Under the Radar

iSport Victory: In-Ear Headphones That Are Actually Comfortable


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I've got a drawer full of earbuds and in-ear headphones, all of which I bought with the belief that I'd finally found a pair that I could stand to have stuck in my ears. And all of which got abandoned in favor of something cheap that tended to fall out but didn't drive me crazy after a 10 minutes stuck in my ear.

The Monster iSport Victory headphones ($149.95) are the first pair of in-ear monitors I've ever enjoyed using. They don't fall out, they stay comfortable during a workout and they allow in just enough ambient noise so they you won't feel like you're trapped in a oil drum. There's extra bass thump, more than I'd like for serious listening but absolutely welcome in the middle of exercise.

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That comfortable fit requires a bit of commitment: the box contains an array of Monster's creatively named inserts. The box includes a good explanation of how everything is supposed to work.

You got three choices with the SportClip inserts that hook into the inside of your ear cartilage and provide just enough resistance to help keep the headphones from falling out when you hit the water or shake you head. They don't press hard and, after a while, you'll barely notice they're there. This is a much more comfortable solution than the over-ear clips that most sport headphones use.

There's also five sizes of OmniTips to fit over the speakers and plug into your ears. Maybe those extra couple of choices made a huge difference. I was able to find a size that stayed in without irritating my inner ear.

Taking the SportClips and OmniTips on and off requires patience and concentration and you should try several different combinations to figure out the optimum fit. Unless you're planning to share your workout earphones (yuck), you should only have to go through the process once.

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The cable is a flat ribbon (which helps reduce tangling) and you also get a heavyweight vinyl carry bag. The tips claim to be Anti-Microbial and washable. The cable also features Monster's ControlTalk feature, which means the on-cable buttons work with an iPhone.They are available in black or the electric green that's pictured here. The green ones attract a lot of attention if you're looking to strike up conversations about your headphones.

The box advertises Amazing Monster Sound (different from the Pure Monster Sound touted for the DNA line) and you're going to get a lot of kick drum but that low end doesn't muddy up the highs like a lot of the competition's headphones do.

If you're using them for cycling or running, you can hear the traffic without much trouble. The only time I really got much of that in-ear over-is0lation effect was on phone calls.

Obviously there are a lot of $8 earbuds on the market that might be passable. If you're committed to a routine and work out several times a week, the comfort and sound quality are worth the extra investment.

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