See, unlike on-ear and over-ear headphones, which can be altered to fit a Bluetooth chip, amplifier, and battery, earbuds have to be re-imagined in some way. The Phiaton BT 220 NC, for instance, go with a small pack you can clip to your shirt, while others, like the Plantronics BackBeat Go 2, require you to put up with over-sized buds protruding from your ears. Sol Republic, on the other hand, decided on the around-the-neck hardware approach for its first wireless ‘bud.
To be perfectly frank, we were put off by the Shadow’s design when we first saw them — the whole over-sized electronic necklace thing just didn’t look like it would be comfortable. But we would soon learn our imagination was misleading us. After we put the Shadow on one morning, we didn’t take them off for the rest of the day.
The Shadow offer approximately 8 hours of battery life ( +/- based on volume level), an integrated microphone and controls, lightning-fast Bluetooth pairing, sold wireless range, water resistance, and a comfortable fit. Sol Republic even offers a lifetime supply of eartips — if you ever run out, just request more. But perhaps the most pleasantly surprising aspect of these headphones is that they sound very good — far better than we’d expected for their $100 price.
Expect a healthy but respectful serving of bass — acoustic upright bass can sound a little plodding, but most tracks benefit from a pleasant dose of punch and plenty of tuneful resonance. Thankfully, the midrange remains un-congested by the slight boost to the bass, and comes in sounding natural and realistic — never nasal. The upper midrange and treble, however, might be our favorite part of the Shadow’s frequency response, as there’s plenty of texture and detail but no sibilance, hiss, or strident tendencies.
Check out our video above for a closer look the Shadow’s fit ‘n finish, and a few more details.
Available at: Best Buy