Ooooh lovely, stuff in the post for me! Monster wanted a bit of a Bird’s Eye View of their new Pussycat Doll-fronted headphones….so they rushed a pair over to me, even if I am a bit more Madcat Lady than Pussycat Doll!
Now, any of you that have read my reviews before will know that I do put a lot of emphasis on the whole package, not just performance.
I like things to look and feel right and that starts the minute you get presented with the box.
Headphone manufacturers seem to have cottoned on to the fact that it’s not just performance focused audiophiles that will be buying their products, the whole Head-Fi market is opening up the world of high-fidelity sound to a broader spectrum of people, people that want the feeling of luxury and quality in every aspect of their purchase.
The packaging is lovely, well designed and with everything that you need for your headphones including cable, USB charging cable, neat carrying bag and even an antibacterial cleaning cloth.
So it should be because at £240 these are not cheap.
Living up to the packaging the phones themselves look pleasing and, even though they are made predominantly from a rubbery/silicone material, they have a satisfying weight to them, not too heavy but not throwaway plastic tat either.
They feel rugged enough to cope with being folded up and slung in your bag without worry that they will disintegrate!
To my eyes they look a lot nicer than the much maligned Beats headphones with which I am sure the FREEDOMS will be compared – of course Monster used to manufacture the Beats by Dre until the end of 2012.
They fold up rather niftily and also the headband extends if you need it to.
They were never going to be an understated headphone coming from the company that brought us a £20k gold and black diamond encrusted pair of headphones , but I like bright colours and think that they still manage to look tasteful.
I was concerned that as an on ear rather than over ear headphone these might be a bit uncomfortable.
We have all tried headphones that clamp your skull in a vice like grip and leave your ears feeling like you’ve been in a rugby scrum but I needn’t have worried, the wearabilty of these headphones is excellent, my ears felt cushioned and cradled rather than clamped.
However, they also fitted snugly and didn’t dislodge even with some rather furious head shaking!
They also…and this may seem a trivial thing to non spec wearers, do not interfere with your glasses or push them into your head.
The cocooning feeling is enhanced by the fact that these really do close you off from the outside world, even with no music playing outside sounds are significantly muted…I may just take to wearing these all the time so I can’t hear what Stuart is rattling on about!!
The headphones are actually Bluetooth enabled so that you have the choice to use them with the supplied mini jack cable or wirelessly. This means they have to be powered and the battery charges pretty rapidly (under 30 minutes from flat to full) from a USB port using the supplied USB to micro USB cable. Both the micro USB and cable socket are hidden when not in use by little flick up covers. The blurb that came with the phones said a 30hr playing time could be expected from 1 charge with up to 100hrs on standby.
First of all I paired them with the ipod touch to test out the Bluetooth, this was a painless affair.
With the control buttons on the right hand headphone you feel for, rather than look for the buttons….this could be tricky but the layout actually makes it pretty intuitive so that you get the hang of skipping tracks and changing the volume really easily.
You can also turn off the music instantly by hitting the centre button.
I did use the headphones for a while before actually doing some critical listening and really liked the fact that you could leave the ipod where you liked and wander about while listening…also worth noting that there was little or no sound ‘leakage’ so would be perfect for on public transport too.
With the styling of the phones and the fact that they are designed for ‘working out’ I expected them to be good with dance music so I kicked things off with a bit of Deadmau5 and >albumtitlegoeshere<.
On ‘Closer’, a track featuring the iconic communicating-with-the-aliens 5 note sequence from the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the sound was anthemic, good deep bass…possibly a little bass heavy for some people’s taste but I rather enjoyed it. Top and mid did not suffer…there wasn’t bass and nothing else as I have seen complaints about for other headphones of this kind of genre.
Of course, the ipod meant I was using MP3 but the sound was overall pretty good and bearing in mind that these are designed to be worn when exercising and give you the freedom of Bluetooth wirelessness …it was not a bad compromise.
I ran through quite a bit of dance music from Calvin Harris to Daft Punk and was impressed with what I heard.
I then swapped over to some more acoustic and vocal music, the 2012 Radio 1 Live Lounge CD always sounds well recorded to me, and even on MP3 sounded great on these, Emily Sandé’s voice was particularly beautiful and clear and acoustic guitar was a pleasure to listen too. The sound was very natural, which did surprise me.
It is worth noting that I did compare these to the NAD Viso headphones that we reviewed recently, although the NADs are over ear rather than on, they are priced similarly to the Monsters. I found the sound detail slightly better on the NADs but not by much and the FREEDOMS are headphones clearly aimed at a very different market and with extra features.
Wired for sound?
I did try the ipod using the supplied cable but did not notice a difference in the sound quality, though using the cable disables the on ear controls
I then switched to the Hi sound music player to listen to FLAC, going through many of the same tunes I had just heard on the ipod.
Of course the sound was much better, this little music player blew the ipod out of the water when I reviewed it. The sound stage opened up becoming much more 3D and the bass was more detailed, overall very impressive.
I purposefully did not use a headphone amp with them as…well, it kind of defeats the portability purpose that they are designed for; I can’t see many people using them with a headphone amp, more likely straight from the music player on bluetooth.
Despite their styling they are not just for the ‘yoof’, if you are looking for headphones that you can use for exercising and perhaps you travel on public transport a lot they would be really handy…especially if you want great quality sound.
I would not recommend them if you are just going to sit and listen to your home hifi with them, that isn’t what they are designed for.
I also did not test them with classical music so can’t comment on the suitability there.
Now perhaps I am not the target market for the iSport FREEDOM headphones, I am neither a Pussycat Doll or a Gym Bunny, but I feel that the wearabilty and comfort of the headphones would suit anybody looking for the convenience of headphones that you can put on and forget about…go for a run or a walk without worrying about getting rained on (or sweaty…no perspiring ears with these!)
To get the maximum performance with them then pair them with a device that can play high quality music files AND has Bluetooth, that way you will get to experience the true freedom that they offer the user.
Author – Linette Smith
As our youngest son is pretty active we thought we’d give them to him for a bit of a play.
As I knew that Monster used to make the Beats by Dre headphones, which I feel don’t have a particularly good build or sound quality, I was a little sceptical about how these new Monster headphones would perform.
Monster have extended their iSport range of headphones to the over-ear category with the new iSport FREEDOM, a headphone that offers high performance audio and that is easy to use when doing sport.
As the other reviewer Mrs HiFi Pig (AKA my mum) doesn’t do a lot of running, I was asked to test these out as I do frequently run in the local countryside.
The FREEDOM’s felt heavy to hold at first but they had plenty of cushioning in the headband so felt very light once over my ears.
The build quality is quite impressive, the main construction feels strong and sturdy and the rubber used for the ear pads feel’s very comforting. They also feel ‘airy’ and don’t make your ears sweat…which is a common problem with many headphones when using them for sport.
The Blue-tooth works very well I was able to connect to my Ipod in under 10 seconds and the battery lasted a long time.
The sound is very good when the headphones are charged, the bass is heavy but unlike the beats by Dre the top end doesn’t suffer as much.
However when the battery is flat the sound loses it’s oomph and falls short of what I expect from a headphone of this price (around £240). I would make sure to use them charged and switched on, even if using the cable.
All in all the Monster iSport FREEDOMs are a very well built, easy to use, comfortable headphone. I think the styling and the bright colours are great and stand out from the crowd. They look very ‘sporty’ and trendy, but more individual than some other brands.
Author – Harry Smith