While the market is flooded with new headphone companies, SOL Republic has a pedigree that deserves some attention. SOL stands for "Soundtrack of Life." The company is headed up by Kevin Lee, the son of Noel Lee. As many of you know, Noel Lee is the founder of Monster Cable. Kevin has worked at Monster Cable for years, learning not only about audio gear, but also about recordings through his involvement with Monster Cable's music releases.
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SOL Republic has recently launched a line of headphones and earphones. The headphones consist of the Tracks and Tracks HD. The earphone line consists of Amps and the Amps HD. The Tracks reviewed here retail for $99 and the up-line HD model goes for an extra $30. The HD model has upgraded "V10 Sound Engines," while the base model has V8s.
The Tracks are billed as the first interchangeable headphones, which allow the user to modify both the aesthetics and sound. The Tracks feature a sleek and modern design, with a pair of "V8 Sound Engines" mounted on a flexible headband. The sealed sound engines are round and of the on-ear variety, akin to a Grado-type design, as opposed to the Sennheiser-type over-ear style. They are finished in an attractive gloss black with a stylized "SOL" logo across them. The cable is removable and features a microphone and a three-button control set for smart phones and iPods. All of these components can be swapped out. The headphones come in black, red or white, and numerous custom colors and designs are available as well. The headband is a piece of flat matte black plastic, bent into a horseshoe shape, with padding on the inside at the apex of the curve. The headband itself seems to be nearly indestructible and the design allows the sound engines to be slid off in order to swap out headbands, sound engines (from the Tracks HD) or even to do something as mundane as cleaning them.
The sound engines are relatively small with a low profile, and are round in shape. The ear pads are substantial and provided me with a good seal, while retaining the overall low-profile aesthetic. The combination of a good ear pad seal with a closed-back sealed headphone allows the Tracks to be listened to privately, with only minimal sound escaping to be heard by those around you. The design of the headphones makes them light enough to allow for comfortable and extended listening sessions. Positioning the three-button control and microphone at the "Y" of the headphone cable makes it easy to find without taking my eyes off of whatever I am doing, and allows the microphone to work well enough to let those on the other side of the conversation hear me clearly.
Read about the high points and low points of the Tracks headphones on Page 2.