San Francisco - Another
new headphones manufacturer has entered the fray, this one introducing what
it's calling the first modular headphones.
SOL Republic (SOL stands for "Soundtrack of
Life") introduced on-ear and in-ear headphones on Tuesday. The company was
founded by CEO Kevin Lee, formerly marketing and product development VP of
Monster; president and COO Scott Hix, a CE veteran; and Seth Combs, chief
marketing officer, who has also worked as online marketing manager with Monster.
Lee and Combs said down
with TWICE a few weeks ago to give a look at the new products and to detail the
company's establishment. Lee said he had realized it was time for him to leave
Monster, his father's company. "It [was] time for me to take everything I've
learned from the Monster experience and do my own thing."
Lee said he wanted to
figure out a way to connect with all of the kids who were buying very low-end
ear buds, or, even worse, still using the ear buds that came with their music
"How do I get those kids
to care about sound? How do I get them to be willing to spend a little bit more
money than $20 or $30 ... the minimum I wanted was good sound, good looks
starting at $100. Kids will do that if they emotionally connect with a product
or emotionally connect with a brand," Lee said.
"I believe the brand
isn't something you define on paper or put in a presentation. The brand is
really defined by the people and the culture in the company. To do that, we
needed to create a separate company [from Monster] that is completely focused
on music culture. Not just headphones. Music discovery. Content. Music experiences."
SOL's on-ear headphones,
known as Tracks, feature headbands, speakers and cables that can be mixed and
matched. The single-piece headbands have a proprietary design called FlexTech
that allows it to be bent in either direction without breaking, while the speakers
(known as "sound engines" by SOL) slide off the headband and the cables can
detach. All three parts come in a variety of colors.
The Tracks are designed
to be extremely light and have less clamping force, thus being more comfortable
than traditional on-ear models.
Two versions of the
Tracks are offered - the standard ($99.99) and the HD ($129) models - each offered in
three different colors. The standard are offered in black, white and red, while the HD are offered in black, gray and white.
The in-ear Amps ($59.99)
and Amps HD ($99.99) are designed to have a more sophisticated look than traditional youth
headphones by using color as an accent rather than a dominant design. They
feature the flat, tangle-free cable that Lee said he invented at Monster.
The HD versions of the
Tracks and Amps will have higher sound quality, he said, although he declined to
release driver information and frequency ranges, stating that they're not
relevant factors without disclosing other more relevant but immeasurable
Pricing wasn't given for
the HD versions of the headphones. All models will have a three-button mic
control for use with Apple devices. They're slated to be available at the end
of this month.