Customer Reviews: SOUL by Ludacris SL300WB High Definition Noise Canceling Headphones (Black/White) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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on April 17, 2013
I've owned almost all of the quiet comfort Bose headphones over the years - I really like the product. I decided to order these from Amazon as a deal of the day. When I first opened product I was impressed with the way the headphone looked. When I put them on, I was even more impressed with the way they sounded. The first advantage these have over Bose is that you can listen to them without turning the noise cancellation on. This is really nice because it does not require batteries to use. Then when you turn noise cancellation on, they really do sound good. I took a trip last week that lasted close to four hours each way, and I decided to compare the product while in the air to compare noise cancellation in the most obvious of conditions requiring it. I really expected Bose to outshine the Soul product here, but was truly amazed that the soul noise cancellation was better than Bose. Coming from a Bose product lover, that's really saying a lot.
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on August 8, 2013
I bought this headphone and used it for my 35 hours flight to Indonesia.

The noise cancellation is really awesome. On my most recent flights (on a Boeing 767) I was more aware than usual of the interior noise, which got me thinking about my safety. Colloquially, I know other people get a ringing in their ears after a flight, which suggests a typical airliner operates at a potentially damaging noise level above 85 decibels.
This headphone gave me sufficient protection from the cabin noise (crying babies in particular) during my flight.

As quoted from CNET review of this headphone, "the Soul by Ludacris SL300s competes with other celebrity-endorsed headphones with active noise cancellation, a comfortably padded headband, and a generous array of accessories." [...]
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VINE VOICEon August 22, 2011
Color: Black/White|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It is rather ironic that I am able to review the SOUL High Definition Noise Canceling Headphones by Ludacris at this time. The reason being is that I recently purchased another very high quality noise canceling headset, the Bose® QuietComfort® 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® Headphones NEWEST MODEL a couple of weeks ago and have been using that every day. As a result, I've now had a chance to compare two different headphones, side-by-side. Overall, I have found the Ludacris to be well made and it looks rather cool, it's larger than the Bose but it's also very comfortable to wear. The ear cups fit comfortably over my ears and feel good.

As expected, it's necessary to first install two AAA batteries prior to use. The battery compartment is located in the right ear cup (the left and right sides are clearly marked on the inside of the headset). In order to install the batteries, I had to read the instructions; otherwise, it would difficult to determine where they go as well as how to open the well-hidden compartment. Even then, it took a little bit of effort to get the compartment open. After installing the batteries, it's important to also set a switch inside the compartment to adjust for the sound levels of your output device. The default is set to "hi" and the manufacturer suggests that if you use very high output devices, you should set it to "lo" in order to "lower the overall output of [the] headphones". As I never play anything with very high output, I left it at the default setting. Replace the battery cover when finished and the SOUL is ready to go.

In order to operate, there's a switch located on the left ear cup that needs to be turned on - it doesn't slide as easily as one might expect and this is disappointing. Once the headphones are turned on, a blue LED indicates it's ready for use. There is also a second button located on the inside of the headphone - the instructions indicated that this is the "headphone badge light button" - at first, I couldn't figure out what it does but after taking the headphones into a darker location, I noticed that the Soul Logo on each side of each of the ear cups lights up. I'm sure that the only reason for this is to make the headphones "look cool" during use. There is no indication as to how much this may tax battery life so I really don't use this "feature".

While the headphones can be used alone for noise cancelling without listening to music, two "flat tangle free cables" are provided, along with a couple of adapters that may be used to connect to different devices, including use on an airplane. As a stand-alone noise cancelling headphone, the SOUL does a fairly good job. I can still hear a slight sound - similar to the "ocean" sound one might hear when placing a placing an ear to a seashell or the sound of air moving through the trees in a forest. Although it's very quiet, when compared to my Bose, it's certainly evident.

I generally listen to music on my iPod so that's what I'll use to discuss my experience. Let me state upfront that I'm a classically trained musician so I usually listen to classical music. As these are new headphones, I tried to listen to really high quality recordings to write this review. One of those is a recording of the Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 3; Symphony No. 41 "Jupiter" played by Itzhak Perlman. I'm afraid I was disappointed - the recording sounds rather muffled through the SOUL, it's almost as if the headphones are cutting out a lot of the higher overtones which takes away the brilliance in the music. Just to compare, I listened to exactly the same pieces with my Bose and the difference is very significant- the Bose simply sounds much better. I also tried different EQ settings on my iPod (just to make sure) and every time the Bose sounds better. Listening to different music also produces the same results.

Overall, this is a good headphone but as it is the same price as the Bose, I would consider that first. Had I not been able to compare the two side-by-side, my response might not have been as critical but there really is a significant difference between the two.

