You may know Monster best as a purveyor of "overpriced rubbish", as a friend of ours once described the company. Whether you're into expensive cables or expensive headphones officially sanctioned by surly chart-botherer Dr. Dre, Monster Cable Products Inc. has the stuff for you. The Monster iSport Immersion headphones buck the trend somewhat. Granted, they're not cheap at £130 but their raison d'etre is one of function rather than marketing. These earphones can shrug off being washed.
Why would you want to wash you earphones? You might ask, if you've never worn a precious pair for a workout and felt slightly perturbed at quite how soaked every part of them had become by the end. By allowing you to wash the iSport, salty sweat residues can be removed and minds eased. Moreover, if you forget to take them out your shorts pockets, they won't come a cropper when you chuck the whole lot in the washing machine.
To help their exercise cred, the iSport earphones also use a rubber in-ear stabilising arm to help keep them in place when you're moving. This rests against the ridge just above your ear canal. Use the wrong one and you're in for a world of discomfort, as even minor cartilage irritation can become very uncomfortable very quickly - unless you are one of those odd people who have compulsively folded their earlobes since the age of five.
As long as you find a pair of arms that fits, the iSport earphones are perfectly comfortable - and five are included in the package. It's with these little on-ear extensions that we find the first of this product's problem, though. Within just a few days, we found that one of the inserts had started becoming a little loose on the earbud, without any mistreatment or continued removing and re-placing of it.
From the start, the connection between the bud and this blue extension has a little give. The join is easily strong enough to keep the two parts together, but just this slight wonkiness is enough to evaporate the sense that this is a real premium product - which it needs to be given its high price. We have concerns about the longevity of these earphones, even if you can wash them all day long. More parts, more to break.
These aren't the only unconventional parts of the iSport buds. Pull off the rubber tips - five pairs included - and you'll find that the earphone nozzle can be moved around, independent from the bud's metallic shell. This is a most unusual design. Quite what purpose it has is something of a mystery, when we can't imagine it adds much to waterproofing, but it should help to ease fitting problems within wearers' ears. A bit.
Let's leave the overall weirdness of the buds for a minute and head down the cable. Just over 10cm down the left earphone cable sits a remote control and handsfree housing designed for iOS devices (iPod Touches, iPhones, iPads) and BlackBerrys. It'll let you take calls and control your music, switch tracks and so on. The button surface is rubberised, giving some extra friction when your fingers are sweaty from pounding all that iron.
The three buttons are also very clearly signposted with heavy embossing, so you don't need to see this control housing to be able to use it effectively. We've seen prettier, sleeker control units, but as something for the budding sportsperson, it's thoughtfully designed.
Tangle-resistant does not mean "immune to tangling"
The iSport earphone cable is flat rather than round, which is often claimed to result in a less tanglesome cable. Having now used these earphones for a month, we can confirm that it positively does not get rid of tangles. They tend to build up around the cable splitter in a headache-inducing knot. Standard, then.