Since the introduction of the infamous Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, the market for higher-end consumer headphones has exploded. Paying more than $100 for a set of headphones used to be the realm of geeks and audiophiles only, but the fashion-forward styles offered by today’s range of headphones has greatly expanded the market for mid to high-end headphones and earphones. For those looking for a quality listening experience at a decent price the market is full of all sorts of headphone styles at various price ranges, I like to dabble and test a range of these headphones in search of the the perfect pair. Here I’m looking at a pair of SOUL by Ludacris SL100 on-ear headphones.
The SL100 is an on-ear headphone, meaning it rests on top of the ear rather than surrounding the ear. Generally this makes for a more compact headphone which is definitely the case with the SL100s. It also seals in the sound meaning they won’t leak what your listening to to the outside world, which is particularly useful if you ride public transport. I found the SL100s provide a very nice seal, they don’t press the head too much which is sometimes the case with this headphone design.
The look and feel of the SL100 is high quality. The band and headphones feature a continuous plastic finish, not dissimilar to the Beats range of headphones. However the SL100 have a more rounded, glossier design with some nice chrome accents on the headband. The inside of the headband is nicely padded with leather stitching which makes for a very premium feel. Additionally the earcups of the headphone are finished in the same leather-like material, which makes them feel like soft pillows pressing gently against your head. The headphone is light at 212 grams which make them very portable, they would be ideal for those on-the-go. The foldable design is also very handy, SOUL include a nicely padded and zipped carry pouch which means they can easily slip into a briefcase or backpack.
Included with the SL100 is a removable cable with a three-button remote that works with iPhones, iPads and iPods. It’s a shorter cable which means it’s more useful for portable uses when you have a phone in your pocket. If you need to plug it into a reciever and use it from several metres away you’ll need to look for a longer third-party cable. The cable is terminated with a straight 3.5mm plug, which should fit with most iPhone cases.
The bass on these headphones is extended and deep, something you would expected when Ludacris is attached to the brand. The pleasant surprise to my ears was that the mids and highs are also apparent. The highs are natural sounding and pronounced, coupled with the deep bass make a perfect combination for many genres of music but in particular dance, hip-hop and pop tracks. The mids are a little more recessed which is slightly disappointing, but I’ve heard much worse at this price range.
In comparison to the Beats Solo these are a class above. The bass is punchier and less sloppy, the highs are clearer and more pronounced and the overall sound signature is more enjoyable for longer periods of time. I wouldn’t say they are the best in class at this price range, Skullcandy’s Aviators have surprisingly excellent sound quality for example. However these headphones are no slouch in the sound department, and combined with the rest of the package make for a very attractive headphone.
If you’re looking for a pair of sleek, portable, decent sounding headphones at a budget less than AU$200 the SOUL SL100 would be a great choice. While Beats by Dr. Dre have a lot of marketing muscle in the market, you can do better - and the SOUL SL100 are a better buy than the comparable Beats Solo HD headphones.
Some minor complaints I have about the SL100s are the range of colour options, I have an orange pair and they also come in red and blue, I’d like to see the SL100 in a more subdued matte black finish. This is purely personal preference. I’d like a more balanced sound signature with more emphasis on the mids, the SL100 definitely favour the bass like many other similarly marketed headphones.
Overall for the RRP of AU$149 you get a pair of stylish headphones without sacrificing sound quality or comfort. Do yourself a favour and test these out if you can, particularly if you’ve been eyeing off a competing product like the Beats headphones, you won’t be disappointed. If you can pony up another $100 take a look at the Bowers & Wilkins P3 which offer a more refined style and balanced sound, but at this price range the SL100s are hard to beat.
For more details visit Powermove Distribution www.powermove.com.au