If you watched any of the swimming events during this summers Olympics, you probably saw Michael Phelps strolling around wearing some unusual looking over-ear headphones – apparently a different pair for each major event. Those headphones are made by Sol Republic ( http://www.solrepublic.com ) and are pretty unique.
Certainly Michael put Sol Republic on the map. I figured that Michael could have any headphones in the world if he wanted them, so I had to give them a try. I’m a music lover and a pretty critical listener – so I ordered a pair of V8’s and V10’s; two of three available models.
Here is my bottom line on the Sol Republic headphones:
1. Mechanically they seem well built and very interesting in that parts can be swapped, upgraded and replaced easily. All models have a microphone built into the cord so you can take calls, dictate, etc. The mic seems to work well.
2. Listening, the V8 version sounds good, but not great. They have limited bass and treble response and are generally unimpressive. For $99 you can do better!
3. The V10 version in some ways sounds better than the V8 and in some ways worse. They have an extended bass and treble range, but are muddy sounding and struggle with really low bass. Also, any movement while you are listening (like the headphone cable rubbing on your shirt or something touching the headphone cans) is disturbingly audible in your listening session. The V10’s are more comfortable to wear than the V8’s. Again, you can do better for $129
4. Sol Republic has just released a V12 model. I have not had a chance to listen to them, but early reports suggest the problem with muddy audio continues. About $179
Bottom line: Music is about emotion. Between the can resonance and noise, muddy sound and sound-stage, and mixed frequency response, it’s hard to let the emotion of music reach you with these ‘phones. I have several sets of headphones, including a disposable $32 pair I bought for travel at MonoPrice.Com. Even the MonoPrice headphones, in my opinion, sound better than those I’ve tried from Sol Republic. They have better frequency response, a clear, wide soundstage, etc. I’m not suggesting you buy $32 headphones, but I’d pass on Sol Republic, unless you are just dying to look like Michael Phelps. Good luck with that.
I will give Sol Republic this – their headphones do sound better than those little white buds that come from Apple – OK, that’s not much.
You might want to know that Michael has been auctioning the headphones he wore during the Olymipics via EBay for the benefit of charity. Good idea!