Travel Product Review: Sol Republic Tracks Air Wireless Headphones

I have a confession to make: I’m not an audiophile. I use the same earbuds that came with my iPhone, I lost my one pair of noise cancelling headphones that I used to travel with, and I’ve never owned a set of headphones that needed a manual. But when Sol Republic contacted me about reviewing their new headphones one thing was very appealing to me — wireless! How great to be able to listen to music, podcasts, or even take conference calls with wireless headphones and not have to worry about ripping out the wire or getting tangled up in the cord when flying, working, running, cooking, etc. Plus that fact that my neck issues aren’t helped by taking conference calls on my cell phone, I thought wireless headphones that could also work as a Bluetooth headset for my phone would help provide some relief.

But since some of you might have a more discerning ear when it comes to sound quality, and because two opinions are better than one, I decided to enlist my husband for help in writing this review. As a guy that has just spent months researching what TV, tuner, and speakers we should buy for our family room, he is more than qualified to contribute on anything audio related.

Sol Republic Tracks Air wireless headphones review

Tracks Air Review: Her Opinion

Let’s start with what I really liked. First off, as I mentioned, these headphones are wireless, so no getting cords tangled, no getting unplugged, no one more set of wires to carry around when you travel. Next, and this is a little thing but nice, I like how when you turn the headphones on, they tell you how long of a charge you have remaining. Not some hard to understand LED or battery scale, but a voice that says “More than seven hours of play time.” I like that. I don’t need to guess how long that 60% of battery will last or what 2 dots of light mean…I know exactly how long I’m good for.

I also like that Tracks Air are noise-isolating headphones. So that means they aren’t noise cancelling, to block out all the noise on a crowded airplane or train, but it helps. And frankly, since I’m usually traveling with my daughter, I don’t really want headphones that are completely noise-cancelling because then I wouldn’t be able to hear her when she calls me or talks to me, I just need something to help cut down the background noise. Besides, I found that wearing them while cooking, I still needed to take them off to hear exactly what she was saying so they do a fairly good job of isolating background noise.

The Tracks Air paired very easily with my iPhone and if you have a second device, it can pair with that too. This allows you to potentially watch a video on your iPad and listen with your headphones but then also switch over to take a call from your phone.

The headphones themselves were fairly comfortable. They fit on ear, versus over-the-ear, so if you have larger ears they might be uncomfortable. For me, the padded earpieces were quite comfortable but after an hour of wearing them, I started to feel the pressure on my ears. Of course, I’m only used to ear buds so it could be something that I’d adjust to or is similar with all on-ear headphones.

I like that they are very easy to adjust with a band that the earpieces slide up and down to match anyone’s head. You can even buy different color headbands to match your style (or outfit!) The headphones stay on the head very well, without sliding around or slipping off while you are moving around. The thing I didn’t like about the fit was the extra piece of the headband that stuck out below the ear pieces. Since I have a small head, there was quite a bit of hard plastic band left below my ears. It didn’t rub against my skin but it did brush against my clothing as I moved and I found that distracting.

Another downside is that they are fairly bulky. I guess many headphones of this type are also, but as a frequent family traveler that needs to fit the snacks, clothing, and activities of not just me, but me and my daughter into a carry on bag, I don’t have room for bulky headphones. It would be great if they could fold up and fit into a nice case to protect them, instead of just the light bag that came with them.

As for the audio quality — to me it sounded fine. Maybe not the full, robust sound I might expect from a $199 pair of headphones but I’ve never tried on any Bose, Beats, or similarly priced headphones for comparison sake. For my simple ears the sound was fine and the wireless aspect was the ace selling feature. But I’ll let my husband the audiophile weigh in…

Sol Republic Tracks Air wireless headphones review

Tracks Air Review: His Opinion

I’m not sure I’d call myself an “audiophile” (I don’t have an $8000 McIntosh amp or B&W 802 speakers), but I do like to think I’m very discerning in my taste when it comes to sound quality.

So let me start by saying that I wouldn’t consider the Sol Tracks Air the choice for someone looking for studio quality sound reproduction. That being said, there are NO headphones in the Tracks price range that would pass muster for an true audiophile anyway, so you can’t really knock them for that.

I did put them through the paces with a series of different musical styles…from Mozart’s Symphony #25, a few tracks from Aerosmith’s Honkin’ on Bobo album, Pat Metheny, Steely Dan, Lyle Lovett and Guru’s Jazzmatazz Vol. 1. I have to say that I was pretty happy with the overall performance as just a headphone. The Tracks do a pretty good job with the highs and don’t feel quite as bass-heavy like Beats tend to. The only real negative is that I felt the soundstage to be a little narrow.

