In recent years, Monster Cables started to expand its business to include a handful of headphones, the first models coming from a collaboration with hip-hop producer Dr. Dre. The company's offerings now comprise a couple of in-ear sets, including the top-of-the-line Turbine Pro In-Ear Speakers, a $299 number that features the same heavy-metal earpieces as found on the first Turbine earphones. While we wish Monster had incorporated an integrated mic and iPod controls at this price point, it's hard to overlook the Turbine Pro's high-end look and feel and top-notch sound.
The Turbine Pro--and its lower-priced sibling, for that matter--are some of the nicest earphones we've come across in terms of style and design. The earpieces are constructed entirely of shiny metal, with indented outer edges and slanted notches that give them a distinct airplane engine look (in other words, they live up to the "turbine" label). A possible downside is that this construction makes the 'buds pretty heavy, so they may have a tendency to slip out of some users' ears. However, we had no problems achieving a secure fit with the foam tips Monster includes in the package. In addition, you get a variety of black silicone tips, some soft and some stiff, as well as a soft-sided pouch and hard-sided carrying case.
Continuing down the cable from the earpieces, which are available in a choice of two colors (gold or copper), you'll come to a Y junction with a slider for preventing tangles and a metal accent of the same color as the 'buds. The cord (44 inches long) terminates in a durable L-shaped plug, also accented in metal and finally plated in gold. As one would expect, the Turbine Pro earphones have a high-quality cable--this is Monster, after all--that is thick and very flexible, two key traits for durability. Plus, Monster offers a lifetime warranty to help allay any concerns about breakage.
A few final details round out the Turbine Pros. First, these earphones continue the Monster tradition of labeling the left and right earpieces with thin blue and red rings (respectively) for easy identification. Also, we found the 'buds to be plenty comfortable for two hours of wear or more, and we did not notice any noise from the cable running across our clothing--both positives in our book. Plus, they offer an excellent amount of passive sound isolation, a good thing for anyone interested in listening to music at lower volumes (always better for the eardrums).
Of course, the real test of any pair of earphones is sound quality, and in this area, the Turbine Pros passed with flying colors. Starting at the low-end, we can say with the utmost confidence that bass addicts could easily fall in love with these 'buds. The bass is extra deep and thumpy without being overwhelming, and dance (such as Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around...Comes Around" remix) and hip-hop tracks really shine as a result. Despite the heavy low-end, the Turbine Pros manage to offer an impressive amount of clarity, with crisp, shimmery highs that lend well to hard rock and electropop. Similarly, mids are rich and buttery--just like we like them--and Roy Orbison's "Dream You" showcased this perfectly in testing. The sound is perhaps not the most balanced we've heard for all tracks, since the bass is very forward for some songs, but all-in-all these earphones perform great across genres, which means they should suit a variety of listening tastes.
In the final analysis, we have plenty of love for the Monster Turbine Pro earphones. Sound quality is great, but does not surpass expectations given the $299 price point. Also, we lament the lack of controls for iPod users. Still, there's no denying the style and high-end feel of these 'buds, and the overall balance of features and quality make them a solid choice in this price range.