(Pocket-lint) - Those who participate in sport can be very particular about the equipment they use. There probably isn't a runner who doesn't attribute a personal best to a winning combination of the right socks and shoes, or marathon success to wearing the right compression shorts on the day.

It's this meticulous obsession to detail that helps sports people focus on what they're doing, meaning they can put interference and distraction to one side, get in the zone and perform. For many, music plays a big part in training, so sports headphones have to hit the proverbial nail on the head. 

So what happens when Monster teams up with Adidas to make a pair of in-ear headphones that it says are "ready to run"?

Adidas Sport Supernova review: Design

Both Adidas and Monster have some iconic designs to their names and the pairing on the Sport Supernova is rather nice. The contrasting white and black is a classic look. It might avoid the fun of fluro colourways that are prevalent on sports headphones, but that makes it all the more likely that you'll wear the Supernovas away from the running track too. 

The rounded buds are neatly capped with the Adidas logo, with Monster branding slipping into position on the front. They aren't overly showy, which some Monster headphones can be, so it's probably a design that will suit many. 

To keep the ear buds firmly in place when you're running, they come with what Monster is calling a SportClip. This isn't unique - we've seen the addition of extra tabs or wings elsewhere, Sennheiser for example - but we found them to be comfortable on the Supernova. 

That means it's easy to get these in-ear headphones to stay in your ears effectively. Even on runs of an hour or longer, we found they stayed in place and didn't get uncomfortable. And as the Sport Supernova are water-resistant they won't be damaged by your sweating either.


Adidas Sport Supernova review: Cable woes

But there's one element of the Supernova design we don't like: the cable. 

Adidas/Monster has elected to use a flat cable. This is designed to be tangle-free, which makes sense if you're the sort of person who will throw these headphones in the bottom of a gym bag. However, when running, we found the flattened cable to be just too inflexible. It doesn't move with your body as you run, instead it swings like a chain, something we also found when walking while wearing these headphones.

We tend to route the headphone cables inside our running top to avoid accidentally catching the cable on a swinging arm - but in the case of the Sport Supernova this doesn't really work, as the rigidity of the cable makes that uncomfortable. Where round cables will move with your body, this flat cable tends to drift around, so we were constantly moving it back, ultimately tucking it under a heart-rate monitor strap to get it under control. 

If you're not a runner, or are planning to connect to a music player that's placed on a treadmill then you might not encounter these sorts of problems, so not all is lost, but it's certainly something to consider. 

Adidas Sport Supernova review: Performance

Those cable woes are something of a disappointment, because the performance of these headphones is actually very good. As we've said, we achieved a great fit, meaning plenty of isolation from exterior noise and benefiting the rich bassy sound of these headphones.

For sport we tend to choose upbeat music, such as Ministry of Sound Running Trax, or some of the fantastic MoS Mash Up Mixes (especially the great continuous mixes that give you over an hour of unbroken beats). The Adidas Sport Supernova deal with the bass of such dance tracks nicely, with enough punch to ensure you can still feel the music when you're sweating and pounding the pavement.

But the audio delivery is also immersive enough to make for pleasant listening when you're just relaxing at home or riding on the bus.


Adidas Sport Supernova review: Controls and mic

There's an inline mic and controls on the Supernova's cable, meaning you don't have to reach for your phone when you want to skip tracks or take a call. This is designed to work with a wide variety of devices, so you'll get some response whether you're on Android or iPhone.

There will be slight differences in what ControlTalk will offer from its three buttons. Generally speaking, the central button will control playback, track skipping and answering or declining calls. The top and bottom buttons offer volume controls across most devices. 

We found the mic to work well enough in conversations, as well as when using voice controls through Siri or Google Now. Whether that's a function you'll need when exercising remains debatable, especially as the mic and controls add to the overall weight on those cables.


The Adidas Sport Supernova by Monster are something of a mixed bag. There's great style from Adidas, great sound from Monster, and plenty of convenience from those controls on the tangle-free cable. 

However, pitched as sports headphones, we just don't find them the most fitting to task. We love the audio performance, but the cable is too stiff and inflexible to move with your body motion when running. If you're looking to add them to your selection of running gear then you might want to reconsider, but as in-ear headphones the design and performance is sound.

Writing by Chris Hall.