We test a lot of headphones here at CNET, and the good ones tend to set you back more than $100. But a new headphone company, Sol Republic, is hoping to change that with a line of headphones that deliver very good sound and durability for a more affordable price.
In case you're wondering what "sol" stands for, it has nothing to so with the sun but is an acronym for "soundtrack of life." The company's founders have a good pedigree in the headphone business, and co-founder and CEO Kevin Lee is the son of Monster Cable founder Noel Lee and is credited for driving the popular Beats by Dr. Dre line of headphones at Monster.
The new line consists of two flavors of Amps in-ear headphones and two flavors of Tracks on-ear headphones that feature "swappable headbands, speakers, and cables in various colors and designs." The Tracks also boast a proprietary new polymer called FlexTech, which the company says makes the headphones virtually indestructible.
The Amps, which have a built-in microphone for cell phone calls, start at $59.99, while the Tracks start at $99.99. (No prices were given for the "HD" versions of both headphones, but we'll update our post as soon as we get them).
We had a chance to try out the higher-end model of the Tracks very briefly and liked what we saw and heard. The customization option plays into Sol Republic's lifestyle-centric approach as well as the business-savvy strategy of encouraging folks to make post-purchase add-on buys of high-margin accessories.
From a marketing standpoint it is also interesting how Lee referred to the fully detachable earphones as "sound engines." As you can see from the picture above, those sound engines look like they can slide right off the headband (or wing, if you're willing to extend the metaphor)--and they can.
We look forward to trying out the new Sol Republic headphones and will post reviews in the coming weeks. The Amps and Tracks models are scheduled to be available in stores soon.