The Street by 50 headphones get the job done when it comes to sound quality and volume, but there are a few quirks that didn’t sit well with me. When all is said and done, a decision to buy these headphones all comes down to how serious you are about music and how often you use a pair of cans.
If appearances matter, then 50 Cent certainly knows what he’s doing. I love the look of Street by 50 headphones, and think they actually have an aesthetic advantage against the new Beats by Dre cans. They’re equally as comfortable, too. Some over-the-ear headphones become too heavy, while others are either too lose or too snug to deal with. I find the Street By 50 cans to be just right in terms of fit, likely due to their ultra-flexible polymer construction. And ultra-flexible is no understatement. These things can really bend when stressed, and shouldn’t break unless broken headphones is the intended goal.
Along the inside, there are faux leather-lined memory foam cushions for the ears and the headband. Overall, they fit very comfortably but I would like it to be just a tad tighter around my ears. I notice that when I press even slightly on the ear cups the sound is way better, and way louder. My colleague Matt Burns (reviewing Sync by 50 wireless) would disagree with me, as these are apparently one of the first pairs to not feel too tight for him. So clearly, to each his own.
I played around with both the blue and black models of Street by 50 at my hands-on demo with 50 Cent a few weeks ago, but wound up with a Shadow Black pair for the review. I’d say the black versions look much better with the bright blue removable cord that comes with them, though blue-on-blue may work for some people. The mic feels just a tad too high on the cord, but the play/pause button still has a nice tactile feedback despite the fact that it lies nearly flush with design.
Sound quality on these things was pretty great. Even tracks that are poor quality on my computer sounded much better through Street by 50. And when I put them to the ultimate test — Benny Benassi’s Satisfaction, of course — I was left feeling like there was a club in my head.
But there are some issues. For one, these aren’t “noise cancelling” headphones in the traditional sense. They do, however, feature “passive noise cancellation.” Straight from the owner’s manual: “Our unique shape and earcup design do provide passive sound isolation with lower background noise.” To a degree, this is true. I heard much less background noise wearing Street by 50 than I did with my Apple earbuds. However, if you’re really serious about blocking out the world you may run into some trouble on a plane or in a super noisy environment.
But perhaps my biggest beef comes from the outside in. While some are obsessed with blocking out outside noises, others are more concerned with how much others can hear their music. Anyone with a music library as embarrassing as mine knows what I mean. With Street by 50 headphones at even 75 percent volume, passersby can hear every note and every word of the song your listening to. No problem.
I also noticed that using the mic to talk on the phone isn’t all that pleasant. I’m not sure why, but many people had trouble hearing me and and everything sounded much more garbled on my end.
It’s clear that Street by 50 headphones aren’t for the casual listener. It’s difficult for anyone who isn’t serious about music to justify the price tag, especially since casual activities like listening to music on the train and talking on the phone are tedious and annoying. But if music is your passion and comfort is important, these may be what you’ve been looking for.