Walk into any electronics store today and you will be bombarded with headphones of all shapes, sizes, and designs. The Best Buy I visit from time to time has dedicated two entire isles to headphones, and that doesn’t include those designed for gamers. The market is huge, and Monster has long been a player in it. The Cristiano Ronaldo Roc Sport is their latest premium offering, and in addition to the on-ear and over-ear headphones I reviewed here, they have also created a wireless in-ear model called Super Slim, and can be found online at Best Buy.
From a pure aesthetics perspective these match the on-ear and over-ear in their appeal. The gun-metal chrome and brassy accents mirror the colour scheme of their bigger brothers, and present themselves as a serious headphone. I’m not even sure I should refer to them as buds. They have such presence given they look more like a professional in-ear monitor with the size of the housing, which, in addition to the drivers, hosts the battery and Bluetooth electronics.
How Do They Fit?
With the fit of an in-ear headphone being so critical to performance and ensuring the listener enjoys as much of the dynamic range the driver can reproduce, it was refreshing to see Monster provide five sizes of ear tips, the piece that fits inside your
ear canal, and three sizes of Sport Clips, the rubber piece that is contoured to fit inside your ear and keeps them in place. It took me about 15 minutes to find what I thought would be the right combination for my ears.
Wireless = Charging
Before you can use these for the first time, being wireless, they require you to charge the battery. A full charge takes about 90 minutes and lasts between 5-6 hours. Unlike the on-ear version of the Cristiano Ronaldo Roc Sport that offers both wireless and wired operation, the Super Slim in-ear only operates in wireless mode. This means you will have to charge them every 5-6 hours of use, something to be aware of if you are on a long flight or in situations where charging is not an option. They cannot be
used while being charged.
Break Them In!
Like all speakers and headphones, some break-in time is necessary to allow the brand new drivers to loosen up and perform at their best. Monster suggests a full 20 hours of break-in time before you use them. I highly recommend you do this, as the difference in sound before and after was noticeable, and you may be disappointed in your purchase if you use them straight out of the box.
There is an easy to use control on the cable that allows you to turn them on or off, increase/decrease volume and advance tracks. The headphones also go into Bluetooth pairing mode as soon as they are turned on a first time, making it very user friendly to connect.
How do they sound?
In the earlier review I pitted the on-ear and over-ear in a head-to-head battle. I’m going to put these in-ears to the test and compare them to my long-time reference buds made by Paradigm, which I can listen to for hours without any discomfort, and the music is so naturally reproduced I have yet to find an in-ear headphone that can compare.
MethodologyMy strategy for auditioning headphones, like all audio auditions, is a matter of personal preference. I know what to listen for in the music I like, the sounds I look for, and the ones I don’t. There are a series of songs that I use to audition gear, and I never change them. I know every nuance, every layer, and I know how they are supposed to sound. I use these songs because as soon as I hear something that isn’t usually there, or supposed to be there, it jumps out at me. They also provide a wide array of dynamic range, and each one presents a different element of music that I need to hear in order to judge the performance of new gear. I then spend a couple hours listening to other music after to confirm or refute my original instincts; rarely will those instincts be wrong.
My 4 songs:
- Time – Pink Floyd
- Hotel California – Eagles (Hell Freezes Over)
- The Chain – Fleetwood Mac
- Canned Heat – Jamiroquai
What songs do you use to audition your gear? Leave them in the comments!
Here is what I listen for: bass that hasn’t been over driven, mid-low frequencies that are present and defined, and mid-high frequencies that do not pierce my ears, particularly at higher volumes. To sum it up, clarity across the entire spectrum. I also listen for an “open” soundstage that transports me into the music and utilizes the stereo field to perfection, where I can imagine the musicians materializing in front of me. When a set of speakers or headphones can achieve this, I’m all in.
I could hear the similarities to the rest of the Roc Sport line immediately, with their tendencies to accentuate the mid-treble range slightly. What stood out to me was the openness that these in-ear phones presented. They do a great job of spreading the soundstage outwards in both directions, something I attribute to the fact the drivers weren’t sitting right inside my ear canal as they so often do with buds, allowing for a sonically pleasing listening experience. The additional treble probably helps in that regard as well.
I did find the deep bass satisfying in these phones, like having a subwoofer connected to a nice full range speaker system, not something most in-ears can achieve. The mid-lows were not completely overshadowed by the presence of the bass, and overall I was happy with how the Super Slim’s presented the low end. However, in order to achieve that great low end, I needed to use an ear tip that was slightly larger than I would like and
they always felt just a little oversized. Switching to a size down, the size I originally thought was my proper fit, lost the robust bass extension and changed the overall listening experience.
I maintain that the bump to the sibilance range is, for me, the downside to these otherwise very nice headphones. That, and comfort. Despite the 15 possible combinations of ear tips and Sport Clips, I found it challenging to leave these in for over an hour with the larger ear tips, whereas the size down increased comfort but sacrificed audio quality. That could be attributed to the size of the housing and the weight of the additional electronics to operate over Bluetooth and on battery power.
As soon as I popped my Paradigm e3m buds back in to compare, the issues disappeared completely. I can push the volume, maintain the bass extension that I desire without any of the harsh treble, and I can wear them forever. They look nowhere near as good as Ronaldo, or the Super Slims that bear his name, however, for me, this round goes to the old boys.
Remember: just because I don’t fully appreciate a product, doesn’t mean that you would hear it the same way, like, or dislike it. If you have bumped the treble in your car stereo, or in your home theatre, the issue I raise around mid-high levels may be perfect for you. The single most important thing to take away from this and any review is to find products that sound good to you. Listen to what makes you happy, and find the gear that best replicates the music the way you want to hear it.
I have also written a review of the Cristiano Ronaldo Over ear and On ear headphones. Curious about the difference between these 3 types (on-ear/over ear/ in ear) then watch this short video explanation: