Soul by Ludacris
Endorsed by world-acclaimed hip-hop artist Ludacris, the Soul headphone line is one that attempts to take musical quality to the next level. With noise-cancellation technologies and a slick design, Soul attempts to bridge the gap between superior audio technology and a sleek look, allowing the user to enjoy their music and look good while doing it.
Like the majority of the celebrity-endorsed headphones, it's difficult to separate fact from fiction - which headphones are of actual quality and which ones are being used to promote a career that in not analogous to the success of the headphone? Consumers have been around the block too many times not to be wary of such marketing gimmicks.
With Soul, the bottom line is that the headphones, while pricey at first glance, provide a quality audio experience that users will enjoy. It's clearly not a case of quick cash-in, or a product riding on the coattails of a big-name performer. These headphones are legitimate and should be lauded as such, especially if the music you're enjoying is of the bass-driven variety.
Having said that, these headphones aren't for everyone and there are some quibbles with the product that could turn fans of certain musical genres off. Read on below for the common complaints associated with the product.
Noise-Cancelling Performance - One of the primary selling points of the Soul Headphone line is its noise cancelling performance, which stands as a direct competitor to Beats by Dre. For all intents and purposes the Soul headphone line produces decent noise-cancelling performance, albeit an unspectacular one at that. Considering this is one of the main selling points of the headphones, the lack of top-teir quality noise-cancelling performance leaves Fixya users desiring more from the headphone line.
Overpowering Bass - For musical genres that rely heavily on bass sounds, such as hip hop and dubstep, the Soul headphone line will produce a fine quality of deep bass sounds that bring the underlying groove of the music to life. However, for musical genres that do not rely on significant bass undertones, such as alternative rock or pop, the Soul headphones tend to overstate the bass in music that drowns out some of the high-end sounds. Considering the endorsement of Soul by Ludacris, this should not be a significant surprise. Having said that, for fans of non-bass driven music, the Soul headphones will be a significant disappointment.
Battery Power - The Soul headphones use a battery to provide a lot of the core functions of the device. Whether it be noise-cancellation, sound quality, or the purely aesthetic feature of flashing lights on the ear when you press a button, Soul derives this from the battery. And once the battery is removed or runs out of juice, the quality of all three features listed above drops dramatically. In order to get the best performance from these headphones make sure to have an extra battery with you when travelling.
One of the best noise cancelling headphones on the market today are Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Canceling Headphones. With a comfortable fit around the ears and significantly pristine sound, the QuietComforts provide an excellent option for those looking to be free from distractions while enjoying their music.
Beats by Dre
As the first celebrity endorsed headphone to really take off and make a stamp in the mainstream, Beats by Dre headphones have taken on a pretty significant stature in the audio industry. Its namesake comes from the critically acclaimed and larger-than-life hip-hop artist Dr. Dre, whose hip hop resume stands up to anybody's in the business. From revolutionary group, NWA, to a pair of critically acclaimed albums (and a widely anticipated third), to his astonishingly successful career as a producer, Dr. Dre is the creme de la creme of the industry. With impeccable credentials and an undeniably admirable work ethic, Beats by Dre seem to have everthing behind it.
Unfortunately, Dr. Dre's career is significantly disproportional to his Beats, leaving the headphones delivering on a much lower level than may Fixy users expected.
Beats by Dre contain many of the same issues as the Soul by Ludacris line, which is both expected and surprising at the same time. Considering they are direct competitors attempting to fill the same market niche it would make sense that both headphones would promote the same features, but it's strange that both would possess the same issues on a very similar level.
Noise Canceling Performance - Much like the Soul by Ludacris, Beats by Dre provide an halfway decent noise canceling performance but provide nothing that stands out when likened to its competitors. When compared to the Ludacris Soul, Beats by Dre noise canceling performance is marginally better but still does not provide an experience that should be lauded as industry-leading. Furthermore, without battery power, the noise canceling feature is rendered basically inept.
Uneven Sound - Similar to the Ludacris Souls, the sound quality of Beats by Dre can be uneven and spotty at different points in songs and within different genres. Unlike the Soul line however, Beats by Dre do not have an overbearing bass sound that drowns out various musical genres - the bass is actually relatively benign compared to the Soul line, which makes it a better fit for music that is primarily rock based. But with the randomly varying highs and lows producing music that doesn't sound cohesive, Beats by Dre can be notoriously spotty across all genres of music.
