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Monster CHALLENGE Review: Turbine Pro Coppers MOBILE WARNING

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 


At the top level, there’s really no “best“…it comes down to preference.

A Mastering Engineer friend talking about professional monitors


You have to find your sound.




Note:  I received the Pro Turbine Copper In-Ear-Monitors as a generous “sample pair” in the recent MONSTER CHALLENGE by my own request…in exchange for an honest review.  I had always wanted to hear them and so I jumped at the chance to put them through the paces.  I feel incredibly lucky that I have been able to listen to and even own some incredible high-end gear, all within about a year and a couple of months of using Apple iBuds!  There’s a lot to learn about and enjoy in this hobby (audio, music, gear).  One of the things that I’m most thankful for is knowing that I’ll never be going back to "bad" sound again…


Here I also want to put in a plug for finding your "community" too. It feels great to be around people who are passionate and interested in the same things and can share to help you “find your sound.”  If I didn’t have the opportunity to be a reviewer, I could put a call out to my area and say that I was interested in these or find a good retailer that allowed a return under a trial period.  I have gone back to those retailers that stood behind those guarantees and purchased other things from them.  Keep trying and get a listen!





I found it really interesting to see “break-in” covered in the Monster Quick Start Guide:





I used (brown-pink-brown-white-brown+10 silence) noise loops downloaded from dweaver’s link in his signature for 2 nights and my iTunes music library for 2 nights to “burn-in” the drivers with my Benchmark DAC1. 


Here you can see a detailed investigation into the effects of burn-in on the Coppers and also get the files from dweaver’s signature:





As for earphones, I have had all of the Yuin PK Series earbuds, the HiFiMan RE-0’s, Sennheiser IE8’s, and have settled on the Ultimate Ears Triple-Fi 10’s and the Ultimate Ears In-Ear Reference Monitors.


For Large Headphones, I have settled on the Grado RS2i, the Grado HF-2, the Alessandro MS1 (being modified), and the Sennheiser HD600.


I did less comparing and more listening to understand what the Coppers sounded like.  If I compare to the Triple-Fi 10 often it is because I actually have them right now as opposed to making comparisons by memory.   





BASS:  Warm, lots- some really good slam.  These “ear speakers” go low and give some rumble like I have not heard a Balanced Armature iem do (yet).  Wouldn’t want more bass than this.  Great amount of full/fun bass to me.


MIDS:  Good amount of midrange, very warm though…not the clearest.


TREBLE: Here they seem “just right” or “just north of neutral” (which I seem to prefer in my treble).  I think they balance well in the presentation to add detail to the warm bass and midrange.  A little peaky.  I tend to like treble so some might think it a bit much.  I certainly don’t think it’s too much, I think it is necessary.  (But then I like Grados!)


OVERALL A nice balance/amount of everything, but a bit warm/natural/relaxed in the midrange and full in bass so the Coppers can give a feeling of a lack of speed/clarity.  Lush, warm, relaxed, enjoyable listening without “digital” harshness.  Sounds like a nice warm speaker set-up with some “Loudness” and some treble EQ’d up instead of a “bright” or “analytical” neutral monitoring system to me.



In comparison to my Triple-Fi 10 which many have heard and are not <too> far off in price ($188 vs. $233 on Amazon.com):


  • Coppers win on warm bass + slam by a bit and TF10 win for sparkly treble/upper mids by a bit. 
  • Coppers win for natural or laid back listening presentation and TF10 win for speed/clarity (though there is bloom in the TF10 bass too). 



I recently found this updated repository of Frequency Response and other data:




This chart won’t tell you everything but it seems pretty consistent with what my impressions are, here is an excerpt from a much bigger data sheet that you can find at the link above...




(continue below for Section II.)

Edited by CEE TEE - 5/11/11 at 11:32pm
post #2 of 40
Thread Starter 


(Now I am trying some different set-ups of gear with reference tracks to get a sense of how the sources/amps can work with or tune the Copper “sound”…here are some notes.)



  • Mac G5 via Optical out to Benchmark DAC1 and built-in amp (Main System)
  • Sony X portable player (no effects or EQ unless noted)  ~$230
  • AMB mini^3 portable amp (made to gain of 2, High Performance option by Mister X- no relation to Sony) $130
  • iBasso D12 portable DAC/Amp  (with stock L/R opamps and  dummy buffers installed) $285





The Coppers are very revealing of source and amp characteristics.  They can be used straight out of a portable player and I recommend to do that for a while to learn and get used to the Copper “sound” and also to see how well you can get the Coppers to sound with your player.  Then when you have an idea of any areas you would like to improve or modify, you can start shopping for an amp if you want to try one.  A headphone amp can add bass impact, widen the soundstage and provide more imaging of instruments, or make the instruments more “punchy” and/or clear.  I’m now surprised when I see purchases of portable amps before receiving and listening to the phones that will be used.  (Hey, a year ago I didn’t believe in any change from a headphone amp at all...)   



