voices to life and give added growl and grit to instruments like guitars.
- MTPC1 has a very neutral midrange that is a bit dry. This works well with most genre’s but can make vocals of some singers seem slightly thin but also adds more grit to a lot of instruments, which depending on genre may be preferable.
- MTPC2 has a warmer sounding midrange due to it’s definite elevation in DB at 500hz and ever so slight elevation at the 1000hz range. This warmth gives male vocals a lot more substance, especially for rock music and takes Jazz from being very good with the MTPC1 to excellent with the MTPC2. This added warmth can cause some genre’s to lose a bit of grit as well though so pick your poison carefully.
Treble – The overall treble of the Copper is where this IEM truly shines. I have come to a point in my music listening where instruments like cymbals have to sound right or I just find them to distracting. In this area the Copper is just right, cymbals are nicely extended with excellent decay and sizzle without ever coming across as tinny or unnatural, the treble is also never sibilant but has a ton of detail. Music like Jazz is exquisite with the Copper due to their ability to reproduce the finer nuances and sounds associated with brush strokes on cymbals and other fine details.
- This is the one area where bother IEM’s are close enough that I can’t give specific examples of variation.
Here is a selection of songs I have been listening to by genre kicked off with a brief overview of the genre by itself. Direct comparisons between songs and IEM’s done from my computer using Media Monkey with no EQ of any kind. Using my Auzentech Forte 7.1 sound card.
1970/80’s Hard Rock / Early Heavy Metal – This genre sound very good from both MTPC’s I have but both require slightly elevated volume levels or an amp to really shine. If your music tends towards a lot of bass or has male singers and a lot of guitar riffs vs. squealing guitar solos the MTPC2 sound awesome as the added bass resolution makes the drums have more kick and the elevated lower midrange give the singers and guitars more presence. If your singers are of the screaming variety and the guitars are more of the solo or higher register then the MTPC1 helps to bring out these areas best.
Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven -Flac
- MTPC2 – I find this song is better matched with the added midrange presence for the vocals and mid-bass for the bass guitars. The added bass and midrange also make this song very balanced against the highs of the cymbals
- MTPC1 – In comparison to the MTPC2 this IEM sounded thin in the vocals and lose the presence of the bass guitar. The highs also come across hotter due to the lack of balance between them and the rest of the sound spectrum. The added treble focus was nice at points but mainly was distracting.
This is a song that I feel needs a large sound stage to really take me in and make me get lost in the song, while I like the sound stage of the MTPC I do find it was a bit lacking in both IEM’s for this song.
Led Zeppelin – D’yer Maker – Flac
- MTPC1 – The song is exquisite in all its treble glory with all the finer details in the guitar work on display along with sizzling high hats and snappy drum work. The singing is clean and engaging albeit ever so lightly thin, the whispering at the end of the song sounds a bit distant taking away the effect ever so slightly. But in the end this song is about all that crazy guitar work and detail which is captured brilliantly by the MTPC1.
- MTPC2 – the added bass is a bit over powering and counterproductive to this song, taking away from the detailed treble work. The singing is fuller though and the whispering at the end is right in your ear.
This song unlike Stairway to Heaven is about intimacy and crazy detail which is right in the Copper’s wheelhouse.
AC/DC – Let There be Rock – Flac
- MTPC2 – The bass is ever so slightly overpowering for the song. Guitars have amazing growl and bite with the lower midrange warmth, the singer sounds wonderfully gritty.
- MTPC1 – The overall sound is like listening to the song from a distance or another room. All the detail is there but diminished, losing the feeling of being in the middle of the song.
This song is a solid reflection of all AC/DC music for me with the exception that most songs don’t feel over powered by the bass of the MTPC2, the MTPC2 simply kicks MTPC1 in the pants in every way possible. Having said this both IEM’s are much better than my last high end IEM the Sennheiser IE8 due to their ability to keep up with the song, even at its frenzied climax.
Jazz – I am new to this genre but completely enamored by what I have heard so far. My song selections are therefore limited to only one artist unfortunately. This is one genre that seems like intimacy is the most important aspect of the music along with detail. In this area both Copper’s again excel but like Hard Rock I find I have a strong preference for the warmer more mid focused signature of MTPC2 over MTPC1.
Patricia Barber – Miss Otis Regrets – Flac
- MTPC1 – The bass of the drums are balanced, the vocals are light and very feminine, guitars sound very nice, and all cymbal and percussion work sounds nice. But there is a sense of being at the back of the club.
- MTPC2 – The bass of the drums is a bit over powering but not so much as to be completely distracting, vocals are slightly throaty and extremely intimate as if the singer is singing directly to me, guitars also sound much closer and have a lot more reverberation, cymbals and percussions sound clean and detailed. I am now sitting at the front of the club directly across of the band.
