Playback readers who follow my blog series on AVguide.com will already know that Monster’s Miles Davis Tribute headphones are, along with their sibling models the Turbine Pro Copper Edition ‘phones, the top two models in the Monster Cable lineup. What, exactly, qualifies them to claim these two top spots? The answer, in simple terms, is that they offer greatly heightened levels of resolution—not just relative to other Monster Cable models but also with respect to most other in-ear headphones on the market. Billed as “the ultimate jazz experience headphones,” the Miles Davis Tribute models aim to dig deeper into the essence of good recordings than many of their competitors do.
When I first encountered the Miles Davis model, it occurred to me that they might in essence be a re-badged (but functionally identical) version of the Turbine Pro Copper Edition ‘phones. When I asked about this, however, Monster Cable founder Noel Lee told me that while the two products share similar technology they do not sound exactly the same. By design, the Miles Davis Tribute model offers a subtle touch of midrange emphasis, whereas the Turbine Pro Copper Edition offers a more nearly textbook-flat (or neutral) frequency response curve.
Anyone interested in the Miles Davis Tribute model will quickly grasp that it is more than a headphone, since it also serves as a collector’s item targeted toward those who cherish the musical legacy of Miles Davis. With this end in mind, the Mile Davis Tribute ‘phones prominently display Miles Davis’ signature (for example, on the earpieces of the headphones, on the yoke of the their signal cable, on the housing of their 3.5mm connector plug, and so on), and they even come with a special display case made to look like a miniature replica of Miles Davis’ trumpet case. To complete the package, the Miles Davis Tribute headphones comes with a copy of Columbia’s Legacy Edition, 2-disc CD set commemorating the 50th anniversary of the release of Davis’ jazz masterpiece, Kind of Blue.
Naturally, these memorabilia touches contribute to price of the Miles Davis Tribute headphones, which retail for $499.95 (by comparison, Monster’s Turbine Pro Copper Edition headphones sell for $399.95). But that said, a bit of price shopping reveals that the street price of the Miles Davis Tribute model is only about $40 higher than that of the Turbine Pro Coppers, so that if you prefer the sound of the Miles Davis ‘phones, there’s no good reason to let the price differential stand in your way.
In this review, I hope to give you a clear picture of the sound qualities that make the Miles Davis model so special, and that differentiates it from the Turbine Pro Copper Edition.
Consider this in-ear headphone if: you seek an in-ear headphone that offers good sensitivity, very high levels of resolution, and generally neutral tonal balance, but that deliberately provides a subtle, gentle band of midrange emphasis that complements many styles of music (including—not surprisingly, classic jazz recording from the late 1950s and early ‘60’s). Also consider this headphone if you would enjoy a distinctive and functionally appealing piece of Miles Davis memorabilia.
Look further if: you like the general concept of the Miles Davis headphones, but would prefer a model whose frequency response curve does not include the MD’s light touch of midrange emphasis. If you are looking for more nearly textbook-neutral response, the Monster Cable Turbine Pro Copper Edition will be more to your liking (and a bit less expensive, too).
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced headphones)