iSport2.jpgIf you’re an active person who’s tired of flimsy headphones that short out from sweat, easily fall out of your ears during exercise, or can’t withstand the shock & impact of your favourite athletic activities, you’ve certainly come to the right place. Below are the results of my extensive testing of 2 different sets of Monster iSport In-Ear Sound Isolating Bluetooth Headphones. These headphones were specifically designed for those who enjoy an active lifestyle: They’re meant to stay firmly in your ears during intense workouts and not short out when exposed to sweat. So just how well do these Monsters measure up anyway??

The first point I’ll make applies to both sets, and that is that they feel very sturdy and solid. The wires are thick and well insulated, and the ear buds themselves are quite large as ear buds go. These headphones definitely inspire confidence in their overall quality and construction.

As for the packaging, it’s essentially the same for both sets and is actually quite impressive. It’s solid (I almost think I could stand on the box and it would hold my weight), it’s compact (about 6 x by 4.25 inches with 1 5/8 inches of thickness), and it holds everything nicely in place with plastic inserts. There’s also a very cool magnetic clasp that keeps the box closed, making it excellent for both storage and travel as well.

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Each set of phones comes with the following components: One instruction booklet; One small, padded mesh carrying pouch (that’s perfect for toting your phones around in); 3 pairs of the “Patented” (sickle shaped) foam SportClips (that hold the phones firmly in placeone each in small, medium, & large sizes); 3 pairs of (variously sized) foam Eartips (for the blue set. The green set has 5 pairs.); & a USB connector cord (for charging your headphones up). Interestingly enough, the more expensive (i.e., green) headphone set comes with a much longer charging cord than the blue set (see the photo at right for a comparison of the USB cords). Now, on to the individual reviews…

First up is the blue (for me) headphone set:  

iSport Bluetooth Wireless High Impact Sport Audio Headphones

This set, which is the less expensive pair of phones (and for me was the blue set) comes in a box marked “high impact sport audio” (as opposed to the green set, which has “high performance sport audio” on its box).

You’ll find the “High Impact” set HERE (in Blue) & HERE (in Black) at Best Buy. The first thing I noticed about this set was that its ear buds stick out quite far from one’s ears during use. This looks somewhat strange at first, and you might think that the weight of the phones would easily pull them out. However, this is not the case at allthe phones actually stayed in my ears surprisingly well. The sickle shaped SportClips kept them anchored in place very firmly, and I personally found them quite comfortable to wear as well. My wife tried them out for a while and found that they made her ears hurt a bit once they had been in for several minutes, so I guess this is one of those things that varies from person to personnot everyone enjoys wearing ear buds. 

It’s also noteworthy that this (and the other) set of phones never once threatened to fall out of my ears. Both sets stayed in place extremely well as I engaged in a moderate level of physical activity. Of course, the only type of physical exertion I actually undertook during testing was hiking, so there wasn’t as much jostling as might occur during activities such as jogging or playing tennis. I did, however, work up quite a sweat while using both of these sets, and it had no effect whatsoever on either of them.

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One of the best features of the Monster iSport headphones is their built-in microphone. This makes these phones great for hands free use, such as when you are driving. With this particular set, I found that the sound quality was quite good but definitely not perfect. For example, when talking on the phone, those listening on the other end of the line may hear a slightly “far away” and “tinny” sound in the user’s voice. I tested this out from both ends of the line and found that it was similar to speaking to someone using the speaker phone function of their cell phone. The sound quality isn’t bad, but it doesn’t sound as rich and as “close up” as when they’re not using the speaker phone.

When listening to music, the sound quality is, again, quite good overall, though not flawless. There may be the occasional crackle or cutting out of the music for a split second, but it’s certainly much better than with many of the cheaper headphone sets I have used in the past. Ultimately I do recommend this set, though with the above reservations in mind.

Up next is the more expensive of the two iSport Monster Headphone sets:

iSport Bluetooth Wireless SUPERSLIM High Performance Sport Audio Headphones

The super slim version of the iSport headphones may be found HERE (in Green) at Best Buy. As you may expect from the name, this set does not stick out nearly as far from one’s head during use, making them less conspicuous and generally more attractive while on. They’re still rather large as ear buds go, however, and are considerably more noticeable than the typical, small ear buds that are widely available for (and with) MP3 players. To me, the larger size of these headphone sets is indicative of their higher quality, so I really don’t mind their size at all. I pretty much assume that inherent in their bulk are qualities such as greater shock protection and overall toughness. 

One key point about this set is that it provided better sound quality than the blue set. While conducting my hands free talking test on both sets, my wife and I found that this set did not sound “tinny” or “far away” at any point. The sound was definitely clear, and my wife’s voice sounded more natural than it did on the blue. External sounds were also less obtrusive to the person on the other end of the line. We made sure to have a very loud air conditioner running in the background during testing, and it didn’t interfere with the call on this set at all.

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My overall conclusion regarding sound quality with the super slim set is that it seems to have both better speakers and a better microphone included. Of course, I don’t mean to suggest that the sound quality with the blue set is badit’s not. The difference here is more along the lines of the difference between very good and excellent than the difference between good and bad.

This set also has a very well insulated wire running between the 2 ear buds. In fact, both sets feature very heavy duty wires, though they are thicker in different dimensions. This set, for example, has a thicker, though not as wide wire. The blue set, alternatively, has a much wider wire that is not as thick. The difference here is minimal though, and both sets seem like they will stand up to quite a bit of punishment.

In the final analysis, this super slim set does come out somewhat ahead of the previous set. Of course, this is not unexpected given its higher price point, and I would have to conclude that the difference in value here is directly proportional to the difference in price between the 2 sets. With this set I experienced minimal crackling, though it was present at times when my phone (which doubles as my MP3 player) was jostled around a lot, such as when I was navigating the rougher sections of my hiking range. I still highly recommend this set though. If you enjoy an active lifestyle and can justify the additional cost, then the super slim set should work out well for you. If cost is more of a consideration, you might want to go for the cheaper set. You really can’t go wrong with either as long as you don’t go in with unrealistic expectations.

Remember, each of these sets connects to your phone or other device via a bluetooth connection, and that alone is a major benefit. While the advertised effective bluetooth range is 9.1 meters for each set, I personally found that they will actually work quite well even beyond that range (depending on whether or not there are walls or other obstacles getting in the way). Thus, if you are listening to music while playing tennis (for example) and don’t want to keep your phone / MP3 / other device on your person, just set it to one side and play on. You should have no trouble hearing your favourite tunes, and there will be no jostling of the device itself to mess with your sound. Enjoy!

Check out a wide selection of Monster headphones at Best Buy