To help wade through the seemingly countless options on the market, two Discovery colleagues share their insights on 20 new and relevant headphones. Taking on a pair at a time, Scott Tharler and Alice Truong will each evaluate how these contemporary cans match up in a dueling series called Headphones Heads Up.
Noel Lee (a.k.a. "Head Monster") is the driving entrepreneurial and engineering force behind Monster Products, their super successful Beats by Dre brand, and the new Inspiration line they launched this summer. His son, Kevin Lee, who had also worked intimately on Beats, set off to do his own thing by forming a new brand and separate company, Sol Republic. Although normally these two very differently priced and styled headphones wouldn’t be compared side-by-side, we couldn’t resist the familial tie-in of these recently released cans.
Physically, the one thing these headphones have in common is fairly superficial: The ability to swap different colored bands to match your mood/outfit. But they even do that differently. On the Inspiration, the changeable outer band is leather, magnetically held onto the main band and will be available next month in 10 colors at 25 bucks a pop. On the Tracks HD, the sturdy but flexible plastic band goes right through the headphones — or to put it another way, each can comes off the band, allowing you to swap in one of eight colors currently available at 30 bucks a pop.
Other than that, Monster Inspiration presents a truly inspired package. Its characteristic rectangular earpads with oval inner openings are sumptuously cushy and comfy, plus they fold up fairly compactly for their size, to fit into the handy caribinered black leather half moon case. They’ve got a great open, immersive sound, definitely heavy on the low end. I was somewhat surprised to be impressed with the audio from the Tracks HD, the mid-level model in Sol Republic’s on-ear Tracks line. They offer plenty of thump and have all-around great quality sound, although (just to force a comparison) aren’t as acoustically spacious as the Inspirations. If I had to choose just one, I’d go with the Inspiration; but Tracks HD (if you’re into the style) is right on track, as a solid value for what you get.
Credit: Alice Truong/Discovery
Scott Tharler writes about gadgets for Discovery News and covers travel tech for Fodor’s. Follow him on Twitter, gdgt and Google Plus. Alice Truong writes about tech and gadgets for Discovery Channel. Follow her on Twitter and Google Plus.
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