SOL Republic Headphones Review

SOL Republic Headphones Review

Provides: Audio reproduction and iDevice control
Developer: SOL Republic
Minimum Requirements: Audio device with 1/8” stereo minijack
Price: $99.99
Availability: Now

At IPMRadio, we’ve suggested numerous times that you upgrade beyond the horrible headphones that came with your iDevice. Trouble is, we’re often recommending headphones that cost $200 and up. That’s not always a viable option, so I was happy to discover you can get the audio improvement you need out of SOL Republic’s $100 Tracks headphones without sacrificing the functionality of iDevice control.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Tracks is that they look more like a hair band fashion accessory than a set headphones, especially considering they’re available in black, red and white.

SOL Republic Wireless HeadphonesGuys, don’t let these put you off…there’s nothing “girlie” about the sound, or even about the band itself. It’s exceptionally durable, making a good option if you’re always shoving them into a book bag or suitcase. That’s important, because if you’re replacing earbuds with them, you’re going to need to account for the extra storage space that over-the-ear headphones requires.

The Tracks are also notable for the fact that the cans can be removed from the band itself, so you can actually swap out the band to match your outfit, or whatever. In addition, the cable that connects to the cans is removable. If something should go wrong the cable, you can just get a new one instead of buying a new set of headphones. Most users will never take advantage of this, but it’s good to know the option is there. The only drawback to it is that you’ll have wires hanging from both ears, which isn’t usually needed with over-the-ear headphones.

Or if you want to get rid of the cords entirely, there’s always the SOL REPUBLIC 1430-00 Tracks Air Wireless On-Ear Headphones that connect to your devises wirelessly using Bluetooth. The Tracks Air Bluetooth headphones are just as well built and practically the same exact pair, they just don’t have wires.

You can grab additional color headbands. Also, The Sound Engines are interchangeable (hence, the detachable cord). Both the HD Sound Engines and the colored headbands are available in retail outlets.

Apple and Android users will get additional functionality out of the speaker cable controls, with iOS users able to control volume and track selection. The center button for taking calls and pausing music rises well above the volume/track buttons, allowing for easy control without seeking it out. A microphone is also included, but because of the positioning, I found I had to hold it close to my mouth to get good voice reproduction.


But all of this so far is just bonus material. What matters with headphones are comfort and sound quality, and SOL Republic delivers more in both aspects than you’d expect from $100 headphones. The cushions sit directly on your ears, and are fairly comfortable while muffling external noises. A pad at the top of the band rests comfortably on your head, as well. The cushions aren’t as soft you’d expect by looking at them, but the Tracks are still comfortable to wear for prolonged listening sessions.

The audio reproduction is solid, if not spectacular. The Tracks do a good job of picking up the detail you’re losing with Apple’s earbuds, and the mix is fairly well balanced. But at times, the music can sound a bit harsh; clinical, perhaps. They’re fine for rock music, games and movies, but I didn’t like them for classical music, where they gave the feel of a performance in a hall not tuned for symphonic sound. There was also some distortion when the volume is cranked up, but that was well past the level of hearing safety, anyway. You should have no need to turn these up that loudly.

The SOL Republic Tracks, at $100, are a great option for iDevice and Mac audio. You won’t be exercising in these, of course, but they work well for long commutes, flights, or working at your desk. If you want to spend $30 more, you can upgrade to the Tracks HD, which offer the V10 High-Definition Sound Engine vs. the Tracks’ V8 Sound Engine. But there’s something satisfying about keep the price down to two digits, and the sound is good enough here to keep you happy beyond your next iDevice upgrade.

AfterShokz Review

AfterShokz Review

AfterShokz Sportz Bone Conduction Headphones

What if I were to tell you that some of my favorite headphones in recent memory sound okay at best, and offer nary an ounce of noise cancellation or isolation? And that you should definitely buy them nonetheless, especially if you exercise outdoors? I don’t have to be a mind reader to sense you reaching for the X at the top right of the page, but stick with me for a minute. Because with AfterShokz Bone Conduction Headphones, pure audiophile-caliber sound quality isn’t the point, and sound isolation — one of the factors integral to so many headphone designs — is completely contrary to the point.

