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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.
For more great products like this, visit our reviews covering the Sony WH-1000XM3, Phiaton Bridge MS 500 on-ear headphones, and the Sony MDR ZX110.
The Sync by 50 offers a nice complement of onboard controls, a more attractive styling and form factor plus an onboard mic along with an 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 also recommend our post on the best over-ear headphones.
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, a hard shell carrying case, detachable cable with 3-click control and in-line mic, a soft-touch cleaning cloth, manual, product brochure, and a series of stickers.
Related: For those who want to try over-ear headphones, have a look at our Skullcandy Crusher Wireless review.
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 is 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.
With that said, not everyone likes on-ear headphones. Instead, opt for the Optoma NuForce be Sport3 Bluetooth headphones.
Read: Best Headphones for Working Out
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, just like the Urbanears Plattan headphones, which are tailored specifically for Apple devices.
The buttons are raised so you can easily find and identify 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 for 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) is no problem. Unlike the Mpow H10, which doesn’t have any mic features.
Related: In case you prefer devices made by Sony, read the Sony MDR 1R Premium Headphones review.
Pairing the Sync by 50 is a pretty intuitive affair and the sound is very good once connected. The 40mm drivers serve the unit well. Plus the aptX technology results in a higher quality sound than what I heard from the over-ear Street by 50 from SMS. There is 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 is 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 leave this one high on the ever-growing mountain of wireless Bluetooth headphones.