Monday, December 10, 2012

SMS Moves Closer To Wireless Bliss

SMS Audio Sync by 50
Fifty feet. This is the maximum range you can expect from the SMS Sync by 50 Wireless Headphones. Most people will experience a little less, without any sizable degradation to sound quality. After about 30-35 feet, expect a few dropouts depending on where and how far away you are from the transmitter and depending on line of sight.

The sound quality is decent in comparison to similarly branded models, even if it is well under what audiophiles are listening for and don't have the booming bass associated with Beats Studio or Dr. Dre. What these do offer is a smoother response across the entire spectrum and two other considerations.

While SMS Sync by 50 has its share of shortcomings, the combination of wireless technology and durability makes them worth consideration. Having even one pair of wireless headphones you're not afraid to take out of the house can be a real plus. And the SMS Sync by 50 are also more comfortable (longer) than other headphones and almost ear buds.

SMS Sync by 50 is a solid wireless solution for headphones, mostly. 

The sound quality hinges on Kleer Technology, which is used in a number of wireless platforms that rely on low latency wireless distribution and deliver CD quality audio. The performance is notable because Kleer works in the 2.4 GHz range and can stream 44.1 kHZ, 16-bit audio with greater resistance to interference. (It is probably the only serious competitor to Bluetooth technology.)

Sure, the headphones still lean toward the highs and lows but not nearly as much. Overall, the sound quality is passable but not on par with headphones like Able Planet or Clear Harmony (which aren't wireless) or Sennheiser (which is the best wireless but not for rough and tumble usage). Even the  "THUMPP" bass boost only helps  moderate level (especially when it's cabled up). Expect more distortions at higher levels while using wireless.

SMS Audio Sync by 50There is another advantage to the Kleer Technology. Battery usage is minimal. A full charge can deliver uninterrupted performance for 17 hours (longer than most mobile devices). The 3.5mm tangle-free headphone cable, included among the accessories, allows them to work even without the charge.

Ironically, the cable adds functionality and more stable, distortion-free sound and includes a microphone, which will allow you to answer any incoming calls on your iPhone (or for gaming purposes). The same controls also adjust audio and skip tracks (forward or back).

Without the cable, the adjustments are all made on the ear cups. The left side includes sync or bass boost. The right side adjusts the volume and skips tracks. The track forward and reverse feature, however, only works when the headphones are connected via a USN or 30-pin transmitter. Go figure.

How the SMS Sync connects to almost everything.

The cable works with any 3.5mm audio source, including iPhones, iPods, iPads, tablet PCs, and some mobile devices, laptops, and gaming devices. Wireless works much the same way, but uses the 3.5mm dongle instead. Syncing is easy. It only takes a few seconds.

SMS Audio Street by 50One of the better and more interesting features of SMS Sync by 50 is that you can sync up to four headphone sets to the dongle. This makes it passible for sharing music with a few friends or listening to the same playlist while working out.

Like the headphones, the dongle is charged using a USB port. While some people find it inconvenient that they have to charge them separately, it beats battery changes. And like any chargeable device, it's best to avoid charging them fully every 15 minutes or you'll notice significant battery draw over time.

I also suspect most owners will have a little more battery life if they turn off one of the most annoying features of SMS Sync by 50. The illuminated S symbol is annoying, especially when it blinks. For yourself and everyone around you, toggle the headset to airplane mode. (Don't confuse 'airplane mode' for noise cancelation. Sync by 50 has noise isolation, which means you'll hear less but still plenty.)

SMS Sync by 50 Clears The Bar At 2.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

These aren't the best headphones in terms of sound quality, especially for the price. But where they do excel is delivering better-than-average wireless music from a model that is more durable, flexible, and least likely to break. (Trust me. You're not going outside with Sennheiser headphones.) In another year, given the progress SMS Audio has made on wired, its wireless will be even better, especially if it can clear up the sometimes muddy baselines.

You can find the wireless headphone (SMS Sync by 50) direct. The wireless model is priced at $400. The wired models (STREET by 50) range from $180 to $300. For people listening for sound quality over durability, check the Sennheiser RS 220 Headphones at Amazon. They retail for almost $200 more (Sennheiser does have other models), which makes the Able Planet models (wired) the best value.
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