Sol Republic Jax in-ear headphones review: They look cheap but sound good

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.2
  • Design: 6.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Sound quality: 7.0
  • Value: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Sol Republic Jax in-ear headphones deliver good sound for a relatively modest price. They also fit comfortably and have a tangle-resistant flat cord, and there's an Apple-friendly inline remote with microphone for making cell phone calls.

The Bad The Jax's simple, plastic design looks cheap.

The Bottom Line The $40 Sol Republic Jax in-ear headphones have the look of a bargain pair but sound as good as some headphones that cost twice as much.

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It used to be that to get a really decent-sounding set of earphones, you had to spend $75 or more. But these days, more and more in-ear headphones in the $20-to-$40 range -- and sometimes even lower -- sound surprisingly good.

Sol Republic's $39.99 Jax in-ear headphones fall into this category, offering strong bass along with good clarity in a lightweight pair of earphones that are comfortable to wear and come equipped with an inline remote and microphone.

The only downside to the Jax earphones is that they look -- and feel -- like they should cost $20. Not that they're unattractive, but the very simple plastic design has got a bit of a Fisher-Price kid's toy vibe to it.

Design and features
So there's no getting around it: these earphones look cheap. The tangle-resistant flat cord is good but the driver's housing comes across as very plasticky. Also, the build quality of the inline remote doesn't inspire a tremendous amount of confidence.

The driver housing has a simple, plastic design. Sarah Tew/CNET

The upside is that both the housing and remote are very lightweight, and I found the earphones comfortable to wear. They come with four different-size pairs of silicone eartips and the second-to-largest size -- the default -- offered a tight seal, which is essential to maximizing bass response.

The Jax headphones are Apple-certified, so the inline remote features won't fully work with many other smartphones, but the microphone should. It's worth mentioning that the remote/microphone combo is a little lower on the cord -- and thus, farther away from your mouth -- than usual. I didn't think those few inches made a meaningful difference, but some people may feel it's a little low. Of course, a lot of people end up raising the microphone closer to their mouth regardless of where the microphone is placed.

The flat cord is tangle-resistant. Sarah Tew/CNET

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Where to Buy See all prices

Sol Republic Jax (White/Black)

Part Number: 1111-31 Released: Mar 20, 2013
Low Price: $33.12 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Mar 20, 2013
  • Color black
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Additional Features answer/end/play/pause/next track button
    flat cable
    i2 Sound Engine
  • Type headset
  • Headphones Form Factor in-ear
  • Connector Type mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm 4-pole