Last week we donned the newly remastered Studio headphones from the well-known Beats by Dre camp. We came away mostly impressed with the new build quality, comfort and tweaks to the overall soundstage. Now former partner-in-rhyme Curtis aka 50Cent and SMS Audio are kicking out their new Street by 50 ANC headphones. These cans feature a new active noise cancelling engine powered by a rechargeable lithium battery, foldable hinge frame and deceptively attractive design (more on the deception down below).
The ANC Street by 50 came to us colored with a matte silver finish. The underside however, is all white with finely stitched white soft leather covering the foam cushions and head padding. The headphones also come in all black. But each ships with the main headphones which are found inside the black hard shell case lined with cobalt blue accents and zipper. You also get a Micro USB charging cable, airplane adapter, Removable 3.5mm cable with a 3-click in-line mic, a cleaning cloth, owner’s manual, brochure and sticker. These are a very large set of cans–but surprisingly lightweight.
Despite the size, these new Street by 50 are quite stylish with a subdued elegance. Beats and SMS are not the only brands to use celebrities to tout their wares. But these new ANC cans from SMS are surely more modest with less ostentatious flare to mar the aesthetics. Too bad those good looks melt away as soon as to place them on your music-loving ears. They’re just too big. They can make the smallest head appear macrocephalic. I much prefer the new design of the remastered Studio headphones from Beats. The Street by 50 suffer from an overly rounded design. A more tension-resistant frame would have served better. The rigid frame paired with the overly rounded design makes for a tight fit for heads reaching the larger variety. Essentially something more bendable to compensate for multiple head sizes would go a long way. V-Moda knows what I’m talking about.
Overall performance is more impressive than the comfort. The new Studio headphones offer more clarity and soundstage distinction between instrument sounds. Moreover, these new SMS can are a mere $20 less than the overpriced competition, which is still rather pricey. That said, Street by 50 are very well balanced with the treble being applied more evenly across various music genres than the Studio’s “shrilly” treble in some scenarios. These ANC Street by 50 make use of 40mm drivers and the aforementioned active noise-cancelling tech.
The ANC On/Off switch is found on the underside of the left side headband. Below that is the LED indicator followed by the Micro USB port then the 3.5mm audio jack. Control is far more intuitive than the competing Studio from Beats. You want to enjoy the sound of you music with enhanced silence from the outside world–just flip the switch. The LED indicator will light up Blue for ANC-on, Red for charging, Green when at a full charge and no LED when ANC is powered off. The headphones themselves work well with ANC set to Off, or when ANC is without a charge.
Yet the active noise-cancelling really envelopes you in your favorite tunes. It offers an improved listening experience with more clarity and confinement than the previous iteration of Street by 50 sans the ANC. The whir of my computer fans, busy freeway traffic outside, the audible rush of wind resistance as you bike are all dulled and inaudible with the effective ANC engaged.
But when it dies the music keeps going. This is another massive boon over the Studio from Dre. When the ANC battery dies so do you the headphones in general. A long movie-worthy 2.5hrs is all it takes to charge the lithium battery to full. From there you get a handsome 65-70hrs of engrossing ANC goodness for your new cans.
Bottom Line: The ANC Street By 50 are drool-worthy set of over-ear headphones. We’re keeping fingers crossed for more clarity and distinction across more music genres. Hip-Hop can be great at times but intricate lyrics can be lost and bit muddy as if behind a curtain of low and midrange sounds. Genres that are replete with a variety of instruments will also suffer from a loss of minute detail in the soundstage. Yet our California Headphones have paves a very strict path for instrument distinction and clarity. The new ANC Street By 50 are competitively priced with well-balanced performance across a large variety of music types. The comfort may be a challenge for some. But if the fit is right, users will be pleased with the potency of the ANC and the long battery life it provides.
Better balance across many music genres. Attractive design. Amazing active noise-cancelling. 65-70hr battery life.
Soundstage lacks clarity and higher detail. Rigid frame can become a bit to tight. A bit pricey.
Shawn loves gadgets, literature, history and games. For 10yrs+ he's straddled both the comic book & video game industries, as a writer, editor, marketing officer & producer. Shawn got his start in tech & games as an editor & Hardware Director for GameRevolution.com. More notable accomplishments include Executive Producer on mobile games Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved & The Shroud.