First, to avoid any confusion: The Monster iSport Victory In-Ear Wireless Headphones are also listed online as the iSport Victory Wireless, the iSport Victory Bluetooth, and the iSport Victory BT. All these names refer to the same neckband-style wireless earphones from Monster. The headphones are available for $99.95, and feature a very secure in-ear fit, along with some intense thunder in the bass department. While we favor a more dialed back, balanced sound signature, plenty of big bass lovers will enjoy the iSport Victory’s dual sound modes, both of which feature heavily boosted lows.
Available in neon green, black, or blue models, the sweat-resistant Victory earphones feature earpieces with the familiar fins that seem to be on all exercise-focused pairs. Here, the fins are separate from the eartips themselves, and the earphones ship with three total pairs of fins and silicone eartips in small, medium, and large sizes.
The neckband style-cable can be worn behind the neck, as intended, but also draped below the chin—a cable cinch helps secure the slack of the cord for an optimal fit. The cable itself is quite thin compared with, ironically, the linguine-esque cables that Monster helped popularize years ago and now seem ubiquitous. It features a simple, attractive braided pattern that is also reflective.
An inline remote control and mic compartment is located on the cable at roughly chin height near the right earpiece. It’s of the three-button variety, with a central multifunction button that handles power, pairing, and call management. This leaves the plus and minus buttons to handle both volume (it works conjunction with your mobile device’s master volume levels) and track navigation. Monster is hardly the only company to adopt this double-duty assignment for what used to be a dedicated volume button on most remotes, but it’s easy to accidentally skip a track when adjusting the volume. I’m not sure who thinks this button assignment is a better idea, but judging by the number of earphones we’ve tested lately that feature it, it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
Monster also assigns another feature to the plus and minus buttons: holding them both in for three seconds during playback switches between Warm Up and Sports modes—more on those in the next section.
The company estimates battery life to be roughly eight hours, but your results will vary with your volume levels. Aside from the ear fins and tips, Monster includes a small drawstring pouch for the earphones, and a micro USB charging cable that connects to a covered port on the inline compartment.
Since neither is introduced by an audio prompt, it’s hard to guess which mode is Sports and which is Warm Up, so we’ll instead just describe them. One seems a tad louder than the other, while the lower mode seems to have more sub-bass and perhaps slightly dialed back low-mids—though have some seriously boosted bass response. The louder mode seems to sculpt and boost the high-mids and highs more.
On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the earphones deliver some insane thunder in both modes. At top, extremely unwise listening levels, the audio doesn’t distort, and at more moderate levels, the deep bass is quite powerful. The louder mode seems to push the higher frequency to the forefront of the mix more (without dialing back the bass). There’s lots of sculpting, cutting, and boosting going on here, but both modes seem to alter the bass and treble to similar degrees, so while things are far from accurate, they never sound muddy or lack clarity.
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Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, receives a generous extra bass boost in the deep lows—the drums sound positively thunderous in one mode, and just a little less so in the other. In the less intesne mode, Callahan’s baritone vocals receive plenty of high-mid presence to bring out their treble edge, and the highs seem a little too boosted and sculpted, occasionally leading to subtle high frequency artifacts in the vocals, percussive attacks, and guitar strumming. In the quieter mode (that has the more thunderous drums), the high frequencies are also quite sculpted and tweaked, but the boosting is in different ranges. Basically, both listening modes deliver deep lows and very sculpted highs, it’s just a matter of which ranges within the lows and highs are getting boosted and cut. Neither mode, in other words, delivers anything resembling a flat response, and things are only balanced in the sense that the boosting is prevalent on both ends of the frequency range.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop’s attack gets plenty of high-mid presence, allowing it to retain its sharp edge in both modes and slice through the mix as a prominent force. The most noticeable elements in either mode are probably the sub-bass synth hits that many earphones fail to bring forward in the mix—here, they sound like they’re being powered by a subwoofer in both modes, perhaps brought a bit too far forward. Meanwhile, the high frequency boosting meets its match on this track—not only do the vocals sound overly sibilant at times, but the vinyl crackle that is typically a backdrop for the track is shifted to the forefront of the mix, becoming a very bright, distracting hiss.
Obviously, no one will be doing any critical or reference listening through the iSport Victory In-Ear Wireless Headphones—that’s not what they’re meant for. Bass lovers will really enjoy the intense low frequency response, and the fact that there are two different listening modes that both offer different styles of mega-bass will likely make these earphones even more appealing. Beyond that, the earpieces fit quite securely and the operation of the control pad is typically easy. So if $100 is your budget and big bass is what you’re looking for from your Bluetooth earphones, these are worth a look. However, if you’re after a bass-forward sound that has a bit more balance or is somewhat less sculpted, the Jaybird X3, JBL Reflect Mini BT, and Skullcandy XTfree are all solid options. And if you’re looking to spend as little as possible on a semi-decent pair of wireless exercise earphones, the 808 Audio Ear Canz are worth looking into.