Monster Cable’s Turbine Pro Copper Edition headphones ($399.99) may look similar to the firm’s Turbine and Turbine Pro Gold models, but they are based on different technology and sound considerably different from their siblings. In fact, the Copper Editions claim, along with Monster’s Miles Davis Tribute.
headphones (reviewed in Playback XX) the top two slots in the Monster Cable lineup. As I mentioned in my earlier Miles Davis Tribute review, the defining characteristic that distinguishes both of these two top-tier Monster models from their Monster siblings and from other would-be competitors, is their exceptional sonic resolution, detail, and focus. Astute readers will surely want to know which are the superior performers, the Turbine Pro Copper Editions or the Miles Davis Tribute models. That’s one key question I’ll attempt to answer in this review.
In a recent conversation with Monster founder Noel Lee, I gleaned some insights into the key differences between the Miles Davis model and the similar but definitely not identical Turbine Pro Copper Editions. Despite the fact that the products share similar technology and overall appearance Noel Lee asserted that they do not sound exactly the same. By design, the Miles Davis Tribute model offers a subtle touch of midrange emphasis (intended, in a very subtle way, to complement classic jazz recording of the late ‘50’s and mid-‘60’s), whereas the Turbine Pro Copper Edition offers a more nearly textbook-flat (or neutral) frequency response curve.
Both the Miles Davis Tributes and the Copper Editions use single, full-range balanced armature drivers, since Lee believes that multi-driver in-ear headphones, while appealing in theory, tend to have audible problems with driver blending and thus with overall sonic coherency. Given this, it was not too surprising to find that Lee likened the sound of the Copper Editions to that of hyper-revealing electrostatic loudspeakers (such as the MartinLogan CLX), which also use a single driver to cover most of the audio spectrum. If you’ve ever heard a pair of statement class electrostats in action, then you know that Lee’s performance claim is a very ambitious one, to say the least. Can a set of $400 in-ear headphones really go toe-to-toe with multi-thousand dollar world-class loudspeakers? That, too, is a question I’ll try to tackle in this review. With that thought in mind, let the listening begin.
Consider this in-ear headphone if: you seek an in-ear headphone that arguably does all things well (actually, exceptionally well). The Turbine Pro Copper Editions headphones offer neutral tonal balance, remarkable purity and coherency, and exceptional levels of resolution, detail, and focus. If you had to sum up the Copper Edition’s performance in one word, that word might be “immediacy.” These ‘phones draw you right into the center of the music as few others can.
Look further if: you prefer headphones that give you a somewhat more distant and relaxed perspective on the music—or that emphasize smoothness at the expense of losing small amounts of sonic detail. This isn’t to say the Copper Editions are not relaxing or smooth, but rather to point out that they are all about being accurate and revealing, sometimes conveying more musical information (sometimes pleasant, but sometimes not) than the listener might have bargained for.
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced headphones)
Listening through the Turbine Pro Copper Edition headphones is a little like looking at an ordinary household object through the lens of a microscope. It’s a heady experience, really, because the exact nature of small edges and textural details suddenly becomes clear and explicit, while details that were at the limits of acuity for the naked eye suddenly snap into focus, becoming plain as day. This is, by way of analogy, precisely the same kind of heightened focus and resolution that the Copper Editions bring to fine audio recordings. If there is any catch, here, it is that the Copper Editions also bring the same scrutiny to not-so-fine recordings. But, if your tastes are like mine and if you are by nature inquisitive, you may find the resolving power of the Copper Editions downright addicting.