Headphones – They come in a million shapes and sizes. Different strokes for different folks is normally the way most people would categorize the massive array of available headphones. But one series of headphones has always had its shining difference – sport headphones. What do we mean by “sport headphones”? We are not talking about “sports team branded or simply athlete endorsed” we are talking about headphones designed for and marketed towards athletes. Not only pro-athletes, but amateur and hobbyist as well, as a common denominator between all level of athlete is that everyone sweats…
Normally most “athletic” headphones are designed to be a bit more water resistant than comparable pairs from the same company. Sometimes they go beyond “resistant” to the point that they can be submerged in water for those who enjoy water activities with their electronics.
Getting back to Soul. Soul has been producing headphones for several years now, and sought to design something geared towards athletes. Not only that, Soul had some major names in sports come in and help design the headphones.
Yes – there is a level of professional athletic endorsement; however the athletes in question also helped to design the headphones so as to ensure other athletes receive the best experience. For starters, Usain Bolt and Tim Tebow helped to test the headphones to ensure they would not short out do to an overabundance of moister absorbed into the headphones during their respective training regimens. Now, I am no Usian Bolt, but I am an athlete. While I do not compete, I enjoy running and working out at the gym. And I sweat. I sweat a lot. I have had some cheap headphones short out on as a consequence of overexposure to heavy perspiration. But then again those headphones were never designed for usage past the confines of an air conditioned environment.
So Combat+ offers up two main selling points:
1) It wont short out
2) It is extremely light – and it folds up for easy storage.
Design, Look and Feel:
Our unit came in a green and black mix color. The headphones feel soft yet sturdy, almost kind of rubbery. The headphones are shockingly light for such a large pair. The unit has a breathable wide open grip headband. The 3.5 mm aux cable is a thin wire style with an in-line remote that works with Apple products, and is designed to avoid tangling. The unit also includes a black semi-hard carrying case that uses a zipper to close and has an included carabineer which can be attached to a bag. Furthermore, a major selling point of these headphones are the interchangeable ear-pads. The unit includes two styles. One made of memory foam (Soul calls these ‘Comply’) and another made from an extremely comfortable soft mesh. Both of these earmuffs were designed to be washable – to the extent that they can be cleaned in a dishwasher. Granted the headphones cannot be put in a dishwasher. We cannot stress this enough – do not put the headphones in a dishwasher for cleaning purposes.
To start, these are one of the lightest pairs of over-ear headphones we have ever reviewed. To us, they almost feel as if there is nothing on our heads at all. The headphones are designed for slightly larger heads, and can be extended to fit even the largest heads imaginable. So if you happen to have a particularly small head these might not be the best choice of headphone. In any case these headphones proved to be simply amazing for use while running. Simply put they absolutely provided the best musical experience possible. The bass was enjoyably smooth, and not booming in my ear, the sound was incredibly rich, and we never felt the need to raise the volume on our phones above 60 – 70 percent as these headphones do a great job at passively blocking out background noise while in use. However, the makers kept in mind the fact that many athletes do practice in public spaces, so even at 70 percent volume; users will still hear people yelling and cars honking. This is more of a safety feature so athletes are not completely cut off from being aware of their surroundings. Additionally we noticed there was a lack of distortion in sound quality created as a result of rapid movement while using these headphones. This is notable as many headphones tend to shake around while users are running and this causes degradation in the quality of the sound.
The Combat+ headphones come with two interchangeable pairs of ear-pads. The unit includes two styles. One made of memory foam and another made from an extremely comfortable soft mesh. The major difference between the two pairs comes down to sweat. The Memory foam ear-pads can simply be wiped down after an intense workout, furthermore they do not absorb sweat, rather sweat just tends to roll off them. Now the ear-pads made from mesh, they absorb sweat. Furthermore, while they will dry out on their own – it will take time. On average we found the mesh ear-pads to be substantially more comfortable and provide an overall better listening experience. Unfortunately, the ear-pads are not the easiest to remove and reapply, and users should take caution when removing them so as not to break the small pieces used to lock into the body of the headphones.
Hands down these are the greatest over-ear sport headphones available on the market, period. In fact in our assessment the only thing that could be improved on would be the inclusion of Bluetooth connectivity. The Combat+ headphones offer something for everyone. From simple hobbyist, amateur semi-pro, or even pro-athletes. These headphones are a fantastic piece of kit. Although they are a bit pricey, with an MSRP of $199.00, they are well worth it in the long run.
About Benny Sabghir: Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Benny enjoys all aspects of consumer electronics - especially writing about it. He also enjoys hitting the gym, running and discussing the history of his three favorite wars - The American Revolution, The Six-Day War, and the Star Wars Trilogy. Currently in Jerusalem, Israel. Follow him on twitter @Sabghir_Benny Find him on Google+ View author profile.