I would say that depending on the type of music that you typically listen to will really impact how happy you are with the sonic quality of the headphones. If it’s a lot of pop music, rock or rap, you’ll probably be pretty happy with the sound, especially in this price range. If your tastes lean toward Jazz and Classical, not so much.

But there’s a bunch of other things to like and not like about these headphones that might impact your purchase decision.

  • Wireless: As Tamara mentioned, what’s great about these headphones is the lack of cords. With most music being played off of smartphones, and continued improvement in Bluetooth wireless technology, the Tracks wireless capability is terrific for when you’re at the gym, walking about town or commuting on the train. Pairing was pretty painless, though not perfectly straightforward as I had to refer to the manual (though perhaps that was in part because my phone was the 2nd device paired to the headphones — which in itself is a great feature.)
  • On-Ear Design: Grooaaan. I’ve had both on-ear, over-the-ear and in-ear headphones and by far the on-ear is my least favorite. For short bursts of time it can be OK, but for long periods of time of listening, I find them particularly uncomfortable. The padding on the Tracks is OK. Maybe it’s because I wear glasses and the on-ear design pushes them against the temples of my glasses. Either way, for me it’s a non-starter.
  • Style and Portability: the modern style of the band looks cool in the abstract, but having it on your head tells a very different story. Even with my giant head, the ends of the band protruded down a little too far and was uncomfortable. I could kind of feel and hear it touching/rubbing on my sweater. Also with the hard band design, it’s not possible to fold it up into a small package which as a heavy traveler would be important for me. And lastly, the “sack” that they provided to store the headphones in while you travel is not very useful.
  • Noise Isolating v. Noise Canceling: I know that Tamara already covered this, so I’ll be brief. If you fly a lot you probably want to buy actual noise cancelling headphones full stop. But otherwise, I have to say that I was very impressed by the level of noise isolation provided by the Tracks.

Overall, I think that the Tracks pack a lot of features for $199. I think they compare very favorably with others in its price range and frankly with other costing $100+ more. Just do what you should always do before buying them: listen to them and see how comfortable they feel before laying out the cash.

Plus, SOL REPUBLIC also offers a 100 day guarantee on any Tracks Air wireless headphones purchased on or after October 15, 2014 directly from SOL REPUBLIC via the official Web Site at www.solrepublic.com. Tracks Air headphones must be returned within 100 days following purchase to be eligible for a refund.

Note: I was provided with a free pair of Sol Republic Tracks Air Wireless headphones for purposes of review. This did not influence my review or opinion expressed above. Thanks Glenn for helping with the review!

14 Comments on “Travel Product Review: Sol Republic Tracks Air Wireless Headphones

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  1. These look amazing! I’ve been wanting new head phones. The earbuds that came with my iPhone hurt my ears – I don’t know how people (you included!) still wear them.

      My husband hates ear buds too but I don’t know, they work ok for me. These really block out other sound to make the listening clearer though.

    This is a fantastic review, I liked getting two perspectives. I’m good with any kind, as well – but my oldest son and husband could probably be called audiophiles. I will keep these in mind…not sure I’d spend that much money on them (we burn through headphones at a ridiculous rate – even expensive ones). Thanks!

    What a great comparison between the two of you! I’ve never had over the ear headphones, but I wonder if I would like those better than these on ear headphones.

    And with all of that description, I’d say he is an audiophile!

    I also like that you gave two people’s perspectives and provided honest details…no product is perfect, so it is good to know what you liked and didn’t like about them. They seem like the perfect headphones for me because I would never spend more than $200 on headphones, but I like that they are wireless (I hate fooling with wires while on my walks/runs!), and that they are noise isolating.

      Thanks Jenna! The wireless feature was what I really liked too.

    i’m not an audiophile either. my husband definitely is since he does music and has dealt with different sound production. the only thing i probably could contribute is knowing how comfortable they fit! haha

    Kind of love that you provided a comparison review between your opinions and your husband’s. Well-balanced and better yet, straightforward. Those are the best kinds of reviews in my book. Nicely done.

    Having two opinions on these headphones is great. The point about the packability is really important, especially as I plan my packing needs for the end of the month.

    I am not an audiophile but my husband is so he has the big (I think bulky) headphones. I have an old pair of Denon earbuds I use all the time. I really like the wireless and noise-canceling features on the Sol Republic headphones – but what I would really love is earbuds that are wireless and noise-cancelling!

      I tried the Bose that are ear buds and noise canceling and the noise canceling is only about as good as these with noise isolation. Still progress.

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