As a musician with eclectic listening tastes, I’m always looking for quality headphones and earbuds at reasonable prices. But as a smartphone user who listens to music, podcasts, and audio books almost exclusively on my phone, I do prefer a set with a mic so I can make and receive calls while listening. Unfortunately condition number two severely limits the products available that also match condition number one.
Considering that I prefer a mic and that my ears aren’t the easiest to fit for earbuds, I’ve pretty much stuck with the Apple EarPods buds since their release. While they don’t have the best sound quality, they fit my ears to a tee and stayed in even while I was moving around. The sound quality was just ok, but the fit and ability to take calls made them acceptable.
Recently, I had the opportunity to try out SMS’s Street by 50 in-ear headphones. Since they have all of the features I am looking for, I was very interested to see how they would stack up with Apple’s EarPod earbuds in overall performance, and if they could take over that spot in my gear bag.
1. Quality construction- These buds are made to last. I’ve used them for over a month, and I can tell they can take a beating and keep right on working. I can’t say the same for Apple and other less expensive buds.
2. Non-tangle cords- If there is one thing I hate about earbuds and cheap headphones, it’s tangled up cords. You will never have that problem with these earbuds. I kept them in the included case anytime I wasn’t wearing them, and I never had to untangle or untie knots. They are ready to use at a moments notice.
3. Sound Quality- Are these the best sounding earbuds I’ve ever owned? Yes. I’ve never been one to spend a lot of money on in-ear phones, instead spending more on higher quality over the ear phones. However, thanks to the included mic, I have found myself using these more and more, and my noise cancelling over the ear headphones less and less. That said, there are options at a slightly higher price that sound better.
4. Mic and Controls- The ability to make and receive calls on a set of buds with good sound quality is big selling point. I also appreciate the fact that it, like the rest of these earbuds, is solidly built. I’ve seen more than one set of Apple buds with a busted remote and mic, so I appreciate that this is made to last.
5. Included Case- If a set of earbuds comes with a case, it usually isn’t a big selling point. The few that I’ve had were either cheap and flimsy, or were a pain to get the buds back into (hello, Apple). SMS, on the other hand, has included a case that is large enough to easily get the earbuds in and out of, is durable enough to provide some protection, and has a webbed pocket for carrying the extra ear pieces around. Well done, SMS. Well done.
1. Weight- Durable construction comes with a cost. These buds are heavy enough that, if the buds aren’t a perfect fit in your ears, they will fall out. Repeatedly. Kind of goes against the “Street” branding. Adding an optional over the ear loop or a behind the neck support cord would be a big help.
2. Fit- I’m one of those people that sits in between the three standard earbud earpiece sizes. Unfortunately, that means that these buds didn’t work well for me if I was moving around. For $100 retail, it would have been nice to see four sets included for a better fit.
3. Angled Plug- While this can be an advantage in some settings, if you have a heavy-duty case or a battery pack case, you will need to add a short extension cord to use these buds with your phone in the case.
4. Price- No matter what you think about the Beats brand, it is very clear that Street by 50 is meant to be a direct competitor. However, as a brand with a little less name recognition, it would have been wise for SMS to come in a little lower than the comparable offerings from Beats. However, at $100, they are the exact same price.
SMS’s Street by 50 in-ear headphones deliver very good sound quality and solid construction, have a very handy mic with controls, and a case that’s actually worth using. They certainly aren’t perfect though, as the weight makes it more difficult to keep them in, especially while you are moving. As for value, they don’t offer any savings over comparable products from Beats, so that may ultimately work against SMS gaining much market share in this space.
However, while $100 may be a little higher than I would recommend paying for this particular set of earbuds, they would be an excellent value at $75 or less. And for those who tend to do well with one of the three standard sizes of earbuds, you may not have issues with the Street by 50 earbuds falling out. If not, $100 may be an acceptable price for you.
As for me, I will keep using the Street by 50 earbuds whenever I am at my desk at work, or in a position where I will be pretty stationary (which in my computer-based job, is pretty often). They sound much better than the Apple alternative, and the ability to make and receive calls without fumbling around is a huge plus. However, they just don’t work well enough for me when I’m on the move to be worth the trouble. That’s unfortunate, because they are good in most other respects. If SMS can add another earbud size and either a neck band or over the ear stabilizer option in the next version, then I may change my tune. But until then, my recommendation comes with a lot of conditions.
SMS’s Street by 50 in-ear headphones are available from SMS and other retailers for a retail price of $99.95.
The Street by 50 in-ear headphones were provided by SMS for review on iSource. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.
TAGS: 50 cent, Beats, earbuds, sms, street by 50