Starting out listening with the Sony X and the AMB mini^3 portable amp to some Pop, Rock, Classical, and Soundtracks…


David Gray White Ladder “Please Forgive Me”:  No sibilance (my sibilance test track), but there is still sparkle on the percussion…lots of low and midrange warmth for a big, lush presentation with some detail.  At 4:28 you hear the cymbals clearly AND get the sub-bass hit.  Listening with the Benchmark DAC1, there is much tighter, defined imaging and instrument separation on the cymbals, more control of the bass (tighter), but mids seem a little more recessed.  More bass impact with Sony and the mini^3 plus the mids are a bit more forward.  The mini^3 seems a bit brighter so it all seems a bit clearer, but also closer together in instrument presentation (narrow soundstage). 


Massive Attack 100th Window “Everywhen” (with Benchmark DAC1):  Massive Attack has been a reference band for all of my phones.  I am not always listening to Massive Attack (or drinking Dos Equis) but when phones have impact, Massive Attack shows it.  In fact, the BIG bass of Massive Attack may be causing a little sporadic crackling in the right driver which has “flexed” under the pressure of the ear vacuum seal...I will have to monitor that.  (See my description of “driver flex” under these listening notes.) As far as the sound goes, nothing is harsh though there is high-end shimmer.  I find I turn it up and don’t get harsh high-end but a big and full low to the midrange sound.  There’s impact but it isn’t too  much high-energy in the treble or too hard hitting in the bass so as to cause fatigue.  (Might actually be able to listen to Massive Attack all day and enjoy it with these…)  The warmth here is a plus. 


Need to explain “driver flex”:  At first I had some problems with “driver flex” which may occur when there is too much of a vacuum (or air pressure that affects the driver).  I could make the right driver “flex” out of position within the housing.  I could hear the driver “flex” or “pop” out of position and stop working.  After playing with the driver and the pressure in my ear, it adjusts or “pops” back into place and makes sound again.  The Quick Start Guide warns not to place the tips too far into the canals or to get too much of a vacuum built up.  I have also found in customs that you want a decent seal but not “too much of a vacuum” or the drivers can’t work properly and/or sound can’t travel properly.  So, after warming up the tips and then twisting them to get a better (but-not-too-strong-of-a) seal, the driver flex occurrence became rare with practice.  (I might have caused it by wanting to stick the whole thing in my ear when I got them since I am now used to customs.  (One of the benefits of customs is a very positive fit and a great seal but you can still be aware of them filling your whole ears, one of the benefits of Universals is that the tips can be comfortable enough as to not really feel them.  They both take practice and getting used to them.  It’s worth the hassle to get the sound wherever and whenever you want it.)


Elbow The Seldom Seen Kid “Mirrorball” (with the Benchmark):  Wow…the kick-drum just seemed to move air in my head and the strings are smooth and beautiful while the vocals remain very intimate and detailed.  This is a showcase for how beautiful the Coppers can sound.  I wondered if this would test the Coppers’ resolution and sound congested as Elbow tests some phones and systems with complex sound.  Instead, I don’t want to move to the next track…very, very nice!   In fact, I did jump around more Elbow and to Cast of Thousands “Fugitive”:  Something works really well here and Elbow is just amazing with the big-sounding Coppers.  ANTHEMIC, not anemic (at all). 


Jeff Buckley Grace “Hallelujah” (with Benchmark DAC1):  Thought this warm track would be smooth and pretty.   It is, but with some added warmth of the Coppers it loses a bit of “space” or “air” that gives the track an even more intimate and disconsolate feel... 


Talk Talk Laughing Stock “New Grass” (with Benchmark) is just a big, lush, warm field to lie in.  Everything sings, resonates, and rings.  A touch “wooly” in the midrange with regards to clarity, however.


Pink Floyd DSOTM “Time” (with Benchmark): The intro is a good way to check for treble “sparkle” and the Coppers have it, not too bright either.  Then the guitar and drums come in and you can hear that the vocals are nice in quality, the sparkle is there, and the bass is prominent in quantity.  Big Bass.


Mozart: Requiem In D Minor, K 626 – Sequentia: Rex Tremendae (Sony X with mini^3):  The Coppers sound great with a lot of classical music to me, I was especially impressed with the way they sounded with this track.  The Coppers didn’t sound recessed or bumped along the frequency range with this piece.


