I think my new fascination might be with headphones and in particular, wireless headphones. I’ve had too many mishaps with wires while running on the road and trail or even on my bike, all ending in disastrous results. In this edition, I got a chance to take a look at the iSport SuperSlim Bluetooth headphones from Monster, a company that was previously more known for its cables, but who has since moved into the larger audio game and has been turning out some pretty solid products. To get a closer look, I tested these out on the road, trail, bike, and even in the gym.
Unboxing and What’s Included
The iSport SuperSlims come in a decently designed package that touts all the benefits of using the headphones and gives you pretty clear and concise instructions on using the product. Once open you’ll find the headphones themselves with the largest in-ear tips and clips in place. They also include a short USB cable for charging. and all of this fits neatly into the little mesh bag provided so you can carry it all with you. They are extremely light despite the larger buds and they feature some moderate level of noise isolation as well as inline mic and volume controls.
The headphones themselves have an interesting feel at first, especially the in-ear clip as it has a lot of flex. The bud itself is larger than other headphones we have tried, but this provides a strong visual indicator both in-use and when you are charging which is lacking in other higher end earbuds. Also, we tested the black version and the silver in the clip also threw me because I didn’t think it was replaceable until I dug deeper and realized it was just a painted version of the included alternative sized black clips. From a quality perspective, they feel well-built and the connecting head strap is definitely robust. To size it, you basically just pull on either side of the strap bringing the strap in closer to your head up to a point where you find it comfortable. Net result, they don’t feel like they’re going anywhere and they feel like they will last for a while.
Connectivity and Set Up
To say the set up was easy is an understatement and I am increasingly finding it difficult to believe that some companies still struggle with this. Monster have it locked though and after giving the iSport SuperSlims a full charge I simply opened the Bluetooth settings on my phone, long pressed the center button on the headphone, and voila, it went into pairing mode. It showed up on my iPhone display almost instantly and the entire process probably took me under 20 seconds. I obviously can’t speak for others experiences, but it worked very well for me. Additionally in terms of overall connectivity the low-energy Bluetooth stayed true throughout and I only experienced one case of dropping of audio which I would blame the phone for and not the headphones themselves. I also experienced no additional interference around other Bluetooth devices or when they were all connected. Also note, it can seem to store multiple phones making switching between devices that much easier which many other higher end headphones cannot do.
Fit and Adjustment
Your first mission, like with all earbuds, is to find the proper fit and I played with this quite a bit as I felt at first the preinstalled version were actually a bit large,. That being said, after rigorous testing I actually ended up using these simply because in use, they kept the best fit. After numerous uses with them, I can say that I made the right choice. So definitely something to think about when you’re sizing, if you feel it’s too big it might just be a matter of getting it into the ear canal properly and allowing the tip to open up and make a nice seal. This provided much better audio quality for me and a better fit overall. The headband is also easy to size and that you can make it as loose or as tight as you want simply by pulling on the on either side of the band much like a drawstring. We have tried others with loopback systems and it is one thing I wish the iSports had. I just would like a place to stow the additional cord after tightening as it kept slapping the back of my neck.
I have used the iSport SuperSlims quite a few times now over the last month and can definitely say that they function quite well. First off, when they are properly sized, they do not move around all that much. I never experienced any popping out of the headphone when the fit was proper and the tightness from the head strap always ensured a snug fit. As I said, you do get a bit of bouncing from any excess cable on the rear, but I kind of rigged this by clipping that to the excess wrap with my own clip. I am not an audiophile nor am I super concerned with that when working out. I found the quality to be solid and while it may not hit all the big and deep bases that you might find on very high end headphones, it does quite nice job of producing a consistent and true level of audio and clarity. Given their intended use, I found the amount of volume and clarity of that audio to be well above my expectations. Note in my testing, I reviewed with spoken word files like podcasts and audiobooks in addition to a plethora of music options and everything was clear. I found that whether I was running, biking, or lifting that the headphones a great job of staying in place and produced a solid level of audio.
Battery Life and Charging
I’m a chronic over charger, so to test things like this out I have to be somewhat bad about how I charge them which just annoys me. My typical use is; I wear it for the exercise and then plug it in when I’m back at my charger and when I do this I find I have more than enough for a very long run or ride with no problems. When I say long I mean 3 to 4 hours of constant use. In all honestly, my phone would probably die before the headphones would in the majority of my tests. Monsters statistics give the SuperSlims 6 to 8 hours of battery life to which I would say sure, sounds good… if you really need it. A full charge will take 6 to 8 hours and again I usually just throw it back on the charger after my workout or at night and the next day I’m good to go. I found this consistently works and I don’t think I ever had a battery problem the entire time I tested it out.
My only complaint on the Monster iSport SuperSlims if I had one would be on the size of the earbud itself. I find it’s a little larger than I expected and it does have a nice visible blue dial when you are charging it, but this seems like overkill. The larger bud means it’s a little more ostentatious visibly, but keep in mind this is a really minor nitpick. Overall, the fit and the audio quality is solid and at this price point I can say that these are quality performing headphones if you’re trying to get into the sport Bluetooth audio market on the lower end.
The iSport SuperSlims are available in yellow or black for $149.95 direct from Monster.