Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $100
Pros: Durable, tangle-free cord, sweat-proof and washable, high-frequency sound quality, convenient controller and inline mic.
Cons: Uncomfortable, lacking in bass, controller hard to activate during use.
Best Uses: Short activities, gym workouts, outdoor activities.
The Monster iSport Intensity headphones cater towards athletes wanting a premium set of headphones with multiple features. They win our Top Pick award for headphones with with a mic and controller that still allow surrounding noise to be heard. With a click of a button, a user can control his or her iPod or take a phone call. The iSport Intensity have average sound quality that still allow for moderate ambient noise to filter in, which is a safety feature we value in sport headphones. (We like to exercise outdoors after all.) They come with three different sized sets of ear pieces to allow for a customized fit and maximum comfort, though even the smallest sized pieces still feel huge. These headphones are on the expensive side when stacked against most of their competitors, but for $100 we still think they are a good buy if you are looking for extra control capabilities in a set of headphones. They come with a carrying case, a shirt clip, and are noticeably stylish. Since they are waterproof and have added UV protection, unique to the Monster headphones, they are designed to use for outdoor sports.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Monster iSport Intensity headphones are extremely durable, especially for all types of weather and hours logged outdoors. They have a controller that can play, skip, or stop one’s iPod, and a handsfree Bluetooth feature for answering phone calls. They win our Top Pick award for being a set of headphones that include a microphone and therefore make a perfect accessory for athletes who enjoy app-based workouts such as with Strava or Runkeeper and want to be able to answer their phone on the go.
The Monster iSport Intensity have decent sound quality, though compared to the Klipsch X7i, Sennheiser Cs 685, or the YurBuds Inspire Duro the sound is rather flat and monochromatic. They let in a reasonable amount ambient noise as a safety feature to allow runners and road bikers to hear traffic over their tunes, which we find to be an important feature in sport headphones. They are rated “moderate” on a scale of noise isolation, meaning they cater well to runners or athletes outside on busy streets or trails, but can also work well in a gym environment.
These headphones come with three different sized ear tips so the wearer can select the proper fit, and even the smallest ones feel large. It is important to select the correct size or they will be very uncomfortable. Once we found that the small ones worked for our ears, we realized that they feel as if they are always on the verge of falling out…but they aren't. They stick out further than all the other headphones tested, but the silicone ear tips hook on the ridges in the ears keep them firmly in place with a relative amount of comfort. Since these ear tips are slightly more rigid, they are not as pleasant to wear as the super soft Bose SIE2, but are much more comfortable than models with hard plastic earpieces such as the Sony MDR -AS200.
Features & Accessories
The i-Sport Intensity have a long list of features. They are sweat-proof and waterproof, so can withstand a rainstorm and can be washed if needed. With added UV protection, they can be safely used outside in direct sunlight for hours without fear of fading or sun damage. A controller built into the cord, including a mic and a Bluetooth feature to answer phone calls hands-free, allows the tech-savvy athlete to control his or her device without removing it from a pocket. Another unique feature is the tangle-free flat cord. At first we thought this was a gimmick, but this cord design is more resistant to tangles than thinner cords. Additionally these come with a carrying pouch and a shirt clip.
These are well-constructed and durable. Since they are waterproof and sweat-proof, they can be rinsed if they become grimy, and they won't fail if caught in bad weather. They also have UV protection, which we never thought we would need in a headphone, but its nice to know sun damage won't become a factor.
These are ideal for the athlete who needs a rugged and durable sport headphone but loves to track workouts with apps such as Strava or wants to listen to online radio or podcasts during activity. The mic and controller allow for quick and easy answering of the stray phone call that may come in while out on the trail, and makes the whole process of tracking an exercise routine with a smart phone simple. They are well suited to outdoor use since they have UV protection and are sweat and waterproof.
At $100 these are on the pricey side, but worth the investment because that money gets you a quality, durable product. For a headphone with a mic and controller, these are actually a steal. Other comparable models such as the Powerbeats by Dre or the Bose SIE2i cost $150, and the Klipsch X7i costs $200. By comparison, the Bose SIE2 without an inline mic still costs more than the Intensity at $120. If you like the iSport model but want to spend less, an alternative is the Monster iSport Strive without a mic for $70. Or try the affordable microphone options, the ME Electronics Sport-Fi S6P, which scored similarly and run only $60 or the Skullcandy Chops In-Ear Buds that only cost $50 and still include a mic.
We highly recommend these for outdoor activity enthusiasts who use smart phones or for the tech-savvy casual trail walker who wants the most capability from their accessories. These are a great investment and worth the purchase for an athlete who wants a headphone to do it all: play music, stay comfortably in your ears, withstand weather and dripping sweat, and answer phone calls.
There is a scaled down version: Monster iSport Strive, which cost $70. This version simply has fewer features. It does not have a convenient controller, mic, or a hands-free bluetooth feature. Still, the iSport Strive have the same UV protection, flat cord, and secure ear pieces.
— McKenzie Long and Lauren Jimison
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Most recent review: February 18, 2014
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