- High-energy sound is good for exerecise
- Fairly comfortable
- Limited bass control
- Unreliable Bluetooth
- Review Price: £49.99
- Up to 8-hour battery life
- Bluetooth wireless
- micro-USB charging
- Magnetised earpieces
- Ear hooks
- 3-button remote
What are the Monster iSport Spirit?
The Monster iSport Spirit are wireless earphones for runners and gym fans. They lack any parts to bounce about, beyond a cable, and at £50 they won’t break the bank.
As you might expect from a Monster pair, the iSport Spirit aren’t subtle. They have big-bottomed bass, are fun for workouts – but they are unlikely to appeal to music snobs.
However, the only real issue in earphones that are so clearly sport and exercise-centric is the wireless. There’s some mild noise in one channel and the Bluetooth is less reliable than average at this point.
Related: Best headphones for running
Monster iSport Spirit – Design and comfort
The Monster iSport Spirit are simple Bluetooth earphones. There’s no neckband, or true wireless technology.
They look a little like a neckband pair, which have had the curved bit that sits around your neck removed. Instead, the boxes that hold the battery and controls sit on the cable here.
The Optoma BE Sport4 earphones reviewed recently have a smarter design in this respect, since they actually fit the battery into the earpieces.
Neverthless, placement is only an issue if the Monster iSport Spirit’s plastic lozenges start jumping around when you go for a run. You’ll be pleased to here that they don’t – as long as you use the little cable tie at the back.
Pull this up and the slack is taken up, leaving a little plastic ponytail of cabling running down your neck. I find the slightly more expensive OnePlus Bullets Wireless more comfortable for running, but I’d certainly pick this pair over the RHA MA390 Wireless or SoundMagic E10 BT – no contest.
Like other Monster sports earphones, the iSport Spirit have silicone hooks that reach into the contours of your ear cartilage for stability. These can be removed, but aren’t designed to be as they leave an empty trench in the plastic earpieces.
The buds aren’t all-plastic, though. That shiny part is aluminium, and these metal discs are magnetised, allowing you to clip the earpieces together when they’re sitting around your neck.
Such extras are a welcome addition in what are a fairly low-cost pair of earphones. The battery indicator is another such example. When you turn on the Monster iSport Spirits, a voice prompt tells you whether the battery level is ‘low’, ‘medium’, or ‘high’. We’re not dealing with scientific-like accuracy here, but getting a nod when you’re running low is helpful.
You’re also made aware when the battery is almost completely drained, with a “battery low” message. You’ll get around eight hours of playback from a charge of the Monster iSport Spirit, which is perfectly solid for a set of this style. Only the Optoma BE Sport4 offer slightly better longevity (10 hours) at this price.
A micro-USB socket covered by a rubber flap on the remote control is how you charge the iSport Spirit. A short cable comes in the box.
Monster iSport Spirit – Sound quality
The one truly unusual feature of the iSport Spirit is to do with sound, however. By pressing the volume up/down buttons on the remote together, the earphones switch between normal and Turbo sound profiles.
Turbo makes music a few decibels louder overall, and seems to boost both bass and treble for a more energetic, cutting sound. While I’m not convinced it’s hugely different to upping the volume a few notches, it’s handy if you’re flagging a bit during a run and find a little volume will keep you going .
The iSport Spirit’s entire sound is all about this sort of motivation. It’s aggressive, in a way that works perfectly for exercise.
Bass is big and punchy, if quite poorly controlled when you stop for a moment and listen with your critical head screwed on. There’s some boominess in songs with strong bass, but it doesn’t leave the iSport Spirit sounding muggy or dominated by bass. There’s real energy in the treble to counteract this.
The result is sound with real energy and drive, even if the bass is just too juvenile to keep pace with anything more complicated than a “four to the floor” pulse.
These earphones aren’t subtle. The SoundMagic E10BT display better bass control, and more smoothness in the mids and treble, without sacrificing detail. However, I can’t deny that these really do the job for workouts.
Monster iSport Spirit – Wireless
Bluetooth wireless is the main concern with the Monster iSport Spirit, and not in the usual manner. Once they’re settled in, performance is perfectly good, with just a momentary blip or two for every handful of hours of listening.
However, the problem is with the initial connection. On occasion you’ll hear stutters every 1.5-2 seconds on pairing. A couple of times this has persisted long enough for me to stop listening.
It could be down to an awkward connection bug with the particular Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium phone I’m using. However, switching back to the SoundMagic E10BT, there were no such problems.
Most of the wireless headphones and earphones I’ve used over the past 12 months (bar true wireless pairs) have demonstrated near-perfect Bluetooth performance. The Monster iSport Spirit are less reliable, and results seem likely to vary with the phone with which they’re used.
Why buy the Monster iSport Spirit?
Wireless reliability loses the Monster iSport Spirit a point or two – and these days you can afford to be demanding about the quality of Bluetooth signal in a pair.
However, if you want to chance it, and buy from a retailer that won’t make a fuss if you try to return them if they fail to work properly with your phone, they’re worth a shot. For runners and gym fans, at any rate.
The Monster iSport Spirit are less subtle and refined than the SoundMagic E10BT, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless or the Skullcandy Method Wireless. However, their combo of big bass and largely harshness-free treble energy is a good fit if you want to use music for motivation.
High-energy exercise earphones, but their wireless needs to be more reliable.