In-ear headphones are a peculiar bunch – some aren’t comfortable to wear, some don’t deliver great audio, and some are just wildly overpriced. The Sol Republic Amps Air thankfully don’t feature any of these downfalls, and are actually quite good at what they do. Not to say that they’re completely perfect, but they come pretty close.
Build Quality & Design
The Amps Air look like a pair of cufflinks when you first open them up. Nestled snugly in a clamshell case, they are always fully charged up and ready to go, thanks to the 2,200mAh battery built into the case itself. The buds can be used together for normal stereo listening, or just on their own for mono use such as when you want to make a phone call. They come in three colors and have four different ear tip sizes included. There’s no ear hook or any protruding bits to make them fit in your ear – they’re small enough that as soon as they’re inserted, they stay put. They’re also sweat and rain resistant, and has special grooves built in to keep them firmly in place and avoid sweat buildup. The Amps Air is ridiculously easy to use – either take one or both out of the case, and they’ll be ready for pairing to your Bluetooth device.
There’s only one button on each earbud, which lets you pause music, answer a call, or activate Siri/Google Now. That’s right – you can’t actually navigate your music or control music volume without whipping out your device, which is a terrible design decision.
Despite their small size, the Amps Air provides a wonderful listening experience. Audio quality is really clean, and they were able to handle a variety of audio tracks with ease. An acoustic guitar track was rendered beautifully, with every strum being felt in the song. Bass-heavy tracks were fairly decent as swell, while vocals performed the strongest with no muddling on high notes. It’s strange that something so small performs so well, so you won’t hear me complaining about the audio quality.
What I will complain about however, is the microphone – it’s almost impossible to have a proper phone conversation using the Amps Air, unless you’re in a closed room away from any kind of noise. Even then, callers complained that my voice was echoing or faint at times, and trying to talk while walking around a mall or down the street was really difficult. The other thing to complain about is the short battery life – three hours is all you can squeeze out of these before they have to return to the carry case for recharging. In hindsight, the case can recharge them a total of fifteen times, so that’s around forty-five hours of listening time in total. But these aren’t designed for use on a long-haul flight, so for quick gym sessions or the odd listening during your lunch break, these are perfect.
The Sol Republic AMPS Air are a joy to listen with, but they’re let down by a few poor design decisions and an average battery life. At AED 699 they’re priced right, but the fact that you can’t navigate through your music with them is a sore pill to swallow.