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Customer Review

14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal Comfort/Disappointing Sound Quality, July 21, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: SOL REPUBLIC 1601-30 Master Tracks Over-Ear Headphones - Gunmetal (Electronics)
I purchased the Sol Republic Master Tracks (SRMT) after having used their Tracks HD V10 headphones. I was hoping that with the around the ear design, the comfort issues of the Tracks HD would be less and I'd be getting the great sound of the Tracks HD. Unfortunately for me, the SRMT is one for two.

The Good

*Modular design - just like the Tracks HD, all of the elements of SRMT are separate pieces and can quickly be customized or replaced. The headband and cables can be quickly substituted with a minimum of fuss.

*Comfort - Without question, the SRMT are probably one of the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn. To start, the entire headphone is very light for a full around the ear design. The padding on the headband and speakers is a soft, plush memory foam style cushion covered in very soft charcoal grey leatherette. There is also a bit of articulation with the speakers so that you can achieve a comfortable fit, unlike the Tracks HD which are very rigid and press heavily against the ear.

Due to its light weight and incredibly comfortable padding, the SRMT is one of the few headphones I've encountered that you can actually forget you are wearing. The only other full-size around the ear headphones I've every encountered that with are the Bose AE2, an equally light and comfortable set of headphones. Sol Republic hit one out of the park, creating a phenomenally comfortable set of headphones that can be worn for hours at a stretch without the need to constantly re-adjust.

The Bad

*Sound - Following the trend of "Celebrity Headphones" like the Beats, Soul, and Sony MDR-X10 to name a few, the SRMT has a very prominent bass sound. The bass is very forward and accentuated, to the expense of the mid-range and treble sounds which are very laid back and muddy. There is no clarity in the sound of the mid-range and treble. The bass is so prominent, it drowns out vocals. The effect is like listening to a band and having the drummer perform right in front of you while the rest of the band and the vocals are 15 feet behind the drummer.

While this might be acceptable for certain genres of music like Dance, Hip Hop or Rap, for other genres of music it just sounds terrible. Classical music sounds distorted with the SRMT due to the accentuated bass drowning out brighter instruments like violins or trumpets and causing them to sound distant and muddy. Vocal performances lack a certain presence or immediacy because the headphones are tuned for bass. Adele's "Skyfall" takes on strange quality with the SRMT with her voice being pushed to the background while a booming bass is heard. Pop songs like Maroon 5's "Moves like Jagger" become all bass, with very little of the vocal content that can be heard clearly.

Using the SRMT with a Smartphone, iPod/iPad or other digital player is disappointing due to the sound. Using my iPhone, this was the first time I've ever had to use the equalizer setting "Bass Reducer" to listen to music and even then the sound was still muddy and distant. Using the SRMT on a PC/Mac can allow them to sound a bit better via using more robust equalizer settings like in iTunes or other players that can allow you to cut the bass and boost the mid-range and treble to restore some of the clarity. Even with substantial equalizer adjustments, the sound of the SRMT can best be described as dark. The mid-range and treble sounds lack a clarity or brightness that you would expect. There remains a certain muffled quality that I personally did not like.

The Wrap-up

I can't say that I understand who these headphone target audience would be based on the sound quality. Visually, the SRMT are a very attractive set of headphones. The comfort is outstanding. But from a listener perspective, I guess if you are looking for deep bass response at the cost of a muddy sound middle and top end, the SRMT's are for you. If you are looking for a quality around the ear or on-ear set of headphones for a wide range of music, there are so many better options in the price range of the SRMT like headphones from Sennheiser, Sony, Grado, Skull Candy and others that sound so much better than the Master Tracks.

I would have rated the SRMT 1 star but I added an additional star for the amazing comfort. Sound-wise, these are a fail on so many levels.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 9, 2014 5:54:33 PM PDT
do you have a set of cans to recommend?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 11, 2014 10:00:08 PM PDT
Personally, in the $200 category, I would look at the Audio Technica M-50 or Sennheiser 598. If portability and use with a Smartphone is what you are looking for, the Sennheiser HD-25 is an excellent set of headphones with outstanding sound.

In reply to an earlier post on May 23, 2014 7:29:40 PM PDT
Milli74 says:
Defenatly Audio Technica M-50 right now they are (red ) on Amazon for $118 can't beat the sound or quality otherwise these ones I have last years Ultras also very comfortable and very good sound wise headphones
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