Being honest, when I was first told about the STREET by 50 First Edition Star Wars On Ear Headphones Stormtrooper — I was thinking it was just another licensing deal that resulted in a pair of kiddies headphones that looked cute and cost about $29.99. When I heard that the headphones came with a poster, stickers and a certificate of authenticity, the thought that this was just a “toy” was cemented in my mind. Of course life plays tricks, so when the very large box arrived, accompanied by a $199.95 price tag, I knew that my assessment was wrong. The question then became what exactly was this all about.
There’s no denying that SMS Audio has made the presentation a big deal: it comes in big box with Star Wars logos, unfolds open to a compartment holding that poster and goodies inside a pocket, and the mail depression has a handsome semi-rigid hard case inside holding the headphones. They’re not small, I thought as I took the case out. It’s shaped like an oval football, with a zipper. The headphones are inside — white band with black cups and smaller than the box would suggest — but then I didn’t realize right off that they folded for transport. So I unfolded the two ear cups and their hinges clicked into position. I then saw the Storm Troopers emblem on both ear cups — which made sense since the headphones come with different decorations (I passed on the “hero” versions as I felt particularly evil that day when asked which one to see).
The headphones’ construction looked good and I doubted the hinges would break, thanks to their solid construction and the fact that there’s no “give” to each cup and so don’t expect to angle or tilt them — once they’ve been unfolded they’re going to stay that way. The inner top side of the headphones is padded, although the padding doesn’t extend past covering the top of the head (on me, anyway), and to adjust them for the head, pull down on each cup to reveal a sliding band. This moved without any jerks; the exposed steel inserts provided about 2-inches to make for a more conformable fit. The cups themselves were well padded and fit securely around my ears, shutting out most, but not all, of the outside noise. The cup size is the standard one I’ve seen in other on ear pairs that sported 40mm drivers, but it is definitely smaller than that of an over the ear pair. So it’s fair to say that it’ll be up to the padding to enable the headphones to remain comfortable on the ears for any length of time greater than about a 1/2 hour. I found that slightly tilting the entire headphones just a bit forward from the top of the headband made all the difference between being able to wear them for over two hours without being pinched. After some time spent, I could also see that the leather memory foam that was touted and which constituted the ear cups coverings made for a better fit than the foam material used in other headphones.
The Star Wars On Ear Headphones Stormtrooper sensibly takes a mini-jack in the lower left cup to distribute the audio rather than having a permanently attached wired cable, so I plugged the included Star Wars logo-branded cable into the headphones and my Mac Pro and brought up iTunes. I also noticed the cable had a tangle-free aspect to it. Good. I then spent over an hour playing a variety of tunes, from symphonic to heavy metal to bluegrass. I couldn’t fault the sound being heard: it sounded balanced and uncolored, just as the specs touted. The bass was also very good — not up to the high levels of my high-priced Sennheiser perhaps, but well within the levels of tolerance needed to provide the backbone to the higher frequencies being layered over it. Again, just because the Star Wars logo is plastered throughout doesn’t mean that these headphones can’t perform mean and lean. Out on the street a bit more sound “bleeds” in from the higher level of ambient sound (there not being any noise-canceling), but the listening quality is still so much higher than a pair of earbuds wired to a smartphone that it’s not even worth making the comparison.
Bottom line: The portability factor is high with the STREET by 50 First Edition Star Wars On Ear Headphones Stormtrooper, and it’s definitely a plus that the material they’re made from is shatterproof. But it’s the sound quality that makes them well worth carrying around with you and, more importantly having them on your ears for listening.
Professionally tuned 40mm custom drivers, Folding design, Mic for making/taking phone calls
Plastic rim can be scratched
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.