Future Sonics, Monster and Sennheiser In-Ear Monitors Review

Aug 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Kevin Becka

CHECKING YOUR MIX ON IN-EAR MONITORS

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FUTURE SONICS ATRIO M5 PROFESSIONAL EARPHONES
Future Sonics is a highly respected manufacturer of custom-fit IEMs like the mg6pro and mg5pro, which are used extensively in live sound reinforcement and other applications. The Atrio M5s are the company’s universal-fit IEMs ($199) featuring new 10mm, MG7 dynamic drivers. Other features include the 51-inch QuietCable II, promising low handling noise, 30dB ambient noise rejection, 1/8-inch mini plug and a one-year limited warranty. The M5s come in five colors and include seven pairs of foam and silicone ear tips and a loop-cleaning tool.

The M5s ship with a discounted GoCustom option (20 percent), which allows the user to step up to a tailored fit. This is highly recommended, as the M5s only come with three pairs of silicone ear tips. The foam ear tips are great the first time you wear them but quickly lose their elasticity and ability to cancel ambient noise. In my listening tests, the Atrio M5s were my least favorite of the three units. Although the bottom end is adequate, midrange frequencies are decidedly forward in a narrow range, which tended to unbalance my mixes and overshadow the top end. It’s possible that the custom fit option can overcome this, but as is, I found the listening experience unsatisfying.

At $199, the Atrios are the lowest priced of the units tested here—a bargain, especially with the discounted custom fit option—and are a definitive step up from lower-priced IEMs. As this is a subjective evaluation, I recommend that you still consider the Atrio M5s and give them a listen for yourself.

MONSTER TURBINE PRO GOLD AUDIOPHILE IN-EAR SPEAKERS
The Monster Turbine Pro Gold IEMs ($299.95) come in a package large enough to hold the bountiful and standard group of accessories for storage and assuring a near-custom fit. Included are two leather pouches, one hard, one soft; more than 20 silicone ear tips of varying types and sizes; a flexible and clever carrying “widget” for storing/transporting up to six pairs of ear tips; a cleaning cloth; adjustable ear hooks; all metal construction; and an 1/8-inch to ¼-inch adapter.

The cable is more substantial than the others tested here and promises the same features as Monster’s other top-end cable products. Although the cable was easier to handle and less prone to kinks and other common small-cable issues, it had the highest handling noise of the units I tested. However, this may be because the Gold IEMs had the best fit and rejection of ambient sound, which certainly adds to their ability to transfer handling noise through the cable. The noise transferred here was still acceptable and not a deal breaker.

The Monster Turbine Pro Gold IEMs provided a great listening experience. They are very musical across the entire frequency range, with an open top and faithful representation of bass and midrange frequencies. Although they didn’t have the robust bass or adjustability of the Sennheiser IE 8s, I felt the bottom end was well balanced, especially when fitted properly. The abundance of ear tips makes it possible to get a nearly perfect fit. At $299.95, the Gold IEMs provide the best bang for the buck here and should be on your short list when IEM shopping.






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