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Monster Turbine Pro Gold ($299.95)

January 1, 2010
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www.monstercable.com

Monster_Turb_GoldCan you really mix on earbuds? The Turbine Pro Golds are designed more for consumers; the companion Turbine Pro Coppers are for neutral, critical monitoring. Unfortunately they weren’t available as of this writing, but if they’re shipping when this goes online, I’ll include an addendum.

However, the Golds are nonetheless highly impressive. They’re far and away the best earbuds I’ve heard, and while they may be a little more forgiving than the Coppers, they still present an accurate representation of a mix. They’ve now become a part of my “traveling laptop studio,” saving a lot of space over carrying conventional headphones.

The biggest difference compared to standard earbuds is superb transient response (drums crack instead of thud), and exceptional detail—which provides a wide, precise soundstage. And if there’s any distortion, I couldn’t detect it.

I went to Europe shortly after obtaining the Golds, and did several mixes for videos while on the road. Upon returning, I was shocked at how well the mixes translated over speakers; I didn’t need to change a thing.(As a bonus, on the plane the movies sounded downright vibrant, and my MP3 player never sounded so good.)

There’s one caution, though. Spend the 20 minutes it takes to check out all the earbud tips included with the package, otherwise you’ll cheat yourself out of the optimum bass response. Also, while these aren’t noise-canceling, the in-ear design is good at keeping out ambient sounds if you use the right tip.

I never expected to get this excited over a pair of earbuds, and I certainly never thought of Monster as a headphone company. The Turbine Pro earbuds aren’t cheap, but you get what you pay for—and maybe more, because they really are outstanding.

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