Before you dismiss me as a slave to the marketing machine--I discovered a long time ago that when it comes to headphones, I'm definitely not the "audiophile" type. My taste in music gravitates to hardcore electronic music, bass-heavy deep house, and virtually all types of metal ranging from brutal death to Viking, and butt-bouncing, stanky funk--with a sprinkle of chillout, classic rock, and bluegrass, but I digress. The point is that I want a headphone with presence, punch, killer bass, and a powerful sound.
This is what drew me to the Beats by Dre Solo's, which certainly provided the bass punch I was looking for. I was very happy with them, but alas, they recently experienced a snap in the plastic headband, rendering them effectively uselsss. Of course, I used this as an excuse to upgrade to a nicer pair. Why not the Beats by Dre Studios, you ask? Too damn expensive. So I looked elsewhere, and given the positive reviews I was finding, I went with the SOUL by Ludacris SL150's (which are made by Signeo USA). And I have not been disappointed.
Build Quality of the SOUL by Ludacris SL150
The SOUL's seem higher quality than the Beats by Dre Solos--I was happy with the construction of the Solo's, but the SL150's feel more solid, especially in the construction of the headband. The ear cups are sturdier with less "play" and the head cushion is nicely stitched and padded.
They fit nicely on my (large) head, although they are a bit snug. I've since gotten used to them, and can imagine that anyone with anything but the most massive of domes will be fine with these cans.
Look & Feel of the SL150
As far as how they look... they're a bit flashy for me. Mine are the "CB," or Chrome and Black model. The aforementioned black finish is of the very shiny, very glossy, very fingerprint-y variety and practically begs to be noticed. Nobody will ever not see you wearing these futuristic, flashy head-mounted speakers. Plus, they stick out quote a bit, making me feel like I might be able to communicate with extraterrestrials or intercept signals from a distant galaxy with them donned.
However, I don't care if I look like a space cadet, since I won't be going out in public with them, ever. Be warned that you'll need to be able to really pull off the look if you plan on sporting these anywhere but plopped down on your couch.
How do the SOUL by Ludacris SL150's Sound?
In a word, awesome. That doesn't mean anything though, and here we get into the difficult part of reviewing headphones--it's largely subjective. My opinion is that the SL150's are an improvement on my old Solos in every single possible way.
For my listening preferences, the SL150's are a perfect fit. They provide pounding, rumbling bass that never clips or becomes muddy, which the Solos did on occasion. Noise isolation is excellent, considering they are not active noise canceling cans. I noticed they may not isolate outside sounds quite as well as the Solos, but it's a very minor difference. The midrange is excellent--while the Solos did well here, the SL150's sound fuller and more natural. This applies to the high frequencies as well--no ear-splitting harshness to be found.
The main difference between the SL150's and the Solos are that the SL150's are much, much more balanced. The sound is not only powerful, but far more natural sounding than the Solos.
Should you buy the SOUL by Ludacris SL150's? i think it depends largely on how you like your music to sound, and what types of music you listen to. If you gravitate to classical, jazz, country, vocal, world, easy listening, or any other type of music where balance and accuracy in sound is crucial, these may not be for you.
On the other hand, if you listen to hip-hop, rap, classic rock, heavy metal, electronica, or any other in-your-face musical style where power and punch are important, the SL150's really fit the bill--and accomplish the task with more finesse and balance than their Dr. Dre-backed competitors. Even the pro at InnerFidelity (whose review inspired me to buy these) gives them a stamp of approval. (Note that review was written by someone who HATED the Beats by Dre Solos.)
Pros of the SOUL by Ludacris SL150's:
- High quality construction
- Excellent packaging
- Comes with two connection cables (one with phone support) and a case
- Balanced, powerful sound
- Decent value when compared to competing products
- Flashy appearance may appeal to some
Cons of the SOUL by Ludacris SL150's:
- Not necessarily well suited for all types of music
- Flashy appearance may be too much for some, may cause interstellar communications to be disrupted when worn
- Noise isolation not as good as some other options
- A bit snug for those in possession of a large cranium
- Size makes them perhaps less portable, although they do fold