Patricia Barber – Let it Rain – Flac
- MTPC2 – The piano is being tickled and caressed directly in front of me sounding full with nothing lacking, Patricia is again directly in front of me almost whispering the song only to me, the percussion work is playing intimate, if I close my eyes I can almost see the drummer caress the cymbals delicately, a guitar kicks in a little bit further back and to my right. I’m at a club but all that exists is me and the band.
- MTPC1 – All the elements of the song are present and clear but again there is a sense of being further back in the club so I know I’m in a club.
Celtic music – About 15 years ago I fell in love with Celtic music by singers like Loreena McKennitt. I like some of the new stuff like Celtic Woman but really like the early works of Loreena. I have chosen 1 song by her and one by her and Cedric Smith. This music is generally reliant on a warm presentation and the larger the soundstage the better. But it also has a lot of wonderful detail that a person can get lost in as well. For this genre both Copper’s sound equally good as the balance of MTPC1 helps create a larger soundstage and the warmth of MTPC2 provides warmth.
Loreena McKennitt – Stolen Child – Flac
- MTPC2 – This song takes advantage of the MTPC2 to it’s fullest Loreena’s voice is pure and wonderfully forward full of emotion as she tell’s a tale with music. All the instruments are fully represented in all their glory with the highs shimmering and dancing, the mids and lows resonating. This song is driven by atmosphere which is complete and enveloping.
- MTPC1 – All aspects of this song are crystal clear with sparkling detail and the more neutral midrange helps give this song a larger soundstage as Loreena’s voice is not so centre stage.
Loreena McKennitt and Cedric Smith – Carrighfergus - Flac
- MTPC2 – This is a song with less atmosphere than Stolen Child but due to a strong male vocal is deep and resonant due to the added bass and lower midrange of the MTPC2. All of the guitars, lutes, and harps are also wonderfully detailed and full of presence.
- MTPC1 – Strangely enough this song sounds wonderful on the MTPC1 as much as the MTPC2. The stronger balance seems to give Cedric more emotion and the instruments seem to be more precise as the treble is clearer and unfettered by the midrange.
I also have used these with New Age Music, folk music, and and a wide range of classical music. Without going into the same detail as above suffice it to say I was extremely happy with pretty much every genre of music I listened to with these IEM’s.
So let’s get down to it, shall we, WHY ARE THESE TWO IEM’s SO DIFFERENT?!?
I have spent some time rereading the MTPC threads and have noticed a couple of trends in discussion. These trends are:
- One group of people mentioning how balanced the MTPC are
- One group that talks about a midbass hump similar to the IE8
- One group that actually complain about the lack of bass.
These comments are pretty much equally spread throughout the threads in regards to dates and time. So to my way of thinking this eliminates the possibility of Monster changing the fundamental design of the Copper IEM. This means either Monster is so flaky they can have IEM’s coming off the assembly line that sound completely different within the same batch, or this IEM is extremely susceptible to how it is burned in or used. I discount the idea of Monster being flaky simply because both my Copper’s sound VERY NICE versus being defective in any way.
So to be blunt I think the differences in what people are hearing is how the IEM is burned in. Now this is just THEORY as I can not afford to buy enough units or have the time to prove my theory 100% conclusively, but if your interested in such things continue to read on...
When I received my review pair of MTPC I was actually determined to see if I could affect the signature of the IEM through deliberate burn-in techniques. To this end I developed a special burn-in file I used for over 60hrs on MTPC2. I was surprised and excited by the difference this seemed to make. So much so I started a thread dedicated to this research. In that thread I contemplated that my special burn-in file caused the change and even made the file publically available. But I do actually think that the volumes I burned in my IEM’s may have as much to do with the difference as anything but do recommend to anyone wanting warm sounding Copper’s to use my file anyway just to be safe. I think the volumes are important because I know that some head-fi members believe in stressing their IEM’s during burnin and other just let them play at normal volume levels. I checked with the original owner of my MTPC1 and he confirmed he just let them play music at normal volume levels for a day to settle their bass down and then simply used them as they finished settling down. This is in contrast to the louder volume levels I used to burn-in MTPC2. So this information combined with the fact other head-fi members are getting a similar warmth and midbass hump out of their MTPC’s as I am with my MTPC2 makes me think they are likely to have stress burned in their MTPC.
So if you want balance let your Copper’s burn-in with regular music at normal volume levels or just use them. If on the other hand you want more bass and lower midrange presence visit my burn-in thread, download the file I made available and follow the instructions in the thread. This does not guarantee you will have the same results I had but it certainly won’t hurt anything J.
Edited by dweaver - 6/19/10 at 2:23pm