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3.7 out of 5 stars
Monster Cable Earth Wind and Fire Gratitude In-ear Headphones
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89 of 103 people found the following review helpful
Product Packaging: Standard PackagingVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'm sure you are reading this review because you are dying to find out if $200 is worth it to pay for a pair of ear-bud headphones. Before I begin my review, I must note that while sense of value is quite subjective, I do factor it into my reviews. This review will be long, but I wish to be thorough with such a big purchase.

My daily use headphones (both in my office and when on an airplane) right now are a pair of Audio-Technica QuietPoint ATH-ANC7b that I chose over the Bose, both for sound quality and for overall value. While the Bose might have had a slight edge in some types of sound, I couldn't stomach the cost for something I could lose or break on an airplane. I also own a cheap pair of $10 plastic earbuds bought at an airport kiosk for when I don't want the bulk of the full headphones. These were also used for my comparison.

When I first got the Earth Wind Fire box, I was literally stunned by the quality of the packaging. While I resent paying for the packaging for myself, it would make quite a nice gift and show how much you spent to the recipient. The outside box has a soft felt covering, and on the inside the headphones are beautifully presented with a leather case below them. This leather case appears to be a belt-clip, designed to hold a small MP3 player like an iPod Nano along with the earbuds. The build quality of the case is spectacular with a divided inner pouch and a magnetic closure. A case like this could easily sell for over $20 on its own. The case does have a huge Earth Wind Fire logo on it, so you'd better be a fan before you clip this on your belt.

Below the tray with the earbuds and the combo MP3 player/headphone case is a leather bag for just the headphones (with a coin-case type squeeze opening), and a set of 11 pairs of ear cups (plus an additional one pre-installed). I quickly found that the pre-installed one just did not fit my ear (it fell out), so I tried to find my right fit. Amazingly, you really do need 12 different sizes. There are 2 catch-all conical buds that work if you're in a hurry. One of these should fit, but you'll want to figure out which of the round ones is your size. Indeed, I tried all 10 round buds and only 1 wedged perfectly in my ear. Not only are they different sizes, but also different shapes. Once inside my ear, I was amazed at the noise isolation - these would be great on an airplane. I've never had a pair of earbuds that sealed out the world so well. I am concerned with losing the earbud tips - Monster has a kit of 6 replacement tips for $10 on their site, but since there is no labeling on the 12 tips, I have no idea if my size is included.

As for actual sound performance--using my iPhone4, I tried to listen to my Antonan Dvorak's Symphony No 9 in E minor, otherwise known as the New World Symphony. While the violins sounded nice initially, disappointment quickly set in as the deep brass started to boom. The Monster earbuds sounded hollow and empty, like listening to classical on AM radio! I tried my $10 cheap earbuds and they were great, as were my Audio-Technica headphones. I tried Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, even Philip Glass - everything sounded hollow on the Monster headphones.

Thinking I must be missing something, I decided to try out some vocal music, playing Michael Buble ("Home" and a few other pieces). Here is where the headphones could shine. Indeed, there was a light snare brush during the intro I had never heard before that played crystal clear. Buble's voice was more distinct and defined than I have ever heard him. His music was a new experience in these headphones. Ditto for other male crooners like Sinatra, Bennett, and Tyrell.

As best I can tell, these headphones greatly enhance voice and the mid-range at the expense of bass response. I also played some collegiate a cappella. Suddenly I was transported back to the college quad standing under an arch listening to vocal harmonies. The voices were sharper and as advertised, sounded "live".

Country music didn't turn out as well. I decided to test a vocal-heavy artist by listening to some Taylor Swift, and I found her voice harsh and frankly unpleasant (whereas normally I enjoy her music). It seems that there is a bit too much treble response here.

My conclusion for sound quality is that the advertising is true - they really did tune these for a live sound, and perhaps one optimized for certain types of music. I tried a few other pieces and it seems that not only are these tuned for vocals, but only male vocals as female vocals sound harsh. I would say they are quite unique headphones and cool for some sounds, but not good all-around.

I also tested the iPhone integration. A tiny control on the cord controls volume, pause, and enables voice control. I was amazed at the small size of the control - many of these are bulky, but this one is almost as thin as the non-tangle cord. I tried some voice dialing and was quite pleased with the quality. It's a nice and well-executed feature of the headphones.

So how do I rate the headphones? First, you must understand what you are getting. These are not good for classical music or heavy rock. They are marginal even for some vocal albums depending on how the sound is mixed. The built quality feels stunning, but I can't help but feel much of the $200 is paying for the names Monster and Earth, Wind, and Fire.

