You can trust Coach
What makes a set of sports headphones right for you can change from person to person – and that’s something Monster’s iSport range of headphones acknowledges by offering a range of prices, styles and, most importantly, fits.
The right fit is important with all headphones, but especially so for sports, when you’re likely to move your head around more and potentially shake the earbuds out. You also need to consider how much ambient noise you want to let in – gym-goers can opt for full isolation but out on the streets, it’s helpful to know if a car is steaming along the road you’re about to cross.
Monster’s iSport Intensity headphones are designed for the streets in that they don’t have a fully isolating fit, allowing in around 40% of the noise around you.
This is not only handy for outdoor exercise, but I also found them more comfortable than in-ear buds. The Intensity headphones sit comfortably in place (without needing to be jammed down into the ear canal like standard buds) and are secured with a small wing that fits your ear.
They come with a few different wings to accommodate different lugs, and the result is an impressively secure fit for sports. The Intensity headphones didn’t fall out once over three runs and a sweaty session in the gym. In the past, the only headphones I’ve found with similar stickability have an over-ear hook.
The tight fit does take a little getting used to – my ears were a bit sore the first couple of times I wore the Intensity headphones – but that’s not a long-term problem.
Monster has also done some sharp work on the design of the strap. It’s lightweight, so it doesn’t pull the headphones out of your ears, and the in-line remote control is counterbalanced by another plastic block on the strap. The result is that the strap doesn’t bounce around during exercise. It’s also reflective, which is a nice touch for night runners.
The downside of the ambient fit of the Intensity headphones is a drop in sound quality compared with isolating, in-ear headphones like the Monster Victory. Immersion headphones naturally offer better bass and more detailed sound, so if you always exercise indoors and don’t need to hear ambient noise, the Victory may be a better choice.
However, while they might not match in-ear buds, the Intensity still offer very strong sound quality. They’re good enough to wear throughout the day when not exercising, and even in loud environments you get clear sound on both music and podcasts.
Monster says the battery life is six hours and I found that, if anything, the Intensity slightly surpassed this. You are told if the battery level is high, medium or low when you turn them on. It’s not as much detail as some other brands offer (Plantronics gives you the hours left on its Backbeat FIT model), but it’s good enough to help ensure you don’t run out unexpectedly.
At a smidge under £80, the price also compares well to the rest of the market for the package on offer. With a great fit, good sound quality and the allowance of ambient noise, the Monster Intensity headphones tick all the boxes for runners.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.