Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen more rappers and musicians than you could fit into a trendy London nightclub come up with their own branded headphones. They’re all out to grab some of that sweet treasure uncovered by the Beats by Dr. Dre range.
The Sol Republic Amps are indebted to that series in their looks, but they sensibly don’t sink any of their budget into celebrity endorsements. Although they’re too bassy to be considered accurate, they make good budget basshead earphones for £50.
The Sol Republic Amps earphones are larger than most. Their earpieces curve around, half-mimicking the curvature of your ear canal.
These are not earphones that rest lightly on the opening of your ears, they dig a way in. This will turn some of you off instantly, but does explain the odd design – only the outer ‘plates’ are visible once the things are rammed in your ears.
The Sol Republic Amps are all-plastic earphones, and although large they’re very light. Use the right tips and you should have no problems keeping them in your ears. As they’re non-ported earphones, they make a tight seal with your ear canals too.
The question of comfort is a tricky one, then. If you don’t like invasive earphones, you probably won’t get on with the Amps. To everyone else, they’re commendably comfortable – light and not prone to falling out.
Taking stylistic nods from the Beats headphones in the same vein as the JVC Xtra Bass earphones, the Amps are two-tone red and black. The cable is red, the earpieces and remote housing black.
It’s not an imaginative homage, but they’re eye-catching in a manner that’s not too offensive.
Sol Republic is not keen on revealing any technical details about the Amps. The most we could squeeze out of the company was that they use the ‘i4 sound engine’, which is – of course – little more than marketing spiel.
You can be sure that they use single dynamic drivers, like every other earphone in this class. It is perhaps slightly surprising, though, that the design is non-ported. Bass-heavy earphones tend to use an air vent to improve bass response.
The Sol Republic Amps have a slight bass over-emphasis that’s a deliberate tactic to fit in with other lifestyle-leaning headphones. In some music, this proves destructive, making strong bass lines dominate over the rest of arrangements – particularly with electronic music.
There is an unfortunate lack of low-end control that stops these from deserving consideration by real enthusiasts.
However, with less bass-heavy music they can sound very good at the price. The treble is reserved, with somewhat limited detail, but the Sol Republic Amps are rich, relaying rock music in particular in full bloom.
These earphones aren’t particularly analytical or probing, but they have a cohesive and warm signature that we imagine many will appreciate.
If you’re out for a lower-cost alternative to Beats earphones, the Sol Republic Amps are a good bet. They’re cheaper, while offering sound that can compete with the Beats range.
However, if you’re not wedded to the idea of bass-heavy earphones, we recommend checking out both the SoundMagic E10 and the less-bassy SoundMagic E30. The latter in particular offer better balance for less money.
The Sol Republic Amps are fun, rich-sounding earphones that are only significantly let down by the standard issue of style-oriented headphones – limited bass control is a problem with some music.