Relying on a much improved version of the same bone conduction sound transmission technology designed for military special ops communication (where clear communication is crucial, but environmental sound is also helpful when, you know, avoiding bullets and such), AfterShokz transmit sound into your noggin without going in, over, or around your ears. (And also without requiring any telepathy at all).

Since the Aftershokz rest on your jawbone in front of your ears, your eardrums are mostly removed from the listening equation. (I say “mostly,” because while virtually all of the bass and midrange bypass your normal auditory chain of command, some high frequency sounds do take the short path through the air from your jaw to your ear, but not as much as you’d think at first listen.)


What’s that sound like? Not as weird as you’d think. And not as bad as my introductory hook may have indicated. Sitting in my quiet office at home, granted, they don’t sound anything like my favorite Paradigm Shift e3m or HiFiMan HE-400s. Throw in something like Björk’s “Army of Me” or the Black Keys’ “Howling for You,” and the sound that reaches your brain is probably best described as a significant step up from AM radio, but a step down from FM. And any appreciable amount of bass quite frankly tickles until you get used to it.

Need to find the best wireless earbuds instead?

Honestly, though? None of that really matters. It isn’t until you strap on the AfterShokz (AfterShokzes?) and go for a jog or a brisk walk that you really start to appreciate their performance. Not that the sound magically transforms or anything, but suddenly you’re listening to really solidly decent sound, while still hearing the world around you unimpeded. Who knew birds actually lived in my neighborhood? And you know that swish-swish-swish sound you usually get while exercising while wearing headphones? There’s none of that. None of it at all.

For that matter, there’s no fussing with placement. In the month or so that I’ve been seriously working out while wearing the AfterShokz, I haven’t found myself repositioning them once. Because even if they slip a little, as long as they’re touching your jaw, the sound is conducted with crystal clarity. And as much as bass-heavy tunes sort of draw attention to the unique frequency response of the AfterShokz, I’ve found that podcasts — even ones that rely really heavily on stereophony and inventive sound design, like RadioLab — sound surprisingly good.

Again, though, judging the AfterShokz for their sound quality — even when it’s really good — kind of feels like critiquing the engine growl of a Tesla Roadster. In fact, the one time I’ve forgotten to charge the AfterShokz before a jog (yes, you do have to charge them via USB; that old idiom about “getting through your thick skull” has never been used to indicate an effortless task), I found myself less enthused about the superior fidelity of the earbuds I brought along and more annoyed by the constant fiddling with them and the swish-swish-swish I had forgotten about and the loss of natural environmental sounds I had gotten used to.


I can’t say that AfterShokz have saved my life or anything (given that I tend to look both ways before crossing the street, and, at least in my suburban Alabama neighborhood, trucks tend to mostly stay off the sidewalk), but if you live in more bustling areas, that’s something to consider, too. And even if they’re not protecting your tuckus, they’re protecting your eardrums, no matter how hard you crank them. There’s a lot to be said for that, even if you’re not the sporty type.

They’re also incredibly comfortable. I’ve never liked behind-the-noggin, neckband-style headphones. Never in the history of ever. But these are incredibly comfortable, and despite initial concerns, they fit my Wookiee-sized head just as well as they do the smaller cranium of my sidekick.

The one sole, single, solitary complaint I have about the AfterShokz is that the cord is a little too short for my Wookiee stature. But hey, that’s what 3.5mm extension cables are for, right? The cord is pretty much the perfect length for regular human-sized humans. The next time I’ll opt for the Bluetooth cordless set. They only cost a bit more, but are totally worth it. They come with Bluetooth v4.1 connectivity and since they’re bone conducting they’re a kind of bluetooth hearing protection headphones.

And honestly, it’s a very minor quibble. It’s heartening to see at least one manufacturer offering a truly unique headphone in a market flooded by me-too products, most of which are sourced from the same handful of OEMs. At this price point, they’re a no-brainer. (Oh, yeah, did I mention how ridiculously inexpensive they are? Less than sixty clams! Or ten bucks more for an upgrade model with an in-line mic.)