Update: After I wrote this review, I had a couple of interesting questions and I wanted to respond to them in the review itself. The first question concerned whether or not these headphones were "properly burned-in". "Burning-in" is a process that appears to be nothing more than an urban myth and there is no research, none at all, on whether or not it makes a difference. It includes playing music or many other sounds (white noise, pink noise, "frequency sweeps", etc.) for an extended period of time in order to "break-in" the headphone by "loosening the diaphragm of a newly crafted headphone". Again, this is an urban myth and there has been no research to substantiate its effectiveness. Just the same, to appease those who suggest that this is important, I have "burned-in" the Soul headphones by playing many types of sounds (especially those that are freely available on the Internet that have been created specifically for this purpose) for many days. As I noted that the sound quality of my new Bose headphones are superior to the Soul (and I've only had those for a few weeks), I did not "burn-in" those - just to see if the Soul could "catch up" in sound quality. Considering this information, the Bose remains superior, in fact vastly superior, to the sound quality of the Soul. I've spent a considerable amount of time going back and forth between the two headsets and, in my opinion, the Bose is far better. Specifically, the Soul lacks clarity and is "muddy" when compared to the Bose. I've listened to many pieces of music - again, I'm a classically trained musician and have played professionally for many years. The Bose allows each nuance to be heard while the Soul covers up many of the subtleties in the music. I'm not saying that because I have any reason to like one over the other - in fact, I wished that the Soul was better as I received a review set and I paid full price for the Bose. If the Soul was better, I wouldn't think twice about returning the Bose. Unfortunately, I can't do that because the Bose is superior - and I'm now convinced of that.

Another question concerned how the Soul compares to the Bose when noise canceling is shut off. Shutting off the Soul decreases the volume and the overall sound quality is less. The Bose must be used with noise canceling on - it's not possible to listen to music if it's not. This brings up another issue - batteries. The Soul requires two and the Bose only needs one. I've really grown to dislike the battery compartment on the Soul as it is frustratingly difficult to get off - I think this is a significant design flaw - especially for a $300 headphone. It is much easier to replace the single battery in the Bose.

Overall, the Soul remains a good, comfortable headphone but when compared side-by-side with the Bose QuietComfort, the Bose is superior. I wish that weren't true as I could have saved $300.
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on December 20, 2012
My eldest son wanted one thing for his birthday - a pair of Bose Quietsomething headphones. $300+?!? For headphones? My jaw dropped. So I started researching, and found these. On sale. In gold. Hmmm, a bit gaudy. Anyway, clever dad brought said child to Big Box store to listen to headphones. He tried a pair of these (albeit more traditional black) and loved them. Perfect! I ordered the gold. When he got them, he balked. Said I, "No one will steal them! They are unique to you!" Said he, "Good idea!"

His friends needled him for five seconds, then listened to them and all threw their Beats out the window and begged their moms and dads for these. The sound is incredible. The noise cancellation quite good. He listens to them before basketball games and gets good and geeked up. He does his homework with them on and never complains. One problem. I have to wave my arms and leap about to gain his attention. But then, he's a teenager, so that might happen anyway.
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on September 6, 2011
I started my search for noise cancellation headphones because I couldn't enjoy my music at home with all the neighbors dogs barking. I first went to Best Buy and tried out the Bose QuietComfort 15 and various Dre Beats. Unfortunately, Soul's are only available online but I'm glad I trusted the reviews and ordered them w/o completely knowing what I was getting into. The Soul's noise cancellation is amazing if not better than what I remember at the store from the Bose QuiteComforts. These are very comfortable to wear too. After 4 hours, my ears were a little warm but nothing that required me to lift them up periodically to breathe as I had read about the QuiteComforts.

In regards to sound quality, at first I was a little disappointed because I was looking for a little more base and that was one place Dre Beats shined. Then I realized that the Soul's don't try to drown you out with base but actually PLAYS your music in a way I've never heard. If you really want to listen to your music, and I mean every note, chord, string, cough... these headphones are for you. I'm absolutely mesmerized by all the music I was missing in my music.

Celebrity endorsed fads or not, the underlying company that produced these headphones took advantage of the marketing opportunity and made in my opinion a great product. Worth $300? For me, yes.

***UPDATE (2/16/2012)***

Was replying to a comment below about the noise cancellation and thought I'd provide a short update. After several months of use, I'm still really happy with these headphones and use them just about every week. I was a little unsure if was losing quality due to the batteries getting low (didn't remember reading about a low battery indicator in the instructions) but sure enough the power LED began blinking a couple days later.
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on August 6, 2013
I'm no audiophile. But these headphones did blow me away. The noise canceling works well, and the sound is powerful and vibrant. I haven't used them on an airplane, but on a road trip I was able to enjoy the music with very little outside noise getting through. People had to tap my shoulders to get my attention, and the volume was not even half way up!
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VINE VOICEon November 8, 2011
Color: Black/White|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Overall, I was pleased with these headphones. I've never owned a pair of noise cancelling headphones, so I'm a little handicapped with regard to having something to compare against, but here are my reactions.

I don't know if there's anything to the break-in argument or not. I've had these for about three months, I use them daily to listen to music of all kinds as well as the spoken word. I guess a total of about 80 to 120 hours of use all told.

