The Crème de la Crème
May 19th, 2010 -- by Chris Martens
Let me compare the Turbine Pro Copper Editions to three strong competitors: the Klipsch Image Image X10i, Shure SE 530, and Sennheiser IE 8.
Monster Cable Turbine Pro Copper Edition vs. Klipsch Image X10i
- The Klipsch Image X10i’s retail for about $349 while the Copper Editions are slightly more expensive at $399.99.
- The Image X10i provides headset functions with a built-in iPod/iPhone remote, where the Copper Editions do not.
- Sonically, both designs leverage similar strengths in terms of high resolution and sonic purity. That said, however, I think the Copper Editions enjoys a clear-cut edge in terms of retrieving even finer levels of detail.
- Tonal balance between the headphones is generally similar, but with the Image X10i offering a slightly warmer, “darker” cast than the Copper Editions. By comparison, the Copper Editions offer better (and also more accurate) extension at both frequency extremes, and a more taut and focused presentation overall.
- Both headphones are compact and comfortable, and come with a useful array of eartips, though the range of standard eartip options offered by Monster is much more elaborate. That said, however, there is no dodging the fact that the Image X10i’s are smaller, lighter, and significantly more comfortable for long term use than the Copper Editions.
- Eartips: The Klipsch headphones come with patent-pending elliptical eartips said to more closely mirror the real-world shape of human ear canals; the elliptical eartips work like a charm. On the other hand, Monster Cable has done considerable research into the sonic effects of various eartip materials and configurations, and their double-layer, gel-type Super Tips are hands down the best sounding eartips we’ve yet tried.
- The Turbine Pro Copper Editions carry Monster’s unbeatable “lifetime” warranty, which provides one-time free replacement of the phones “even if YOU break them.”
Turbine Pro Copper Edition vs. Shure SE 530
- The Shure SE 530’s retail for $499.99 without the push-to-hear control option, or $549.99 with the option, while the Copper Editions are less expensive, selling for $399.99. Research suggests, however, that the street price for the SE 530’s may well be lower than that of the Copper Editions.
- The Shure is a two-way, three-driver design, whereas the Copper Editions feature a single, high-performance, full-range balanced armature driver. Shure proponents argue that the three-driver design allows for driver specialization/optimization by frequency range, where Turbine Pro Copper Edition adherents contend that its single-driver design eliminates any possibility of driver-to-driver textural discontinuities. While I think the Shures handle driver blending as well or better than any other multi-driver in-ear headphones on the market, I would say that the sheer purity of a good single-driver design is tough to beat. Some listeners may find the Monster’s offer superior sonic purity to the Shures (I do), while others might not feel the difference, if any, is significant.
- The Shure’s greatest strength is rich, natural, and thoroughly neutral tonal balance coupled with a good measure of resolution and detail. My sense is that the Monster headphone is fully the equal of the Shure in terms of accurate tonal balance, but that it also offers slightly higher levels of resolution as well as an elusive quality of “cut from whole cloth” sonic integrity from top to bottom.
- The SE 530’s route signal cables up and over the ear, where the Copper Editions do not. Some users are perfectly comfortable with over-the-ear cable routing, while others find it uncomfortable and annoying.
- Again, Monster’s unique warranty gives added peace of mind.
Turbine Pro Copper Edition vs. Sennheiser IE 8
- The Sennheiser IE 8’s retail for $449.95, while the Copper Editions sell for $399.99. Research suggests, however, that the street price for the IE 8’s may well be lower than that of the Copper Editions.
- The IE 8 offers a user adjustable “sound tuning” feature, where the Copper Editions do not.
- Tonal balance for the IE 8’s and Copper Editions is similar, though the Copper Editions do sound just slightly more extended at the frequency extremes (though this is a subtle difference that some listeners might not notice at first).
- Both designs offer very high degrees of purity and coherency, though I would say the edge goes to the Copper Editions. That said, however, note that ultra-high levels of transparency and detail are not necessarily what all listeners are looking for (one man’s “excellent resolution” can be another man’s “too much information”). Listeners who crave resolution, detail and focus will probably gravitate toward the Copper Editions, while music lovers who want their sonic details be presented with absolutely uncanny smoothness might possibly prefer the IE 8s.
- Both headphones offer an excellent array of eartips, and both require considerable trial-and-error experimentation to find out which eartips work best for a given user. In an absolute sense, Monster’s dual-layer, gel-type Super Tips are among the most sonically effective I’ve yet heard, though their somewhat stiff consistency means not all users will find them comfortable for long term listening session.
- On the whole, the compact Copper Editions are easier to fit and more comfortable for very long listening sessions than the somewhat more awkwardly shaped IE 8’s. In part, the Copper Editions benefit from the fact that they do not require over-the-ear cable routing, though the IE 8’s are helped by the fact that their earpieces are very light. By comparison, the Copper Editions metal earpiece housings, though compact, can seem a bit “chunky” at times.
- Once again, Monster’s unique warranty gives added peace of mind.