It was interesting to see how SOL REPUBLIC began and developed up close and personal during a very pleasant interview with Scott Hix, CEO during his recent promotional trip to Toronto. I was very impressed with the SOL story, this coincident with the phenomenal growth in personal and computer audio.
SOL REPUBLIC knows how to market to young ones with very cool-looking headphones that are reasonably priced. The designers of the range wanted to accommodate audiophiles and folks with a little more scratch by introducing the more expensive and luxurious SOL REPUBLIC Tracks Ultra on ear headphones (Tracks). It was this model I listened to at length in my home.
No headphone amps or special tricks for this review. The Tracks was plugged directly into any one of my Apple devices. I’m sure a top notch headphone amp would embellish the Tracks but I wanted a real world experience. Besides, I don’t own one!
The Tracks are very well-built, extremely comfortable and look very cool. Like Monster’s Beats, Ludacris’ new headphones and not forgetting Fifty Cents worth, they look ‘street’ but the SOLs have a little more style. Audiophiles can wear them without pants low and baseball cap reversed. Yo!
To be serious about the sound, they fill the niche between cheaper Skull Candy kit and the very expensive second generation Monster Beats (which are much better than the hideous first gens). Like many headphones, even the most expensive, you’re inside your head for the duration and tricking the senses into realistic space and depth. As heard on the Ultras, musical registers are true and separate, but a little rolled off on top and bottom. Some headphones etch the treble into your cranium or boost the bass so you sound like a walking Honda in Compton. Not here. I think the designers heard the buzz about the plethora of rap-tuned headphones and wanted to eschew that nonsense. They succeeded. Classical music sounded natural and jazz recordings intimate. An afternoon of Alternative also yielded musical results.
The Tracks features SOL REPUBLIC’s ‘V12 Sound Engine’ compared to the cheaper models’ ‘V10 Engine’. I’ve listened to the other SOL models and they replicate the Ultras’ sound style — smooth and refined — but with less detail.
If you want even more detail and range, you’ll have to go Grado headphones or the like and pay a lot more. The Ultras are tuned like Bowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile Hi-Fi Headphones, gentle on the ear — refined both in sound and comfort. The Ultras certainly are competitive at $180. For $20 more you can give the B&W P3s a ride. And, from experience on a recent plane ride to Denver, the B&Ws may be a better choice for realistic soundstage and, surprisingly, given the B&W open design topology, sound cancellation.
SOL’s Tracks Ultra headphones feature SonicSoft™ speaker pads with noise isolation (the Rolls Royce of earpads — on ear, not over ear), a virtually indestructible FlexTech™ Sound Track headband (I can attest to this!), uses an Apple-friendly three-button remote and microphone, and is neatly wrapped in a neoprene carrying case. Recommended.
SOL REPUBLIC Tracks Ultra On-Ear Headphones
Manufactured by SOL REPUBLIC
9375 SW Commerce Circle, Suite 9
Wilsonville, Oregon, 97070
Source: Manufacturer loan
Purchase at affiliate.