Sol Republic Shadow Wireless review: Sweet-sounding in-ear Bluetooth headphones at a reasonable price

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The Good The Shadow Wireless has a flexible neckband design that's designed to fit the contour of neck and is comfortable to wear. It's water-resistant, sounds good for a Bluetooth headphones, and is affordable at at $100.

The Bad Has elements of a wireless sports headphone but isn't really a sports headphone (the ear tips don't fit securely enough to be used for running). Battery life is decent (8 hours) but not as good as LG Tone Infinims.

The Bottom Line The Sol Republic Shadow Wireless headphones deliver solid Bluetooth sound for a reasonable price.

7.8 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Sound 8
  • Value 7

LG made the around-the-neck design popular with its line of Tone Bluetooth headphones; now Sol Republic says it's improved the design with its Shadow Wireless, which it calls the first in-ear wireless headphone to feature a NASA-inspired "biomorphic" design.

At launch, the headphone comes two colors -- the black you see pictured and a "rich" gray -- and costs $100 or pretty much exactly what a wireless headphone of this caliber should cost.

The Sol Republic Shadow Wireless lists for $100.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Shadow Wireless is water-resistant and you can use it at the gym, but it's not a being marketed as a sports headphone and I wouldn't try to run with it because the earpieces will probably slip out. While I can't tell you exactly how durable this headphone is and how it'll hold up over time, it does seem sturdier than the majority of LG's Tone headphones and I found it comfortable to wear.

The earbuds fit well (you get a few different size ear tips) and the bendable nature of the collar conforms nicely to the contour of your neck, which is I guess what Sol Republic means by biomorphic design. With this type of in-ear headphone, it's important to get a tight seal because you lose a lot of bass if you don't (and one of the appeals of this headphone is that it does offer a lot of bass).

I spent some time comparing this model to the LG Tone Infinim HBS-900 , which I liked a lot and carries a street price of around $125 and sometimes less. In terms of design, it's hard to declare a clear winner. Both are designed to worn around all day and make you forget you're wearing them when you're not using them. That said, there are things I like about the Sol Republic and things I like about the LG Tone Infinim.

The Infinim has retractable earbuds, which is a pretty nifty feature. That means that when you're not using the headphones you don't have to leave the earbuds dangling down like you do with the Sol Republics. It's unclear how durable the retraction mechanism is -- and the Infinim's cords are thin -- but I liked the feature a lot.

It's hard to say which headphone is more comfortable to wear. They're both good. I did have a slight preference for the Sol Republic when I was wearing a T-shirt (no collar) because I think the flexible nature of the band and its softer, more rubberized plastic can end up feeling better against your skin than the more rigid, hard plastic of the LG. But it's not a big difference either way.

As far as the button layout goes, I'd give a slight edge to LG, which has more buttons, including a dedicated on/off button and pause/play button, but they are clearly labeled and easy to operate by feel. While there's nothing wrong with the Sol Republic's buttons, the headphone has a uniform shape and is all one color, so it's sometimes hard to tell right from left and top from bottom. The best way to do that is to make sure the subdued Sol Republic logo on the left side is right-side up.

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