Details: Ostentatious jazz-focused earphones from Monster Cable
MSRP: $499.95 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $390 from amazon.com
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: N/A | Sens: N/A | Freq: N/A | Cable: 4’ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: Sennheiser biflanges, Generic wide-bore single-flanges
Wear Style: Over-the-ear or straight down
Accessories (5/5) – Single-flange (3 sizes) and tri-flange (2 sizes) silicone tips, Foam tips, Monster supertips (2 sizes), hard velvet-lined storage case, buttoned carrying case, soft carrying pouch, eartip carousel, and shirt clip
Build Quality (4/5) – While the attention to detail is sublime, the build is poorer than that of the MTPG/MTPC due to the slightly thinner and less flexible cable. The rest is similar – sturdy metal shells and proper strain reliefs all around. Driver flex is among the lowest among all dynamic IEMs (in contrast to the MTPC)
Isolation (3.5/5) – Quite good for a dynamic-driver IEM and compounded by the excellent tip selection
Microphonics (3.5/5) – A bit more bothersome than with the MTPG/MTPC when worn cable-down; nonexistent when worn over-the-ear
Comfort (4/5) – The housings are slimmer than those of the Turbine earphones but equally weighty. The fit is similarly secure both when worn cord-up and cord-down. The variety of included tips makes it easy to find a good seal right out of the box and, like the Turbine earphones, the MDs are very forgiving of a shallow seal
Sound (8.9/10) – Despite being at the top of the Monster line-up in suggested retail price, the Miles Davis Tribute is not billed as an upgrade to the two Turbine Pro earphones but rather a specialized ‘sidegrade’ for Jazz lovers. The overall sound of the MD does seem related to both of the Turbine Pro earphones in core characteristics such as dynamic range and speed. In terms of signature the MD are a bit closer to the Golds.
The Miles Davis Tribute is a bass-heavy earphone. Like the Turbine Pro Gold, the MD boasts great bass depth and hits very hard. The sub-bass trumps all but the FutureSonics Atrio and possibly even an IE8 with maxed-out bass. The resulting sound is very full and usually quite pleasant. However, the bass of the MD is more prone to sounding ‘excessive’ than that of the Coppers or Golds, which is not to say that it is lacking control, but rather a reflection of the relative weight of the bass. For an in-ear earphone, the drivers of the MD can really move a whole lot of air – if there’s any earphone that Monster can justifiably dub an ‘in-ear speaker’, the MD Tribute is it. Like the Golds and Coppers, the MDs offer up natural-sounding attack and decay and impressive resolution and texturing but give up the speed and tightness of many similarly-priced BA-based earphones. Interestingly, the reverberant, well-textured, and highly impactful bass of the MDs gives their sound an edge in immersion over much of the competition, even in the BA realm. Compared to the venerable Earsonics SM3, for example, the MDs clearly aren’t nearly as wide or spacious but yet still sound ‘bigger’ on the whole.
The midrange of the MD is warm, smooth, and slightly forward in nature. It is more textured than that of the Golds and more present than that of the Coppers, treading gently between smoothness and clarity. There is no better word to describe the midrange of the MDs than ‘lush’. Those who value clarity above all will want to stick to armature-based in-ears but for a noticeably thicker note and more ‘musical’ sound, the Miles Davis Tributes are hard to beat. Interestingly, the smooth and liquid MD Tributes don’t drop any detail in comparison to the thinner-sounding Turbine Pro Coppers. They also maintain the natural timbre of the Coppers while doing almost as good a job as the Golds of clamping down on sibilance – a fine combination of sonic properties.
The treble, too, falls close to the two Turbine Pro models in emphasis. As with the Coppers, it is not lacking in extension or detail except when compared to the truly limitless BA-based earphones out there. Unlike the MTPC, however, the Miles Davis Tributes never make me feel as though the top end has been ‘tweaked’ for greater sparkle and detail – they never sound overly prominent the way the Coppers can. Instead, the treble is very natural – soft but very well-defined – and listening fatigue is nil.
The presentation of the MDs is also nothing I haven’t heard before. Soundstage size is close to that of the Golds – not the largest but quite spacious. The warm and mid-forward MDs do tend slightly towards intimacy but still sound spacious next to the Westone UM3X and Earsonics SM3. Separation is quite good and individual instruments are easy to pick out. Like the two Turbine Pro earphones, the MDs don’t provide pinpoint accuracy but do handle large compositions well. They also have a pretty impressive dynamic range and handle subtlety surprisingly well for a warm-and-bassy earphone. They sound a bit better at lower volumes than the Coppers and Golds do and are also some of most forgiving high-end earphones when it comes to poor mastering or low-quality rips, though of course much potential is wasted when using them with 128 kbps mp3s.
Value (7/10) – The Monster Miles Davis Tribute is devastatingly expensive but what you get is a beautifully packaged and unique-looking earphone that lags just behind the two cheaper Turbine Pro earphones in overall usability. Though the MD is slimmer and can be a bit more comfortable, isolation is slightly lower than that of the Turbine earphones and microphonics in the skinnier cable are worse. The sound of the Miles Davis, on the other hand, leaves little to be desired. Treading a fine line between the signatures of the Turbine Pro models, the Miles Davis sounds like a culmination of the Monster sound – a more refined Turbine. No matter the track or genre, the Miles Davis sounds special. Whether that makes it worth the price is up to the individual listener.
Pros: Beautiful packaging & presentation; solid build quality & comfort; massive fit kit; smooth, powerful, and dynamic sound
Cons: Very flashy design, can be microphonic