"Great all-around performer"4.0 starson by tstarn04
Pros: Study build
Balanced sound, no need for amp.
Cons: Cable microphonics
Treble sometimes a little "watery"
Limited sleeve selection
Summary: Full disclosure. I received the Monster Turbines as part of a "focus" group of sorts, so I did not pay for them.
My music collection weighs in at about 13,000 pieces, in every possible genre and style. From country to classical, jazz to ska, I probably own it. So the Turbines have had their share of styles and musical forms to handle. A
In my comparison, the Turbines faced some formidable competition. I own the Westone 3s, a pair of Phonak Audeos (a relatively new, high-performance in-ear phone from a Swiss hearing aid maker) and a pair of Sennheiser IE8s.
I own and use four igital audio players (DAPs), including a Sony A818, a Microsoft Zune80, an Apple iTouch (2G) and the Sansa Clip.
Being a dynamic phone, the Turbines do not need a portable amp to sound their best. And with each of my music players, the Turbines mesh very well, especially the Zune80, which has no EQ and delivers, in my view, the best headphone out sound (sans EQ) of any of my players, with the Touch being a close second (bigger soundstage).
Dynamic phones require a burn-in period. I put the Turbines through 30-40 hours of pink nose burn-in after listening to them briefly out of the box. With dynamics, it?s a pretty good bet that the bass will be a little too boomy until the diaphragm settles down, and using pink or white noise on a constant loop (or just plain music, too) will break in the phones, settle them down. All my listening for this review was after the Turbines were burned in for 30 hours.
The Turbine bass is deep, rich and not boomy (as is the case with low-cost in-ear phones). It is subwoofer-like, but to me, you really can't say anything stuck in your ear is the same as hearing a good sub on a home system - just a completely different experience.
Suffice it to say that the Turbine bass is ear-pleasing, and does not drown out the mids and highs, which is a really impressive balancing act for a dynamic in-ear phone.
As far as punch, the bass, once it calms down after burn-in, is quick, neat, yet deep, without a mid-bass hump (another characteristic of poorly rendered bass in an in-ear phone).
Regarding clarity and detail, the Turbines deliver, especially for a single dynamic driver (as opposed to an armature driven phone). I?ve owned another pair of well-known dynamic phones, the Atrio M5s, and the Turbines clearly deliver crisper, cleaner details across the spectrum. I did sense a little bit of a ?watery? or sibilant edge with some treble presentations, on some tracks more than others. It's allmost a synthetic feeling listening to the highs/treble on occasion, but it?s not a deal-breaker.
The Turbines are at least on par with several phones I have heard or owned over the years. They definitely are not muddy and reveal music details with phones costing twice as much ? another plus for their price.
A few comments about build quality. The Turbine driver housing is excellent, a real slick bit of engineering and design. I wish I could say the same for the cable and strain relief. The cable is somewhat microphonic, but you can tame that through the use of a shirt clip. Also, I prefer an L-shaped plug, not straight, and also would beef up the strain relief both near the drivers and also at the plug. Today, users can be tough on portable phones, and it would be great to see a little more toughness in the build, certainly a more study cable ? especially from a company known for making AV cables.
I think the Monster Turbines are a winner, but could use a little refinement. Of course, the cosmetic suggestions are doable. And the treble issues I encountered may just be the way I hear them. The Turbines can do battle with some higher-end phones from Shure, Etymotics, UE and the other portable phone makers - especially for their street price of $149.