The noise cancelling works pretty well. I tried wearing the headphones with no music source playing through them and then seeing what happens to various types of outside noise. With a steady low-frequency sound, they work quite well. The humming air-conditioner or a lawn-mower in the neighbor's yard have their volume cut by about 50%. Interestingly, these sources have their frequency shifted to a higher pitch, as well. I could see the SL300WB's being quite useful on an airplane flight to cut engine noise.

Variable noise, like a TV in an adjacent room playing a sporting event is not quite as well-filtered. There is some attenuation, but it's not nearly as effective as with steady tones.

These seem well-made. Removing a side panel to replace batteries or set the hi-lo switch is tricky, but becomes simple once you get the hang of it.
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on December 24, 2012
When I saw thee gold SL300's by Ludacris on sale for $99.99 and free one-day shipping on Amazing lightning deals, I immediately jumped on the purchase without thinking twice. The headphones got here promptly the next day and without further ado, I tore through them.

At first impression, the SL-300's come in very nice packaging that is very reminiscent of its competition (Beats by Dre and Streets by 50). The headphones come with a nice, hard carrying case that will protect it from reasonable pressure and drops. There's a separate accessories box that contains your two auxiliary cable (one will have a control talk on it), 2 AAA batteries (required for noise cancellation), instructional manual, and cleaning cloth.

The headphones themselves are sleek and sexy, to a point. The flat and monotone plastic can get tacky after a while. The black plastic part of the headband is a fingerprint magnet. From a comfort standpoint, the SL-300's are at the top of the line. Its headband features a quilted pattern cushioning that is more plush than any that of any other headphones. Its individual earcups do swivel at nearly a full range of motion, giving that much more of a comfortable circumaural fit over the ears. The SL-300's even have an added feature where you can turn on a ring of lights on each side of the earcups, which I thought was a cool added bonus. Build quality wise, these may seem flimsy due to the plasticy feel but I saw several YouTube videos where the SL-300's did more than hold up to your usual daily stress.

Now, to the most important part of any headphones..... the sound quality. When you put these on and play any sort of music, you will immediately notice what these headphones are made for: the current world of pop and hip hop culture music. The bass and treble are both artificially boosted, almost to an annoying point. Beats by Dre are known to have a muddy and unclear bass. The SL-300's does a commendable effort of fixing this, as its bass is much more noticeably controlled and tighter. However, the mid's are slightly lacking and this can be apparent whenever you hear an "ssss" sound such as "snake". The boosted treble and lack of mid will cause the "sss" sound to be extra sharp and sometimes hurt when at a higher volume. I found myself playing with the equalizer on my laptop for around 30 minutes before finding the perfect settings. After some tweaking, the headphones actually sound quite well.

Overall, these were a great purchase.... for its $100 pricetag. Anything higher, I probably would have returned these. If you're a fan of noise cancellation headphones, look somewhere else. The noise cancellation on these babies is not that great. Only about 30%-50% of actual ambient noise is cancelled out. If you're a fan of bass and treble heavy music and aren't a audiophile demanding that best-sounding headphones, then these are for you, provided you know how to work an equalizer. In terms of stacking up against the competition, I have personally owned Studio Beats by Dre and Streets by 50. These edge out the Studios due to their better bass and ability to run without batteries. The Streets have nothing compared to the Beats and Souls.

Hope this review helped!
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on January 27, 2013
To the seventeen of you that were having sound problelms from these headphones, here is the solution. The plug has to be pushed in till you hear a second click. I bought a pair for my son this xmas, and he had the same issue, sound being distorted and it did sound horrible. I was getting ready to return them and I checked it out for myself and found that if you only push down once when you hear the first click as you do with most headphones the music is distorted. I then pushed down a second time and it was cristal clear. Tried it several times after that and all times had to push doen twice. He went ahead and ordered the bose headphones for $300 and I listened to them. They are clear but not much bass. At the price I got these for I'll hold on to them myself. If you get it right, pushing down twice then listening, I think you will love these headphones.
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on November 22, 2013
I primarily listen to rap, R&B and some pop music. I've wanted a noise cancelling headset to replace my ear-buds which are uncomfortable after long periods of time.

These SL300s have decent noise cancellation, excellent fit and come at a relatively low price. They are compared very favorably to the competing "Beats Studio by Dre" headphones that sell for 3X the price. I have not been able to compare them directly to any other headphones so I encourage you to read the other reviews. I encourage you to buy these headphones before the go out of stock.

Very comfortable fit around the ears, even with glasses
Music playback quality is very good
Effective Noise cancellation of low pitch sounds
Base response is not overpowering
Headphones still work in passive mode without batteries
Great styling
Takes standard AAA batteries
Includes a hard case (you will need it)
Build quality looks good
Built in LEDs can light up the logo

The included batteries wore out in just a week, but I think that is b/c they have been sitting in the box for a while
The headphones do not fold flat like many other ones- this makes it a bit harder to carry around in a backpack.

Overall I think the pros of these headphones outweigh the cons and the SL300 is offered at a very attractive price. You will be hard pressed to find a better noise-canceling headset for the price and I have already recommended these to family and friends.
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