What: Ultra-high quality reference in-ear monitors that are more like tiny speakers you fit in your ear than “earbuds.”
Why: Yes, I did do a very brief review of these in the 2/10 Gadgets column. However, given the subject matter of this roundup, it seemed like these monitors are worth re-visiting in detail because they actually allow you to edit, and even mix, audio with considerable confidence. They’re close cousins of the Turbine Pro Gold earbuds, which have a gentle low- and high-end “lift” that’s designed for listening to music; however, although more expensive than the Golds, the Coppers are very “honest” in their response, and were designed with people like us in mind. The bass is tight, with no mush; the treble is sweet, and the midrange is smooth.
Faraway Factor: I used to carry traditional headphones for working on the road. The Coppers are a fraction of the size, fitting in a cute little case that takes up virtually no space in my laptop bag. They terminate in a stereo mini-plug, so for use with the CEntrance DACport headphone amp I also need to carry a mini-to-1/4"-adapter. No worries; there’s a quality one included with the Coppers.
The Coppers offer a variety of tips (gel and foam supertips, as well as single and triple flange silicone) so there’s something for any set of ears. It’s essential to find the tip that works best with your ears; you need to try different tips, live with them for a while, and find out what works best (there’s a helpful video on the Monster site that explains the best way to choose and use the tips). So don’t buy a pair, then leave town the next day—do your homework first.
Strengths: As with the Golds, the transient response and transparency is phenomenal, and by all indications the response is as truthful as Monster claims. The construction is also excellent—these won’t self-destruct if you look at them wrong. But if something does go wrong, Monster offers a lifetime warranty—an important consideration with a product that reaches into the relatively rarified atmosphere of multi-hundred dollar in-ear reference monitors.
Although not noise-canceling, another strength is that the tips, if chosen correctly, block out noise effectively—even reducing jet engine roar to a level where it becomes more like mostly tolerable background noise.
But the biggest strength is that I did a couple test mixes on the Coppers while sitting in a hotel room. When I got home, I listened to them over my reference speakers and the mixes translated unbelievably well—I felt no need to do any touch-ups. That’s exceptional. Couple that with reasonable comfort (not as comfortable for hours of listening as, say, a pricey set of AKG headphones, but vastly superior to the average earbud), and you really do have a “transducer solution” for the road. Would I master with them? I’d be reluctant just on general principle, but if I had to, I would—and the results would likely turn out fine.
Limitations: You can’t fault the performance, so the only real limitation is price, as many musicians will likely have other priorities for their discretionary income in these recessionary times. But being able to do accurate mixes on the road—not to mention instantly upgrading the sound quality of anything you plug these into—justifies the price tag. They do need a little more power to be driven properly, but that won’t be an issue except with low-cost consumer gear.
Conclusions: Yes, the Turbine Pro Golds—with a more consumer-friendly response—sound great. But the Coppers are in-ear reference monitors that not only sound great, but deliver accuracy you can trust for pro audio applications. It’s a very compelling combination.
More from this Roundup....