Customer Review

308 of 363 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overall, a good quality headphone, August 22, 2011
This review is from: SOUL by Ludacris SL300WB High Definition Noise Canceling Headphones (Black/White) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
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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Comments

Tracked by 8 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 38 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 24, 2011 9:37:26 AM PDT
Payaso says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Aug 26, 2011 9:29:36 AM PDT
S. Jentsch says:
From your review, it seems that your audio quality comparison to the Bose set that you already have was done with both units in noise-cancelling mode.

If so, this makes sense, since both are noise-cancelling headphones, but I'm curious about their performance when the noise-cancelling is turned off. I've noticed that the sound changes considerably when flipping the activation switch on the Soul unit, which is an expected scenario, but I'd like to hear your opinions of the audio quality without the noise cancellation circuit activated.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 30, 2011 3:52:12 AM PDT
BookMan says:
In answer to your question, yes the Soul was "burned-in" (although I strongly believe that "burning-in" is an urban myth. I used white noise, pink noise, frequency sweeps, and a variety of music to do so. I've also continued the "burning-in" process for the past week (since I wrote the review) and the Bose remains vastly superior.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 30, 2011 3:55:52 AM PDT
BookMan says:
S. Jentsch - you're correct - the comparison was done with noise canceling turned on. In fact, the Bose won't work if it's not turned on. I also compared the Soul when turned on and off. It sounds better, all of the time, when noise cancelling is turned on. Hope that helps.

BTW, hope you write a review!

Posted on Sep 4, 2011 6:52:04 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 4, 2011 6:54:34 AM PDT
L. Kirk says:
If your source is Ipod, unless you are using lossless source files, and are using a good amplifier with a digital output of the bitstream (a hardware modded Ipod) the compression is compromising your listening experience. The sound can only be as good as the weakest link, and for sure, both the player and the source files are weaker links than the headphones are. What you are probably hearing is how bad the Itunes files are.

Bose is notoriously, notoriously BAD sound quality, however it tends to sound good with bad source music as it softens the highs and boosts the lower midrange. When you compare anything Bose against really flat, neutral speaker/headphones, the badness becomes obvious.

These are just a few thoughts on your review. I'll be adding my own review shortly ... feel free to offer your observations there.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 4, 2011 12:49:27 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 4, 2011 12:51:57 PM PDT
BookMan says:
L. Kirk. Thanks for your questions - here are the answers:

As I'm listening to the same music on both the SOUL and on the Bose, the quality of the sound remains vastly superior on the Boss. There is no comparison between the two - the Bose is superior. Remember that I've also got the very latest Bose so if other ones sounded "flat and neutral" that doesn't occur here. In fact, if I had to use those descriptors, they would apply to the SOUL and not the Bose.

Regarding the source music - it doesn't get much better than the recordings I'm using. As I noted, I'm a classically trained musician who has played professionally for many, many years. The first piece I listened to was a recording of Itzhak Perlman and the Berlin Philharmonic, arguably some of the greatest musicians in the world, using the best recording techniques. That recording, btw, came from Amazon. I have since listened to a lot of other music and other recordings on the SOUL and then listened to exactly the same recordings, side-by-side, on the Bose. If the compression of the iPod is compromising the listening experience, it's doing it to both the SOUL and the Bose. I've also listened to both using a good amplifier and other hardware. The recordings sound consistently better, every time, on the Bose.

I again want to mention that the noise-cancelling on the Bose is also superior. I've tried both in a variety of indoor and outdoor settings. The SOUL has a bit of a hissing (very, very subtle) sound and simply doesn't cancel as much as the Bose.

Are you able to compare both headphones, side-by-side? I hope so as I would be interested in what others have to say. Like I mentioned in my review, there is no reason for me to like one over the other - in fact, I would have benefited if I had been able to take the Bose back (I see you're a member of the Amazon Vine Program too) but, because the Bose is superior, I won't even consider it.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 4, 2011 3:44:03 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 4, 2011 3:45:27 PM PDT
L. Kirk says:
Bookman, I do not have Bose, but I do have some Shure SE530 in ear monitors. Somewhat different as a comparison, but similar price point.

In general, flat and neutral are desirable when choosing audio equipment. Flat refers to the frequency response of the equipment: whether it boosts any portion of the audio spectrum; and neutral is somewhat more subjective: that it does not sound colored in any way to the listener. If you trust that the recording engineers did their jobs, then I for one would want nothing in the audio chain to add its own coloration. This is one of the criticisms of Bose for many people who are audio enthusiasts ... it does color the sound, in a way that "tests well" with listeners.

However, the important thing is that you are happy with your product, and it certainly seems that you gave the Soul headphones your honest appraisal. Enjoy the music, that's the bottom line :)

Posted on Dec 13, 2011 7:07:12 AM PST
Endarkened says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 10:43:57 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 14, 2011 1:49:27 PM PST
BookMan says:
Why? The Bose GREATLY outperforms the SOUL.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2011 9:21:18 AM PST
ChickenPoPie says:
Great review. I'm curious to find out if the Soul sounds at least as good or better with the noise canceling OFF compared to the Bose. I know this may seem like an apple to oranges comparison, but I would most likely use the Soul without noise canceling; its a nice to have for flights but most of the time, I most likely wont use it and this would greatly reduce battery consumption. Requiring the Bose to have noise canceling on all the time is a deal breaker for me, unfortunately. I'm sure the Bose was tuned for this single mode of operation which is why it most likely sounds better when comparing noise canceling modes. So maybe the Soul had to compromise to operate in both or perhaps better tuned with n/c off which would be more ideal for me. Thanks in advance for any response.
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BookMan
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