Bass junkies on a budget looking for their next fix may have found their match with the Soul Electronics Loop headphones. The on-ear headphones offer an eye-catching design with a lightweight fit and surprisingly big bass. Soul has priced the headphones at a competitive $129, but music lovers will have to make some compromises for such a wallet-friendly price.
The Loop headphones are the equivalent of a sleek black suit or a little black dress. The glossy black plastic making up the headband and ear cup supports stands out and draws the eye. The top of the band is free of any markings, but each ear cup sports a large gray Soul logo.
Wrapped in quilted faux leather, the underside of the band reminds one of those padded walls in an exclusive club. In addition to black, the Loops are available in blue, white and pink.
The ear cups on the Loop are our favorite feature, as they look like an exotic macaron. The ear plates are made of a rubberized soft-touch plastic that's silky to the touch, while the actual ear cups are wrapped in more black pleather. The port for the included 49-inch audio cable is located on the bottom of the left cup.
Weighing 4.58 ounces, the Loop headphones are unbelievably lightweight. The Skullcandy Roc Nation Aviator headphones are noticeably heavier at 7.05 ounces.
Similar to most cans on the market, the Loop folds inward, creating a compact shape that can be easily stowed in the included black canvas carrying case.
The ear pads on the Loop have little to no cushioning, which made for a slightly unnatural feeling during the initial fitting. Since the headphones sit directly on our ears, we wish Soul had added at least a thin layer of memory foam to cushion our ears during long periods of use. Despite their undeniable lightness, having that hard surface resting on your skin can get a tad uncomfortable.
The Loop headphones' included 49-inch black flat cord features an in-line remote with a built-in microphone. The remote has a single button demarcated by a small raised S, answers or ignore calls and plays or pauses music tracks on Windows Phone, iPhone and Android devices. Pressing the button for 2 seconds launches Speech, Siri and S-Voice on the above respective devices.
Our phone of choice for our audio tests was the Nokia Lumia 928 paired with our Xbox Music subscription. We pitted the Soul Electronic Loop headphones' 40mm neodymium drivers and proprietary Signature Sound technology against the Skullcandy Roc Nation Aviator headphones ($149), which also use 40mm neodymium drivers. We found that the Loop delivered surprisingly big bass, but it sacrificed some clarity on the mids and highs.
When we listened to John Coltrane's "Blue Train" on the Loop, the opening trumpet was overly brassy, so much so that we had to adjust the volume. It got noticeably worse when the rest of the band kicked in. Beneath all that jazzy din lay a warm, inviting bass. The same track on the Aviators was somewhat cooler and had more definition, although we could hear a lot of crackling.
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During the Jay Z/Justin Timberlake collaboration "Holy Grail," the crooner's soulful tenor accompanied by a simple piano sounded cool and somewhat distant. When the bass dropped on the track, it was so deep it distorted the rest of the song while mildly rattling our skull. The opening solo on the Aviators sounded warmer and fuller. However, the bass was light (almost too light) and was easily lost in the rest of the track.
When we switched to Pharrell's "Happy," the bass on the Loop also overpowered the track. The hand claps that were clear on the Aviators were somewhat muffled on Soul Electronics' headphones. The keyboard also sounded a bit distorted. The Aviators had the clearer sounding percussion, particularly on the snares and cymbals. The keyboard was also full and clear and effortlessly blended with the artist and the background vocals.
When it comes to lows, the Loop headphones are like a bull in the proverbial china shop. We preferred the accuracy and overall fullness of audio on the Aviators to the overwhelming bass and distorted highs of the Loop's audio.
During our test calls wearing the Soul Electronic Loop headphones, our caller reported loud, clear audio. Despite walking around New York City, he couldn't hear any background noises. We enjoyed mostly clear results on our end, too, with the exception of a minimal amount of hustle and bustle as our caller made his way down the street.
The $129 Soul Electronic Loop headphones are remarkably lightweight, compact and stylish -- characteristics that will certainly appeal to a younger crowd. For such a dainty pair of headphones, the Loop packs a ridiculous amount of punch. All that bass, however, comes at the expense of hearing accurate highs and mids.
For an additional $20, music lovers can pick up the $149 Skullcandy Roc Nation Aviator headphones. What they lack in bass, these headphones make up for in full, rich highs and lows and a positively lovely design. Overall, though, the Soul Electronic Loops are a solid choice for music listeners searching for a lightweight, affordable headphone with big bass.
Light, compact design
Bass can overwhelm track
Big booming bass
Somewhat uncomfortable to wear after long periods of time
Loud, clear phone calls
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