Wireless headphones have become increasingly in vogue, thanks (or not) to Apple’s iPhone 7, which famously ditched the industry-standard headphone jack.
However, there’s also something to be said for them as a favoured piece of tech for the fitness set, which is exactly where Sol Republic is pitching its $200 Amps Air wireless earbuds.
There are no cords or clips: just pure Bluetooth-powered wireless between the left and right earbuds and back to your smartphone.
Going the distance
The inbuilt battery is good for three hours – more than enough to get you through your daily exercise routine, even if that’s a long run.
When you’re done, the buds drop into a compact hardshell carry case with a reassuring magnetic snap.
This case doubles as a 2200mAh battery charger, so there’s enough juice to recharge the earbuds some 15 times – at a pinch it can also bring your smartphone’s battery back from zero to hero via the standard USB port.
Each earpiece is wrapped in a sweat-resistant matte black rubber coating to help with in-ear grip.
A built-in microphone handles phone calls, while a multi-tap button integrated into the exposed surface (available in your choice of black or rose gold) controls music playback, phone calls and even activates Siri and Google Assistant.
The microphone isn’t stellar but will suffice for urgent calls and “I’ll ring you back later” responses.
Note that the music control has no volume adjustment or track-skipping: the Amps Airs are simply about starting and pausing your workout playlist.
But what about the fit?
One key difference to Apple’s own wireless AirPods is that instead of fitting some of the electronics into a ‘stem’ which dangles from your ear, Sol opted to cram all the tech into the buds themselves.
This makes them noticeably larger, and while that design certainly makes for a snug fit I found the sheer bulk and weight of them uncomfortable when jammed into my ear canal.
To their credit the Amps Airs never once fell out during a workout or run, although I didn't exactly feel confident enough to forget about the chance of that happening.
Beaut for bass
Sound quality is where the Amps Airs excel, and it’s probably the best way to justify their $200 price tag?
Few earbuds can deliver solid bass response but the Amps Airs pack it in big, rich and round, thundering away like a subwoofer parked next to your eardrum if you really push it, and without distortion.
It extends upwards to wide sculpted mid-range and crisp sharps, although the soundscape is less spectacular for broader musical styles which reply less on the doof-doof – the response curve is really made for bass, which dominates most workout tracks.
If you’re looking for total freedom for your workouts and runs, give the Amps Airs a try: but don’t be shy about returning them for a refund if their size and fit isn’t compatible with your ears.