No doubt, we’ll see a number of AfterShokz me-toos down the road, given how well these work and the void in the marketplace they fill. If you’re looking for a solid listening experience without all of the downsides and discomfort that come with putting a headphone in, on, or around your ear — or, heck, if you have a disability or eardrum damage that makes wearing regular headphones impractical, impossible, or ineffective — there isn’t much else on the market quite like them, especially at anything approaching this level of value. If you want to try out a pair now, Amazon has the Sport model for $59, and the Mobile model for $69. The AfterShokz website should also be stocking them again sometime in March, if you’d prefer to buy direct.

Beats Pro Review

Beats Pro Review

Beats by Dr. Dre from Monster Beats Pro Review

Provides: Studio grade headphones
Developer: Monster
Minimum Requirements: audio source
Price: $399.95
Availability: Now

How do you improve an amazing set of headphones like the Beats by Dr. Dre from Monster Beats Studios? It’s a tough job, but Monster has outdone themselves in all the ways I hoped they would with a new model. The Beats by Dr. Dre from Monster Beats Pros are reference headphones that drop the noise cancellation of the Beats Studios and replace it with top notch noise isolation. They’re built like a pair of $400 headphones should be: to last. With an almost entirely metal construction, these aren’t headphones you’ll be replacing. In fact, you’re going to have a hard time ever taking them off once you first give them a listen.

Before we get to the Siren like qualities of the Beats by Dr. Dre from Monster Beats Pros, let’s talk about some of the preliminary details.  These are over the ear, DJ style headphones.  The ear cups are huge and very comfortable.  The included cable is detachable (and therefore replaceable), is approximately 1.8 meters (thanks to a short coil), has a 1/4” to 1/8” converter to support both common audio connections and a special tip to ensure proper coupling with the connector.  Just insert the tip into either can and twist.  The short coil on one side of the cable is helpful when you start to get a little too far away from whatever is providing your audio.

There are no playback controls on the cable, but honestly, that’s not that surprising.  I do wish Monster had more cable options for this model like the Studios though.  Instead, you do get an extra feature, relating to the cable.  You can daisy chain numerous Beats Pros since there’s an input/output connection on each can.  If you’re in a studio environment, this could be helpful to amplify your normal hearing, or even if you just want to listen to the same audio source with friends.  This also gives you the option of which side of your head you’d like to have the cable on.

Beats by Dr. Dre from Monster Beats StudiosThe Beats Pros come in any color, just as long as that color is either black or white.  Inside the box, you’ll find some standard reading materials, a cleaning cloth and bag for transportation.  This is an interesting choice, since the Beats Studios come with a hard shell case that’s clearly more protective than the bag included here.  That said, the Beats Studios are made of plastic, not metal, like the Pros.  So maybe they don’t need to be protected as much.

The Beats Pros were designed to reproduce audio as it was intended to be heard, like studio monitors covering your ears.  Put simply, they nailed it.  It doesn’t matter what style of music you like, the Pros sound as good as your source material.  Unlike the Beats Studios, the Beats Pros do not have noise cancellation. Why? To more accurately reproduce source material.

Despite this being a logical reduction in features, it’s actually one of the best improvements of the Beats Pro.  Instead of noise cancellation, which oftentimes introduces a background hiss, the Pros isolate you from the outside sound.  They do it incredibly well thanks to washable high density foam ear cups.  Even without any audio playing, Beats Pros reduce ambient noise to a minimum.  You’ll still be able to hear tapping and louder noises, but only just.  It’s like turning the volume knob on the world down from 10 to 2.  Audio at even modest levels is enough to almost drown out the outside world completely.  This allows you to listen to your music at appropriate and safe levels since the headphones aren’t competing with much of anything other than your thoughts.  And since there’s no noise cancellation, you won’t have to worry about batteries whatsoever.  They may, however, make you want to re-encode all of your music at a higher quality.  They may make you go from zero to audiophile in five seconds flat.

