50 Cent is at it again; this time he presents his Over-Ear Active Noise Canceling (ANC) headphones. While 50’s marketing is not as excessive as Dre’s, he’s pushing out some fantastic competition for Beats. These large-and-in-charge headphones provide up to 70 hours of background silencing, noise canceling, technology with their rechargeable battery.
The Street by 50 Over-Ear ANC headphones are a big set of cans by anyone’s standards. They comfortably fit over the largest ears with cushioned leather ear cups. The headband is also cushioned leather, and with beautiful blue stitching. Like Dre’s Over-Ear Studios, these headphones are quite noticeable. There’s just two color options, and they’re polar opposites. There’s a really neat stealthy matte black, or a glossy silver on white. Both have blue stitching, blue cable, and blue hard case.
The ANCs have a tri-folding design where the ear cups fold in for easy transporting. Folded up, they’re still big, but way more travel-friendly and safe.
Say goodbye to ambient noise. 50’s ANCs do a great job of eliminating ambient noise, almost entirely. Flipping the ANC switch on a plane or train drastically reduces the background noise. By default, the noise isolation on these headphones aren’t great, so noise canceling is basically a must. Generally ANC needs a consistent noise to cancel, but 50’s do a superb job of muffling out chatter and other office noises. The anti-noise hiss (common to most ANC headphones) is barely noticeable, especially when there’s music playing. The beautiful benefit of ANC is that you can listen to music at a lower volume: save your ears, save your battery.
Active noise canceling requires battery power, but regular listening does not. There’s a switch for turning the ANC feature on. Nicely, there’s a built-in rechargeable battery with micro-USB charging. There’s no auto-shutoff on ANC, but the 70 hour battery life and blue LED indicator keep that from being a big issue. With weeks of use I have yet to charge the headphones.
As with all the Streets, and most of 50’s competitors, the build is almost entirely plastic. The plastic is dense and looks great, but whether they survive the test of time is up to how careful you are.
The cable is removable, thick, and tangle-resistant. It includes a ControlTalk with a universal button and a microphone. There’s no volume buttons, however the universal button and microphone work on iOS, Android, and even Windows Mobile. The universal button can control phone calls, music, and voice activation like Siri, though compatibility will vary across devices.
There’s a bit of a break-in period, but after that the Street ANCs sound awesome. As you can imagine, they get nice and bassy. Luckily, they’re not overly bassy like Beats; you can actually appreciate music of all genres, not just hip hop. The audio experience is quite enjoyable and will blow minds, but compared to other premium headphones, they lack a bit on the finer details and crisp audio reproduction. We give them a lot of credit for how well balanced they are and how true they remain to the music. With higher bit-rate audio (or better recorded audio), you may swear they’re the best headphones you’ve ever heard. With lower quality music, you’ll notice the fine details sound a bit muddy.
Props to 50 Cent for giving Dr. Dre the headphone competition he needs. The SMS Street lineup is now well developed and everything we’ve reviewed has been very fair to music across the board. In terms of build and style, Street and Beats are right on par. It comes down mainly to personal preference. Some more colors for 50’s ANC Over-Ears would be nice, but the discreet matte (shadow) black is a really neat and unique option. For noise canceling headphones, the Streets offer superb performance. They’re also very comfortable for their large size. At $279.95 they’re just slightly more affordable than the Studio Beats by Dre. This is an expensive price to pay, and unfortunately a chunk of the cost is for the name. With that said, it’s still really easy to get your moneys worth.
The Good: Comfortable, Noise canceling works well, Battery feels like it lasts forever, Removable headphone cable, ControlTalk with microphone, Micro-USB charging, Works without battery, Nice packaging, Included carrying case
The Bad: Noise isolation isn’t great without ANC on, No auto-shutoff for noise canceling, Mostly plastic build