Workout headphones are weird. They’re not made to reproduce the finest details of a brilliant acoustic performance. Their whole purpose is to keep you motivated during intense exercise, so the focus is on convenience and simplicity. Under that lens, the new wireless iSport Victory BT in-ear headphones from Monster are as capable as they come.
Monster iSport Victory BT
Great sound from a workout headphone. Extremely comfortable for long wear. Easy to pair, sync, and use. Excellent battery life. Insanely light. Reflective cable for running at night.
Performance doesn’t quite hold up to scrutiny without the regular distraction of panting. Volume controls can rub against your skin while running.
How We Rate
- 1/10A complete failure in every way
- 2/10Sad, really
- 3/10Serious flaws; proceed with caution
- 4/10Downsides outweigh upsides
- 5/10Recommended with reservations
- 6/10Solid with some issues
- 7/10Very good, but not quite great
- 8/10Excellent, with room to kvetch
- 9/10Nearly flawless
- 10/10Metaphysical perfection
The Victory BT ($100) uses the same basic design that athletic earphones are known for, including the highly rated earlier version of Monster’s Victory workout headphones. They are sweat-proof, of course. Something you see often on workout headphones (and here too) are the small rubberized wings that lock into the anatomy of your ear to keep the earpieces from shaking loose when you get moving. Also in the box are a few different mushroom-like silicone tips that slot onto the ear pieces. Those nubs have been redesigned from the last Victory model and are now shockingly small. This seemingly minor update makes the Victory BT more versatile, able to fit into more ear shapes and, along with the silicone tips, create an excellent seal in your ear canal. Getting a good seal helps the tiny speakers in the headphones create nice, strong pressure waves. Clean waves are essential for a great listening experience, and typically, when earbuds skirt this kind of sealed design, hefty drums and driving bass lines come off flaccid.
I spent about two weeks and a dozen workouts with the iSport Victory BT. They never once shook loose and consistently stunned with a tight response. Whether it was Queen’s triumphant “We Are The Champions” or the pulsing electronic backbeat of Prodigy’s “Breathe,” my typical library of motivational workout music came through beautifully. They also felt secure, never once shifting or falling out of my ear. And, as a bonus to me, the smallest flared ear tips fit perfectly in my admittedly small ear canals. I didn’t end up with the same obnoxious feeling of pressure and subsequent headache that I usually get with in-ear buds, even after one particularly rough six mile jog.
That quality is a bit of a façade, however. When taken out of the workout context, the Victory buds sound OK-ish. But that’s to be expected—at a mere 15 grams, they aren’t built to match the weighty drivers you can find in comparably priced circumaural sets. Instead, they pack a Bluetooth antenna, two drivers, and 10 hours of battery into a wisp of a frame (that’s up from 8 hours on the previous model.)
I have a few small complaints (the Bluetooth connectivity wasn’t perfect, and the inline remote rubbing against your chin or neck can get annoying) but the iSport Victory are some of the best athletic earbuds I’ve ever worn. Just don’t expect them to pull double duty as your daily driver.