The sporty-looking Sol Republic Relays Sports separate themselves from bog-standard cheap IEMs with an off-kilter design and some funky colours.
They sound surprisingly good for the price too, with a cleaner, if less smooth, sound than the budget favourite SoundMagic E10S.
The challenges of a sport earphone include how to find a way to make them stay in your ears when you move about a lot, and to withstand a bit of sweat without conking out.
To deal with this, Sol Republic has come up with what it calls the FreeFlex wheel – a disc of rubber that sits around the end of the earpiece to help secure the Relays Sport in your ear canal.
In practice this wheel doesn’t do a great deal as it only really makes contact with the flap of cartilage just by your ear canal (known as the tragus).
With the right tip they’re fairly stable anyway, and the Relays Sports are both sweat resistant and small. They don’t stick out from your ears at all.
They come in highlighter-style green-yellow and blue as well as the more conventional black and white for some extra ‘active’ flavour.
Our review pair are the classic sporty yellow colour, designed to stand out. All of the shades still have black earbud ends, so they’re not quite as loud as they initially seem.
More after the break
A shirt clip comes pre-attached, handy for preventing the cable bashing against your shirt as you run. Finally, there’s an inline remote, but the number of buttons depends on the version you buy.
The Android-friendly Sol Republic Relays Sport have a one-button remote, used to play/pause your music and take calls. Lucky iPhone types get a 3-button remote that can also alter volume.
There’s no Lightning cable version of these headphones, yet, so iPhone 7 owners will have to use the annoying 3.5mm adapter.
MORE: Apple iPhone 7 review
Considering the low price and that some of the budget will have gone to the Sol Republic Relays Sport’s odd rubbery wheel, these are very nice-sounding earphones.
They are remarkably clean and clear-sounding, with good soundstage width and solid stereo imaging.
The Relays Sports cut out the mid-bass bloat of the SoundMagic E10C while delivering the solid bass thump that is always a bonus if you’re wearing these earphones while running.
At the price it’s no surprise the bass isn’t terrifically fast, but it has a pleasant plummy tone and is well-separated enough from the sound to avoid spoiling articulation.
They’re a fun listen, and a good alternative to the star pupil SoundMagics if you prefer a less thick sound. There are a few elements that mark the Sol Republic Relays Sport out as an entry-level pair, though.
The mid-range has a slightly cool tone and there’s some hardness to the treble and upper mids.
The Relays Sports lack the smoothness of the SoundMagic E10Cs, and it’s quite obvious. The edges of vocals can sound a little thin and slightly hard, and the sound lacks the rich smoothness SoundMagic and Sennheiser offer in their entry-level pairs.
The SoundMagic E50S pull off this kind of clean tone slightly better, but the cheaper Relays Sport still represent a solid buy if you want to avoid the thickness of entry-level bass headphones without losing fun, bouncy bass.
MORE: SoundMagic E50S review
The Sol Republic Relays Sports are great earphones for those whose budget doesn’t stretch too far.
They’re small, affordable and are primed to deal with the sweaty mess of a post-run brow. Sound is clear and articulate, with fun bouncy bass underpinning it.
There’s a cool and slightly hard edge to the higher frequencies, but it’s not serious enough to spoil these great value in-ears.
See all our Sol Republic reviews