" />

Review: iSoniTalk Headphone Adapter for iPhone

Monster iSoniTalk for iPhone

Monster recently released this new iPhone-specific accessory, and a good friend of mine who works in the electronics wholesale business obtained one for me at CES since he knows how much I love gadgets in general and my iPhone (thanks Bob!). This is an accessory that will allow you to use any pair of headphones to make calls with the iPhone, as well as listen to music. Since it includes a microphone and control button to allow you to accept calls and hang up, as well as to pause and skip tracks while listening to music, you can use any old pair of headphones you have lying around. At $20, this could be less expensive for you if you already have a good pair of headphones that aren ‘t iPhone-compatible instead of buying a new pair.

Since getting my iPhone, I’ve pretty much retired my Etymotic ER-6i earbuds since they won’t fit into the iPhone’s recessed headphone jack (and I’ve been unwilling to try to modify the Etymotic’s plug to make it fit, and trying a Belkin adapter negatively affected the sound quality), but I brought them out of their hiding place in my desk drawer to test with this accessory.

Monster iSoniTalk4

The iSoniTalk plugs directly into the iPhone’s jack with no problems, as advertised. You then plug your headphones into the iSoniTalk just above where it plugs into the iPhone. The iSoniTalk’s cord is about 32 inches long and ends in a microphone/control button/clip combination. Then there are small clips along the length of the cord so you can attach the cord of your headset to it so that they stay together, more or less. You place the microphone/control button/clip as close to your mouth as possible on your clothing – this is key so the microphone picks up your voice as much as possible for phone calls.

Monster iSoniTalk3

Sound quality

To get a feel for whether or not the iSoniTalk affects the sound quality, I listened to music using my Etymotics both with and without the iSoniTalk. Note that I tried this using my 1st generation iPod Nano since the Etymotics won’t fit into the recessed jack on my iPhone. I listened to a sampling of various songs to hear any differences by music genre.

I ‘m happy to report that I couldn ‘t detect any difference in sound quality at all between using my Etymotic earbuds with or without the iSoniTalk. I was expecting some muting or some other effect, but there was nothing. To my non-audiophile ears, Monster did a great job ensuring you can enjoy your favorite headphones exactly as they were meant to sound.

Monster iSoniTalk5

Microphone quality

As previously described, the iSoniTalk’s microphone is on the clip/control button mechanism and the instructions describe that it should be placed as close to your mouth as possible to get the best results (these kinds of instructions always make me wonder if there are people out there who would attach the microphone to their shoe and expect to get good results). To hear how it sounds, I’ve left a few voicemails for myself using the K7.net messaging service and attached the resulting audio files here for you to hear.

This first message was left using the iPhone with its built-in microphone only without any wired or wireless headset. You ‘ll hear that it ‘s clear with no distortion or background noise interference.

iPhone Only

The second file was left using the OEM earbuds that came with my iPhone. I’ve noted in a previous review that these sound much less distinct than I ever expected – listening to myself through these messages is always an eye-opener, and I don’t use my OEM buds for calls at all any more and prefer to use my V-Moda Vibe Duo headset.

OEM Headphones

This third file was made using the iSoniTalk with my Etymotics. You ‘ll hear that I come through fairly clearly, more so than with the OEM earbuds. There seems to be some volume modulation throughout the message, and you can hear the background music more than with the iPhone ‘s built-in microphone or the microphone on the OEM earbuds. I think these would be good to use in a fairly quiet environment from the way they pick up other sounds, but not so good if you ‘re in an area where there ‘s a lot of noise around you.

Monster iSoniTalk

Using the iSoniTalk

One thing I noticed right off the bat is that it is a bit cumbersome to set this up. When I say cumbersome, it’s not terrible, but definitely more to keep in order than just a regular headset that plugs directly into the iPhone. The cord on my ER-6i headset is flat and does not stay in the cord clips along the length of the iSoniTalk cord, so I frequently have two cords to manage separately and they get in the way of moving around as I use my iPhone during my commute. And since the Etymotic’s jack connector is angled, it sticks out a bit where it connects to the iSoniTalk. If you have headphones with a straight connector, this won’t be an issue for you, but if it’s angled, it will not be a very streamlined connection.

Monster iSoniTalk6

The control button works exactly as expected (just like the clicker on the OEM headphones). You ‘ll see in the pictures that the adapter that plugs into the iPhone is fairly bulky. Not only does this make it a little more awkward to use, particularly if you keep your iPhone in a pocket or in your bag while you listen to music, but I worry about any damage to the iPhone that could be caused if it gets jerked abruptly. I could just be paranoid, but I worry less if it ‘s just a pair of headphones plugged directly into the iPhone.

Monster iSoniTalk2


Overall, this set-up isn’t bad. If you have a pair of headphones that you absolutely LOVE and are dying to use with your iPhone, then this will work well for you. Or if you tend to use your iPhone mostly while stationary at your desk where having 2 cords to manage won’t be bothersome, this should work well for you also. But if you tend to use your iPhone while moving around and you must have higher-quality headphones than the OEM set that comes with the iPhone, I think you’re better off investing in an iPhone-compatible headset alone (like the V-Moda Vibe Duo, the Etymotic hf2, or the Ultimate Ears Super.Fi).

The Monster iSoniTalk Headphone Adapter for iPhone goes for $19.95, and is available at:

Monster iSoniTalk product page

** Macgirl is an occasional contributor here at JAiB, and also runs her own excellent site offering ‘The musings of a geeky girl ‘ – Macgirl.net.

Continue reading:


  • Fun Bobby

    I am in exactly the same position. I had Etymotic ear buds before I got my iPhone and now they are useless. Instead of finding this adapter though, I saw that Etymotic has put out some new ear buds with a built in mic, specifically for the iPhone, (same style plug as OEM ear buds). So I put my name down on their waiting list, (they are sold out right now). I can’t wait for them to come in. In the meantime, I use the OEM equipment.

  • I am tempted to get those as well – I like my V-Moda’s, but they don’t offer the same sound quality as Etymotic. Let me know how those work for you when you get them – I’d love to hear how they work out for you!

  • dekaykim

    I guess the reason why they suggest to put the microphone close to mouth is because people might try to use it as a portion of a handsfree kit for cars. People do not want to bother to find the microphone while they drive. Instead, they want the microphone seat on a static position (i.e. top of the dashboard) in the car and receive the voice at the distance that is not as much close as the manufacturer suggests.

    Anybody tested the distance within which the microphone works well?

  • Pingback: The Great iPhone Headphone Hunt - Trigger Finger()