The Beats Pro are quickly becoming the standard for sound studios, and it’s easy to hear why.  The detail that you’ll be able to discern through the Pros is remarkable and you most certainly don’t need to be an audiophile to notice it.  One of my favorite albums to test headphones out with is Love by The Beatles because of its dynamics, varying styles, excellent use of stereo and much more.  This album hits nearly every target available, so it’s a perfect first test.  It’s hard to exactly put into words just how well the Beats Pro handle this album, and honestly everything I’ve been able to pump through them.

I’ve said the following about Beats Studio, but it’s even more true about Beats Pro.  If you close your eyes, it’s easy to imagine that you’re listening to an artist in the studio as they lay down the track for the first time.  You’ll be able to pick out sounds, instruments and details that you never noticed before, even on songs you’ve heard hundreds of times.  These headphones provide an amazing experience, which is exactly what they should do every time you listen to your favorite songs. It’s like watching a movie on Blu Ray after watching it on DVD several times. Yes, you’re experiencing the same thing, but there’s so much more to appreciate.

The Beats Pros were designed to reproduce your source audio as accurately as possible, but that doesn’t mean you can’t feel the noise.  You don’t just hear the music, you feel it.  Bass reproduction is incredible for a set of headphones that aren’t enhancing the experience with anything other than extremely high quality parts.  Bass can easily be felt, again, even at modest volume levels.  This just goes to show you that you don’t need enhanced bass, you need headphones or speakers that can handle audio the way it really is.  I tend to trust audio engineers since they should know what they’re doing with an artist’s source audio better than I.  So I don’t like to apply equalizer settings to music ever.  It’s very satisfying to listen to music as intended without less than stellar headphones diluting the experience.  So, so very satisfying.

The only way I can imagine these headphones getting any better is by possibly making them lighter, if that’s even possible.  The Beats Pros are built like shiny futuristic tanks.  Nearly everything is metal or other durable materials.  Instead of hinges that fold, Monster chose to make the ear cups rotate.  I imagine this will last longer than a regular hinge.  It serves two purpose: you can flip up one ear cup to hear what’s going on outside (useful if you’re a DJ or the like) and to conserve space for more easy transport in the included bag (like hinges).  Everything that actually touches your head is made out of a relatively soft material, inside of which is washable foam.  This stuff not only sits on your ears comfortably, it’s the reason you can’t hear anything outside of the headphones.  Like I said, they’re made to last, so they need to be cleanable.  Monster definitely has all the bases covered here.

For now, it doesn’t get any better than this.  The Beats by Dr. Dre from Monster Beats Pros are hands down the best headphones that I’ve ever had the pleasure of testing yet.  They reproduce audio as accurately as is possible, which I believe to be extremely important.  It’s hard to say that a pair of headphones is actually worth $450, until you’ve heard these at least. But even if they are worth $450, which I think they are, that doesn’t mean you care enough to spend that kind of cash. And that’s fair. That’s the reason Monster doesn’t make just one model of headphones. Everyone has different needs.

If you want to listen to audio the way artists intended for it to be heard, this is how you can do it.  That’s something you can’t always say about a live concert.  For the price of five or so concerts, you could have a studio-like experience any time you want.  You’ll find yourself making time to listen to the Beats Pros.  Go ahead, schedule a meeting.  They’re that good.

Jaybird – Freedom F5

Jaybird – Freedom F5 Review

Our Jaybird Freedom F5 Review – How Good Are They REALLY?

Listening to music has been a habit of many people. But earphones with wires are a nuisance as the wires keep getting tangled. Sweat eventually wrecks them, and the investment is no longer worth anything. Thankfully with the Jaybird’s there is a better alternative.

You should go for high-end quality wireless earphones like the Freedom F5 In-Ear Wireless Headphones by Jaybird. These have several excellent features. These headphones are wireless and convenient to use. And I mean really convenient, like you can wear them in the rain, running, whatever and wherever.

Comfortable fit along with premium audio quality

These earphones are a very secure fit. Once they settle inside the ears, they do not pop out unless you take them off. These silicon fitting earbuds look sleek and are constructed with great precision.

The metal parts and overall design are ideal, and they are meant to stay in its place. The sound quality is top-notch with a deep base which is always one of the ways I rate a pair of headphones.

