By Todd Bernhard on Mon, 12/23/2013
Several years ago, I was at the Consumer Electronics Show, where a certain rapper stood side by side with the head of a certain audio cable company to announce a certain headphone business. Since then, countless headphones have been launched, often with the endorsement of celebrity rappers and musicians. Headphones have become more expensive than the phones and MP3 players they plug into. And recently, that original rapper took his headphone business and cut ties with that audio company.
The lesson here is, forget about endorsements and pay attention to the build quality, materials, components, features, and overall sound before you spend a lot of money on a set of headphones. Personally, I have a pet peeve regarding headphones with two wires, one on each side. As long as the headband is wide enough, it's easy to route the audio to the second earpiece within the band. I also travel quite a bit, so even though I want full size headphones, they need to fold up for portability.
All of this leads me to the SMS Sync by 50 On Ear Wireless headphones ($229.95). Sure, the 50 stands for Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, the highly successful "bulletproof" rapper but you shouldn't let endorsements decide what to buy. These headphones have to stand on their own.
First, forget the wires. These are wireless! Dance, workout, or do whatever! Thanks to Bluetooth, you don't have to worry about getting tangled. And because they act as a Bluetooth headset, you can take phone calls on them using the built in microphone. There are easy to access controls on the ear cups, so you can control music playback without grabbing your phone.
Next, the SMS Sync by 50 is portable. The hinges help you fold up the headphones into a relatively compact form. The materials are top notch, with real leather and memory foam for the ear cups.
he sound quality is great, as it should be. They claim to offer "passive noise cancelation" which isn't as good as active noise canceling headphones, but should help with battery life. You might notice the difference on an airplane, but you're probably not supposed to use Bluetooth on the plane anyway. Fortunately, they include a wired cable you can plug in for just such occasions.
At $230, they're not cheap, but they are quite competitive with high-end headphones, even ones without Bluetooth. There's one more factor to consider. SMS supports Feeding America with one million meals per year. That's a nice touch to remember this holiday season!