Sol Republic is a new headphone company whose roots lie in a product you're all well familiar with: Beats by Dre. But unlike those $US400, bass-happy cans, the Tracks headphones only cost $US100.
Why It Matters
When it comes to headphones that aren't earbuds, Sol Republic thinks up until now you had two options: Buy a relatively crappy pair for somewhere around $US50-$US75, or shell out at least $US200 for a decent pair. At $US100 Sol Republic has positioned their Tracks headphones firmly between those two classes.
This is a product primarily geared towards people who will listen to rock/pop/hip-hop on their phones and laptops and iPods, and aren't obsessively concerned with an ultra-realistic representation of sound. That's not to say that the sound quality of these should be dismissed; the clarity of the Tracks headphones is wholly respectable. It's not always quite as warm and full as a more expensive pair of headphones, but they tend to pick up many of the same details in the mids and highs nonetheless. The bass isn't as comically amped up as Beats, but the Tracks are hardly going for a flat sound signature either. On average, basslines sound pretty nice, with a warm resonance. But when the volume is turned up and the kickdrum hits especially hard in a song, the bass can get a little punchy. On average, I'd say the sound is on the bright side, and which will make things sound a bit more vivid than they were originally recorded.
There's a whole other aspect to these headphones that have nothing to do with sound or price: the headband. It's what makes your headphones fit comfortably and properly. This headband is virtually indestructible. Made of a killer polymer, you can pretty much twist, bend, squeeze and contort the headband however you want and it will remain unfazed. It took bending the headband in the opposite direction at a very extreme angle to make the headband appear ever so slightly malformed. Moral of the story: good luck trying to destroy this thing without the aid of an effective cutting tool.
The design is mostly on point. The geometric and sharp-edged look of the headphones and headband makes the Tracks striking, especially with the matte headband (which I prefer over the glossy look). The headphone cables are easily detachable and replaceable, which means that if you have a short in the wire, or remote malfunction, you're not totally screwed. The sliding track design of the headband makes finding the proper fit your head super easy.
Making the branding elements a little less obnoxious would have been nice, but it's not the end of the world. The quality of sound starts to degrade a bit when hitting the upper end of the volume spectrum, producing distortions. Because of the modular design of the headphones, both cans have to be connected to the audio cable, which isn't quite as nice as a single cable running from your ear to your pocket.
For the price, this is a very good pair of headphones. Audiophiles will probably look elsewhere, but this isn't for them. It's for the person who hates the tinny sound of their white iPod earbuds, but can't quite justify dropping $US200 and would find the difference in quality to be insignificant anyways. Or maybe you just want a pair of headphones that sound good, but won't break your heart if they're lost or stolen or broken.