Here at Headphone Review, we get dozens of pitches for inexpensive headphones aimed at offering a decent experience at a very low price. Often, that doesn’t turn out so well. The latest such pitch is from a company called Soul, which is offering the Soul SS19 headphones — a pair of sports-focused headphones that come in at $40 on Amazon.
But is this just another sub-par budget offering? Or is Soul Electronics onto something with the Soul SS19? We put the headphones to the test to find out.
The first thing you’ll notice about any new product is its design, and the design of the Soul SS19 headphones isn’t all that bad. The headphones are built to hang down from over your ears rather than come up from under, which is good news for those into sports, as we find that it generally keeps the headphones in your ears.
The design isn’t all that exciting, but that’s not necessarily that much of an issue. They feature a somewhat angular silver color-scheme, with black plastic cable protection. The cable does feel a little flimsy, and while the trade-off is a light-weight, the headphones are largely built from plastic. Overall build-quality seems fine, but not above-par by any means.
Part-way down the right side of the cable is a small control remote, which features a standard three-button design — two volume buttons and one central multi-use button for playback control and call control.
In the box, you’ll get a nice set of accessories, including a total of four pairs of ear tips, a microUSB charging cable, and a cloth carry bag. We would have liked a slightly higher-quality clamshell case, which would be better at keeping the headphones safe, but the bag will be fine for most.
Admittedly, we were a little skeptical of the comfort-level of these headphones — but in the end, they turned out to be pretty good.
As mentioned, the hanging cable design keeps the headphones in your ear a little better than other headphones, which is good for the sports users among us — after all, these headphones are built specifically for runners and sports-people.
While in first use the headphones weren’t all that comfortable, it was easy to get used to them. In the end, we found them to be quite comfortable, and easily forgot that we were wearing them. That’s better than most in-ear headphones, which typically have a rough time with comfort.
Now, some sports-people may argue that comfort is the most important thing to consider — but that doesn’t mean we should forget about sound quality. So how do the Soul SS19 headphones sound? Well…these might be better suited to those who find comfort more important. Don’t get me wrong, these don’t sound terrible. But they don’t sound all that great either.
For starters, the bass is obviously boosted, but it doesn’t extend as far as we would have liked. That’s to say, it seems like there’s a rolloff of bass frequencies to where the lower bass is pretty weak, while the bass-to-low-mids are boosted. The bass isn’t too bad in general, but those looking for that nice sub-bass pump should look elsewhere.
The mid-range is a bit of a mixed bag. The low-mids keep the boosted sound from the higher range of the low frequencies, helping give the overall sound a nice warmth. The high-mids sound decent too — they’re not overly boosted, but not cut too much either. That’s a tricky frequency-range sometimes, and getting it wrong can result in the headphones sounding like an AM radio, or offering no presence for vocals or guitars.
The high-end is where these headphones really suffer. While that’s not a big deal for things like podcasts, it shows when listening to music, and results in a slightly muddy tone and a lack of overall clarity. In general, that makes the sound a little boring.
There are a few other small things to consider. For starters, we experienced a little lag between the listening device and playback — which isn’t a big deal for music or audio in general, but presents a problem if you’re watching video. We also found that the soundstage wasn’t great.
The headphones connect to your listening device through Bluetooth 4.2, which means they’ll achieve a 10-meter, or 33-foot, range. We generally found that they offered a fine connection, especially without any obstacles.
The battery life in the headphones sits in at 6 hours, which is pretty lackluster. That’s in the upper-end of what you would expect from a pair of true-wireless headphones, but quite low for a pair of connected Bluetooth headphones. not terrible, to be sure, and it’s possible that the result is a smaller unit, but still something worth considering. We expect that even 6 hours will be fine for those that are good at charging and not running marathons.
The Soul SS19 headphones have a lot to offer, but there are some pretty serious considerations to make. While they’re decently designed and generally comfortable, the sound-quality is a little lackluster and the battery life could be a lot better.
Still, in this price range, your options are a little limited. If you’re a sports-person that doesn’t mind a slightly sub-par sound quality, these still might be the ones to go for. If, however, you can shell out a little extra cash, we recommend the Brainwavz Audio B100’s, which come in at $60.
The headphones aren’t bad — and because of their comfort level and decent design, they’ve just scraped in to win a Headphone Review Bronze Medal.
|Frequency response||20Hz – 20kHz||Active noise cancellation
|Driver size||Unknown||Noise attenuation||Unknown|
|Total harmonic distortion
|Rated input power
||Unknown||Battery life||6 Hours|
|Maximum input power
||20mW||Wireless distance||10m (33ft)|
||Bluetooth 4.2||Cable length||N/A|
||No||Case type||Carry bag|