Review: Monster Turbine in-ear speakers

Now that I’ve had a couple days with the Turbines, I think it’s time for a full review.

I’m sad to say that my initial praise may have been premature having listened to a few CDs (I had to open up moving boxes in my apt to find one) and comparing these against my Shure SCL3s and Ultimate Ears 5 Pros. I also brought in my secret weapon Dave R. to consult. He’s a professional sound engineer who specializes in monitors and has toured with The Cure, The Used, Linda Ronstadt, Interpol, Yellowcard and Fall Out Boy, so he knows this stuff inside and out.

With any in-ear monitor the biggest challenge is to find a tip that actually isolates and blocks everything out. I’ve found that foam tips work best, but the Turbines come with two types (trees and mushrooms) each having three sizes. You might as well skip the mushrooms because they don’t block anything out.

The Turbines impressed me because the highs snapped hard without any distortion, but the low-end just drops out. I found one track where the low-end could be felt, but couldn’t replicate that feeling or experience with any other track that I know has lots of low-end bass. Dave’s first response was just that, so we went through a number of tracks before concluding that the Turbines missed the mark there. I will, however, continue to try and replicate the thump I felt from Akon’s “I Wanna Love You.” But, as I said before, the highs snap and kick much ass.

Monster’s first effort into the in-ear monitor is a good start, but they’ve got some work to do. Compared to my Shures (these aren’t perfect, but they sound great from low to high) and UEs (these are amazing) the Turbines lack the full body experience. If Monster is as passionate about the true audiophile experience as Kevin Lee says they are, then I’m sure they can scale the experience down to an in-ear monitor. But for now, the Turbines are not it. Monster really needs to start making custom ear moldings for their monitors to take advantage of the drivers that are powering the Turbines. It’s the only way to get a proper seal. The Beats by Dr. Dre, on the other hand, are fantastic.