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Ludacris gets down with Monster (and me) at CES 2009

Who know? Monster is behind Ludacris' latest release, a High Definition Stereo Surround DVD.

CBS Interactive/Sarah Tew

Excuse me a moment while I brush the stars out of my eyes. I just spent the better part of my lunch hour chilling with a bunch of Monster executives and rapper Ludacris, who creates some of my favorite workout-friendly and anger-releasing tracks. OK, so maybe I only spent 5 minutes one-on-one with the guy, but it was enough to ascertain that he's not only a talented artist, but also an exceedingly nice and polite guy. He also has no idea what an MP3 player is. Well, now he does. But when I asked him what MP3 player he used, he replied with something along the lines of "a what, now?" I proceeded to explain that it was a portable device, something that you might take with you to the gym to listen to music. He held up the iPod in his hand and said, "like this?" Exactly. He also has an iPhone.

With this information in hand, I was pretty sure I already knew the answer to my next question, but I pressed on to ask him what headphones he used, the just-announced Monster Turbine In-Ear Speakers hanging from his ears as I spoke. He wasn't sure, exactly, but he could say that the Turbines were much better, due to the "suction thing" on the tips. So you have it from Ludacris himself--sound isolation is where it's at. And I confirmed that he had been using the stock Apple earbuds before that; no wonder the Turbines sounded better. It never ceases to amaze me that so many musicians never get around to upgrading their listening experiences, despite the fact that I've seen plentiful photos of music-minded celebs like Justin Timberlake cruising around with the ubiquitous white earbuds.

The real news from Monster and Ludacris, however, is the release of Ludacris' new album, Theater of the Mind, in High Definition Stereo Surround. The album was actually mixed by Head Monster himself, Noel Lee, and I must say it sounds fantastic. If you get a chance, it's definitely worth listening to the format--hopefully places like Best Buy will have listening stations set up in the near future. It's difficult to describe in print, but let's just say you feel like you are in the studio. If you want to enjoy the album in HDS--on DVD, by the way--you'll need at least a surround sound system to notice the difference between it and a standard CD. The cheapest systems now are running for around $300-400. Monster also has plans to release a mixed down version that will be compatible with Dolby Digital Technology, which lets you experience the surround sound through headphones.

Note: stay tuned for more info on the Turbine headphones.