Ever since Beats by Dre hit the market in 2006 the market for stylish high-end and bass heavy headphones has boomed. Both a style icon, status symbol, and an open door to accessible and improved sound quality compared to stock earbuds, Beats has overtaken the market. Still, compared to the alternatives I’ve never been very impressed with them.
50 Cent decided to move into the audio game in 2011 when Sleek Audio announced their line of 50 Cent Over-the-ear headphones. For reasons not fully known, that never panned out with a lawsuit ruling in Sleek’s favor. Instead, 50 Cent started SMS Audio and brought Street by 50 to the market.
The Street by 50 Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) headphones came packaged in what looked like a football. The semi-rigid case was packed with accessories including two cables (one with microphone), airplane adapter, and micro USB charging cable. Inside was a set of matte black headphones.
After burning in for 10 days I gave the Street by 50 ANC a listen. The sound signature was very much like the Beats by Dre Studio with just a touch less bass (not a bad thing). Unfortunately, like the Studio, it was overwhelming at times but was quite astounding while listening to hip-hop and electronic music. Muse’s Madness bass line was incredible. Unfortunately though, at over 50% volume from my Moto X caused the bass to enter the realm of potentially dangerous for extended periods while listening to bass heavy music, so if you decide to get the Street by 50 ANC, make sure you are careful about volume levels.
Watching action movies with explosions really let the Steet by 50 ANC shine. With decent midrange and treble but earth-shattering bass the realism of a firefight become apparent. These headphones are truly built for exciting movies.
Still, though, the tonal accuracy of the Street by 50 ANC wasn’t all that impressive. With exaggerated bass and a high price tag, there are other options to consider if sound accuracy is what you’re looking for. If you’re like most Americans however, you want bass and you want a lot of it.
Now you’re probably wondering how well the noise cancellation functioned. Sporting a full 70 hour battery life the Street by 50 ANC lasted over a week on a single charge for me. Now THAT was impressive– especially because it could be topped up without buying more batteries and simply with a USB cable. Unfortunately the noise cancellation feature wasn’t quite as polished as that found on the Beats Studio and Bose Quietcomfort headphones. The Street did a good job, but external sounds weren’t quite as attenuated. Considering the long battery life, though, I think it’s worth the tradeoff. For comparison, the Beats Studio only lasts for 20 hours per charge and the Bose Quietcomfort 15 lasts 35 hours per AAA battery.
All-in-all, I was left impressed with the SMS Audio Street by 50 ANC headphones. No, they didn’t set themselves apart from the Beats by Dre Studio or the Bose Quietcomfort 15, but they have a nice sound to them and they are very capable at blocking out unwanted noise. It really comes down to your preferences: Do you want to be like everyone else and get the Beats by Dre or do you want to be different? Try both back-to-back and see which sound you prefer. If you like the Beats but want a slightly more balanced sound, go for the Street by 50 ANC. I don’t think you will be disappointed.