There is a certain thrill to popping in a truly wireless set of headphones for the first time. Wires – those perennially tangled foes of all that is good and right with technology – feel like they’ve finally been banished to the dustbin of history, never to return.
It’s especially enjoyable to go completely wireless for your workouts, since the wire connecting the earbuds on most Bluetooth sets has a tendency to move around during exercise and tug the headphones free.
Unfortunately, all wireless earbuds come with certain limitations. Battery life rarely tops five hours and the sound quality can be iffy. The Sol Republic Amps Air headphones suffer from both of these issues, but the overall experience of using the headphones is still impressive enough to recommend them for sporty types looking for wire-free earbuds.
The Amps Air headphones’ battery life is just three hours, but they come with a carry case that can charge the earbuds up to 15 times. In my experience, this resulted in a far more convenient everyday experience than a set of headphones with ten hours of battery life that you have to remember to charge. Pop the Amps Air back in their case after use – which you have to anyway, otherwise you will definitely lose them – and they’re all set the next time you need them. If you only use them for exercise, it could be a month before you need to recharge the carry case.
You can also charge other USB devices from the carry case, which is a handy feature. You can never have too many portable chargers.
I found that the sound quality was generally good, especially when listening to bass-heavy music, although it was a little fuzzy at high volumes. The Amps Air are better than other wireless sets I’ve tried but clearly don’t match the sound quality of wired headphones at a similar price (£149.99), so if audio fidelity is your primary concern, continue to steer clear of the truly wireless world in general.
Personally, I can accept the reduced sound quality in return for the freedom of wireless earbuds when exercising. The Amps Air are sweat- and water-resistant, and the fit is snug enough to use them for all kinds of exercise. I found that on long runs I’d have to adjust the earbuds occasionally to stop them falling out, and if you’ve lined up an especially sweaty and dynamic HIIT session, you might be better off with wires, but for most activities the Amps Air will stay put.
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When you take the Amps Air out of their carry case they turn on automatically and attempt to pair with your phone. For the most part this worked well, but approximately once in every five times one headphone wouldn’t pair, and I’d have to turn it off and on again to make it work. Not a huge annoyance, especially as once they were synced the Amps Air didn’t drop the connection once when I used them.
You can take calls on the Amps Air, but if you’re out and about in a noisy environment, don’t be surprised if the person on the other end of the line fails to hear you clearly.
The Amps Air are among the best wireless headphones you can currently get that are robust enough to use for working out. The battery life issue rarely rears its head thanks to the carry case and the sound quality, while lacking compared to wired headphones, is good for wireless buds.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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