In the past I have made no secret of the fact that I love music. I have a separate 2 Terabyte (2TB) storage system (that I intend to grow to a 4TB system shortly) just for my itunes library. All new music imported to that library comes in as Apple Lossless and video comes in at as high a bit rate as I can stand to let process overnight. The speaker system I use at home to listen to that music does pretty well for being a jerry-rigged/patched set of 11 year old Labtec computer speakers wired to an Olevia television set, but I have not been satisfied with my headphone options for when I am on the go.
Being a designer in my day job, quality and customization are big-ticket issues for me when it comes to the technology I purchase. In a former life I worked at an Apple Retail store and spent a lot of time with customers talking through what they wanted out of their own mobile listening experience. We would run through all kinds of questions ranging from "what kind of music do you predominately listen to on the go?" to the inevitable "how much do you want to spend?" or "do you want something that will last you a few years or just get you through a month of working out?" Over time I noticed one common thread seemed to always be the bottom line of the conversation: it had to last, sound great, and not look like ass.
Love them or hate them one thing is for sure, the things I saw today while visiting with Monster Audio do all three of those things.
I started out my hour with Daniel Torres who does European Training for Monster talking about the different models of Beats by Dre on the market today, and then was treated to a demo at a listening station 3 different types of music samples to listen to. (Hip-Hop/Rap, Pop, and Rock) The first thing I noticed about the listening station that I thought was ballsy of Monster was that they allowed you to plug in your own set of headphones and compare your set to the Classic Beats and Solo Beats on the spot. The second thing I noticed was the sound. My ever-loving-deep-bass heart did skip a beat but I'll get back to that later on. We then spent some time in a media room where I was treated to sampling of Monster's entire line of high-end audio headsets and in-ear headphones. From the Lady GaGa designed heartBeats to the Monster Turbine Pro Professional Edition every set had its own unique style, audio profile, and audience. This is where that "customization" item I mentioned earlier comes in.
I have in the past year alone purchased and either returned or "gifted to friends and family" no less than 10 sets of headphones/earbud because they have disappointed me in either their style or audio quality. I am not an audio snob, but I am starting to become quite the little audiophile much to the disappointment of my husband. Whenever I get a new set of headphones/earbuds I immediately run them through the Kick-Ass test. In my iTunes library I have a playlist I call "Kick Ass" that has a sampling of songs that I feel tells me if I have found the perfect set of speakers/headphones/earbuds for me. A couple of songs on "Kick Ass" include:
- My Week Beats Your Year - by Telefon Tel Aviv
- Why You Wanna - by T.I.
- Wait - by the Ying Yang Twins
- Sexy Lady - by Yung Berg
- Spin Spin Sugar - by Sneaker Pimps
- Knights of Cydonia - by Muse
- Organ Donor - by DJ Shaddow
- Bounce - by MSTRKRFT
- Higher Ground - by Stevie Wonder
- Sledgehammer - by Peter Gabriel
- Life's What You Make It - by Talk Talk
- Beginners Falafel - by Flying Lotus
- Once in a Lifetime - by Talking Heads
I have owned 3 sets of V-Moda in ear headphones, 2 sets of Sennheiser over the ear headsets, a pair of SkullCandy over the ear headphones (which got returned), and a pair of SkullCandy in-ears that I kept, a pair of Shure in-ear headphones, and a set of over the ear cans from Audio-Technica and while the list does go on I'm going to stop here. All those headsets either left me wanting in the quality department, (bass too heavy or not enough, in some cases non-existant) or in the looks department. (too butch looking, too loudly colored or just plain, well plain looking) Like those people at the Apple Store, I want something that sounds great, (if I have to turn the iPhone Equalizer on you lose) fits great in my weird little ear canals, and on the aesthetic side kinda reflects my personality.
I'm anxious to try out the in-ear sets and the Solo Beats because they seem like the best "road warrior" safe sets created by Monster. You can bet I'll test them against my "Kick Ass" playlist and let you know how well they score.