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May 31, 2014

SOL REPUBLIC Master Tracks XC Quick Review

Another artist-branded headphones fell into our hands to test out, and this time it’s from the renowned DJ Calvin Harris. SOL REPUBLIC is once again the company behind it and based on our previous experience with the gorgeous-looking Deck, we’re anxious to see what this pair of cans have in store for us. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the quick review of the Master Tracks XC.

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Taking it out of the box, we see separate parts that consist of the headband, two ear cups, and cables. Assembling it is straightforward and takes less than five minutes: You simply slide the headband into the cups’ slots, plug in the cable, and you can start listening to your music already.

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This Calvin-Harris tuned cans claim that it has virtually-indestructible FlexTech headband and could withstand serious bends. We’ve tried stretching it to an unnatural state and so far its promise hold true. Not only is it flexible, but it also looks great – the plastic headband itself is colored in maroon and has a matte finish. The arch is also padded to cushion your head and provide comfort while in use.

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The separate earcups are also looking sharp with its backs covered by textured plates. The company’s logo is etched nicely in both cups, giving it an elegant and premium feel. We’ve mentioned that the headband is padded comfortably, but the soft cushion on the earcups is a far more comfortable affair. How? Let’s just say we could wear the Master Tracks XC for hours without having to change its position.

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SOL REPUBLIC provides its users with two kinds of cables in the box: One with an in-line microphone, volume controls, and a function button that lets you answer and control music playback through an iDevice, and one that’s coiled and stretches out to a maximum length of 6 feet. The latter is made for use in studios or simply at home.

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If you indeed plan to use it at a studio, the company has you covered with an included ¼ jack adapter. This adapter has its own place at the end of the cable for safe-keeping when not in use – a nice touch added by the company. In addition, the cable has two ends that each connect to the individual cups.

Now, a pair of headphones is nothing if it’s all for show. Let’s go to the sound quality.

Since this was “studio-tuned by Calvin Harris,” we first loaded his tracks to get a good taste of what this baby is capable of reproducing, sound-wise. We listened to “Feel so Close” and “I Need Your Love”. True enough, it gave us good bass kicks without overpowering all the other elements. Vocals by Ellie Goulding also provided sweet sound to the ears – clear and powerful, yet contained.

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We also played a couple of classical music on the Master Track XC and we weren’t one bit disappointed with how it rendered stringed instruments. Mids and highs were top-notch, while the lows backed it up and gave the track just the right amount of thickness. Same was the case when we put on rock or acoustic tracks.

One thing important for us is the balance of sound. A pair of headphones can easily produce loud volumes but without clarity, you only have a mixture of undefined sound. With the Master Track XC, even the smallest details are on the same level of clarity as the most prominent sound. Simply put, it’s got that balance of sound that a studio headphone strictly requires.

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For us, the Calvin Harris-tuned Master Track XC is the perfect home and studio accessory for listening to music. It’s also great for video and sound editors since we could really hear the smallest details, as mentioned earlier.

On the other hand, using it as an everyday headphones for commuting is a bit of a hassle since it’s bulky and doesn’t fold for easy storage. But if ever you need to transport it, there’s a traveling pouch included in the package. It also has no active noise cancellation (ANC) so having loud, external noise in the environment might affect your listening experience. Lastly we noticed that sound leaks from the earcups so if you’re playing loud music in a quiet room, expect nearby people to hear the music that you’re listening to.

SOL REPUBLIC Master Track XC specs:
Type: Circumaural
Design: Closed-back, Headband
Drivers:  40mm
Frequency response: 20Hz – 20 kHz
Impedance: 32 ohms
Sound Engine: Studio XC sound engine tuned by Calvin Harris
Cable length: Up to 6 feet
Price: Php15,000

What we liked about it:
Premium build and design
Comfortable
Balanced sound performance
Comes in individual parts/replaceable cable

What we didn’t like:
Not compact enough to use outdoors
A bit pricey

 

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Kevin Bruce Francisco is the Senior Editor and Video Producer for YugaTech. He's a Digital Filmmaking graduate, a music junkie, and a superhero by night.

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