If you’re willing to spend twice what the Turbines cost (or more) you can—if you search carefully—find ‘phones that offer a little bit more detail, resolution, and refinement, but in terms of accurate tonal balance the Turbines can compete with the best I’ve yet heard.
Let me use two recordings to illustrate the Turbines’ real-world performance.
Sometimes the simplest recordings can be the most revealing, and so it is with British jazz vocalist Norma Winstone’s rendition of the Cole Porter song “Everytime We Say Goodbye” from Distances [ECM]. The track opens with sparse instrumentation—just the sound of Klaus Gesing’s lilting sax and Winstone’s breathy, nuanced voice, so that even the smallest details and textures are laid bare. The Turbine’s answered the call by nailing the reedy, contemplative, almost melancholy sound of Gesing’s sax, while revealing layer upon layer of tonal colors and subtle points of emphasis in Winstone’s voice. In a recording like this one there is no place for a headphone to hide: it either gets the fundamentals right, or its colorations are instantly exposed—a test the Turbines passed with flying colors.
But as lovely though the Turbines can be on delicate material, they also have sufficient grunt and moxie to hold their own on more full-bodied fare. A good example would be their sound on “There Goes The Neighborhood” from Sheryl Crow’s The Globe Sessions [A&M]. The track has several key core sonic elements: an absolutely enormous-sounding kick drum, two raw and grindingly distorted electric guitars, a vigorously loping electric bass, barking saxes applied mostly as accents and, of course, Crow’s own feisty and sometimes howling vocals. The Turbines were impressive on this track, partly because they kept their composure when multiple, powerful bass instruments were holding forth at once, and partly because they so effortlessly delineated the multiple, raucous midrange voices performing at full song.
The point I’m hoping to get across is that the Turbines are versatile performers that can capture both the sound and “feel” of quite diverse types of music—perhaps their greatest strength.
The Turbines are very light and their soft silicone eartips (similar to those provided with Monster’s Beats by Dre Tours) feel great and seal well. The Turbines are a just-right size: big enough to grasp easily, yet small enough to adjust easily for an optimal fit. The Turbine’s compact, metal housings (which are patterned after the beefy “Turbine” RCA jacks that Monster provides on many of its high-end audio cables) have a reassuringly solid feel and are said to help fight unwanted resonance.
Unfortunately, the Turbines don’t get the cool new “tangle-free” signal cables Monster created for the Beats by Dre Tours ‘phones. But the good news is that they do get cables featuring the firm’s signature “MicroStrand” conductors arranged in a patented “Magnetic FluxTube” configuration.
Monster Cable’s Turbines are wonderfully versatile, well-balanced and accurate in-ear headphones. Though not cheap at $150, they are worth every red cent; to do better (and then only a little better), you’d need to spend about twice as much (or maybe more). Self-proclaimed “Head Monster” Noel Lee has done music lovers everywhere a great favor in creating this product.