With a heavy heart, I need to rate these 3 stars to indicate I would not purchase these myself and would have been dissatisfied if I had spent my own money here. I found the fuller performance of my $10 airport earbuds more satisfying to my ear and even my Audio-Technica active noise-cancelling headphones cost less. On the plus side they have a quality feel, a great non-tangle cord, amazing accessories, and are comfortable in my ear. But should you buy it? I am not saying you should not - read the details of my review and decide the value yourself because the headphones have a lot going for them, just not for my own taste.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2013
I hardly write reviews on anything, but these definitely need a mention. I have owned many many earbuds within the sub ~100 range, and when these came out on sale for 50 bucks, i had to grab it. I own a pair of Razer Hammerheads, Skullcandy 50/50s, Skullcandy Titans, and my old favorite the Klipsch S4A. After i received these, i plugged them into my ipod, put Earth Wind and Fire's Greatest Hits on loop, and left it there to burn in for about a week (approx 120 hour burn in). After plugging these into my PC and listening to "Calling All Dawns," i promptly packaged the rest of my earbuds that will never be touched again. These will probably be my go to earbuds for a long long time.

Design

The earbuds are extremely comfortable when you find the right cups, which isn't hard with the 11 different pairs included within the package. They fit well and stay within the ear. The flat cable means you escape a lot of the wire spagetti that happens with round cables, and the angled plug reduces the chance of yanking the cord from the device. Everything about the buds as well feel nigh indestructable, leetting me know that wherever I go they'll be ok. That is except for the in-line controls. The in-line controls are complete junk. The buttons are difficult to press, and each time i press them it feels like the internals could snap at any moment.

Aesthetically though, these aren't what you would call stylish, unless you were maybe at a 70s or steampunk convention. The rose gold finish is nice and shiny, but i honestly struggle to see how these could blend in with everyday fashion when its nothing but rose gold and lots of brown.

Sound

Here's where my lack of high end sound comes into play. The best pair of buds i have ever owned were previously the Kilpsch S4s. These produced great sounds, balancing the lows, mids, and highs to one glorious package. Then I put these on, and suddenly, I was treated to something. . . gorgeous. While the great balance of lows and highs were there, everything just seems clearer and less muddled. Vocals popped, and i could hear little nuances in the background I couldn't hear before. It was fantastic. While these do not have the booming bass of the BEATS line or even my Razer Hammerhead, the bass itself is clear, clean, and doesnt overpower the rest of the mids and highs. To help me experience these sounds, these buds give stupendous noise cancelation. When I put these in on the bus or in a mall, the moment i start up my music, all sound goes away. Traffic noise, engine noise, chatter. All gone. These let me just sit back, relax, and enjoy the tunes.

Accessories

You'll receive your buds in a beautiful box with the Earth Wind and Fire logo. Within the box are an assortment of replacement tips, a cellphone case with the Earth Wind and Fire Logo, and a carry case with the Logo as well.

As stated above, these come with a large selection of fittings to make sure you have the perfect comfort. Along with those, you get a nice magnetic carrying case (which handily can be opened with one hand) to hold your buds on the go, as well as a belt case that's large enough to maybe carry an Ipod Classic or Iphone 4. The bag is great, being a great replacement for the common zipper bag most use for their earbuds. The belt case though has troubles staying closed, so I dare not use it in case anything i put in there were to fall out.

Conclusion

If you're looking for a great pair of earbuds for listening to music, these are it. These won't shatter your ear canals with bass like beats, but they will give you the sound as it was meant to be played.

+ Simply the best sound for the price range (At time of review it was $60)
+ Fantastic noise cancellation
+ Durable
+ Assortment of fittings to ensure perfect
- Junk in-line controls
- Belt case sub par
- Unappealing design.

Overall: 5/5
These things are simply the best you can find at this price. Sure they're not lookers, and if you use the accessories you'll be telling the whole world "I LOVE EARTH WIND AND FIRE," but all worth it. If you're looking into a good pair of buds, these are it.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Product Packaging: Standard PackagingVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The first thing that I noticed while unboxing Monster's "Gratitude" earbuds was the seemingly oversized felt-covered box that it was packaged in. After opening this box, that looks like a carrying case for a large-print bible, you see the good-looking brown and bronze earbuds as well as an Earth, Wind, & Fire carrying case for them. (No, I don't know why they got their own earbuds either.) Once you go a level deeper into the bottomless case, you discover a stunning 11 pairs of gummy in-ear earbuds. That's 22 individual `buds so you can find a fit perfect for your inner ear. There's another little bag in there for these gummy tips, which is nice. What I'm saying is that the packaging is sort of awesome. Now it's time to talk about the actual headphones.

