The flashiest headphones around are dedicated to the fastest man alive: Usain Bolt. Soul by Ludacris is proudly producing a specially customized, signature, version of their SL300 over-ear headphones. These spectacular Jamaican flagged themed headphones are noise canceling and feature supreme audio, a comfortable and chic design, with iPhone controls with microphone.
The headphones are loud, but the design is louder. The high gloss design is inspired by the Jamaican flag and Usain Bolt, as you can see him rocking out on both earcups. They’re bright, unique, and rich on eye candy. Take it up a notch and press a button to illuminate a ring around each ear cup badge. The SL300JAMs are over-ear headphones and have large oval-shaped earcups that completely cover large ears. They have a tri-folding design and easily collapse into their signature hard zippered carrying case.
The SL300s are considerably larger than the SL100 On-Ear Headphones we recently reviewed. While these SL300s are bigger and heavier, they’re a lot lighter than they look; incidentally this makes them feel kind of cheap. From the feel of it, they’re entirely plastic with exception of the earcup cushion and the headband cushion. We’re quite fond of the headband cushion; not only does it look super luxurious but it’s very cushiony and comfortable.
As with all active noise canceling headphones, batteries are required (but included). The cap on the right ear cup twists off revealing the 2-AAA battery chamber and a switch that changes noise canceling from low to high. There’s a switch on the outside of the earcups that turns noise canceling on and off. Noise canceling stays on as long as it’s switched on and there’s a small LED to remind you.
The Usain Bolt SL300JAM headphones are noise canceling, which means they can eliminate unwanted ambient sound and noise. Noise canceling makes for a much cleaner and clearer listening experience, it also allows you to listen to your music at lower volumes. Noise canceling requires batteries and can be turned on and off. Nicely, batteries aren’t required to listen to the SL300s regularly. The SL300s come with two audio cables, one for universal usage on phones, tablets, and audio devices, and the other is optimized for iPhone and iOS features. It includes an inline ControlTalk button with buttons and a microphone. There are volume buttons and a universal button that can control music, phone calls, and voice activation features (Siri). Most of these features should be compatible with Android too.
Soul notes that the SL300JAMs feature advanced drivers and circuitry design that produce superb bass, clear mids and highs, and a high precision audio balance.
Even if their lightness adds an inexpensive feel, these SL300s are quite comfortable. I can wear them for more than a couple hours, unlike the SL100s which applied an uncomfortable amount of pressure after an hour. The build quality is pretty decent considering the plasticky design. Collapseability is an important feature for large headsets, and Soul did a good job with the tri-fold design and the included carrying case.
Noise canceling can be hit or miss among users. Lots of people opt out of noise canceling because they don’t like the hiss. I found the SL300 noise canceling to be pretty subtle, in a very good way. Even on their high setting, it’s hard to hear a hiss or the anti-noise associated to the cancellation. Unless I’m sitting in a quiet room, I always turn noise canceling on. They really enable you to hear a much richer and detailed audio experience whether you’re outside or traveling in a plane, train, bus, or car. It’s surprising how much better noise canceling makes listening in any of these settings. The noise isolation in general is just okay; if I’m on the train I can turn on noise canceling rather than raising the volume to an unsafe level to hear my music clearly. The noise canceling batteries have lasted me weeks, which is surprising considering I oftentimes forget to switch it off.
These SL300JAMs are serious headphones. They provide an extremely rich audio experience and we wouldn’t be surprised if you claim they’re the best headphones you’ve ever listened to. Unlike Beats by Dre, Ludacris’s Soul’s don’t drown out your music with an overwhelming amount of bass; they’re much more balanced. You can hear the finer details in your music; individual instruments, chords, and notes. The bass still gets nice and punchy. The mids are my favorite quality, they’re detailed and lush. The mids are perfectly complemented by the precise highs. When noise canceling is turned on, the entire audio experience is slightly enhanced. You can hear the lows, mids, and highs all get a bit of extra oomph. We have yet to play a genre of music that doesn’t sound amazing on the SL300s. Rap, classical, rock, electronica, it doesn’t matter. They’re even pretty generous to low bitrate music (192kbps). Some songs with higher bitrate can completely blow your mid; if you listen to an unplugged song (acoustic) you can clearly hear the precision and extreme detail in every instrument as well as the subtleties like the artist breathing.
The inline ControlTalk is one of the better ones we’ve used, the three buttons are well distinguished and all easy to push. The microphone worked perfectly and my callers agreed. The flat cable is amazing and is near impossible to tangle.
These Usain Bolt SL300s are very wild, and we love them for that. But don’t fret if you’re looking for something a little less flashy, the SL300s are available in a few other color schemes. We have to hand it to Ludacris and Soul Headphones, they know how to produce premium audio in a stylish package. The Souls we’ve reviewed so far have all provided a rich listening experience great for all types of music. With a retail price tag of $349, we were hoping they’d feel a little more solid and less plasticky. Luckily they’re collapseable and come with a hard shell travel case. The lightweight design and ultra-soft cushion makes these headphones a pleasure to wear. We’re just hoping that they’ll survive the test of time. The SL300 Signature Usain Bolt Series Soul headphones are currently available on Amazon.com for $299; the SL300s can be purchased for as little as $182 if you don’t mind the gold. We’re also quite fond of the $215 Black/White model which looks a lot more sophisticated and less flashy.
The Good: Great detailed and balanced audio experience, comfortable, noise canceling works great, awesome design, collapsable, removable tangle-free cords, ControlTalk with Microphone, works without batteries, illuminated ear cup ring, and included carrying case.
The Bad: Poor noise isolation, feels plasticky/inexpensive, a little creaky, and battery cover cap not tethered to headphones.