On Tuesday night I hopped on the subway downtown to a restaurant in Chelsea, Manhattan for a rendezvous with a bunch of Monster Cable executives. The Monsters (as they refer to themselves) were there to showcase their new value-priced Turbine in-ear headpones. I walked away reasonably impressed. Looks like Monster is doing more than just diversifying itself: It is serious about being a player in the headphone market.
The Turbine was a pet project of company founder Noel Lee, and its development was ongoing for three years. It was originally conceived as a $500 product, but the market dictated otherwise: The Turbine lists for $150. Monster experimented with using different materials and manufacturing processes while keeping with the spirit of designing a $500 headphone, according to Monster’s Headphones and Digital Life product area manager Kevin Karth, a longtime Intel veteran.
Monster’s claim that the Turbine was intended to be a $500 set of headphones contains a pinch of vendor bravado., but these headphones are an excellent follow-up to the company’s $350 Beats by Dr. Dre headphones that were released earlier this year, and a sign that the company is seriously cycling its resources into the headphone business. My experience listening to some of my favorite music on the Turbine was very positive, though. While I cannot legitimately claim to be a serious audiophile, I can trust my own ears. I could hear very nuanced sounds that I usually have to jack up the volume to enjoy on my Sennheisers. “Sleeping with Ghosts” by Placebo played nicely; it is a very textured song that demands quality speakers. The Turbine also carries some decent bass for its diminutive size.
The Turbine features 8mm drivers and facilities for delivering audio accurately as well as for ensuring quality signal transfer. It has an impedance of 18 ohms and sensitivity of 97db/mW @ 1kHz. I am only mentioning that information because the Web site has not been updated for the product yet.
Overall. Turbine looks like a very good value, and a worthwhile replacement for your current ear buds.