Monster iSport Immersion review: Headphones for athletes

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MSRP: $99.95

The Good The Monster iSport Immersion In-Ear Headphones offer a very secure fit and impressive sound, as well as a sweatproof design and flat, tangle-resident cord. They also have an integrated iPhone-friendly ControlTalk inline remote with volume controls, and come with a nice carrying pouch.

The Bad For some people, these earphones' noise isolation may shut out too much of the outside world. Also, if you can't get a tight seal, bass response won't be as good.

The Bottom Line The iSport Immersion headphones rank among the best wired in-ear sports headphone models out there in terms of fit and sound quality.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8

In recent years Monster has been known more for its celebrity-endorsed headphones and other products, including a now-defunct partnership with Dr. Dre and Beats. But Monster has also made a quiet push into the wired sports-headphones market with its iSport line, which is set to expand this fall with a couple of new models.

The model reviewed here, the iSport Immersion In-Ear with ControlTalk, comes in a couple of different colors and flavors, including a higher-priced yellow LiveStrong version and a significantly more expensive limited-edition USA model that Monster released around the time of the 2012 Summer Olympics.

I tested both the standard $99 blue-colored iSport (it also comes in black) as well as the USA model ($199). Both rank among the best wired sports headphones I've tested, with the USA model offering a slightly superior fit and slightly better sound.

The iSport Immersions with their carrying pouch. Sarah Tew/CNET

Tight seal
All iSport models are sweatproof and Monster says you can literally wash the earphones; I did dunk mine briefly in the pool and they came out no worse for wear. The iSport models all have a flat, tangle-resistant style cord and an inline microphone for making cell phone calls.

The variously sized eartips and SportClips. Sarah Tew/CNET

However, the key here is the fit. Monster includes four different sizes of SportClips and silicone eartips. Those SportClips, made out of firm but flexible rubber, hook comfortably on the inner rim of your ear and help keep the eartip securely in place. The medium eartips and SportClips worked for me, but you can obviously mix and match large with medium or small depending on the shape of your ear.

While I ended up getting a slightly tighter seal with the step-up USA model, I still got a good fit and tight seal with the standard iSport Immersions. That tight seal is crucial to maximizing bass response and the iSports not only offered detailed sound but big bass as well -- not overwhelming, just meaty and pretty tight. They sound very good for sports earphones, and very good for earphones in general.

I went on several runs with them and they stayed in my ears without a problem and kept their tight seal. The only issue for some people will be that the noise isolation is so good (particularly with the USA model) that very little sound from the outside world is let in. I ran against traffic on a country road, so I could mostly see cars coming, but on a couple of hills where I couldn't see over the other side, I had to stay on alert because there was almost no shoulder to the road and I couldn't hear cars until they were about 10 yards away.