Price (RRP): $199.95
Manufacturer: Sol Republic
What a great set of ideas: earbuds without wires between them; a case which recharges them; a case, indeed, which at a pinch can be used to recharge your phone. That’s the Sol Republic Amps Air Earbuds.
I’ve largely given away the major details already in the intro, but let’s drill in a bit. Available in copper and black, aquamarine or electric blue, what you wear are two small earbuds with no wires joining the two. These each have three slightly recessed gold-plated contacts through which they’re charged in their carry case. Silicon tips are provided for a comfortable, ear-conforming fit. In fact, there are four different sizes provided. That’s all the more important for units like these in which there is greater weight in the earpieces than usual.
Not that there’s all that much of that. Each weighs between 5 and 6 grams according to my trusty – but limited to one gram of resolution – scales.
When not in use you keep them in their case, which looks like a metal box but is probably metallised plastic. This is a solid feeling thing which weighs, without the earbuds, 119 grams. Its lid snaps satisfyingly open and closed and a switch in its mechanism briefly lights up to four tiny indicator LEDs on its face each time it’s closed. These indicate the level of charge within the built in rechargeable battery. There’s also a movement sensor so they also light up if the case is picked up or shaken.
This has a capacity of 2200mAh and can be charged via the Micro-B USB socket on the side, and used to charge phones and so on via the standard USB socket next to that. But of course, it’s primarily intended to charge the Amp Air earbuds. Fully charged, they are said to last three hours and there’s enough charge in the case to refill them fifteen times. That makes for a total of some 45 hours of operation all up (so long as you don’t use the case to charge your phone instead, of course).
A short USB to Micro USB adaptor cable is provided. This can be used to charge up the case, or to charge up many Android phones from the case.
In addition to playing music, they provide hands-free telephone functionality and can work with Siri and Google Now (and presumably Google Assistant as it’s rolled out).
The Amps Air earbuds provided for review were what I described earlier as “copper and black”, but their official name is “Jet Black & Rose Gold”.
Apart from run time, Sol Republic hasn’t published any specifications on things like volume level or frequency response.
The interior of the case has two sculpted bays for holding the earbuds. As you place them in, they snap into place, pulled by a magnetic field. Their LEDs light red as their contacts connect with those in the bays. Despite the magnets, they are easy enough to pull out.
You will want to work out which bud is left and which is right. For quite a while I didn’t think you could tell them apart, so I used an audio track I made years ago identifying the two channels. And then I carefully kept them the right way around. But just before embarking on writing the review, I had an extremely close look and, yes, it turns out that they are marked “L” and “R”, in close to invisible ridges on the enclosures, with a seam running through the middle of them. You’ll see a photo nearby showing these markings and it’s discomforting to note that they read very clearly in the photo. That’s what I get when I use a high quality digital camera and a fine macro lens. I insist, nevertheless, that to the naked eye they are unclear.