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SOL REPUBLIC Tracks and Tracks HD Headphones

If you’re thinking about upgrading from your standard dime a dozen earbuds, but don’t want a pair of headphones you have to treat with kid gloves while traveling, you’re going to want to get your hands (and ears) on a pair of SOL REPUBLICs. At a starting price of just south of $100 for the Sol Republic Tracks and $129 for their HD counterpart, SOLs are not cheap, but they are indestructible.

sol republic tracks headphones

Not sure you believe that? I wasn’t sure I did either, so I gave a pair each to my tween and teen sons. Yeah, ’nuff said. They stuffed their Sol Republic Tracks in their gym bags, packed them into duffels (then jumped on them to zip them closed), let their friends borrow them, and kept them in their school backpacks. They could do all this because Tracks use advanced polymer compound in their FlexTech headband. This means you can twist it or bend it, and it won’t break. Dropping it is ok, too, and even stepping on it. It’s not that I recommend doing any of these things, but you know, they happen.

The other great feature of Tracks is their interchangeability. Because each speaker slides onto the headband (and off), you can easily adjust the sizing and even exchange speakers with another Sol Republic owner. The cables are interchangeable too, and each come with a mic control and volume control button.

The SonicSoft speaker pads are soft on the ear, extra-wide, and form a secure enough seal that they do a good job blocking out outside noise. I also like that the interior side of the headband is padded where it touches your head. With each Tracks headphones, you also get a nice carrying case.

Tracks vs. HD Tracks:

So what’s the difference between the Sol Republic Tracks and the HD Tracks (besides $30)? Sound quality, though you certainly won’t be complaining with the cheaper Tracks model. The HD version boasts V10 DH sound engines for deeper bass and higher vocal clarity. The Tracks model sports V8. Both comes with a 1,000 day guarantee.

I won’t profess to know my way around stereo sound like I know my way around a backpack or bike, but I will say this: the first time I heard my favorite playlist courtesy of the Tracks speakers, my jaw dropped. I didn’t think it could sound better than that…until I changed out for the HD for a quick comparison. Yes, even better.

Which to buy:

Both models are virtually identical with two exceptions, one major and one minor. The major exception is the aforementioned sound quality of V8 vs V10. We didn’t mind the V8 at all while listening to music, but we watch a lot of DVDs and TV shows while traveling, using our iPad or iPods, and we did appreciate the HD sound for quieter dialogue. The minor: the HD version’s headphones are glossy, whereas the regular Tracks are matte. The HD’s speakers are metallic and the Tracks are black. In my opinion, for $30, the HD version is worth the splurge.

If you want to get an even higher-end version, check out SOL REPUBLIC’s full offerings.

Pick up Tracks or Tracks HD at SOL REPUBLIC for $99 and $129 respectively. Tracks HD come in black, blue, red, purple, white, and grey, and Tracks come in red, white, and black. Find them for a few bucks less at Amazon.

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I-MEGO Walker Junior Noise-Canceling Headphones

This trendy-looking pair of headsets catches your eye immediately. Unlike other bulky headset pairs, this set is compact and features clever stitched patterns on the ear covers. It folds nicely into a mesh carrying bag that comes with it to stay together in a cluttered carry-on bag although be careful not to crush it if you overpack (ahem, like me sometimes).

The noise-reducing effect comes from the small microphones placed into each earpiece that pick up the ambient noise in the surrounding area creating a quieter effect. This is the case with all noise-canceling headphones, but this I-MEGO pair does an exceptional job minimizing the sound of loud conversations or gum popping often heard on planes, trains, and busses. Not even the most expensive pair of Bose headsets blocks out obnoxiously loud sounds. Most simply muffle or reduce noise to an acceptable level, and the Walker Juniors perform exceptionally well in that department.

Used independently, they are great, and when plugged into a device, the audio sound is not compromised. An excellent level of bass comes through without being too overbearing making it great for music and movies. The soft padding on the underside of the adjustable headband means that it sits comfortably on your head without moving too much or messing up your hair. It also performs well when sleeping on your side since the ear cups are also cushioned well although it does lift your head up a bit. Sometimes, if I fall asleep wearing headsets, I wake up because my ears hurt or they slip off entirely.

After traveling with these headsets on a whirlwind international trip that lasted three weeks, the battery continued to hold up well even after one flight when I forgot to turn the device off. And that was with the AAA battery that comes with your purchase.

They come in black giving them an edgy and hip appearance. I-Mego is known for its excellent audio quality and full line of high-end products. In this price range, there are few comparable, high-quality options. They are available at Amazon and the company’s website for $139.