Headphone Malfunction - When using Beats by Dre, sometimes a single headphone will malfunction on either the left or right ear while the other headphone will produce the same quality as before. This isn't an uncommon issue among all headphones, but Beats by Dre seem to have the issue more than its competitors. It tends to occur on a heavy bass driven track, with each bass kick drum and low bass guitar sound producing a buzz that takes away from the quality of the song.
As with the Soul by Ludacris, those looking for solid noise canceling alternatives to the Beats by Dre should turn to the QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones. Known for their comfort, these headphones offer premium comfort as well as distraction free listening experience.
SMS Audio 50 by 50 Cent
50 Cent's foray into the headphone game started in 2011 when he first attempted to develop a line with headphone manufacturer Sleek in order to capitalize on the success that Beats by Dre had ushered into the market. For whatever reason the product line didn't come to fruition and the two split ways, which caused 50 Cent to branch out and pursue a new headphone opportunity on his own. This led to the creation of SMS Audio.
50 Cent is renowned for his popular rapping ability. He's also well know for his entrepreneurial spirit. From a line of sneakers with Reebok, to Glaceau vitamin water, to a body spray with Right Guard, the the SMS Audio 50 headphones, 50 Cent has a knack for filling a market need. Furthermore, his entrepreneurial work across the world has produce a figure whose rags to riches story is both compelling and inspiring for businessmen everywhere.
While his background and history may be inspiring, the SMS Audio headphones are anything but. Decidedly worse than Beats by Dre and Soul by Ludacris, the SMS Audio 50 is bursting with uninspiring music quality, overwhelming bass, and various other issues that make the headphone one of the most disappointing amongst celebrity headphones.
Wireless System - The SMS Audio 50 comes with a wireless system that has been developed by KLEER, a widely used and respected way to listen to music on headphones via wireless connection. With the performance in general sounding the same as that of headphones that use wires, KLEER hasn't developed its wireless system solely for the SMS Audio 50, as it came out about five years ago and has been used by numerous other headphones. The issue with the wireless system is when Bass Boost is enabled on the headphones - much like the issues with the Soul by Ludacris line, the SMS Audio 50 has a really heavy bass sound that tends to overpower the other musical instruments occurring during a song.
Muddy Sounds - Fixya users described the sound of the SMS Audio 50 as muddy, with very little distinction between the different instruments being played during a given song. With instrumentals being thrown together and failing to provide a separate yet cohesive sound throughout the course of your experience, the SMS Audio 50 appears to have some of the least appealing auditory experience amongst all headphones used in this report.
Overpowering Bass - Similar to the other headphones used throughout this report, another fairly significant issue with the SMS Audio 50 is the heavy bass sounds that dominate musical tracks. This is certainly an issue with a lot of celebrity headphones, but the SMS Audio 50 remains one of the worst offenders of the bunch.
If you're looking for high quality wireless headphones to use at home or on the road, the Sennheiser RS 180 or Sennheiser RS 160 are definitely the way to go. These headphones utilize the KLEER wireless connection to near perfection, with even the cheaper Sennheiser RS 160 providing some of the best wireless performances amongst all competitors.
Skullcandy Roc Nation Aviators
Approved by hip-hop modul Jay-Z, the Roc Nation Aviators headphone line is another offering in a long list of headphones by Skullcandy. The company is known for its dynamic and fashionable approach to audio and is somewhat of a market leader in capturing the youth and alternative lifestyle demographic. With smart designs and a gritty approach to branding, Skullcandy is a name that many associated with the music business have come to know.
Much like 50 Cent, Jay-Z has branched outside of the music industry and can be considered more of a businessman than as a musician (albeit an extremely successful musician at that). Whether it's clothing or starting a professional sports agency that lists superstar New York Yankees second basemen Robison Cano as its primary client, when Jay-Z makes moves, he makes them in a big way.
This is especially refreshing because in a long line of celebrity endorsed headphones that don't seem to deliver relative to the price tag and hype, the Roc Nation Aviators by Skullcandy are a truly splendid headphone that can match up with the best in the market. Fixya users recommended this headphone over any other celebrity endorsed headphones outside of the House of Marley, and users will be pleased to put this headphone on when the decide to kick back with some tunes.
