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Headphones.com reviews Soul by Ludacris

post #1 of 62
Thread Starter 

 

soul_allontheTable.jpg

 

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.

 

SL150

SL150CB.jpg&lr=t&bw=750&w=750&bh=525&h=525

 

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. 

SL150BW.jpg&lr=t&bw=750&w=750&bh=525&h=525

 

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.

SL150-3.jpg&lr=t&bw=750&w=750&bh=525&h=525

 

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. 

 

SL150BW-2.jpg&lr=t&bw=750&w=750&bh=525&h=525

 LAST WORD

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
post #2 of 62
Thread Starter 

 

*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.

 

SL300 Review

SL300GG.jpg&lr=t&bw=750&w=750&bh=525&h=525

For me, a great noise cancelling headphone does a lot more than just allow for more detail to be heard (at a lower volume) in noisy environments; it actually allows me to sleep in noisy environments when I otherwise would toss and turn.  For a headphone to be both “sleepably” comfortable and block out an extreme amount of ambient noise, I would be willing to pay the asking price of the SL300.  However, the SL300 is  not only the most effective and comfortable noise canceling headphone I’ve ever worn, but it sounds as good as it looks – And I think it looks pretty darn good! 

 

SL300WB.jpg&lr=t&bw=750&w=750&bh=525&h=525

THE FIT AND FINISH

The folks over at Soul by Ludacris know how to make me smile just looking at the box.  I have to say, for me, the entire Soul line has some of the most attractive packaging in the industry.  The SL300 is one of the most attractive headphones I’ve ever seen.  Coming in two colors the SL300GG and the SL300WB, I especially like the Othello-like look of the Black & White version. The gold version is truly eye-catching, but it may be slightly more difficult to fit into a wardrobe.

 

The SL300 fold up compactly to fit inside a stylish hard travel carrying case. This carrying case fits perfectly into my backpack and brief case.  The headphones come with two different cables: One has an embedded microphone and remote for Apple products while the other does not.  Both connect to the headphone on the left side via mini-plug and terminate to a right-angle mini-plug.  I greatly prefer the right-angle style of cable termination because it tends to stress out the mini-plug headphone jack much less.  The ear pads are plush and have pleather-like material which does not overheat my ears.  I was surprised how comfortable the headphones felt when worn on my head.  The ear pads feel soft and generously padded.  The headband too is soft and plush and demonstrates Soul by Ludacris brand’s signature stitching design.

 

While the noise canceling activation button is found on the back of the left ear cup, the batteries which provide the power for this feature are manually installed inside the right ear cup.  The right faceplate comes off by toggling it counterclockwise.  The package comes with the first pair of triple A batteries to be installed.  Fortunately, in order to preserve battery life, you can still use these headphones for music listening even when the Noise Cancelling feature is not activated.  However, you will notice a drop in overall output volume when the noise cancelling feature is not activated.  The level of noise cancellation on the SL300 is superb!  And what’s equally impressive is that I have found that the SL300’s noise cancelling feature is less intrusive than I have typically found with noise cancelling headphones.  What I am speaking of here is the awkward feeling of slight pressure which some sensitive ears can feel when noise cancelling is activated.  When I observed the noise cancelling quality in my apartment, I was amazed that the hum of my louder-than-average air conditioner had been entirely eliminated.

The call quality of SL300 showed to be very clear and reliable when paired with my iPhone.  Speech is easy to understand and recipients can hear me well.  The iPod controls rest at my shoulder for easy accessibility. 

 

 

ALL ABOUT THE SOUND…

I feel that the SL300 have a sound that would please a variety of music listeners.  While the bass is definitely raised for that extra oomph and punch (best suited for listening to Hip Hop, Pop and R&B), I have found that the bass region is controlled enough to sound really good with a variety of music including Rock, Metal and Jazz.  The midrange allows for vocals to come to the forefront.  The highs are just slightly subdued for a more mellow tonality.

 

A Comparison between Beats Studio & Soul SL300 – Which is the better Noise Canceller/iPhone compatible headphone at $300?

 

First things first: If you hold the SL300 in one hand and the Studios in the other, you may be as surprised as I was to feel just how much more substantial the SL300 look and feel.  It’s not something that can be noted in pictures, but the difference is very apparent in person.  The stitching of the Soul by Ludacris headband is an awesome feature.  The SL300 headband is also slightly larger and feels more impressive than the Beats Studios.  The noise cancelling and call quality are on par with one another, though I do feel the SL300 edges out the Studios just slightly in the amount of ambient noise it is able to eliminate.  The comfort on the ears is about equal, however the extra padding on the headband allows the SL300 to rest more comfortably on the head. 

 

The difference in sound quality is not as night and day as it was when I compared the SL150 to the Beats Solo HD (Soul by Ludacris’s and Beats by Dre’s $200 models respectively).  Make no mistake about it, I prefer the SL300’s sound quality by a significant margin over the SL150 for its tighter bass control and purer-sounding midrange.  However, the sound quality of the Beats Studio is of a similar tone to the SL300.  The most distinguishable difference between the sound of the SL300 and the Beats Studio is in the way in handles bass.  The bass of the SL300 feels more controlled and tighter, while the Studios have more bass emphasis.  I preferred the SL300 in this regard.  The SL300 have a slightly more forward midrange which allows for vocals to have greater presence.  The Beats Studio have a slightly more forward treble response which I enjoy for the detail it provides.  However, the Studios have a slightly more U-shaped frequency response than the SL300.  What this means is that the bass and treble feel more inflated and there is a perceived dip in the midrange.  In other words, the Studios sound more colored to my ears than the SL300.  However, neither headphone is a neutral headphone – both are fun sounding.

