A TRIUMPH OF SOUL
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!
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 other 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.
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.
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.
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!
||8.5 (bass emphasis)
|Design & Features
||9 (active noise cancelling)