I recently picked up the Monster Turbine Pro Gold on sale from Best Buy (yay for Boxing Week!), and I was extremely impressed not only with their sound but also with the exceptional quality of construction.
The one problem I had with them was fit. I couldn't get any kind of a seal with any of the so-called Super Tips, as they were so stiff they would just sit in the outer part of my ear canal, stubbornly refusing to enter any deeper despite my brute force attempts and even my best cajoling. My experience with the silicon tips wasn't much better, partly because the earphones have such a large diameter and therefore make fit tricky, but mostly because the large-ish strain reliefs and/or the short housings kept me from pushing them in far enough to get a good seal. All I know is I couldn't get a reliable seal with any of the tips except for the triple flanges, and even then, only if I wore the 'phones with the cords over my ears, because otherwise I couldn't get them deep enough.
However, the sound was beautiful! I mean, it was pretty darn good, at least to my admittedly inexperienced and slightly naive ears. In fact, since hearing those, I can no longer stand the stuffy congested HD 228 that I've been ho-humming it up with for the last thousand years (in audio addict years, that is), what with their mushy, fluffy, almost one-note bass and boarderline cringe-inducing "highs" (if they can be called that). The MTPG just have a wonderfully natural, well-heeled, effortless sound to them that lets you actually hear individual instruments yet, critically, retains a musical, euphonic character. When plugged into my S9, no equalization or BBE or MP Enhance or any other of the usual "compensations" were necessary. The only thing they made me want to do was re-rip all my music in FLAC to fully take advantage of their revealing yet musical nature. 192 kbps MP3's that used to sound perfectly passable on my (now detested) HD 228 suddenly sounded entirely inadequate. And it wasn't that the headphones made medium-quality MP3's sound bad, it's that they made them sound just "meh", and begged for something better. Which, I suppose, is what you'd expect from a headphone whose packaging says "For Serious Audiophiles And Audio Professionals Only". It's a warning to anyone whose music is encoded in anything less than 320 kbps that these headphones are just going to complicate their lives. ("Great, now I have to re-rip my whole music collection! D@&# you, decent headphones!")
Anyway, because of the nagging, ever-present compatibility issues I experienced with these otherwise gorgeous and lovely and lovable and flaunt-able and eminently listenable earphones, I ended up dumping them after just a few days. I miss them already, and it's only been two days without them, but alas we just weren't meant to be together! Yes, my sweet little Monster, I will miss you. And yes, our time together will be looked back on fondly for years to come, but I'm afraid I have to let you go. Goodbye, my beautiful yet hopelessly incompatible mate! *Forcefully shakes head.* Sorry, what was I talking about? Oh yes, gir--headphones! Ummm... yeah, so I guess I'll just get to the point....
What I so desperately desire is a pair of IEM's that matches the outstanding construction of the MTPG, and has the definition and the musical character, but will FIT IN MY EARS! (Comfortably, preferably.)
I've looked at the teensy Klipsch X5 or X10 as a possible answer to the Turbine's bulky fit while keeping roughly equivalent (perhaps better?) audio quality, but they're pretty darn fragile from everything I've heard, so that pretty much disqualifies them as options.
I've also looked at the Monster Miles Davis Tribute headphones, as they appear ever-so-slightly more slender and longer in the earpieces than their little brothers, and (more significantly) they have a truly impressive selection of ear tips included, so... something is bound to fit... right? Trouble is this: they're not in stock at any brick and mortar store for me to pick up, try out, and easily take back; they're very pricey; they're Monster (yeah, despite my brief love affair with those Turbines, I still have a hard time buying from a company that carved out a niche for itself selling outrageously overpriced cables); and they're even more vivaciously styled than the MTPG.
I've also recently discovered the Panasonic HJE900, which look to be comparable in build quality and even nicer (certainly more tasteful) in design compared to the Turbine Pros. I've read good things about the Pannies here on Head-Fi and over on ABI, but the consensus seems to be that while they have fantastic sound quality, they can be a bit too harsh for anything louder than quiet listening.
I need advice! Thoughts on the Pannies? The Miles Davis? Klipsch? Other options?
P.S. Keep in mind, I listen to a wide range of music from hip-hip to classical, but primarily rock, alternative, and metal. As such, while all-around performance is critical, I have certain rock-related needs. I need bass quitar to knock my socks off, and kick drums to kick me in the chest. (Which means I need strong bass, but that entails a modest emphasis in the bass, with bass definition and low-end instrument separation taking priority... no mushy booming bass bloat, thank you very much!) I need guitar solos to soar. I need vocals to sound clear and natural, and I need cymbals to crash and sparkle. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi! You're my only hope! (What? Too much?)