I was lucky enough to be selected to review the Monster Turbine Pro Gold in the Turbine Challenge and here it is! First of all I want to thank Monster for setting it up and sending me the earphones. I want to stress this is all my own prejudiced opinion, I can't promise an unbiased review, we all have our biases.
I got my first pair of good earphones in 2004, since then I have used and owned quite a few, my current lineup includes: Sleek sa6, Westone 2, Etymotic er4s and the Beyerdynamic dtx100. A lot of people might be justified in calling me a detail freak, I certainly tend to a bass lighter sound generally, though that's generally because heavier bass upsets the balance all round. I use Sony sources almost exclusively, I know they have their problems but I like them. Anyway, onto the Pro Gold's.
I'm going to start off by saying these are expensive earphones, far more expensive than most of my friends believed was possible, you have to be a fool, have too much money or really really love music to consider buying. I, for example, am a fool.
On the 24th of April a large Box arrived from Fedex, there was me thinking it would all be polystyrene inside, but it turned out to be a large box anyway. You get a nice box with the Golds, inside there's everything you might expect, Company blurb, earphones, a lot of tips, a little cloth and two cases, quite why there're two cases i've yet to fathom but they're both quite nice so there're no complaints there.
Naturally, I put the earphones in and turned the volume up on a track that I knew very well (I forget what it was), First impressions of the sound were not good, it was like watching a film in an amateur cinema with the bass turned up too high, no matter how good the film all you can think about is "turn the bass down!!". Other things did impress me straight away though, the earphones themselves look very nice, I expected them to look blingy bordering on tacky, but they don't, they're made using what appears to be some nice materials and the cable, as you should expect was good.
This was the point at which I plugged them into my source and left them running for a while, not sure how long, maybe a couple of days. I really don't get the idea of burn-in being audible in earphones but I thought in the interests of fairness I should do.
Cue a long train journey (12 hours over two days) and then the Sound observations can continue.
Did they burn in? Did I make a really poor choice in first tracks? Or has my brain prepared itself for what to expect? I don't know. These are to date, the eaprhones that have changed their percieved sound most significantly, I'm still more convinced my brain is more to blame though, that's and end to it. Anyway:
I listen to a lot of Electronic music (dub-step/DnB/Disco/House etc.) I sometimes find I want more bass in other earphones, these produce the notes I wish my Ba earphones would, the bass hits hard and deep, in fact it's pretty damn good, there's no real loss of texture from having more than I often like, quieter tracks are not flooded with meaningless bass and it will thump away in the background if you want it to. I don't know what it is about bass from a dynamic driver rather than a BA, it moves more air, yes, but why should that make it more realistic? Audio engineering design is a black art as far as i'm concerned. My beyerdynamic's (inferior from my BA earphones in every other respect, have the same sort of impression, it's why i've still got them.)
The Mid Range:
A slamming bass is not much good without the rest of the range and the mids don't feel left out. It's a nice sound, doesn't stand out like a Shure, not particularly recessed like most cheaper dynamic driver iem's. One of my favourite albums of all time is The Big Wheel by Runrig and I listened to "Always the Winner" on loop for quite a while, it's just pleasant to listen to, although I wouldn't call it a strength, it can feel a bit constrained at times when you are reminded you're only listening to earphones.
Call me a detail freak if you like but When I hear a guitarist playing a nice part (Gerry Rafferty (RIP) - Right Down the Line) or something similar, I like to hear the notes and the plectrum in the background, the highs tend to produce a lot of these details and they were not quite as present as in the er4/sa6/w2 etc. I didn't think the bass affected the mids, but it's because of the bass, the engineers at Monster couldn't get the highs as detailed (some would probably say piercing).
Anyway, the sound signature overall is very nice, warm with a thumping bass, not for the detail freak, not muddy but I think engaging is too polite a word, you get the idea anyway.
I do have a few reservations on the sound front though. The bass is very nice, for example, but it doesn't really sound good at low volumes,and the soundstage understandably suffers, you'll be forever cranking up the volume a few extra notches, it's a sure way to damage your hearing, Isolation is good for a dynamic however, so there's no reason too if you're sensible.
Good sound is all well and good but what are they like to live with: Well, being very expensive the instinct is to look after them very well. They will be able to take a certain amount of abuse, but, being earphones, the cable will break at some point so it's nice to know they come with a good warranty just in case. The problem with mine was the two parts of the casing started splitting after not long, I notice it first on the right, the left started failing after about two weeks, it's all very well having a good warranty but paying that much for earphones it should be there merely as a back up, so the build quality may be good but the quality control is somewhat lacking.
It could be said I should listen to several sources but I've listened to the Pro Gold's almost exclusively with my Sony a818, I tried them with my a846 but something didn't quite gel with the combo, not sure why but I like it with other things.
These earphones are very good, make no mistake, but you have to ask yourself? How much is good music worth to you? There are good earphones for a small fraction of the price. Have you heard any of them? What was missing? If you can answer any of these questions and you listen to a good amount of music, these could be your new best friend on your commute, I know first hand they help the time on the train pass quickly.
I listen to a large variety of music but I used a few key tracks in compiling this review:
Royksopp - What Else is There? (Stuart Price Remix)
Noisia - Red Heat
Morcheeba - Enjoy the Ride
George Acosta - Beautiful
Chris Rea - Looking for a Rainbow
Wolfstone - Piper and the Shrew
Empire of the Sun - Walking on a Dream
This review is not finished as yet, I'm suffering from a slow internet connection and i'm meaning to copy a few music links and photos before copying to other media groups but opinions wise i'm pretty much there. Any questions, complaints, spelling errors and conspiracy theories and I will be happy to hear, although with the internet as it is I may not answer straight away.
Thanks for reading and have a nice day!