Expert Review by David Solomon
A Good All-Rounder Rapper Headphone
The SMS Audio STREET by 50 is a very different sounding headphone from the others with which it will be compared (the Beats by Dr. Dre Studios and the SOUL by Ludacris SL300).
The most obvious sonic differences are its larger soundstage and it’s slightly recessed midrange presentation, particularly the low mids. For many, these characteristics will make it the clear preference over the other two.
The Fit & Finish
From the standpoint of aesthetics alone, the STREET by 50 is the black sheep of the rapper headphone trilogy. Whereas, both Soul and Beats resemble each other as if fraternal twins, the STREET by 50 looks like a cousin. While a bit less flashy in presentation than Soul’s or Beats’ $300 offering, I do like the simplistic approach of the STREET by 50 design. One thing I do wish is that these headphones
were able to fold up more compactly like it’s relatives. Even still, the hard case which is made to transport and store the headphones is attractive and offers decent protection.
Another significant difference between the STREET by 50 and the similarly-priced Soul and Beats offerings is that the STREET by 50 does not offer active noise cancellation. Even with this considered, the passive noise isolation offered by the STREET by 50 is pretty good. The headband’s clamp is slightly tight, but the plush ear pads are comfortable enough to justify the clamp’s slight pressure. The clamp is part of what allows the headphone to block out noise as effectively as it does.
Embedded into the cable just slightly below the chin is a remote and microphone intended for Apple devices. The call quality I found to be on par with its competitors. Like the other rapper headphones mentioned, the cable is detachable.
All About the Sound
The STREET by 50 is a mixed bag here, but fortunately offers more good than bad.
- Offers a more even frequency response than its rapper headphone relatives and therefore better suited more musical varieties in addition to hip-hop.
- The bass certainly has thump and decent extension to bring out the subwoofer effect.
- A relatively large and spacious soundstage for a closed-back headphone, significantly more spacious than the Soul and Beats similarly-priced models.
- Articulates acoustic instruments very well, particularly higher range instruments like a guitar and violin.
- The upper mids and lower highs sound metallic at times and lack transparency. This can add to a fatiguing listening experience with brightly mastered recordings.
- These headphones can sound a tad shrill/nasal at times, particularly with male vocals. It’s not always apparent, but it is worth mentioning.
I think the bottom line with regard to how the sound signature compares to the Souls and Beats is that the other two sound like two peas in a pod and this one is more unique.
Listening to Bob Marley’s “Exodus”, I was impressed by the headphones’ handling of bass. The bass extends pretty well without the sense of bloat or boominess. The sound is surprisingly detailed. The vocals sound slightly thin and a bit lacking in transparency. When compared with the Beats Studios, I prefer the STREET by 50 for its more detailed sound.
Listening to 50 Cent’s “So Serious” I was intrigued by the STREET’s handling of detail, but ultimately I preferred both the Soul and Beats handling of this track. The sound of the Soul and Beats was more visceral and club-like.
The real kicker for me was hearing folk music with the STREETs. It’s handling of acoustic guitar was genuinely good and in this sense I find the STREETs to be the more accessible choice for those looking for a better all-rounder.
The SMS Audio STREET by 50
is a welcome addition to the rapper headphone craze. The STREET by 50 sounds markedly different from the similarly priced Beats and Souls models which by comparison sound very much alike. I would have appreciated a noise canceling feature implemented since both Soul and Beats offer this feature in their $300 priced models. For those considering a rapper headphone which is suited for much more than rap, the STREET by 50 may be the best choice for you.
Rating Chart @ Price Point
||8 (bass emphasis)
|Design & Features