In the few short years since Apple launched the AirPods and sparked the true wireless earbud revolution, the form factor has grown at an incredible pace.
Countless brands on Amazon compete with one another to sell true wireless buds at the lowest price possible, others like the Sony WF-1000XM3 strive to offer the most premium listening experience possible, and then there are heaps of other options somewhere in between.
Most of the true wireless buds I've reviewed have been in that low-to-mid-range price tier, making me all the more excited to listen to the Sol Republic Amps Air+. The $200 price tag associated with them isn't insignificant at all, and with tons of much more affordable options out there, do they justify the increased cost?
Almost had it
Bottom line: The Sol Republic Amps Air+ are premium true wireless earbuds, both in features, performance, and price. Sound quality is excellent for the form factor, the case is made out of metal, and you get an IPX4 water resistance rating. Comfort and audio is top-notch, but for how much Sol Republic is asking for the price, I would have loved to have wireless charging support and better noise canceling than what's offered.
- Rich, full sound
- Very comfortable in-ear fit
- Sturdy metal case
- IPX4 water resistance
- USB-C charging
- Disappointing ANC
- Auto-pause isn't reliable
- No wireless charging
- Generic design
Sol Republic Amps Air+ What's great
As soon as I took the Amps Air+ out of the box, it was instantly apparent that I was dealing with a "premium" gadget. The top portion of the charging case is made out of metal, adding a nice bit of heft and making it cool to the touch. The rest of the case is plastic, but even having just one section of metal does a lot to make it feel that much nicer. I did notice that this design does make the case a bit top-heavy, and paired with the slanted base, can result in it being easy to tip over if you're taking earbuds in and out of the case as it rests on a table.
The magnets holding the earbuds in place are perfectly strong, but do so without making it difficult to take the buds out when you're ready to jam to some music. Take a look around back, and you'll find a USB-C port for charging the case up. In other words, all the makings of a quality charge case.
Sol Republic definitely spent more time with the earbuds themselves instead of the case, though, so let's shift the conversation over to them.
I'll admit that the Amps Air+ looked rather chunky when I first took them out of the case, but the first time I actually put them in my ears, I knew I was in for a treat. These have to be some of the most comfortable true wireless earbuds I've ever worn, offering an incredibly secure fit without having to press them too deep into your ears at all.
The Amps Air+ are perfectly designed for working out.
Along with the gel ear tips that can be swapped out for a few different sizes, Sol Republic also includes a gel cover around the entire body of the Amps Air+. This helps to get a snug fit around your whole ear, not just the canal. Pair that with the IPX4 rating for water resistance, and the Amsp Air+ end up being a fantastic pair of workout buds.
On the topic of sound quality, listening to the Amps Air+ has been a treat. Nothing in this form factor will blow self-proclaimed audiophiles away, but as someone who definitely isn't that, I've had a blast with them. To my ears, music is crystal clear and paired with a surprising amount of bass that keeps things exciting without muddying up your tunes. I can listen to and enjoy $30 true wireless buds, but there is a noticeable upgrade stepping up to something higher-end like the Amps Air+. Also, for those times when you use the earbuds to watch a YouTube video or Tiger King on Netflix, I've been happy with the minimal audio delay.
Another area where Sol Republic comes out on top is with battery life. You'll get around six hours of continuous playback with noise canceling turned on, with the case offering 2.5 recharges. That comes out to a total package of about 21 hours assuming ANC is enabled, which is not too shabby at all.
Sol Republic Amps Air+ What's not so hot
While I enjoy a lot of the Sol Republic Amps Air+ experience, there are quite a few roadblocks that will likely make people think twice before throwing down two Benjamins to own them.
Like other premium true wireless earbuds, the Amps Air+ come with active noise canceling so you can block out ambient sound around you while listening to your favorite songs and podcasts. Enabling ANC on the Amps Air+ requires a quadruple-tap of the left earbud, and while a voice will inform you that noise canceling is on, the actual effectiveness has been rather disappointing.
For $200, I was expecting a lot more.
The Amps Air+ do lower the rumble of my apartment's heater and slightly decrease the loudness of the living room TV while I work in my office, but for $200, I was expecting a lot more. The overall volume of everything is brought down, but nothing is fully blocked out. Comparatively, the Aukey Key Series EP-T18NC that I previously reviewed have much better ANC performance — all while costing $60 less.
Something the EP-T18NC don't have is an auto-pause gesture that pauses music when you take out an earbud, and then resuming playback when you put it back in. The Amps Air+ do have this feature, and while I absolutely love it when it works, I've found it to be incredibly finicky. You can clearly see the ambient sensor on the earbud that's used to detect its placement in your ear, and if you happen to take the earbud out and place it on your desk/table with that sensor facing down, it'll think it's back in your ear and start playing your music. I can't tell you how many times I've taken my earbuds out and came back to my desk to find that music had resumed playing while I was gone.
Then there's the lack of Qi wireless charging. This isn't something you find on every pair of true wireless earbuds out there, but it's become relatively common for ones that are on the higher end of the price totem pole. Those $140 Key Series earbuds have wireless charging, the $150 Galaxy Buds+ have wireless charging, and even the $60 TOZO T6 have wireless charging. Safe to say, I was sorely disappointed to find out that Sol Republic's $200 earbuds don't have this at all.
Sol Republic Amps Air+ Should you buy them?
I'm torn on whether or not to recommend the Amps Air+. On one hand, these are earbuds that sound great, are designed incredibly well, and offer USB-C charging with an IPX4 rating for water resistance.
All of that stuff is great, but for the $200 Sol Republic is asking, there are other areas that disappoint. The noise canceling is unimpressive, the auto-pause gesture is often more hassle than it is helpful, and not having wireless charging at this price is kind of ridiculous.
Using the Amps Air+ is not an unenjoyable experience (far from it, actually), but there are just so many better uses of your money when it comes to true wireless earbuds. If it were my money and I was shopping for a higher-end pair of earbuds, I'd much rather go for the EP-T18NC I've already mentioned a couple of times. ANC performance is vastly better, there's an even higher water resistance rating, and you get wireless charging. If you are comfortable spending around $200, you're better off going all the way with the Sony WF-1000XM3 — arguably some of the best true wireless earbuds in existence right now.
Sol Republic had a strong vision for the Amps Air+, but at the end of the day, they deliver too little and are overdone by much of the competition. That said, I'm very interested to see what an Amps Air+ 2 looks like.
Almost had it
The Sol Republic Amps Air+ are premium true wireless earbuds, both in features, performance, and price. Sound quality is excellent for the form factor, the case is made out of metal, and you get an IPX4 water resistance rating. Comfort and audio is top-notch, but for how much Sol Republic is asking for the price, I would have loved to have wireless charging support and better noise canceling than what's offered.
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