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Monster Miles Davis Tribute Review

Monster Miles Davis Tribute
“Jazz fans will fall for the Monster Tribute’s open midrange, accurate bass, and the swath of Miles Davis extras includes with every pair of earbuds.”
Pros
  • Very clean sound
  • Comfortable, secure fit
  • Tangle-free cord
  • Attractive carrying case
  • Lots of extra goodies for the jazz fan
Cons
  • Bass response may be light for some
  • Included collector’s items jack up price

Introduction

When we first heard that audio accessory giant Monster Cable was getting into the headphone market, we were, to be perfectly frank, skeptical. Let’s face it: Just about everyone and their cousin is making some form of headphone, from the insultingly cheap to the shockingly expensive. Thankfully, our first experience with Monster headphones was a very positive one. The Beats by Dre headphones sounded great, and were clearly very well made. So, it was with optimistic anticipation that we received the Miles Davis Tribute headphones by Monster. More than just headphones, this suite of collector’s items that bears the legendary trumpeter’s name comes packed with loads of goodies. But do the headphones sound good enough to satisfy the particular tastes of someone like Miles Davis? In this review, we’ll dig into what comes with the Miles Davis Tribute headphone experience, and see if Monster does Miles proud.

Out of the Box

The Miles Davis Tribute headphone experience extends well beyond the headphones themselves. Indeed, the out-of-box experience is a big part of what you purchase when you invest in this set of buds.

Once slid from its sleeve, the packing case opens like a book to reveal its contents neatly nestled inside. In addition to the headphones, Monster includes a black, hard-sided carrying case with lined with blue velour perfectly molded to fit the earbuds. The outside of the case is adorned with Miles’ signature silhouette image, leaving no doubt that Davis is a big part of what lies inside. Along with the hard carrying case are two soft-sided carrying pouches. One is for the earphones, and the other for the multiple pairs of soft ear tips provided, which allow for a perfect fit to the listener’s ears.

Then comes the media: A special edition, a 50th anniversary set of the Kind of Blue album packed with two audio discs, a DVD, plus a 24-page booklet of liner notes, essays and some rare photos that we’ve not had the pleasure of seeing before. The CDs feature over two hours of audio that includes false starts, alternate takes and dialogue from the recording session. For hardcore Miles Davis fans, and jazz fans in general, we think this will make a very nice addition to any collection.

Features and Design

The quality of construction in these headphones becomes apparent as soon as you pick them up. The earbuds themselves feel much heavier than one might expect, substantiating Monster’s claim that they are made of rigid, anti-resonant materials. We were initially concerned that this weight might affect long-term wearability, but soon learned that was not the case.

Each earbud is plated in 24k gold and accented with red or blue to indicate which bud is for the left and right ears. On one side, you’ll find Monster’s logo, and on the other, the same Miles Davis logo the hard case wears.

The cord is a rather bright, almost cobalt, blue, and outfitted with a security clip and cable management system to help eliminate tangles and reduce strain on the earphones. The cord is terminated with a 1/8-inch mini plug at a right angle to help reduce strain on the cord where it meets an audio device.

Performance

Not everyone enjoys wearing earbud-style headphones. Some folks just don’t enjoying putting things in their ears, rather than over them. We can certainly understand that, but there are some distinct advantages that come along with an in-ear headphone. For one, sound isolation is a function of the headphone’s placement, and happens right at the ear opening. Another advantage is that less energy is needed to move the speaker diaphragm, and that means more attention can be poured into designing an accurate speaker, not just a loud one.

Those advantages do tend to come with a couple of liabilities, however. For instance, since everyone’s ear opening is a different size and shape, so you simply can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to designing an earbud. Monster copes with this issue by offering up seven distinctly different ear tips. While the versatility will certainly pay off, it does mean that you will need to take some time to find the right set for you. Not only does the tip choice impact how comfortable the earphones will be, but, based on its fit to your ear, it also has a big effect on how good the earphones sound. With ill-fitting tips, the Miles Davis Tribute headphones did not sound their best, so we encourage you to seek out the best-sounding option and trust that they will also feel right.

As in-ear headphones go, the Miles Davis Tributes sound spectacular. They have an open midrange appeal that you normally find only in high-end, open backed, on-ear headphones. Vocals were free of congestion, electric bass had warmth and punch and wind instruments sounded remarkably true to their live sound.

High frequencies are sparkling, but not at all overly bright or shrill. Transients were crystal clear, and suffered from little to no distortion. Since the Tributes reproduce sound that stays true to the recording, only those tracks with already hot highs sounded hot through the Miles Davis Tributes.

Bass in an in-ear headphone is a tricky proposition. On one hand, you have a limited amount of space for a speaker, so you just can’t achieve head-pounding bass. You can, however, achieve musical, tonally accurate bass, and that is what Monster has done here. We feel that Monster designed these earphones to be as accurate as possible, rather than achieve beefier bass at the expense of accuracy elsewhere in the frequency spectrum. While you may not get the sense that you feel the kick drum, you will most certainly hear it. Over long listening sessions, we didn’t feel ourselves wanting more bass. Once our ears relaxed into the sound, we simply enjoyed the highly revealing, very engaging sound that the Miles Davis Tributes served up.

Conclusion

The Miles Davis Tribute headphones are revealing, accurate and fun. While they won’t blow your head off with bass, they will bring you closer to your favorite recordings, and that counts for a lot.

Though very well designed and constructed, the Miles Davis Tributes on their own may seem a little pricey for some. However, when you consider the unique Miles Davis content only available with this special set of earphones, the price looks more justified, and this extra content makes the package a pretty remarkable gift to the jazz lover. We highly recommend Monster’s Miles David Tributes.

Highs:

  • Very clean sound
  • Comfortable, secure fit
  • Tangle-free cord
  • Attractive carrying case
  • Lots of extra goodies for the jazz fan

Lows:

  • Bass response may be light for some
  • Included collector’s items jack up price

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