- Over-ear headphones can often be unnecessarily pricey, as can earbuds, even without the best sound quality. Inexpensive wireless headphones with Bluetooth can be found, however.
- Soul’s new Ultra Wireless ($69) over-ear headphones came out this month, and we’ve been putting them to the test for the past few weeks. The playtime and sound quality are solid for a pair of headphones at their price point.
I’ve been testing Soul’s new Ultra Wireless over-ear headphones, which came out at the first of this month, for a month straight, and for headphones within the $75 range, we’re convinced they’re as good as they get.
I’ll say that the sound is very good, but Soul’s real wins here, compared with headphones three and even four times their price, are longer-distance Bluetooth broadcast and roughly 36-hour battery life (tested and generally confirmed).
I’ve used these headphones nearly eight hours a day, five days a week, and I’m averaging charging them exactly once per week, which is to say that the 36-hour battery life claim is close to, if not exactly, spot on. I’m also able to walk 30 full paces away and put two steel-reinforced office walls between them and my computer before the signal cuts out. Other, much pricier headphones I’ve tested manage only half of that.
Soul’s Ultra Wireless headphones are powered by dynamic (40mm neodymium) drivers, which are the most economical headphone drivers out there, and what keep these headphones affordable and lightweight. They also require much less energy to power, hence the long battery life. Again, after a month of consistent use, I’m managing almost exactly 36 hours of playtime between charges, give or take an hour or two.
The Bluetooth v5.0 system, which is the latest Bluetooth standard, requires lower energy but offers greater range, speed, and throughput. Expect to see this on everything.
These things also fold, which isn’t exactly novel, but practical as can be. We don’t all run around town with suitcases on us, and if you want to hide a pair of bulky headphones as opposed to hanging them around your neck like an indignant techie, it’s good to be able to pack them into a briefcase or bag.
Also of the notable features are the leatherette finishings: They’re extremely thin, don’t seem to get too hot (at least not on my head), and almost feel like real, genuine leather.
The “High-Definition Dynamic Bass” is a little hokey. It claims to deliver ultra-low bass without drowning out the trebles and mids. What I’m getting is a mid-rich sound and nothing near the deep bass that more expensive headphones out there deliver. That said, if heavy, rumbling basslines aren’t what you’re after in the first place, these are great headphones as all-around listeners. Electronic drum and bass fans? Look elsewhere.
Still, I don’t mean to rag on these headphones. They handled everything from punk to folk, as well as chamber music and full orchestral concertos without much of a hitch. Listening to Dvorak’s Cello Concerto by YoYo Ma and the Berlin Philharmonic at absolute full volume (which exceeds 80 decibels and will hurt your ears a bit, by the way), the cellos and horns just barely start to crackle at the low end. Where opera, or other vocal-heavy music is concerned, a basso profundo will cause the same effect.
Considering what you’d pay for earbuds (especially Bluetooth ones), the Ultras produce great — not outstanding — sound, but these headphones are equipped with the cheapest drivers you can buy. If you’re looking for a pair of over-ear headphones that are under $75 but will cut out the crying babies and heated cellphone conversations while trying to enjoy your experience of being in public, these leatherette-adorned, compactible gismos will do the trick. If you’re feeling like you want the top of the line, check out noise-cancelling headphones from Sony.
Pros: Affordable, very good sound, superior Bluetooth range, long battery life, foldable
Cons: No electronic noise-cancelling (though that may be overrated), not the best speakers (but you will always get what you pay for here because good speakers are expensive)