Monster Gel and Foam SuperTips kinda-sorta Review
Aug 21, 2010 at 12:17 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1

Napilopez

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Hey guys. So as you may know, Monster recently held a program where a hundred lucky people could win a free sampler pack for their relatively new gel and foam "SuperTips". I was not one of those lucky people. Cursing my wretched fortune, I decided to go ahead and buy the Sampler Pack myself. They had intrigued me since I first heard about them when they were only available with a purchase of one of Monster's own headphones, particularly the more recent foam variant. Though 25 bucks seemed like a rather steep price to pay, my curiosity was piqued, and I figured my sister could use the smaller tips. In the end, however, the price paid was negligible for the purchase of what are now my two favorite tips.
 
The box arrived at my door yesterday morn, with neat-o easy to open plastic packaging that even has squishy "feel me!" type button-like protrusions emanating from the packaging, in order to get a taste of whats to come. Or you could just press the highly entertaining squishy buttons for minutes on end just for fun. Not that I would ever do that. Ahem.
 
The Sampler Pack brings a generous 10 pairs of tips, 5 sizes each for Gel and Foam, labeled as XS, S, S/M, M and L. I don't get why they chose to call the median tip S/M, it confused me a bit. Perhaps they didn't want to make people feel self-conscious about having XL-sized ear canals, gaping holes in their heads
 
Something I thought was notable: one particularly nice surprise included with the tips is a set of several little nozzle adapters, to fit the tips onto IEMs with smaller nozzle apertures. I had wondered about this, as though these were originally designed for wide-nozzled Monster IEMs, their heavily sealing form factor(and potential bass boosting sound) might be more beneficial to balanced armature type IEMs, which tend to have smaller nozzles. Being a poor college student, I only have my HJE900s to test with, but it was pleasant to see that Monster found a practical solution to make their tips more accessible to other kinds of IEMs without having to make a separate purchase; it might come in handy once I have some BA IEMs. I'd never seen such a solution outside of Head-Fi DIY jobs.
 
So onto the tips themselves. The gel tips look like standard silicone tips from first glance, but a closer look will reveal they are actually filled with some sort of gel. This, it turns out, provides improved fit, seal, isolation, and squishyness factor. Their apperture is sized somewhat in the middle of what you may find on Sony Hybrids and Sennheiser style tips. Having quite ordinary canals, the medium small-medium pair fit me perfectly.
 
The foam tips are perhaps even more intriguing. Most Head-Fi members who frequent the IEM board know that foam tips, though supremely comfortable and isolating, tend to be the sworn archenemy of sparkly treble due to the material dissipating the higher frequencies. Although some foam tips possess a silicone "sound tube" for sound to travel through and alleviate the issue, but the end of the tip tends to be unprotected, leaving treble to be diminished. Others make use of a coating to ameliorate things, but usually not to particularly high success. Monster uses both, with improvements, by extending the tube all the way to the tip of the tip, and around it, so that treble loss is negligible. This is what caught my attention in the first place, as I had long been searching for Comply-like comfort without the treble annhilation. In this case, though the S/M fit me perfectly fine, I stuck with the M sized tips for a sturdier fit with virtually no difference in sound. Slightly more isolating and better fitting than the gel tips, these are great tips to use on the go without worrying about diminished sound quality in a foam tip.
 
Writing this review, I thought about how to approach my impressions as to their sound. How does one assess the sound of something which only maintains and modifies sound, rather than create it? The sound of an IEM can be strengthened or languished by a tip, and every IEM and ear will have their own best matches. As such, I can only describe them in relative terms, as modifiers for sound, like a natural EQ.
 
Perhaps most interesting to note is that they present a remarkably similar sound for their different construction. It should come as no surprise that these provide for plenty of bass response, given their maker and highly sealing nature, but I was surprised to note that they both seemed to allow for texture in the bass that I quite frankly could not hear with my regular silicone tips. The mids and highs have a crispiness to them, and I didn't find them to be attenuated at all.
 
What I find about the SuperTips is that their intention is to provide the most direct representation of the sound emerging from the drivers. With regular silicone tips, their is usually a little bit of an area which isn't completely sealed off, leading to a bit of an airier sound. With foam, the material generally causes attenuation of treble and I find some textures tend to be lost even in the bass. The Supertips attempt to prevent either case, giving you some of the best seals you can find outside of customs, only allowing sound to travel from the driver directly to the eardrum. Whether or not that's a good thing is up to you. Some headphones benefit from the treble attenuation of foams, and many people prefer having a loser seal at times for added "air to the headphones which can give the illusion of a larger or more realistic soundstage. Speaking of soundstage, on my HJE900 they seem to make the soundstage just a litttleee bit smaller, probably due to the smaller aperture size, but unlike with my Sony Hybrids, it isn't enough to make it a bother.
 
The foam and gel variants do have their differences, with the gel sounding just a bit more refined in my opinion, allowing for a tiny bit more sparkle and crispness to the sound. The gel seems to present slightly more detail around all the sound spectrum, but as a consequence may seem to sound more "congested" that your usual silicone tips, and not allow you to just focus on the music just as much as you would with the foam variant. The foam still gives me a a brighter signature than any foam I've ever tried though, and even Sony Hybrids too. Additionally, the foam seems to sound slightly more airy, even though it provides for more isolation and a more secure fit than the gel variant, for me. I suppose this is because although coated, the material itself allows for a bit more dissipation of the overall sound than the thick gels do. Perhaps Monster's description of them is the most apt, with the Gels being more suited for critical listening, and the foams being better for active movement and comfort. I myself haven't decided on which I prefer to use, still switching around the two, but either way, my old silicon tips can say goodbye; I have found my new favorite tips.
 
So yea, that's basically it. To summarize, they are both extremely comfortable, highly isolating, and try to present the truest driver-to-ear sound. That may not be the preferred thing for all headphones and ears, but hey, I can't fault the SuperTips for trying, can I? All in all, Monster has created two very unique IEM tips tha
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