After the almost bizarre amount of packaging and accessories, I was more than ready to rave and rave about how much I loved these headphones, but I'm not finding an incredible love for them just yet. They seem almost indestructible, which is great for me, since I rarely go more than a few months with one pair of headphones, but some sounds don't come out of these little Monsters like I would hope. They block outside sound about as well as you would hope, and I tested the sound of many different parts of many different genres, and this is what I found:

Modern Rock music tends to come out a little screechy and electric guitars come off sort of flat, with the lows being not-quite-low enough, and the highs being somewhat annoying. The music loses an incredible amount of intensity, and that's a shame.

Rap music seems to lose almost all of the bass that gives it the head-bobbing beat needed to maintain its listening appeal. Vocals and verses still maintain most the passion they have in bass-heavy speakers, but the beat definitely doesn't. (Though a song like "Handlebars" comes through great, with a jazzy backdrop with more strings than synthesizers.)

Instrumental tracks and soundtracks seem to play nice with these headphones, and they're one of the only genres that can claim that. String instruments sound totally pleasant, but the deep poundings of The Dark Knight's soundtrack still fail to come out as intensely as I know they can.

Techno and electronic sounds seem to be the best-sounding through these headphones, and I'm not sure it's close. Everything from Family Force 5 to Daft Punk to Owl City to the Tron: Legacy soundtrack sounds exactly like it's supposed to. Even the more "crunk" side of FF5 sounds amazing.

Acoustic tunes sound a whole lot better than I had expected, which makes me very happy. They seem to avoid the chronic screech-factor that lives in these headphones when it comes to guitars, and it also doesn't fall into that "flat" category.

The final grouping of songs I tested were all Beatles tunes, and they all sounded fantastic. They clearly didn't use any big bass sounds, and their songs are simply a pleasure to hear through these headphones due to that fact.

These headphones are certainly clear, but for $200, you want more than "clear." All things considered, it's like the bass nob was turned down, and the treble one was turned up far too high. However, when I switched these buds out with some of my other headphones of middling price and quality, I was a little disappointed with my oldies. Maybe I've been too harsh on these buds. The bottom line for me is this: they're very nice earbuds, but they still seem far flawed to spend $200 on.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2014
I do not recommend buying these headphones they are not a authorized seller (witch they do not state) so the warranty on these are void as soon as you buy them. I received these for Christmas and on Jan 22 they just became very quite in one ear. I had already registered a warranty on the monster cable website, but when i called about the product they told be that the warranty is void and to contact the seller on any warranty information. So I read threw the info on Tech Giants website and noticed that they state that there product is backed by a 1 year limited warranty. I e-mailed them asking about the warranty. they e-mailed back almost immediately saying that they do not honor monsters warranty on the product and to try to talk to someone at monster. I then went on the monster cable website to review the warranty and it states that buying the product from unauthorized companies voids the warranty, and as stated before Tech Giant does not tell the customers that they are not authorized retailer. I am very upset at the fact that Tech Giant stated it came with a limited one year warranty that they cannot honor.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2013
these headphones were excellent but broke after a week and I had no way to return the product to Monster or TechGiant
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2013
Those complaining of not enough bass and too much treble did not choose their ear pieces right, luckily you have plenty ear pieces to test and try out with until its right. These buds are mean't to go far into the ear canal and when properly fitted, the bass is phenomenal as well as overall sound. I compare these to my grado prestige series sr80i earphones. In several ways, the bass is much better with these buds. The grados out perform them in all other aspects, but then again, they should. Its a much larger surface area and I also run my grados with an amp. Every other earbud I have tried, including bose, have a "I'm in a tin can" sound to them. These don't have that. These truly replicate an I'm almost there sound, when properly fitted of course. Considering these can be had for around $50 now on amazon, there is nothing that can beat them for the price point. I would pay the original retail price for them. Awesome earbuds! Too bad they are being discontinued.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Product Packaging: Standard PackagingVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Ok - this is a rave! I've been a professional in television production (that's pictures and SOUND) for decades. I've traveled the world, listening to sound captured via the best microphones and recording devices. Later in the editing studio, I mixed audio, and oversaw the work of engineers, sculpting music and sound effects for programs that would be distributed to international broadcasters.

I swear, I would trust these in-ear headphones to tell me the truth about what millions of listeners were going to hear.

These tiny Monster in-ear headphones are top of the line. They knocked me clear into next week.

