After too many miles of travel and too many good, hard hits, my old JVC headphones broke. Not too surprising – they’d traveled from New Zealand to Norway with me. With their demise, I was stuck in that limbo of indecision that comes from being under-equipped in audio gear knowledge. Then Sol Republic offered me a chance to review their Tracks Air headphones.
These Bluetooth-equipped headphones sounded like a good bet – no wires to tangle me up when I fly, a 100-day, money-back guarantee … Sol Republic seemed confident in their product, so I said “sure!”
First Look at the Tracks Air Headphones
And then they arrived in a classy looking box. This was my first time using anything via Bluetooth, and I worried it would give me problems. But four minutes after slicing the box open, the Pandora app on my Android phone piped some Tarot tracks into the Sol Republic headphones. I wandered all over the house, leaving the phone in my secluded, top-secret computer room – and the music kept coming until I walked outside. Impressive range! I also used my Amazon cloud player, and everything worked perfectly. Sound quality? I’m not an audiophile, just a guy who played guitar in a loud heavy metal band for a long time. And I can appreciate the difference between MP3 and WAV files in a second. With that out of the way, the Sol Republic Tracks Air sound quality pleased my ear.
I should also note that my wife – who usually doesn’t care about headphones – nearly conked me on the head to steal the Tracks Air headphones.
Second and Third Opinions on the Tracks Air Headphones
The next day, I took the Tracks Air headphones to work for a master’s evaluation. My work buddy, Alex, is a hardcore, trade show-attending, audio nerd. I turned the Tracks Air headphones over to him with no instructions manual and just said “This is the power button, this is the volume button – let me know what you think.”
Fifteen minutes later, he was at my desk with a few thoughts. First off, the Tracks Air headphones synced easily to his Windows phone. He called up a playlist he specifically uses for evaluating headphones, and here’s how Alex summed up the audio quality:
“This is better than Beats by Dr. Dre. I rate this 9 out of 10 chicken wings! I’d be happy to pay for these.”
He wouldn’t mind a touch more bass response … but only the barest amount. He also loved the Bluetooth feature.
“When you’re in the kitchen deep-frying up a bunch of chicken, you don’t want wires dipping into that,” he said (and yes, everything is all about food with him). “You think I’m joking?”
Another co-worker slipped them on, listened for a bit and then ordered a pair of Sol Republic headphones as a Christmas present for her boyfriend.
But hey, this is my review! I can’t wait to travel with these – they sound great, they’re easy to use and I love the idea of not being wrapped in a cord while in my airline seat. Here’s something else – it uses the same Type B micro USB plug as nearly every electronic item I own – Android phone, Kindle, Android phone, chargers … really, everything but my Pentax K-50 DSLR camera. This is huge for me. Using my phone’s Bluetooth doesn’t seem to drain the battery at an absurd rate. Speaking of battery life, charging the Tracks Air headphones via the USB cable gives a charge it says is good for 13 hours of listening.
The Tracks Air headphones also have controls on the right earpiece. There’s a power button, a volume button and a multi-function button. With these, you can so all the obvious stuff, plus skip songs and take phone calls. There are mics built into the headphones, which makes the phone calls easy to deal with. The buttons are large enough and placed well – even I didn’t get irritated at them (unlike the weird buttons and layout on my Sansa MP3 player). They also seem much more solid than my old JVC headphones – they don’t fold up, so the Tracks Air headphones take up a bit more space. For the fit and durability, though, that’s a fine trade-off.
If you’re thinking about new headphones, give the Tracks Air a shot. If you don’t like ‘em? Well, take advantage of the 100-day money-back guarantee and find other headphones that work for you. But I’m betting you’ll keep a hold of them.
Sol Republic provided the Tracks Air headphones or review. All opinions are the product are my own.