I wasn’t the biggest fan of the latest active noise cancelling headies from SMS – the Street by 50 ANC. They were far from attractive, sound quality was solid but lacking when compared with similarly priced solutions like V-Moda, Beats and others. It was inevitable, my trepidation when taking on the SMS Sync by 50 On-Ear Wireless Bluetooth headphones.
The Sync by 50 offer a nice compliment of onboard controls, a more attractive styling and form factor plus an onboard mic along with a in-line mic on the cable for wired listening without the need for batteries. The noise cancelling is of the passive variety and the headphones themselves come in your choice of Shadow Black and Cool Silver.
We’re rocking out with the Shadow Black version sent to us. They are aesthetically more appealing than the Cool Silver, which is more of a gray than silver, anyway. The package itself includes the main wireless Sync by 50 on-ear headphones, hard shell carrying case, detachable cable with 3-click control and in-line mic, a soft-touch cleaning cloth, manual, product brochure and series of stickers.
They make use of soft leather memory foam for the padding on the earpieces. The top padding to cushion your head is also very soft. But memory padding was not used here. It does have a nice cobalt blue stitching that gives the unit a nice color contrast. The Sync by 50 are much smaller than their more expensive and tethered sibling. But like big bro, these on-ear Bluetooth headies feature foldable hinges to further reduce their footprint for easier portability. The size is greatly appreciated and compliments the styling, comfort and coolness factor.
The onboard controls are found on the right earpiece. You can fast-forward, rewind, skip tracks back and forth and adjust volume levels right there on the headphones. It’s incredibly handy! The buttons are raised so you can easily find and indentify the functions while wearing them. Above these and on the inside of the frame, is a small Bluetooth switch. Below the right earpiece we have the micro-USB port for charging the battery. At the bottom of the left earpiece we have the port the audio cable used for wired listening. This is good if the battery is dead or if one simply wants to save batt-juice for a later time. While there is a mic on the provided audio cable, as mentioned above, there is a secondary mic onboard and positioned below the right earpiece. So wireless communication via phone calls or even across Skype (w/ a BT enable PC/laptop) are no problem.
Pairing the Sync by 50 is a pretty intuitive affair and sound is very good once connected. The 40mm drivers server the unit well. Plus the aptX technology results in higher quality sound that what I heard from the over-ear Street by 50 from SMS. There a higher level of clarity, even during tracks with deeper heavy bass. The midranges are fine and on par with that heard from big brother. But the highs benefit as well from the enhanced clarity so stringed instruments and other treble related tones fill out the soundstage more audibly. We ran through Reggae, Dubstep, Jazz, Rock, Classical and Caribbean tunes. There is little to warm up to on these. From the first listen we were pleased.
The appeal is emboldened by the immense comfort. The super plush foam leather padding creates mobile pillows for your ears. The plastic frame offers ample flexibility. Plus the unit is super light and folds up like many other headies for added ease and mobility.
Bottom Line: The SMS Sync by 50 are a great set of cans. My only major complaint is the price. At $230 these are not that easy to come by. But if your heart is set on Bluetooth, you could do a lot worse. The comfort, performance and a 12hr battery life leaves this one high on the ever-growing mountain of wireless Bluetooth headphones.
Great balanced audio. Comfortable. Compact. Onboard controls. Wired and wireless functionality. 12hr battery life.
Noise cancelling doesn't add much to immersion. Costly.
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.