Sports earphones need to stay inside the ear firmly and produce good sound. Meanwhile, they should be sweat resistant and comfortable to use.
The iSport Strive has a different earbud design. Instead of fitting inside your ear canal, the new design allows the earbud to sit just above it. The Strive also has the fin-shaped clip design that holds the buds firmly in place. We shall now find out how they stand up in the competition and whether they are worth your $45.
Monster has taken a lot of care by packaging the headphones in a very appealing box. The box is made of cardboard with dark graphics. Opening it is a not so common experience. The left edge has a cambered look while the box opens on the right side by pulling the flap outwards. This is the interesting part because the flap is not interlocked with the cardboard cut out, but rather kept in place with a magnet. After you have unfolded the entire thing, you will see the earphones neatly tucked inside a plastic moulded container.
Just below the plastic container, you will find a nice little pouch with iSport written in big letters. Upon further pondering, you will find several sports clip placed inside the pouch.
Not so tangle proof cable
The flat, anti-tangling cable will often find itself tangled. There is an in-line microphone and a three button remote which is quite accessible and it hangs around the shoulder length while wearing the earphones. The joints along the cable appear to be firm but no matter how firm they may appear, users have already complained that the cable is likely to break after three to four months of daily usage. Such a short life span is quite bad for a $45 earphones. I would expect them to last at least for a year. Your mileage will definitely vary based on your style of using them.
Down at the end of the cable, the 3.5 mm jack looks swaggy with the golden coating. The shiny regions on the earbuds may appear like metal but that is just plastic coated with metallic paint. To make things clearer, there are no metal parts on these earphones except the jack.
A firm fit
As mentioned earlier, the earbuds sit tightly on top of the ear canal rather than going inside. Even if the fit is firm, additional support is always required when it comes to sports earphones. The patented sports clip, shaped like a shark fin holds the bud in place. It takes some effort to align the sports clip inside the ridges of your ear lobe. Once in place, you need not worry about the earphones coming off anytime during a heavy workout or a running session.
Sweat proof design
The speaker grill is the only possible opening through which sweat might leak inside and damage the drivers. Upon close observation you will notice the speaker grill is a fine metallic mesh. It’s fine enough to prevent sweat or any fluid from leaking inside simply by relying on property of surface tension.
Depending on your ear size, you need to install the correct ear tip from the ones given in the package. Comfort related experience is really subjective from person to person. For most users, the iSport Strive has been a pleasure to use while some users complained about sore ears because of the tight fit. If you have the chance of trying them out, do that before buying.
Better than average sound performance
A lot of sports earphones are bassy. Bass helps a lot of people to establish some sort of sync between the workout and the music. The Monster iSport Strive cannot be considered as being bassy. One reason for this is the way buds are positioned in your ear. On the contrary, buds on the Bose SoundSport and the Powerbeats2 by Dre go all the way into the ear canal hence, offering an emphasized bass. Because the iSport Strive sits above the canal, the bass frequencies do not reach the ear drums.
Due to crystal clear mids the vocals seem to stand out distinctly. Instruments also get their own identity and the tiny details in the music that are not usually audible in cheap earphones become audible. This should be sufficient to give us a vague idea that the sensitivity on the iSport Strive is above average. The exact figures are unknown due to lack of documentation. It is not recommended to play low bit rate mp3 tracks on these earphones due to obvious reasons.
The iSport Strive comes with a semi open design that causes the sound to be heard by the people around you when you play the music at higher volumes. Such a design naturally causes the outside noise to interfere with your listening experience. Semi open designs are meant to create a wide and open sound stage that can lead to a pleasurable listening experience. The other good thing is that you are in tune with your surroundings and that is very important during any kind of workout.
Every speaker be it small or large, has some level of distortion by itself. In the case of the iSport Strive, the distortion in sound is not audible at lower volumes. However, it does become noticeable as you raise the volume higher. It is never recommended to go too high with the volume, but in case you do, things are not going to be too pretty. At higher volumes, the mids start becoming muffled and there is a significant degradation in the fidelity of sound. The treble frequencies seem unaffected by the change in volume, the only frequencies affected are the mids.
The Monster iSport Strive delivers a great performance for the price though it is not the best you can get. The secure and comfortable fitting Strive gives a secure feel about the earphones because you can finally focus on your workout rather than worry about the buds falling off. The bass may not be heavy but you can always boost it with the EQ. Keeping that issue aside, the mids and the highs are quite clean on lower volumes. The issue of distortion can be a problem at higher volumes.
Semi open design has its own pros and cons, the pros being you stay in touch with your surrounding and the cons being the resulting sound leak. The iSport Strive strives to keep you happy with an above average performance but victory only belongs to the best in class; the Monster iSport Victory which has an even better audio performance and the same comfy secure fit as the Strive or perhaps even better.