Test: ‘Relay’ Earbuds Stay Put, Sound Good

Filed under: Technology 

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The low-profile Relays earbuds from Sol Republic are billed as a crossover headphone — equally at home in the office, the saddle, or anywhere in between. I’ve been putting them through the wringer since January. Here’s how they faired in the field.

The Gear: Sol Republic Relays

Two Models: They come in two iterations (both $80) — a three-button model made for use with Apple devices, and a one-button model meant for a wide range of devices. (Both models start/stop music and can skip tracks from the headphone buttons — a nice feature if your device is buried in a pack or jacket pocket.)

Fit: A soft rubber “button” ear tip wraps around the speaker and pinches inside the ear canal, insulating outside sounds. Four different size water-resistant ear tips come in the box. If you lose a tip or just want to replace them the company has an “ear tips for life” replacement program.

First Test: In my first 5-mile trail run up and down the hills behind my office, the left earbud fell out after 10 minutes, and it continued to do so every 5 minutes or so for the remainder of the loop. I replaced the left tip with a larger-size piece and it hasn’t fallen out since, including on long (3+ hour) trail runs.

Sweat: For me, spinning on a bike releases the sweat dam. I’ve used the Relays through countless spin sessions and the rubber ear tips have held steady after intense sweating. A salty rime formed on the tips after a week, but they cleaned easily with soap and water.

Design: The buds are streamlined. If you are looking for flare, in addition to black the cords are offered in 4 color schemes (black and white, blue, green, and red).

Sound: Headphones are for naught if they don’t bring the sound. Beyond working out, the earbuds are fine in the office — the sound was great for general listening, especially compared to the inexpensive package bud options provided these days.

Who Should Buy: At $80, the Relays are upper-end sport headphones. What separates them from the rest is their low-profile, good sound, and all-day comfort. They are a reasonable choice if you are looking for an all-purpose headphone, for indoors sound and out.

—Steve Greapel is a contributing editor based in Idaho.

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