The surrounding noises are canceled so that you have a fun musical commute. The ultra-modern design gives a rugged yet elegant look.


One of the best things about these earphones is that they are water-resistant. This is an outstanding quality because in summers when one sweats a lot, many gadgets are prone to damage. With this feature no matter how much you sweat, your earphones will not get affected.


  • Comfortable metal buds
  • Crystal clear sound quality
  • Secure silicon fit
  • Water-resistant
  • Featuring MySound app
  • 8 hours of battery life
  • Easy charging
  • Can connect to two Bluetooth devices at once
  • Allows call receiving
  • Clip charger that charges the earphones on the go
  • Can pair with the smartwatch as well


These Jaybird Freedom earphones have many fantastic features. The best feature is that the MySound app allows you to customize your songs as per your wishes for any music downloads. You can also save these changes for listening to later. Additionally, it can connect to two Bluetooth devices at once and that too with stable connectivity.

These earphones get quickly charged as well. Only a 20-minute charging gives an hour of nonstop music. Although I don’t really like the clip charging system they choose to use. It may be a personal feeling, but it’s one of the things I am not impressed with.


The only drawback mentioned regarding these earphones is that the clip charging is not convenient. The battery is so small that if it falls somewhere, it is sure to get lost. Once this mode of charging of the earphones is gone, there is no other way to recharge the earphones.

Customers’ Reviews and Conclusion

The majority of the reviewers have all praises for these Jaybird earphones. They have mentioned how extraordinarily excellent the audio quality is. The earphones are small in size, and once you get around knowing how to wear them, they are a very secure fit.

The clip charging has been mentioned as a demerit by some people. However, if proper care is taken, that would not be a problem at all. So, overall the pros outweigh the cons, and these earphones are worth a buy as they have a horde of high-end features.


Logitech G430 Surround Sound Gaming Headset Review

The Logitech G430 Surround Sound Gaming Headset provides outstanding Dolby 7.1 surround sound that will provide you with a completely immersive gaming experience. They feature swivel earcups, noise cancelling boom mic and a full-speed USB adapter to easily connect the headset to your PC or PS4. The in-line controls will allow you to adjust your headset levels on the fly quickly and easily.

Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound

The Dolby 7.1 surround sound will give you a completely immersive 360 degree sound experience that will allow you to hear everything you can’t see. Why settle for boring 2 channel headphones that won’t allow you to hear what’s coming up behind you? With this headset you will have the most realistic experience possible in any game you play.

Plug and Play USB Interface

You won’t need a fancy sound card to support these 7.1 channel headphones. The USB adapter that is included will allow you to get your new headset up and running fast. This headset is compatible with Windows 7, Windows 8 and even Playstation 4. No matter what gaming system you are using you can quickly attach this headset and get a full immersive experience immediately.

Features and Specifications

  • Dolby 7.1 surround sound: Experience an immersive 360-degree soundfield that lets you hear what you can’t see
  • Built for comfort: Lightweight design and soft sport cloth earcups with 90-degree swivel for maximum comfort and a personalized fit
  • Folding, noise-cancelling boom mic: Reduces background noise for clear voice pick up and rotates up and out of the way
  • On-cable sound controls: Volume dial and mute switch are close at hand for quick audio adjustments
  • Compatibility: Works with PS4 and Windows 8, Windows 7 or Windows Vista computers
Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 9 x 4.3 inches ; 1.4 pounds
Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds

Customer Reviews

Right now, the Logitech G430 Surround Sound Gaming Headset has over 1,300 customer reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars. 55% of all customers gave these headphones 5 out of 5 stars, pretty impressive stuff. Check out the reviews in the link below to see why people love this headset so much.


The Logitech G430 Surround Sound Gaming Headset provides sound quality similar to headsets that cost 2-3 times as much. A headset with 360 degree 7.1 surround sound will give you a competitive advantage in games as it will allow you to hear what direction sounds are coming from which isn’t possible with traditional headphones.

The only downside is using the noise cancelling boom mic in a noisy environment, although I did throw in the review that outlines the fix above. I would definitely recommend this headset to any gamer that wants a great value.