Soul by Ludacris SL300 Noise Canceling Headphone
Today, I start a journey into the wisdom of pop-culture ... oy vey. In the last few years of economic upheaval and outright disaster, the headphone market has flourished ... blossomed even ... it's the fastest growing product type in consumer audio. Why?
Editors Note: This is the first of series of reviews I'll be doing over the coming months about "celebrity headphones." I'll be reviewing the Beats, Ludacris, Skullcandy, House of Marley, Quincy Jones, and other vanity cans. At the end, I'll be writing a summary article that will be called "Celebrity Headphone Deathmatch" where I will compare and contrast the various models in an effort to aid those who value this type of product, and make suggestions of non-endorsed headphones that may deliver better fidelity. But I'll say right at the start that I'm not looking to bash these cans so much as I am looking to find the redeeming characteristics of these cans for folks who have an interest. The consuming public doesn't share the typical InnerFidelity reader's fidelity fanaticism and have differing values, so I want to reach out to them at least half way. I think you'll find the reviews entertaining without any bashing on my part ... well, maybe a little bashing when warranted. Anyway, I hope you enjoy these articles, and will forgive me for doffing my audiophile hat just a little while I drape my neck with rapper cans. (That's where they're worn, right?)
The Soul by Ludacris SL300 ($299)
A direct competitor to the Beats by Dre Studio headphone at the same price, the SL300 is a full-size, circumaural (around the ear), noise canceling headphone, and is available in gold or black and white color schemes.
Styling, Ergonomics, and Build Quality
There's no accounting for taste, but I found the SL300 a very good looking headphone. It's a bit bulky, but the bulk is nicely moderated by the elegant curves and stylish design. The faux tuck-and-roll headband pad is a very nice touch, and really sets off the look of these cans.
These seemed a fairly comfortable headphone to me, though maybe a tad confining. The earcups are a bit on the small side, but are plush enough to remain comfortable. The headband pad is soft, but doesn't really conform to the head so the contact point is only moderately distributed over the top of your noggin. I'd still consider it a reasonably comfortable headphone, however.
Look at photos of celebrity cans out there on the web and, I swear, there are more pictures of people wearing them around their necks than on their heads. Okay, I'll play. The SL300 has a removable cable, so you can unplug your player at the headphones, stash the cable in your pocket, and wear them around as neck bling to your heart's content. I have been trying all the rapper cans worn around my neck and find the SL300 does quite well in this regard. The earpieces are relatively slender, and don't bump into your chin as much as most headphones this size.
Speaking of looking cool around your neck, these cans have a feature I've not seen before: they light up! Yes, when they are turned on, there's a small button on the inside of the headband over the left earcup. Pushing it will toggle a sexy ring of glowing LED white light around the earpiece badge. Not what I'd call an important feature for listening (and it will run the battery down quicker), but kinda cool nonetheless.
The included flat-profile cable has an iDevice compatible remote control and mike, and is terminated at both ends with 1/8" mini connectors. The headphone end is a straight connector, the player end is a slender 90 degree angle connector. This connector, though slender, turns the corner quickly and as a result may not fit far enough into jacks buried deeply in a protective case over your player.
The earpieces fold in at either side for storage and transport in the included carry case, which is a pretty nice hard clam-shell with zipper closure.
The build quality and fit-and-finish of the SL300 appears quite good. Folding and adjustment hardware seem relatively durable, and the mechanisms are positive and secure.
On to isolation and sound quality ...