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.