• Excellent bass quality
• Good looking design
• Comfortable leather padding on headband & ear cups
• Could have a stronger build
• Missing playback controls on audio cord
• High sound leakage
From the thick ‘unfolding’ style box and branded SMS stickers, to the little pocket dedicated to the product documentation; SMS Audio clearly wanted customers to feel like they’re getting a premium product and for me anyway, it worked!
Inside the box, you’ll find a very nice black & blue neoprene-like carrying case for the Street by 50 headphones. It has enough padding to protect the headphones from any serious damage and the inside has a soft-touch fabric too.
You also get a small blue micro fibre cloth to keep your headphones clean, and a detachable 3.5mm audio cord to use with your Street by 50 headphones.
Design & Build Quality
Flaunting a glossy red plastic finish with black accents for the SMS branding and faux leather components, these Street by 50 headphones are some serious eye candy (especially for me – I’m a sucker for the red-black combo!).
The underside of the headband has leather padding with red stitching which looks really nice, and the on-ear memory foam OVALFIT™ ear cushions are made with a relatively thick padding – making them look (and feel) super comfortable.
For all of the attractive qualities of the headphones however, I had mixed feelings about their build. The entire headband is made of plastic and although that helps in making it lighter, they don’t feel quite as tough as I’d like for $180 (£150) headphones.
Picking up the Street by 50’s from the top of the headband, the frame & ear cups below the metal hinges wobble way too easily, making the headphones feel rather weak and emphasising my concern about their build quality.
What does help, is that the headband still has a good amount of flexibility to it. I could literally twist them out of shape and they’d still go back to their original form as if nothing had happened.
Since the Street by 50’s are so good looking it would have been awesome if they had a little more rigidity & strength to them; just to complete the package. Fortunately, since the headphones are foldable and SMS Audio provide that carrying case – you have a way to protect your investment!
As well as the construction of the headband, the absence of inline volume and playback controls on the 3.5mm audio cord was a disappointment to me. At this price point, it was something I expected by default. Instead of a full set of audio controls, SMS Audio provide only a play/pause button that can be used for making/declining phone calls using the inline microphone.
On a more positive note, the cord features an L-shaped connector to use on your main device as well as a thicker design to prevent tangling.
Packed with 40mm drivers, the Street by 50 headphones produce some of the best bass-heavy audio I’ve heard in this price range. Whatever else it may lack, these headphones make up for it with an excellent audio experience.
It only felt right to test these headphones playing some of 50 Cent’s own tracks like In Da Club, Baby By me, and My Life under pre-set ‘Hip-Hop’ equaliser settings. Overall, the Street by 50’s produced the heavy bass lines emphatically but without any sort of compromise on vocal clarity, and even at a medium volume the bass reproduction was rich and powerful.
Even when it came to changing up musical genres and equaliser settings, the Street by 50 headphones comfortably handled the transitions without any signs of distortion or loss of clarity, so all in all I was really impressed with the audio output.
SMS Audio brand these with PNC technology (Passive Noise Control), which is essentially a basic version of their ANC technology (Active Noise Cancelling). Although they’re relatively good at blocking out external noise, they’re not great at keeping it in. The sound leakage means that at around 70% volume, people around you can probably start to hear what you’re listening to.
From a usability perspective, the lack of inline controls on the audio card was frustrating and the quality of the microphone was poor based on feedback from various phone calls I made. Other than that, the OVALFIT™ on-ear cushions were very comfortable on my ears and the foldable hinges (along with the carrying case) made the Street by 50’s a great companion during my day-to-day routines.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line with the SMS Street by 50’s is that they’re a great looking, well designed pair of headphones with excellent sound quality for bass heads.
Although I felt like the build quality could have been a little better, it’s definitely not a deal breaker in light of the included carrying case and the headband’s flexibility. I was disappointed at the lack of inline controls on the audio cable but if it’s something you can overlook, these headphones will be an absolute treat for anybody who’s a bass head like me.