Bass performance is taut, powerful, and deeply extended—though to hear the Copper Editions at their very best, you may want to try Monster’s new double-layer, gel-type SuperTips (see my notes under the COMFORT/ACCESSORIES section, below).
Highs are fine-grained, smooth and also well extended in a way that can leave some competing headphone sounding “closed in” or even slightly rolled off by comparison. Much like the Miles Davis Tribute models, the Copper Editions reveal the high frequency air between instruments, effortlessly reproducing subtle reverberant sounds and spatial cues in music, and nicely capturing the “decay trails” you might hear as individual notes ring out for a moment and then fade to silence. The overall effect is to make the Copper Editions seem more informative, revealing and immediate in their impact.
The broad middle of the midrange is where the Copper Editions sound significantly different from the Miles Davis models. Where the Miles Davis models provide—by design—a gentle touch of midrange emphasis (which some might rightly consider to be coloration, albeit a benign one), the Copper Edition’s midrange is gently pulled back to a level that closely approximates ideal, textbook neutrality. To my way of thinking, this characteristic unequivocally makes the Copper Editions preferable to the admittedly excellent Miles Davis Tribute models. The longer you listen to and live with the Copper Edition headphones, the more you come to trust and appreciate their “what-you-hear-is-what-you-get” honesty, integrity, and purity. Good work, Monster Cable.
One of the pleasures of very accurate headphones like the Copper Editions is that they can do justice to virtually any type of music, not just to a handful of genres. This means you can put on very delicate pieces at one moment, just to savor their inner detail and subtleties, and then fire up blockbuster pieces a moment later, just to experience their grandeur, power, and overall impact. I tried just such a sequence with the Copper Editions, first starting out with the second movement of David Chesky’s “Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra” [Chesky/Symphony Orchestra of the Norrlands Opera, Chesky, SACD],
The Chesky piece starts slowly, with a somber and haunting string passage that sets the mood, punctuates by almost funereal bells chiming in the background. When the bassoon entered, its voice was captured with a kind of crystalline clarity that fully exposed the instrument’s evocative and at times plaintive sound. At first, the bassoon plays in its upper register, sounding almost forlorn and mournful, but then it gradually works its way downward toward its lower register—becoming more forceful and throaty-sounding as it descends. What floored me about the Copper Edition’s performance was its almost eerie quality of precision and focus. Bowing changes for the strings, for example, sounded spot on, as did the subtle reed noises and tubular body resonances of the bassoon. What was truly impressive, though, was the way the Copper Editions captured the almost subliminal “clicks” of the bassoon’s valves opening and closing, or the whisper-quiet sound of the bassoonist’s fingers flying over the surfaces of the instrument. Frankly, few headphones and not many high-end loudspeakers can offer this level of focus.
To try something a bit more raucous and less contemplative, I next put on “He Was The King” from Neil Young’s Prairie Wind [Reprise]. The track is an homage to Elvis Presley, and Neil Young’s sidemen created a powerful sound very much like that achieved by some of Elvis’s own more rollicking bands from the past. There’s a lot going on in the track, where you’ll hear a rock-solid rhythm section, explosive horns, pedal steel guitar and Young’s own howling harmonica—all serving as a foundation for Young’s penetrating yet insouciant vocals, and for his backing singers.
First off, I was wowed by Copper Edition’s ability to capture the sheer vitality, energy and drive of the band. Through the Monster ‘phones, the bass guitar, I soon discovered, had a kind of “journey-to-the-center-of-the-earth” depth and power, while snare and kick drum had terrific clarity and punch that pushed the track forward with inexorable force. Similarly, the horns had a beautifully appropriate brassy bite, while the Copper Editions simply nailed the sustained “crying/singing” voice of the pedal steel guitar. And thanks to their superior resolution, the Monsters let me hear the subtly and expertly interleaved lines of Young’s team of female backing vocalists. But the biggest treat of all was Young’s voice, itself. The Copper Editions effortlessly revealed the cocky edge that Young brought to the song, while also showing off his sly humor, and while emphasizing the strength and depth of Young’s (and the bands’ ) sincere admiration for Presley and his achievements. It’s the Copper Edition’s special ability to dig beneath the surfaces and textures of note to expose underlying emotional themes that makes it so special and compelling.