At an event held at Stereo Electronics store located at Ion Orchard, Sol Republic launched their latest headphone offering. Sporting an on-ear design, the new product has been designed in collaboration with tokidoki. Tokidoki is a Japanese inspired lifestyle brand which is helmed by the Italian artist Simone Legno and has previously collaborated with the headphone brand Skull Candy.
Sol Republic is essentially introducing one product with two names. The white headphones are called the Sol Republic tokidoki while the black headphones are titled the Sol Republic TKDK. There are no differences besides the aesthetic disparity and the hardware on both versions is exactly the same.
With the popularity of headphones, audio manufacturers have been offering a large number of customization options for their products. In fact head honchos believe modularity and customization to be the future for headphones. The Sol Republic tokidoki and TKDK seem to also prescribe to the same opinion.
The ear-cups for the headphones can be pulled off the headband with a solid yank. This leaves you to be able to replace the headband according to your own fancy. Similarly, you can also upgrade the "V10 Sound Engine" (essentially the car-cups with drivers) that comes with the package to the higher level V12 (or the lower level V8). While we were unable to test out the V12 or the V8, experts from Stereo stated that the former comes with deeper, stronger bass while the V10 can be considered as delivering a more balanced audio.
Continuing the trend of customization, the wires of the new Sol Republic headphones can also be pulled and switched. A number of funky colored options are available from Sol Republic themselves. Optimized for use with Apple products, the headphones also feature a three button control pod and microphone combo.
The Sol Republic TKDK and Sol Republic tokidoki do not have any specifications listed on the box or on their official website. But they resemble the new Jabra Revo Corded headphones to a great degree. Both are on-ear headphones, have roughly the same sized ear-cups and cost in the same ball park. If we had to guess we would say the new Sol Republic headphones are equipped with drivers between 30mm and 40mm in size.
Having had a bit of hands-on time with the headphones at the launch event, we were able to form some quick impressions with regards to performance and sound quality. On Adele’s Melt My Heart To Stone, one of our standard MP3 test tracks, the trebles sounded clear but could not be classified as either bright or warm. Though lackluster, the highs were not completely unpleasant to listen to. However, the mids sounded muted and restricted the organ and other instrumentation of the track to shine through.
The muted mids were confirmed on our play through of Elements Of Life by Tiesto. With deep and extended low frequencies, the lack of mids to flesh out the track was quite evident. The trebles were also brought into sharper relief due to the subdued nature of the mids and at high volumes, audio sounded sharp enough to be unpleasant. This sharp attack for the trebles is a quality which should have helped out on Sail On Soothsayer. However without the requisite balance for the rest of the track, we found the Buckethead song to be too jarring.
Seeing that the Sol Republic tokidoki and Sol Republic TKDK were unable to fully impress with the other sound tracks, it was no wonder that Hotel California by The Eagles also sounded a little off. All the subtle nuances of the melody were not accurately rendered. The timbre of the guitars was not spot on and the acoustic strings lacked warmth and brightness. Similarly the shakers and alternate percussions used in the song did not sound lifelike and seemed flat.
From our quick testing session, we would say these headphones veer off towards the extremes of the audio spectrum. Bass performance is good but trebles can be too sharp without the mids to counter balance. Based on this profile we would assume listening fatigue might be a serious concern if you intend to use the headphones for an extended duration. However if your music tastes include RnB and dance music, these headphones might be able to meet your needs.
If you want to check out these new on-ear headsets personally, the Sol Republic TKDK and the Sol Republic tokidoki are available in Stereo outlets right now for a price of S$279. The headphones will be available in other retail outlets from April 2013 for the same price.