Review: Sol Republic Tracks Air wireless headphones

100% human

Moving over to some urban music, Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us” wouldn’t hold us down, with strong mids and bass as we walked, just like on Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” which was a little flatter on the bass, but just as prominent when the volume was turned up.

Over in the jazz world, Dave Brubeck’s “Maria” was bright and cheerful, the saxophone higher and more noticeable over the light drums, though it was very enveloping altogether. “So What” by Miles Davis performed just as well, as did Coltrane’s “Blue Train” with solid balance across the board, and we’d be happy to walk across town listening to jazz through these any day of the week.

Finally, in the instrumentals, it’s more of the same excellence, with a lovely balance in Claude Bolling’s “Baroque in Rhythm” and Thomas Newman’s “Define Dancing.”

There’s a fair amount of volume, too, with more than enough to work with for most people. On the Android phone that we were testing with — right now, it’s the LG G3 — the meter stayed at a little over half, with the headphones turned all the way up on the ear piece. That’s a choice, too, because with volume controls on both the phone and the headphone, you can control these pieces independently.

While the Tracks Air aren’t as warm as the most recent Beats 2.0 Solo headphones, they’re still quite balanced, with strong highs, decent mids, and booming lows.

That’s a good effort from a pair of wireless cans, and even though there’s no noise cancelling here, it’s a strong effort.

The battery is also decent from the wireless too, working for around 12 to 14 hours in our tests for playback, with a bit of phone call talking thrown in there for good measure. While that’s not quite as solid as the near 24 hour effort from what Monster and Nokia did together, that’s still solid altogether.

You don’t have to use wireless, either. If Bluetooth isn’t reliable for you — like it is on some recent smartphones — you can opt for the tethered option, that is the one that keeps you plugged into the smartphone or media player. For the Sol Tracks Air, that cable is a reasonably thick main cable with a microphone provided, connecting to each can by way of a separate cable for each.

This can, understandably, appear a little clunky, as the thin wire can be seen as dangle and cumbersome, especially for an otherwise fashionable headphone.

Not helping it is the requirement of 2.5mm jack connectors, which are used to connect the cable to each can. If this wire breaks, replacing it will likely be a matter of going back to Sol or picking a new pair of cans, because while it’s relatively easy to find one 3.5mm cable going to one 2.5mm jack, finding one 3.5mm jack going to two 2.5mm won’t be easy, so just be aware of that.

We also think the microphone placement on that cord is a touch too low, because when you wear the headphones with the cord, the microphone is closer to the middle of your chest, not your neck or mouth. That’s way too low, Sol.

Controlling the headset wirelessly can be a little cumbersome, though. Officially, there are two buttons and a rocker, but only one of these buttons does anything, and it does it based on how many times you press the button.

For instance, the top button just turns the headphones on, but the bottom button — Sol’s “multi-function” button — will pause and play tracks when pressed once, skip ahead when press twice in quick succession, and go backwards when pressed three times in quick succession, and we’re talking a quick succession, because half the time we tried, it didn’t happen, and the other half, it was fine. Train your fingers to work quickly, and you’ll be happy, otherwise just rely on that touchscreen phone in your pocket.

Picking up a phone call is also handled by that one button when you have one coming in, as is ending that same phone call, but there’s nothing to not take the call, and muting happens when you press both the volume up and down at once.

Then there’s the look, which isn’t bad at all, and as noted prior, can be changed thanks to the Tracks Remix headbands, if you can find them, that is.

But the Tracks Air also features Motorola branding, which is one of those things you might not want to carry with you. Now, you might be fine with everyone knowing you’re wearing both Motorola and Sol Republic, with their respective icons listed in different places all over the ear pads and headband, but not everyone will. It’s minor, really it is, but if you have an issue with it, these headphones won’t respect that issue, and we’re really surprised to see Motorola branding at all, even if the wireless tech was worked on with Motorola.

Our one last quibble is with the fit, which is odd, to say the least.

While most headphones have a little bit of flex and movement at the cups to shift to the position of where your ears are, the Tracks Air do not, and more or less assume that those little fleshy bits on the side of your head are found dead on to the side of your head.

That’s not how our ears work, however, and there’s always a slight amount of movement a cup need to have before it presses comfortably against the ear, which can’t be found on the Tracks Air due to the inflexible nature of how the Sol cups fit to the Tracks Air band.

We suspect this will be a problem in the other Tracks headphones as well, simply due to how they mount, and until Sol builds the slide-on band slot into a moveable cup, this will continue to be an issue.

Once they’re on your head, you will get used to them, that said, but it’s an unusual fit, and we suspect this lack of movement, this inflexibility, is keeping it like this.

Conclusion

Our first play with a pair from the Sol Republic, the Tracks Air are great little headphones with a curious little niched feature: changing over the headbands.

Given how many people are turning to headphones as an extension of fashion, Sol Republic might be onto something here, though since you need the specialised Tracks Air band to keep the wireless connectivity, we can’t see many people doing this.

That said, if you’re looking for a decent pair of wireless headphones with a long battery life, we’d check these out, but head to a store where you can try them on first, because the inflexible fit isn’t going to be for everyone.

Overall
Features
Value for money
Performance
Ease of Use
Design
Reader Rating0 Votes
Relatively balanced, though particularly bright sound; Wired or wireless; Replaceable headbands; Mic does a good job when dealing with phone calls; Strong battery catering to roughly 12 to 14 hours;
Cable relies on two wires -- one from each ear -- and is a little clunky; Cable relies on 2.5mm jacks; Cable's microphone is a touch too low and should be closer to the neck; Changing the pad position on the band is too tight and makes a squealing noise close to fingers on a chalk board; Fit is strange;
3.9