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Able Planet True Fidelity SI350 and SI210 In-Ear Noise-Reducing Headphones

In my carry-on bag, there is often little remaining space for bulky noise reduction headphones meaning I am left to rely on the cheap pairs provided by airlines or nothing at all. While many people eschew the idea of splurging on headphones that only soften the inevitable noise that not even Bose can quiet, Able Planet comes to the rescue yet again with more headphones like the SI350 and SI210 pairs that are both affordable and functional in squashing surrounding sound. Able Planet has crated an interesting video that shows how Able Planet can even soften sound in the same or better way than a pair of Bose headphones!

SI350

Able Planet features its own LINX Audio sound quality system that preserves the original harmonics of sound and music while blocking out excess exterior noise. The soft ear cover makes it comfortable to wear even when trying to rest on one’s side or use while jogging. Able Planet has its own ComfortFit sound isolation tips that keep out exterior noise, and there are three differing sizes meant to meet differing individual ear’s shapes.

They weigh very little, which is of extreme importance to frequent international travelers who have been forced to weigh even their carry-on bags at check-in and boarding gates. This is the primary reason why I avoid carrying larger pairs of headphones on international trips because they both take up space and weight allotment.

A multi-function controller with microphone and play and pause features allows travelers to use these as a telephone device as well as noise-reducing headphones with play and pause technology. They also work for runners who want to work up a sweat since the wraparound earpiece keeps the moisture from sticking to the hardware. The earphones are compatible with iPhones, iPods, and other similar devices.

These fairly priced pairs cost less than $100 and are available at retailers like Amazon, Brookstone and Target making them some of the most affordable on the market.

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Phiaton Noise Canceling Earphones PS 20

While the headphones that come with the traditional iPhone are excellent for traveling, they lack the noise-blocking capability that you need when on a crowded plane or train. This pair of Phiaton’s PS 20 NC Earphones with “Noise Blocker” noise cancellation technology is the perfect combination of stylish headphones with sound integrity.
I typically do not prefer ear bud style headphones because they hurt the ear after a long period of use, but I found these to be more comfortable even if I were sleeping on my side in an airplane seat. There are no hard or sharp edges (often found on cheaper pairs), and the silicon tips fit snugly in the ear without falling out repeatedly.

Phiaton touts the sound quality of these headphones, which I found to be of very good quality whether listening to music or watching a movie. While they do not produce white noise like noise-cancellation headphones, they do an excellent job of muting the small sounds around you keeping you distraction-free.

In fact, I found them to be a better option to use on the plane because larger headsets are bulky and hard to sleep with in an airplane seat when leaning against the wall or sleeping on your side.

There are four different sizes of soft tips to keep them comfortable and in place no matter who is using them. It is also a great option for runners because the soft tip is less likely to fall out if you get sweaty. Style seekers will be happy to know they come in both black and white.

The EverPlay feature of these headphones keeps the sound capability functioning even if the battery runs out, which is ideal if on a long flight. It may not reduce the noise as much, but you can continue to use the headphones normally.

These headsets come in a stylish fabric case that you squeeze into a briefcase or travel bag easily. Compatible with everything from iPods and iPhones to personal DVD players and laptops, they make a great gift for road warriors. They are available at Phiaton’s website or on Amazon for $99-129.

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Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Headphones

Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling HeadphonesIs it possible to actually enjoy a flight? You sit so close to your fellow airplane seatmates that it seems nearly impossible to shift in that tiny chair without coming into contact with your closest neighbor. So how can you enjoy music or movies without hearing everyone within a five-row radius—let alone the roar of airplane engines?

Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Headphones reduce noise so you can actually focus on your in-air entertainment instead of the conversation next to you. The detachable audio cable doesn’t get tangled up nearly as much as earbud cables do, and the entire setup packs nicely into its carrying case, so you don’t have to remember where all the various parts are when you pack your carry-on.

To be honest, I wanted these to fail. The headphones are seriously expensive, and I was hoping they weren’t worth the money. But the noise-canceling attribute is impressive. It makes a long flight seem shorter, plus, the over-ear headphones are much more comfortable than earbuds.

Aside from the price, there’s a small downside: they require an AAA battery. Keep an extra or two in the case, because once you get used to the noise-canceling effect, you don’t want it to run out mid-flight. While I’ve been quite careful with mine, a friend has broken his—and now tries to use the headphones while they’re duct-taped together. Be tender with your pricy electronics.

The Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Headphones list for $299.95 on the Bose website. On Amazon, they’re priced at $299.

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