The Sol Republic Relays Sport Wireless is a pair of wireless earphones aimed at fitness enthusiasts, and has been in the market for several months now. It claims to deliver up to 8 hours of battery life, is IPX4 sweat resistant, and features Sol Republic's FreeFlex technology, which claims to offer a secure fit without the need for pesky ear-hooks.
This pair of earphones has an MRP of Rs. 4,990 but is available for less than Rs. 3,000 on e-commerce websites such as Amazon India. We have been testing it extensively for the past few weeks, and here is our detailed review.
The Relays Sport Wireless is secured to the cardboard box it comes in with four separate clips, which makes the unboxing experience rather tedious and convoluted. The retail box contains four sets of decent quality silicone tips, which allow for a fair amount of personal configuration. Foam tips and a case of any kind are absent, but that's excusable given the price of these earphones.
The cord that connects the two earpieces feels fragile, and no strain relief is provided where the ends of the wire meet the earbuds. Sol Republic's FreeFlex technology — a disc of rubber that sits around the end of each earpiece — helps achieve a secure fit without the need for ear-hooks. However, the rubber made contact with the flaps of cartilage just beside our ear canals, also known as the tragus. This made long listening sessions quite uncomfortable for us. That said, the earpieces won't stick out too far from your ears, and should be comfortable enough for short durations.
The buttons and electronic components are housed within two water-resistant modules that dangle from each earpiece. The one next to the right earpiece houses the Micro-USB port for charging, which is covered by a rubberised flap to protect against water ingress, a power button, a multi-function button used to activate Google Assistant (or Siri) and play/ pause music, as well as two volume buttons. The rubberised buttons are hard to press and have very shallow travel. Another module next to the left earpiece houses the battery. The symmetrical arrangement helps balance the weight of the earphones.
The Relays Sports Wireless is IPX4 sweat resistant, which along with the secure fit, makes it suitable for use while running and in the gym. However, the two modules next to the earbuds swing about while doing any intensive activity, which is sure to irritate some users.
Budget earphones usually have a V-shaped sound signature with boosted bass and treble, and repressed mids. With the Sol Republic Relays Sport, the bass though controlled, is present and it never overpowers the sound mix. Mids are expressive, prominent and crystal clear. Fans of vocal-heavy genres such as Blues would be well served by the Relays Sport Wireless.
The overall sound signature is clear and detailed with the highs, mids, and lows fairly balanced. The treble is crisp but tends to get rather harsh and bright. In fact, the very expressive high frequencies make listening to treble-heavy tracks like 21st Century Breakdown by Green Day and Neighbourhood #4 (Kettles) by Arcade Fire quite unpleasant.
That said, the clarity and detail is impressive for this price bracket, and every instrument can be heard distinctly. The soundstage is also quite wide and open. Thanks to to the company's Free Flex technology, noise isolation is also excellent. With earphones in this price range, we usually have to crank the volume way up to block out ambient noise, but the Relays Sport Wireless does a stellar job even at 50 percent volume.
A small LED on the right module blinks red when the earphones are low on power. iOS users can also check the battery level anytime via the batteries widget on the Today screen. Sol Republic promises eight hours on a single charge, which is achievable with music playing at moderate volume. Pump up the volume, though, and the battery life gets reduced to around 6.5 to 7 hours. A full charge takes an hour and a half, but a 10-minute charge can power the earphones for around 60 minutes.
The Sol Republic Relays Sports Wireless is a decent option for those who want affordable wireless earphones for running or use in the gym. The fit is extremely secure, mids are crystal clear, and bass is tight and controlled. Sweat resistance also adds to its appeal.
The harsh treble can be difficult to live with though, and the buttons are hard to press. These earphones are not suitable for use over long durations. The thin wire and lack of strain relief in the design also raises questions on long-term durability.
Potential buyers should take a look at the 1More iBFree Sport which also suffers from harsh treble reproduction but is better built and IPX6 certified. Those who do not care about a sports-centric design should take a look at the Sony WI-C300, which has a balanced sound signature and is extremely comfortable. Both the iBFree Sport and WI-C300 can be found online for Rs. 2,999.
Price: Rs. 2,990 (MOP)
Ratings (out of 5)