If you compare the Turbine Pros to the original Turbines you’ll be a very happy camper because the Pros offer three welcome, across-the-board improvements. First, they offer significantly higher levels of detail and resolution, letting you extract more worthwhile low-level information from your favorite recordings. Next, the Pros provide even deeper and more solid bass than the original Turbines, which were no slouches in that department. Third, the Pros provide significantly more extended treble response, making it much easier to pick out high frequency harmonics and the elusive sense of “air” surrounding instruments. Finally, overall frequency response is very evenly balanced (also a great strength of the original Turbines), though perhaps shaded ever so slightly toward the warm side (that is, the more bass-prominent side) of strict neutrality.
Based on what I’ve written thus far, you might think the Turbine Pro would be among the top-tier performers in its price class, and you would be mostly (though not entirely) correct in that assessment. On the one hand, the Turbine Pros really do take worthwhile steps forward from the Turbines, which is very much to their credit. On the other hand, I found their performance was in some respects narrowly surpassed by the best $300 models from competitors such as Klipsch and Sennheiser.
In side-by-side comparisons with competing headphones, I found the Turbine Pros offered a very good measure of clarity, but perhaps lacked that elusive “Nth degree” of resolving power and definition that can sometimes spell the difference between very good headphones and truly great ones. While the Turbine Pros reveal most of the music most of the time, they occasionally miss the very subtlest layers of low-level musical information—layers of information their strongest competitors are often able to retrieve. Granted, I’m drawing a very subtle distinction here. Make no mistake: the Turbine Pros are extremely good headphones that do a fine job of precisely reproducing transient and textural details in the music; it’s better than the Pros do.
Two other tradeoffs, however, tend to work in the Turbine Pro’s favor. First, the Pros are among the most comfortable and easy to adjust headphones in their class, whereas several of their strongest competitors use somewhat cumbersome over-the-ear wire routing guides that can make it harder to adjust the ‘phones for a perfect fit. (With in-ear ‘phones, it is fair to say that good fit = good sound, so that ease of adjustment is a big plus). Second, the Turbine Pro’s slightly warmer than neutral tonal balance will, at least for some listeners, represent a better sonic compromise than the arguably more accurate but also slightly more lightly balanced sound of competing ‘phones.
To hear many of the Turbine Pro’s strengths in action at once, try a vigorous and well-recorded live jazz track such as “Shake Everything You Got” from Maceo Parkers Roots & Grooves [Heads Up]. The track opens with a deep, punchy, rolling slap-bass groove that evolves against a backdrop of exuberant crowd noises until punctuated by the hard, sharp “pop, pop, pop, ker-swisssh” of three high-energy snare drum shots and a high-hat thwack that together mark the launch of the body of the song. In the past, the original Turbines would have done a very nice job with this passage, but Turbine Pros are better still, doing a better job of capturing the subterranean punch of the bass, the explosive crack of the snare, and the brilliant crash and closure of the high-hat.
Things get even better as the horn section enters, carrying the song’s melodic line above the prodigious grooves rumbling down below. The Pros do a wonderful job of catching the brassy bite of the horns swells while at the same time letting you hear and feel the locomotive like power and, well, “traction” of the musical foundation that the rhythm section provides. Unlike lesser earphones, the Turbine Pros keeps its composure in the presence of complicated and dynamically demanding material that requires the headphone to reproduce challenging bass, midrange, and high-frequency musical lines at the same time. If anything, the Turbine Pros seem to revel in this kind of stuff—something that can’t be said of all competing phones.