Everything about these earbuds screams quality - from the price (in this case, you get what you pay for), to premium packaging, to the look and feel of the buds themselves. And that's before you even decide on your music and plug in the stereo mini-jack. Even the sheer number of pliant, rubber-like plugs that come included is impressive. I picked through them until I found the ideal fit for my ear canals. The right fit, chosen by you, gives you a custom set of in-ear monitors - just like the top performing artists.

At last, I slid the handsome little headphones snugly in place and prepared for the REAL test - how would they sound? The suspense was killing.

I played a variety of recordings I knew were top drawer (Holst's "Mars, Bringer of War" for you symphonic buffs, Rascal Flatts' title album to check the virtuoso tracks, and Pia Toscano's "This Time" to hear if her big voice would hit all those notes).

The result? I'm impressed, and that's after a lifetime of pro gear being routine. The high and middle frequencies are crisp as a fresh fall apple. The vocals and solos are so defined, they're chiseled. The bass does, indeed, growl at you. (You don't need to turn up the volume, just adjust the tone. Of course, these are mini speakers, so you're not going to shake the floor with a huge subwoofer. But you can vibrate your head bones!). When you get the fit right, these block outside noise, and the music is all inside - an orchestra playing in the vast space between your ears.

Love the name of these 'phones - "Gratitude" - inspired by the music of Earth, Wind and Fire.

Then, of course, there's the "Monster" part. Once upon a time, we had massive stereos and humongous speakers, capable of bending walls and rattling the neighbors' windows. How else were we going to play Pink Floyd's "The Wall" cranked to 10? Often, those old stereos came with wimpy speaker wire, and average cables. Not good enough! We'd marry our gear with Monster cables. They were several times thicker than the other guys', finished with 24k gold-plated jacks, and delivered pure clarity and huge power.

Today, we're going mini-everything, and I'm delighted with "Gratitude" - Monster's tiny perfect in-ear headphones.

Recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2013
These are great headphones. I bought these to replace my second pair of Bose headphones (both pairs of Bose the cord shredded up after a year and same thing has happened to other people at my gym). The hardest part is figuring out which set of earbuds works the best for your ears. If it is a bad fit the headphones sound like any other cheap set of headphones. Once you get the right pair that make a good seal in your ear they sound great. Never thought bass like that was possible with earbuds. The Gratitudes are still $150 plus tax at Best Buy and I wouldn't pay that for them but for $60 with no tax and no shipping oh yeah. These really are great in the gym to block out the other people and the gyms music.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2013
I have some Ety HF3s with Shure medium olive tips that my ears prefer for comfort, sound, call quality and stealth. They also cost twice as much and require conscientious handling of the cables for longevity. When they eventually break I'll get a fourth pair.

To be fair, when I say the call quality of the Monster Gratitude is inferior to that of the Ety HF2, that isn't a slam. Every headset I've tried has had call quality vastly inferior to the Etymotics. They surpass some phones that cost quite a bit more. At the $60 as-reviewed price point of this Monster Gratitude, the HF3 simply cannot compete. I found the Monsters' construction to be very tough and the design very attractive. Sound wise after burn-in, the Gratitude has a refined signature that works well with Apple high-bitrate compressed files as well as ALAC files. The iPhone 5's own internal amps drive these phones very well. I felt no need for external amplification; plug and go. I prefer the neutral sound of my Etys overall, but these do seem to have slightly more solid bass.

Comfort-wise, I went through several sizes and styles of included ear tips to get my favored balance of comfort and seal. Settled on the memory foam tips a size larger than the ones installed in the package. Good seal but still reasonably comfortable. I like Monster's coating on these tips. Smooth and easy to clean.

The fancy presentation set that comes with these makes them a beautiful gift, but for my purposes is a waste. I kept the small squeeze snap case for the phones themselves, put the ear tip organizer in a ziploc bag, and discarded the rest. My wife has since commandeered them, chosen her own favorite ear tips and uses them daily. I may have made a new convert in the "good headphones" department.

If you have less than $100 for an iPhone headset, get these before they're gone. They are a steal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2013
I know that reading headphone reviews is one of the most confusing things. How can people love and hate the same headphones??? I will never understand. I love music and primarily listen to hard rock, rock, pop, dance, 80s, 90s, some 70s, smooth jazz, metal, etc. (yeah I know...). Headphones have amazing sound, there is no doubt about this. I had trouble finding the right size tips even though there are MANY included. Also, the headphones are somewhat heavy and tend to come out of the ear due to the weight at times. I solved this by using third party tips, which worked well for me before. Overall, great headphones for the price. Recommended.
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