On very high resolution recordings, such as “ I Can’t Stand the Rain” from Sara K’s Hell or High Water [Stockfisch SACD], I found that the Turbine Pros sounded very good—in many respects delivering sound quality reminiscent of high quality, high-end loudspeaker systems. The Pros let you hear the plaintive power of Sara K’s voice and the strong and sure handed but never overblown performances of her veteran sidemen. But when heard through some of the Turbine Pro’s top competitors that same track can—at its very best—took on deeper dimensions, offering up an even more vivid and intense presentation that reminded me of what it’s like to listen to microphone feeds directly through a recording console. While the Turbine Pro gets all the basic elements of music reproduction right, some of its most accomplished competitors capture even more finely shaded textural and timbral details, giving you a more intimate, up-close-and-personal view of the music.
During my listening tests I compared the Turbine Pros against two of the strongest in-ear headphone I’ve heard in the $300 price class: the Klipsch Custom 3, and the Sennheiser IE7. I will sketch out the results of my comparisons, below.
Turbine Pro compared to the Klipsch Custom 3
The Turbine Pro is noticeably more comfortable to wear than the Custom 3. This is partly down to the fact that the Turbine Pros are small and compact and feature what I would call “plug’n’play” wiring, while the ear pieces of the Custom 3’s are larger and incorporate an over-the-ear cable guide that is somewhat “fussy” to adjust properly. Another differentiator is that the Turbine Pro signal cable features a smooth jacket whereas the cable jacket of the Custom 3 is made of a rough-textured fabric that can scrape on your skin or clothing, creating distracting “rustling” noises that sometimes get transmitted up to (and through) the Klipsch ear pieces.
Sonically, the Turbine Pro offers extremely smooth frequency response with deep, powerful bass, but the Custom 3 sounds even richer and more evocative, delivering superior highs, more nuanced bass, and slightly higher levels of openness and transparency—especially in the critical midrange. The Custom 3 is also somewhat more sensitive and therefore an easier load for iPods to drive.
Turbine Pro compared to the Sennheiser IE7
The Turbine Pro is substantially more comfortable to wear (and to adjust) that the IE7. Again, the difference is attributable to the Turbine Pro’s compact size and straightforward wiring. By comparison, the IE7’s have relatively large and somewhat awkwardly shaped earpieces and they use a relatively stiff over-the-ear cable guide that can make proper adjustment tricky to achieve.
Sonically, the Turbine Pro has a somewhat darker tonal balance than the IE7, which some listeners might prefer. The tradeoff, however, is that IE7 does a more accurate and expressive job of capturing low level details and small shifts in dynamic emphasis, while delivering exceptionally clear upper mids and highs, plus taut and very well-defined bass.
Differences between the Turbine Pros and its top in-class competitors certainly are not large in an absolute sense, so that the superior ruggedness and comfort of the Pros might tip the scales in their favor. However, careful listening will also reveal that top competitors in the $300 price class do offer some small but worthwhile sonic advantages.
The Turbine Pros come with a wide assortment of ear tips: three sets of single layer ear tips, two sets of triple layer ear tips, two sets of Supertips, and one set of foam tips. I found the new Supertip material to be very comfortable and sufficiently flexible to offer a good, airtight seal. The Turbine Pros, much like the original Turbines, are ideally sized to allow easy inserting and adjustment for a good fit in your ear canals.
The Monster Turbine Pros also come with two carrying cases, one that is a particular handy pocket-sized pouch with a magnetic closure.
Monster Cable’s Turbine Pro takes worthwhile steps forward from the firm’s already excellent Turbine, offering greater detail and broader frequency response with rock solid bass. Though not the last word in overall sonic resolution and refinement in its price class, the Turbine Pro will win friends with its well-balanced sound, superior comfort, and absolutely unbeatable warranty.