Designed with rapper Ludacris, the Soul SL300 headphones certainly make themselves known. They're available in gold or black, and come with a quilted headband. But these 9 cans aren't just bling: Active noise cancellation, an inline remote/mic, deep bass, VIP comfort, and a hard case make the SL300's a treat for the ears, too.
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The SL300 looks striking with its glossy finish (available in black or gold) and quilted headband padding, and the Soul logo on each earcup is ringed with a white LED activated by a button on the headband. (You can turn it off via a button on the headband to save the battery.) One thing about that glossy finish -- it picks up fingerprints quickly.
The large oval earpads luxuriously encircled our ears, and although the headphones aren't light--especially with the two AAA batteries (included) in the right earcup--the cans virtually disappeared thanks to perfect headband tension and ample padding. They're a little loose if you plan on moving around a lot, but they're secure enough for most situations.
The headphones fold up into the included hard case, and you get one cable with a mic and three-button controller for smartphones as well as one plain cable. The build quality and cabling both feel sturdy.
The overall sound of the SL300s are tailored for club-style deep synth bass, such as on Ludacris' "How Low Can You Go." However, on Dre's "Let It Ride," the bass guitar didn't quite have the power it should, mostly because it's simply not low enough. Other music came through pretty well: acoustic jazz and rock sounded a bit heavy on the low end, but they had lots of impact and vocals came through clearly. However, the Chambers by RZA Premium have better detail and a more pronounced high end than the SL300's, which makes for a livelier sound.
Voice calls through the SL300's inline mic/controller sounded very clear on both ends.
Active Noise Cancellation
Like the Chambers Premium, the SL300 also has active noise cancellation; you activate this feature via a switch behind the left earcup. In our testing, the SL300's did a good job eliminating low-frequency din such as engines and fans. Music plays with or without power, but the sound--especially the bass--and volume dramatically improve with noise cancellation. (For high-powered audio sources such as computers or receivers, flip the gain switch inside the battery compartment from Hi to Lo.)
In this department, we prefer the SL300 to the RZA cans, as they have less hiss and slightly better noise cancellation. According to the manufacturer, the SL300's get about 40 hours of noise cancellation using the included alkaline batteries at normal listening volume (about 85db).
The 9 Soul by Ludacris SL300 headphones feel and sound excellent, and the styling has plenty of hip-hop flash. Although we thought music sounded slightly better on the Chambers Premium by RZA Premium cans, overall we prefer the SL300s because they offer better noise cancellation and were more comfortable to wear. Just keep that cleaning cloth handy.