 

SL300WB-2.jpg&lr=t&bw=750&w=750&bh=525&h=525

 

When listening to “John” by Lil Wayne featuring Rick Ross, I preferred the way the SL300 sounded.  The rapping was easier to hear.  However the percussive elements had slightly more impact when listening to it with the Beats Studio. 

I took a listen to “Astral Weeks” by Van Morrison and I preferred the sound representation of the SL300.   In this instance, I felt that the Beats Studio had a bass which overwhelmed the mix and as a result, the vocal and the acoustic guitar were compromised.

 

Listening to Eva Cassidy’s interpretation “Over The Rainbow, I preferred the extra feeling of air which the Beats Studio seemed to have.  However I felt the vocals were slightly fuller when listening with the SL300.

 

Megadeth’s “Foreclosure of a Dream” sounded more aggressive and tighter when using the SL300.  The bass simply felt looser on the Studios.  Loose bass and metal are like oil and water.J

 

When listening to Katy Perry’s “Teen Age Dream” I felt both headphones offered a similar quality of sound, though slightly different in approach.  The voice was more forward using the SL300, but the percussive elements including the guitar chops was more audible when using the Studios.  I did not mind the extra bass emphasis which the Studios offered, but I did prefer the forwardness of Katy’s voice when using the SL300.

 

Overall, it was my impression that while both headphones boast a similar fun sound, the SL300 was able to make more genres sound good.  For this reason, I would say that they are the better sounding headphone.

 

LAST WORD

The SL300 are one of those headphones which seem to have it all: Good sound, comfort you can sleep in, a compact design, noise cancelling which can block out the noise which irks you, a mic/Apple compatible cable option and impressive looks.  Soul by Ludacris has succeeded here on many levels, creating one of the best noise cancelling headphones on the market today!


Sound Quality – 8.5 (bass emphasis)

Design & Features – 10

Portability – 8

Isolation – 9 (active noise cancelling)

Value – 9


Edited by HeadphonesCom - 8/1/11 at 12:04pm
post #3 of 62
Thread Starter 

Reserved for future reviews

post #4 of 62

Iiiiiiiiiiiiiinteresting. Fanny Wang comparison please? biggrin.gif

post #5 of 62
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ishcabible View Post

Iiiiiiiiiiiiiinteresting. Fanny Wang comparison please? biggrin.gif


Maybe I'll be able to do that some time soon:)

post #6 of 62
These are made by Signeo, right? Is that a good brand?
Didn't 50 Cent also have a deal with Sleek Audio but fell through?
post #7 of 62

Is it only me or do these look like they'll break just as easy as the Beats at the joints. For something $200 you wouldn't wanna constantly have to worry about your headphones breaking.


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 7/10/11 at 2:41pm
post #8 of 62
Finally, a review on these smily_headphones1.gif

So, the big question is: are they worth their price tag?
post #9 of 62

they look like pure poop to me. they seem cheesy as hell. as if beats by dre wasn't bad enough. soul by ludacris is ******* ludacris. ud never see me wearing a pair of these. but part of that is because i have ultrasone pro 900's :)

post #10 of 62

I think the purpose of these cans are to cash in on Beat's success. Even if they are slightly better, they offer nothing different from Beats, and as a result they may be frowned upon by enthusiasts.

post #11 of 62
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by staxxx View Post
and as a result they may be frowned upon by enthusiasts.

 

Yes.... these are not Soul's answer to Ultrasone or Sennheiser..... 

 

There's certainly reason to compare Soul head to head with Beats.  In terms of what you get for your money at the $200 mark, Soul's' offering is better in my opinion than Beats'.  But if we bring in the Pro 900 for instance we would be entering not only a different price, but an entirely different market. :)

post #12 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by RPGWiZaRD View Post

Is it only me or do these look like they'll break just as easy as the Beats at the joints. For something $200 you wouldn't wanna constantly have to worry about your headphones breaking.


Yeah, very similar looking frame and joints, hopefully they braced it more.

 

Glad that these win against the Solos, at least for $200 people won't be getting something terrible.

post #13 of 62
I heard them myself, it sounds just like the Beats really. Lack of details or anything other than bass, I was listening to a pair of SRH940 and it makes the souls sounds like a out of tuned AM radio...
post #14 of 62

I think Tyll's Inner Fidelity video review of the Beats Solo is very relevant to this thread. Especially the last part of the video review.

 

 

Thanks for the review David! Are you able to compare it to the Audio Technica M50 or Ultrasone HFI 580? I think those two are the biggest competitors for bass and clarity at that price range.


Edited by wind016 - 7/10/11 at 11:18pm
post #15 of 62

Beats =/= Souls

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