I was surprised at the sound quality from the iSport Immersion earphones. I’ve heard some models of the Beats by Dr. Dre and have frankly felt bad for those who have bought them. But the iSport Immersion earphone maybe Monster’s redemption.
I tested the iSport’s on an iPhone, iPod, HTC HD2, and my HiFiMan, a no B.S. portable hi-fi PMP that plays 24bit 96kHz files with two Burr-Brown 1704 DAC chips. Expensive yes, great sounding, hell yeah! I tested both loss-less and lossy music files. Some of rather poor quality I must admit.
The iSport Immersion earphones sounded good across all sources. The overall sound is full bodied, a bit warm and plush in the lower mid-range and lows. The highs aren’t extended as much as some might like but they are friend to loud music or poorly engineered recordings. Most important with earphones that taught the extra low bass is to make sure the mid-range doesn’t collapsewhen bass is thundering away. And with the iSport Immersions it surely did not. I was extremely pleased with the lower-mid-range to mid-range detail. Instrument and timbre clarity in this range is on pare with some more expensive headphones. Even if warm like a Polk monitor of Van Alstine solid state amplifier, the detail was very clear. On my lossy MP3 files of Lullaby for the Working Class I was constantly able to hear the resonance of the floor drum apart from the stand up bass. Listening to my loss-less rips of Godspeed You Black Emperor on the HiFiMan the cello, layers of distorted guitar and tape loops were easily pealed apart and I was able to focus on each instrument at one time.
Being a Monster product I was fearful the bass would be overblown. But this was nothing of the sort. Sure it isn’t the open and clean sounding like an expensive audiophile level solid state system. Rather these earphones sound along the lines of a plush and rich pentode tube amplifier. Of which I own one. So the sound was home to my ears. On Metallica’s Ride the Lightning, the typically lacking bass actually had some body and presents, not to mention I could hear a good amount of Burton’s fancy finger work. So would this mean then that Massive Attack’s Mezzanine would be bass heavy and the mid-range would collapse? Thankfully no. The ultra deep bass on Mezzanine came though without interfering with the rest of my mix and with a fair amount of timbre detail as well.
So are there issues? Yes. For earphones close to two hundred bucks I’d like better micro dynamics, greater extension and detail in the highs, and a bit of a wider a stage. This desire really peaked hardest when listening to older albums. Especially when played on the iPod/iPhone/HD2. And at lower volumes the articulation issues with the mirco dynamics really stood out. But there is a benefit to this negative. If you like listening to music and reading it is easy with these earphones. I’ve had others that are so active at all volumes it is nearly impossible for me to read and listen to music at the same time.
But honestly – do these little details matter when you are hucking yourself off a 15ft step down or trying to catch the perfect wave? No, not really. From my experience I can say that just having earphones that stay in place and get the point across far exceeds my requirements. The iSports do that in spades.