This is a quick review of the Monster Turbine In Ear Monitor headphone. Like them or hate them, most people know the Monster brand. I have always thought their cables are extremely overpriced so I had glossed over testing their Turbine IEM headphones. But since they are so popular, I thought it was time I get them a fair shake and here it is.
They are called Turbine because they kind of look like jet engines (or at least that is my guess). These ear buds are metallic and feel solid in the hand. The colors are nicely matched and conservative enough to be used in an office environment yet hip enough to be called cool by teens. For a company best known for cables, I was hoping these earphones would have stronger, thicker and more quality cables. I would have loved for them to use a ZAGGSmartbud type polyurethane coated cable which would make it more resistant and less prone to tangling.
The pair I tested was given a hard time: thrown in a gym bag, rolled and shoved in a pocket, and basically beaten. The little fragile ear buds have held up well. I have to acknowledge that many on the net rant that their pair broken within the first couple of months but my pair was in very good condition after my tough love.
Any in ear earphone has to be evaluated for comfort. I have been using In-Ear Monitors (IEM) for 2-3 years now (as my primary buds) and so am very use to the insertion and feeling. The buds are made of metal, but they don’t feel heavy and don’t weigh down your ears. Many on the net like the Monster Turbine rubber tips, but I found them bothersome after 30 minutes of use. I prefer the tips provided with by Ultimate Ears, Etymotic or the Comply Foam ones.
We’ll talk about the audio reproduction profile later but the buds are bass heavy and as such, I found them more tiring than my other IEMs. I found myself playing with my devices equalizer to compensate for this and lowering my volume.
I tested the Monster Turbine against my ultimate Ear Triple-Fi, The Bose QuietComfort 3/15, Etymotic ER-4, Etymotic ER-6i and Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B.
I tested the Monster Turbine with a Windows computer, iPod (gen 4), Iphone 4s, Cowon Audio iAudio 7 and a Sony CD Player. I tested with all types of MP3 files (from 128-320 encoding) and platform specific lossless (ALAC on Apple and FLAC on Cowon).
I found that a headphone amplifier really didn’t improve the performance of the IEMs. You don’t need to buy an amp to power the Monster Turbine. Regardless of the source audio, I found the soundstage to be very similar and it is definitely not neutral and the soundstage is narrow. Bass is very strong and at times overwhelming. After 30-40 minutes of listening, the extra bass sometimes caused mental fatigue ( If you like this type of super-bass then this may be a positive for you. ) Highs and lows sound muffled and aren’t as clear as I expected them to be. Mid’s are acceptable but nowhere as clear, crisp or enjoyable as on my other IEMs.
The default tips and earphone provide a good level of passive sound isolation which means you can still hear your music on a crowded bus or get some peace and quiet in a plane. Noise isolation wasn't as good as my Ultimate Ear Triple-fi or Etymotic ER-4 / ER-6i but was still very good.
If you are a casual listener (not an audiophile) and want bass more than anything else, then this may be the IEM for you. It is well built and durable. If you want a versatile IEM that can support all kinds of music with accurate and balanced sound reproduction, then forget about the Turbines.