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Your workout playlist may already feature 50 Cent, but he wants to own your ears in the gym. The SMS Audio STREET by 50 Wired In-Ear Sport headphones ($79) pack the power and volume needed to fuel your exercise routine, and their tangle-free, sweatproof design makes them easy to wear in and out of the gym. We put them through the ringer to see just how well these buds stand up while you're feeling the burn.
The SMS Audio Wired In-Ear Sport headphones make a statement. Like many other SMS Audio products, these earbuds contrast bright colors with black -- my review headphones had a neon yellow accent.
The earbuds have a standard in-ear design with domed, flexible inserts and C-shaped wings. The cord attached to the left earbud houses the in-line remote; it has two buttons to adjust the volume and skip tracks, as well as a multifunction button in the middle.
Thanks to the cord's flat design that resembled linguine, the earbuds never got stuck in a tangled mess. While the SMS were easy to unravel, the Sennheiser CX 685 Adidas Sports In-Ear Headphones frequently tangled. These buds are also sweat- and water-resistant, so you don't have to worry about them when you're sweating it out at the gym.
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Comfort and Fit
The SMS Audio Wired In-Ear Sport headphones come with three different sizes of ear inserts and wings. I went for the large ear inserts and the medium wings, and that combo did a good job of sealing out most ambient noise. While in the gym, I did hear the clang and clash of weights dropping in the distance, but it was faint.
The above combination also proved the most comfortable for my ears. The ear wings laid flat against my outer ear, and the buds were flexible enough to fill my ears and create a complete seal.
Unfortunately, the earbuds loosened during intense, fast-paced workouts. In the middle of my 30-minute run, I had to push the buds back into my ear. Only then could I enjoy the full bass effect and loudest sound.
The SMS Audio Wired In-Ear Sport headphones can get very loud. At 50 percent volume, Shawn Mendes' "Something Big" sounded powerful with thumping drums, bass and acoustic guitars.
The same can be said when I played slower tracks. Listening to Lee Brice's "I Don't Dance," I could hear every breath the singer took in between lines, and the piano sent chills down my spine.
However, louder isn't always better. I could only raise the volume to 75 percent before my eardrums fought back against the deafening, jarring sounds. Mendes' "Something Big" was nearly unlistenable at maximum volume because of the sheer loudness of the track and the distortion of his voice. The drums in Eminem's "The Monster" weren’t any better, sounding tinny and harsh at max volume.
While they were not as loud as the Wired In-Ear Sport headphones, the Sennheiser CX 685 Adidas Sports In-Ear headphones delivered more balanced sound overall. The "I Don't Dance" track played at medium volume came across as more nuanced, appropriately sounding more like a ballad.
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If you're looking for cheap and loud earbuds you can work out in, the SMS Audio Wired In-Ear Sport headphones will do the trick. Their sheer power and comfortable in-ear design will ensure no one interrupts you in the middle of a workout. We just wish the buds stayed secure in our ears longer.
The cheaper Sennheiser CX 685 Adidas Sports In-Ear headphones ($39) are the better option for those who value balanced audio, but they lack in-line controls. Overall, the Street by 50 Wired In-Ear Sport are good tangle-free earbuds that can keep you moving.
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Valentina is Commerce Editor at Engadget and has covered consumer electronics for a number of publications including Tom's Guide, Wired, Laptop Mag and Ars Technica, with a particular focus on wearables, PCs and other mobile tech.