Radiohead Extra, The King of Limbs “Supercollider” (with Benchmark):  The glitchy, reverberating bass tells you that you have one heck of a seal because it feels like a really big, tight rubberband is being snapped in your ear canals.  Vocals are floating on top and are definitely at a lower level than the bass.  But it is such a cool sensation that it doesn’t really matter right now…


The way the Coppers sound with the bit of classical music I tried led me to guess that these are really good iems for soundtracks.  A problem with some iems is that they cannot produce the fullness or the rumble that you get and expect in a theater…since the Coppers have a strong bass presence they should be good (and they are)…


TRON Soundtrack:  Big, full-sounding body with nicely detailed horns and strings up top.  Handles the purely orchestral passages with impact and the electronic pieces with even more impact.  Probably what they intended you to hear/feel.


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon:  There is more space/air in this Soundtrack (nowhere NEAR as compressed as TRON), so the warmth/fullness of the Coppers can be a real benefit if out in the real world.  Too thin/lacking in bass of an iem can be hard to enjoy if there is a lot of ambient noise or even bone induction from just walking around (found that out with this soundtrack and other iems).  Beautiful and dreamy presentation, if I may get so poetic.



As with any phones, be they head/ear/iems…you can create combinations of sound with source, amp, and/or EQ.  The Coppers respond well to mixing up the gear.  It has been a lot of fun learning about my sources and amps with the Coppers.


(continue below for Section III.)

Edited by CEE TEE - 5/11/11 at 11:32pm
post #3 of 40
Thread Starter 



System and Accessories:


Accessories are usually not a huge factor to me in choosing a headphone but this is an earphone.  And a universal in-ear monitor which requires a seal with the use of silicone tips.  Opening the Turbine Pro Coppers box is pretty much like Christmas when you were a kid (um, if you grew up in the U.S. and got to open a bunch of little presents).  It seems like the Monster team used their development resources to design, create, and include a TON of stuff for you to open up and try.  It’s a great big starter kit to get you into universal iems and to help get that elusive seal PLUS comfort.  I now have one set of tips on the Coppers that I like in my ears right now and I still see 15 other pairs in front of me.  So, there should really be something that fits everyone in this set.   There will probably still be a process of trying different tips and getting used to a set though…especially if this is your first universal iem.




I wasn’t looking forward to the universal tip fitting process as it took months and all sorts of different tips to find some that I really liked with my first iems (IE8s) that also didn’t adversely affect sound signature.  I bought Auveos, Sony Hybrids, Comply, and also replacement tips from Sennheiser.  Finally, I liked the “plastic foam” Sennheiser tips the best.  Well, Monster includes a bunch of tips including those that are kind of a “plastic foam” with harder plastic sound tubes inside to lessen the dampening effect that foam can have on frequencies- they give you FIVE SIZES of this type.  Because all of the tips are made for the Pro-Turbine line, they also actually FIT the nozzles.  This should not be underestimated as a benefit.  Many of us were worried about breaking the plastic nozzle off of the IE8 while trying out other brand tips.  These tips fit and are easy to put onto the METAL nozzles.  This reduces stress and you kind of want to try all the tips to see what they sound and feel like.  (Putting the triple flanges on are the most difficult but not that bad and you aren’t going to break the metal housing.)


My favorite tips are the extra small and small ones, I rotated around with them and liked them all at different times.




A BIG pet peeve of mine is buying a pair of sunglasses for $200 and getting a cheap case that SQUEEZES the glasses in and bends the arms.  Really???  So I made sure that you can ACTUALLY fit the iems in each of the cases plus some other stuff.  Why 2 cases?  Well, I love it…the one with magnetic flap for the iems and the 1/4” adapter in the pocket.  The other, fabric with metal spring-clasp pouch fits all of the tips while you are trying to figure out how big the holes in your ears are.  After you narrow it down you also have the choice of using a supplied tip holder.  Then you can put an extension cable or storage cards in the spring-clasp pouch. 





I personally have a bunch of little black nylon zipper-pouches that I got as product sample prototypes and can tell what is in them by feel.  Monster offers a cool solution to the “useless case phenomenon” with the two cases.  (They could have made the magnetic flap pouch thinner, it takes up unnecessary space in the pocket with its padding...  These are metal iems with a great warranty.  That combo already makes them portable and tough enough!)


The iems come with two small Velcro cable ties.  Most people will lose them the first day.  I really like having them but the two sides aren’t stitched together so the hook and loop sides are coming apart at the glue.  Need superglue or stitching. 


Cable?  Thicker than many but kind of spring-loaded.  Would make it more difficult to wear cable “over the ear”, I would think.  (I like them worn down.  At first they feel like they aren’t in that securely but I am used to them now.)  I did hear some microphonics which I didn’t used to notice that much in iems but now that I listen for it I do hear it…so I attached the clip and haven’t noticed it much since. 


Ear guides are adjustable wire with matching copper and color coded for right/left. I wasn’t able to really get these to hold tips for a good seal but I don’t have problems without them, thankfully. 


