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 players.
"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 factors.
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.