Sol Republic Jax in-ear headphones review:

They look cheap but sound good

Perhaps because I was underwhelmed with their cosmetics, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the earphones do indeed offer good clarity and lots of bass without sounding boomy. In their sound, they reminded me of the Moshi Mythro earphones, which retail for $30 and have a snazzier design, though no tangle-resistant flat cord. The V-Moda Remix Remote earphones also come to mind, though the V-Moda Remixes' design is certainly a step up and they deliver more bass.

The earphones come in a couple of different color options. Shown here, blue. Sarah Tew/CNET

You're not going to get the refinement (read: sparkle) that you get from significantly pricier earphones or the more neutral quality of something like the HiFiMan RE-400 in-ears. But I found that the Jax headphones sounded fairly open, and they were pleasant to listen to during my daily commute on the New York City subway. Aside from classical music, they should work well well with a variety of genres, and there's enough bass here to keep most bass lovers appeased. (Sol Republic's Tracks on-ear headphones really push the bass, but the Jaxes show some restraint.)

Close-up of the inline remote/microphone. Sarah Tew/CNET

As for using the earphones as headset, in quieter environments, callers said I sounded pretty good. However, outside in the streets of New York, with some ambient noise and wind, I did have some callers asking me to repeat myself, which, in turn, prompted me to pull the microphone closer to my face.

I'm encountering more and more modestly priced headphones that sound quite decent. The $40 Jax headphones sound as good as or better than some earphones that cost twice as much. They also fit comfortably for an in-ear model and have an inline remote/microphone for making cell phone calls.

Overall, I liked the Jax set, and it's probably the best headphone value Sol Republic currently offers as far as sound quality goes. I like the company's over-the-ear Master Tracks, but that model lists for $200.

The only downside here is the build quality. The earphones have an inexpensive look and feel to them, and at this juncture, I just can't tell you how well they'll hold up over time (I've used them on and off for a week). If they cost $25, I might pop their score up to 4 stars, but for now, I have them at 3.5 stars.

What you'll pay

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