Because these iems prefer a lighter seal and shallower insertion than some iems, I don’t know if I could run in them.  They are lighter than they look but unless there is memory wire and they are worn over the ear, I find iems a bit difficult to run with. 


Fit and finish and overall quality are surprisingly good for everything in the box.  You feel like they tried to deliver everything.  And, if you like the sound signature and presentation that I described, then they did.


For around $219 on Amazon currently, I think this could be a great way to get into universal iems.  The experience of getting tips to fit and sound good can be trying and is a learning experience.  This system gives you everything you should need to go through that process, keep it all organized, and carry it with you. 





If you don’t want to feel like you are missing anything in bass, mids, treble, tips, iem construction (minus the driver flexing), carrying cases, experience of owning a high-end iem “system”, and enjoy a pleasing speaker sound…you should love these.   If you don’t like a good amount of bass and warmth though, you might be better suited to a pair of iems that has a different “flavor” or presentation.  Remember that the Coppers are pretty revealing and can be improved or tuned by source or amp!












Edited by CEE TEE - 5/12/11 at 8:46pm
post #4 of 40

Congratulations on getting selected and thanks for the write up!!  Awesome photos too! 


This has me really interested in how the Golds compare to the Coppers...



post #5 of 40

They would indeed suit my ear rings. I bet they are expensive.

post #6 of 40

Thanks Cee Tee!  Really nice write up.


If you had to directly compare the Coppers with the IE8 - what would be main differences, and which would you prefer and why?  TIA.

post #7 of 40
Thread Starter 

My first review (and probably won't do very many)...so thanks a lot!


I don't have the IE8 anymore <so this is from memory> but the IE8 could really do the low "thump" and emulate the "club feel".  (I photographed DJ Spooky, Doc Martin, Marques Wyatt, Julius Papp, and E.B.E. in a past life...so I have been in a couple of clubs!)


Very impressive in that regard- a great track to try out your phones with is to go onto Amon Tobin's website and create an account.  Then you can download a 50+ minute set FOR FREE of a great live electronic music performance in Brussels.  This kind of stuff was amazing with the IE8:  http://www.amontobin.com/content/foley-room-live#


But, the IE8 lacked some treble to me and so I ended up wanting more...the Coppers give up a little of the "slam" that can make you feel like you are "in the club" compared to IE8 but then they deliver some more treble than the IE8. For my taste, I would choose the Coppers so I would have lots of bass and pretty good slam but some more treble for a sense of clarity and an "edge" up higher in frequency.  Some might not like the treble and might prefer the IE8 overall though.  Hope that helps!

Originally Posted by Brooko View Post

Thanks Cee Tee!  Really nice write up.


If you had to directly compare the Coppers with the IE8 - what would be main differences, and which would you prefer and why?  TIA.

post #8 of 40

I'm curious, are they still accepting applicants for the Turbine Challenge?


Really nice review by the way.

post #9 of 40
Thread Starter 

^ Thank you!  They actually closed the window and selected 4 Gold reviewers and 5 Copper reviewers last month...I just learned today that there will be two threads set-up with all the reviews for each pair so you can go to one place for a LOT of information about the Golds or the Coppers.


I'll probably need to copy this review into their thread when it's ready...redface.gif

post #10 of 40

Monster just messaged me through Facebook (yes I have a Facebook, I like to keep in touch with old and new friends).  They are still accepting. 

post #11 of 40

They are still accepting applicants on Facebook i think, not on head-fi.

post #12 of 40

Wow they look pretty but im not suprised that the sound quality on them isn't overall satisfactory.

post #13 of 40
The sound quality on these is definitely top tier, on most aspect they are actually sonically better than the ie8 and tf10, based on my opinion.
post #14 of 40
Originally Posted by Sawyer60 View Post

Wow they look pretty but im not suprised that the sound quality on them isn't overall satisfactory.

I guess you and I just read a different review *<confused>*


Cee Tee - many thanks.  I think next time these are promo'd - I'll definitely be interested.  Will be nice to have a complete contrast to my Shures and eventual arrival of the B2's.


post #15 of 40

Nice review. I wish I could say the same about the coppers, biggest issue I have with them where the tips. None of them worked for me, and I have normal ears, I watched the Monster video, and even called them, only to be told I had to wait 30mins to speak to tech support.  


Long story short my $300 coppers stay in the draw, due to $1 tips not been able to stay in my ear and as a result all I hear is a hollow sound.   When I hold them in there had been times where I could hear some nice sounds but that is using my hands to "stuff" them in my ear canal. 


At this stage I have given up, they where my 1st large purchase in many years when it came to earphones, tbh I was very dissapointed..... thanks Monster lol. 

Edited by F900EX - 5/12/11 at 8:56pm
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