There are some minor issues with the headphones certainly, but this is one of the better values out there on the market today.
Durability of Headphones - The frame of the Roc Nation Aviators is very aesthetically pleasing, with a subtle but flashy look that appeals to users. Furthermore, the can be molded in numerous ways to fit all head shapes and sizes, and can be adapted to fit however you would like to wear them. The downside to this however is that they constant malleability of the Roc Nation Aviators, while providing a unique fit for all head shapes, sizes, and wearing styles, has the tendency to become loose after prolonged use. When using the Roc Nation Aviators, make sure to keep them in good condition and be weary of how you store them when not listening to music.
Light Bass - Ironically, users who own the Roc Nation Aviators complain about the lighter bass sound with the headphones compared to the results from Beats by Dre, Soul, and SMS Audio 50. Considering Jay-Z had a hand in these headphones it is surprising that the best genres fo music to listen to are those that are focused more on vocal harmonies and guitar work. Having said that, the sound from the Roc Nation Aviators is still serviceable with hip-hop and other bass-heavy musical genres. It's refreshing to have a headphone that can essentially be used as an all in one device across numerous genres, unlike Beats by Dre and Soul by Ludacris which are really geared toward bass driven musical tracks.
Bright Sounds - The Aviators' lack of booking bass sound is both a positive and negative, as the majority of music with the Aviators will sound brighter than usual. When listening to moody music that doesn't have a lot of treble or high-ranges the songs will be fine, but on base tracks that already contain a lot of those ingredients, the Roc Nation Aviators tends to push that type of noise to even larger levels.
If the Roc Nation Aviators' bass levels aren't bumping as much as you desire, the Ultrasone PRO 900 S-Logic provide a great mid-range price ticket headphone that deliver excellent bass levels that are crisp and don't pop.
House of Marley
House of Marley is a truly unique company in the entertainment and headphone industry in that it takes pride in a lot of qualities usually possessed by small, eco-friendly brands. When you think of pollution and "going green" you don't really think about headphones, but House of Marley is attempting to change that and find a competitive advantage amongst its competitors.
House of Marley aim to create headphones that are ethical and environmentally positive, which means using natural, earth-friendly and renewable materials in its products and packaging. Furthermore, with a portion of profits going to charitable organizations, House of Marley taps into the feel-good side of selling as well.
None of that really matters if the headphones are of poor quality however - no matter how much a company claims it does for the earth and environment - if it's product stinks it's not going to go far.
What's unique about the House of Marley headphones is that they're probably the best celebrity endorsed headphones on the market today according to Fixya users. With a company ethos and commitment to sustainability, they could still carve out a niche being merely average, but the level of quality is these headphones gives everyone a good reason to pick them up, even if the consumer in question care little for their environmental stance.
As with every product there are going to be some issues, but the quibbles here were fewer and farther in between any other celeb headphone we surveyed.
Comfort - Compared to other competitors, the one place where House of Marley is lacking is with the comfort of its headphones. While issues with the headphones slipping around on the head have been fixed by the company, the ear pads aren't the most comfortable for long listening sessions. This isn't meant to be a studio producer's headphone anyways, but if comfort is exactly what you're looking for above all other factors in a celebrity headphone, the House of Marley headphones won't be for you.
Noise Isolation - Noise canceling isn't a selling point of these headphones and their performance generates as much. You won't have an issue listening to the headphones if you're home or even sitting in a room with the television on - they function as good as any mid-tier headphone when keeping outside sound from interfering with your music listening. But if noise canceling properties are something you absolutely must-have in a headphone, look somewhere else besides the House of Marley as you'll definitely be aware of the presence of outside sound in very loud places like the subway or crowded restaurant.
Treble Levels - With a nice warm bass sound that separates itself from other celebrity headphone competitors, and a great sound quality that can handle any genre of music that is played through the headphones, the House of Marly stand out as the best headphones in our report. However, one issue users pointed out was the somewhat lacking treble sounds on certain tracks. High frequencies tend to get pulled down to the middle of the track and have a bit of an issue distinguishing themselves from the rest of the song. The issue isn't enough to be a deal breaker, but it is something to keep in mind when looking at what you want out of a headphone.
If you're looking for a very comfortable headphone with a great sound quality, Audio-Technica's line of headphones steps up to the plate as a healthy alternative.