Update (4/18 11:00am): @oneniner is our winner – thank you to everyone that entered our contest!

Bluetooth-enabled headphones are making a run for your ears and it seems like every release is improving on a once dysfunctional and disappointing product category. What was previously defined by empty and unpleasing sound is now finding its stride as Bluetooth continues to improve. Much like any technology, its quality is only enhanced by the standard that guides it. Now is the time to begin considering Bluetooth headphones as a potential replacement for the classic 3.5mm standby.

We’ve spent some time with the SOL REPUBLIC’s new Shadow Wireless Bluetooth headphones and today we are ready to deliver a verdict:

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SOL REPUBLIC hits all of the tech specs we’d expect on a pair of wireless headphones: Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX codec support, water-resistant design, phone/Siri support and dual-device connectivity. By including Bluetooth 4.0, SOL makes the Shadow in-ears a solid option as a companion for the Apple Watch. Although this latest version of the wireless standard has been out for a few years, it can still be difficult to find Bluetooth 4.0 in many headphone offerings. The Oregon-based company has also included four different sized earbuds with free lifetime replacement and a microUSB charging cable. Its in-ears are wired to a thicker band of plastic that rests on the back of your neck, where volume, mic and pairing controls are located.

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Connectivity was simple and straightforward, gone are the days of dropped connections. SOL has included a voice-over in the software that guides you through pairing, successful connections and low battery alerts; the whole thing feels very user friendly. The multiple size earbuds allow for a tight fit. One thing that I initially appreciated about the Shadows was the light design, I didn’t feel like I was wearing another device around my neck and the material did not rub in an uncomfortable way.

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From the start I was very impressed with the Shadow’s audio output, it didn’t full empty and there was some decent low-end range. Most importantly, the sound didn’t feel artificially adjusted, songs that I was intimately familiar with sounded as I’d expect. Make no mistake, these aren’t going to hit every note with full strength across the frequency but it was a full sound. Vocally charged songs were clear, while bass heavy numbers weren’t muddled.

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SOL REPUBLIC claims an eight hour battery life, which was a little low in my testing. Over a three week period, I only had to recharge them once after a minimum of 90 minutes of use per day. Although these in-ears are not designed for exercise, I found them to be a great companion for running and bike rides. The buds rarely moved or fell out, making them a dependable option for working out.

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So would I recommend them? I think that it’s important to find that baseline for your expectations and intended use before deciding on these in-ears from SOL REPUBLIC. These aren’t going to replace a high-end pair of cans, but ultimately that isn’t the purpose. The SOL REPUBLIC Shadow wireless in-ear headphones are an excellent solution for on-the-go music listening. The sound is full and its design is dependable. These are not the Bluetooth headphones of three or four years ago, SOL has made a big leap in this category. I’d recommend giving these a shot if wireless connectivity is a must-have in your situation. These in-ears retail for $99.99 and are currently available exclusively at Best Buy.

This week, we’ll be giving away a pair of these SOL REPUBLIC in-ears. To enter our giveaway, simply follow @9to5Toys on Twitter and retweet our article or Like us on Facebook and share with your friends. We will choose a winner next Saturday.

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