Hey all, DavidMahler here...
We've received a lot of PMs and emails asking us to review the new Soul by Ludacris headphone line. Here by popular demand is the first of many reviews:)
*a preface for audiophiles
When reviewing the Soul line, I am hesitant to make comparisons to audiophile oriented similarly-priced headphones. The markets are entirely different. The Soul line is aimed at the consumer who is looking to pair their portable device with a stylish status symbol. With this in mind, I will be comparing it to other brands which fall under this umbrella. That is not to say that good sound can’t be had here. But determining which headphone sounds the best is not the solitary aim of my reviews when reviewing an item such as this. It is my opinion that if one’s primary concern is the ultimate in high-fidelity then this consumer may find better-suited offerings at similar price points.
THE FIT AND FINISH
As a reviewer, I attempt to put myself in the shoes of a consumer who just spent their hard-earned money on a new pair of headphones and is unboxing their new pair of headphones for the first time. There is a degree of excitement when opening a nicely packaged, sleek and stylish headphone. The Soul SL150BW fit the bill here! The SL150CB is the black version of this model. I have to admit, due to the rarity of white headphone models, I’m a sucker for white-colored headphones. Those who enjoy thoughtful stylish details will also enjoy the stitching on the inner-side of the headband. This slick-looking cosmetic embellishment is featured on all Soul full size and on-ear models.
The SL 150 come with a hard nylon carrying case. The headphones themselves fold up compactly to fit inside the case. The cable connects to and detaches from the left ear cup and terminates to a right-angle miniplug – always my preference since it puts less stress on the headphone jack. I find that the connector works well with the variety of iPhone cases I have tried. The microphone/Apple remote is embedded into the cable approximately at where one’s neck would be. The call quality both on the receiving and speaking end showed to be quite good. Voices come through clear on both ends.
The isolation here is very very good considering that these are passive rather than active noise canceling. The pads fit comfortably on the ear and feel very secure. While there is a fair amount of pressure sustaining from the clamp of the headband, the soft and plush quality of the pads make the fit very comfortable for me even for long listening sessions.
ALL ABOUT THE SOUND…
The sound here is going to appeal to those who like their bass full bloom and in front. As was my expectation, the headphone sounds best with Pop Music, R&B, Reggae and Hip-Hop. The sound demonstrates a significant bass hump which I personally feel does add a bit of clutter to the overall sound, especially when listening to non-percussion heavy music. A bass hump emulating a powerful subwoofer has become the standard practice with headphones designed for the Soul’s intended demographic. For Rock, Jazz and Classical music listening, I would prefer a number of headphones over the SL150. For a further examination of this headphone’s sound quality, please find my comparisons to Beats by Dre’s $200 model below:
Which Is The better $200 headphone: Beats Solo HD vs Soul SL150
Both models offer Apple controls and a mic for the iPhone, both implemented into the cable at an approximate chin-level. Both models fold up for easy transport and come with a hard carrying case. Both models have an easily removable/replaceable cable which conveniently terminates to a right angle miniplug and can be used with most iPhone cases and skins. The microphone and speech quality on the SL150 is superior by a small margin. The SL150 are noticeably larger than the Beats Solo HD, and may be more cumbersome to wear around the neck. If you prefer the looks of the Soul line (as I do) but the size of the SL150 is of concern to you, Soul By Ludacris offers the SL100 – a similarly-sized model as the Beats Solo HD but for $50 less. If I were picking between the Beats Solo HD and Soul SL 150 in terms of sound, the SL150 wins by significant margin. While both models offer a raised bass response (which at times feels loose and untamed) the SL150 offers far greater detail, and much purer sounding treble response.
With every song I threw at it, the SL150 showed to be the better sounding headphone. I listened to Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” on both headphones. *I think the original CD pressing of Thriller is a very good demonstration and evaluation CD. The maracas on “Human nature” sound almost entirely veiled on the Beats Solo HD, and the overall mix feels murky and cluttered. By comparison the Soul SL150 sounds remarkably better. The bass is still ever-present and robust, but the mix sounds far more natural as more of the audio spectrum is present.
Listening to Kanye West’s “Stronger” it was equally as evident just how much better sounding the Soul SL150 were when compared to the Beats Solo HD: The bass thumped with more definition, but the voice was more audible, the words clearer, and the slick production had greater spatial definition. I would consider the Soul SL150 a top contender for Rap music at its price point.
In terms of price, the Soul SL150 competes with Beats Solo HD. I see very little reason, if any at all, that I would prefer the Beats Solo HD. The Souls are undeniably better sounding, provide better call quality, and in my opinion are more attractive. With this in mind, I don’t think it’s “Ludacris” to consider the SL150 a phenomenal offering.
Rating Chart for Price Point & Demographic
Sound: 8 (bass emphasis)
Design & Features – 9.5
Portability – 8
Isolation – 7 (passive)
Value – 8.5
Edited by HeadphonesCom - 7/11/11 at 6:16am