SOUL S-PLAY Wireless Earbuds Review
With so many wireless earbuds out there, it is hard to stand out. The SOUL S-PLAY wireless earbuds come in a number of colors and have an angular aesthetic that eschews the more rounded looks that seem to be the norm. With Bluetooth 5.2, up to 28 hours of battery life, and a low latency mode for gaming, these have the features you want. At $70 retail, they certainly don’t break the bank. But how do they perform? Let’s take a closer look.
SOUL S-PLAY Wireless Earbuds Specs
- Bluetooth Version: 5.2
- Profiles: HFP, A2DP, AVRCP
- Bluetooth Range: 10m/33ft
- Codec: SBC, AAC
- Frequency Response: 20-20KHz
- Microphones: Yes
- Standby Time: Up to 90 hours
- Playtime: Up to 7 hours in a single charge and 28 hours of total playtime (Varies by usage)
- Battery: Li-ion Polymer 600mAh
- Charging Time (Full Charge): Approx. 2.5 hours
- Charging Case Dimensions: 30.4W x 50.7H x70D (mm)
- Earbud Weight: ~4.5g
- Wireless Charging: Yes
S-PLAY Wireless Earbuds Form and Accessories
The S-PLAY wireless earbuds come in multiple colors. I got a blue pair in for review, but they also come in white, black, and purple. The stem is angular, making it very easy to grasp and property orientate for inserting into your ear. The “S” on each earbud is the control pad. It is small but it isn’t hard to locate with a little practice. Like the SOUL Emotion Pro earbuds, the S-PLAY wireless earbuds came with a small carabiner. I really do like having a way to connect the case to a bag or belt loop. Very handy.
The charging case has a USB-C port on the bottom and can be laid on it its back for wireless charging (that’s how I charged it). There are four lights on the front that let you know how much of a charge is left on the case. When the earbuds are paired with your phone, the phone will let you know the percentage of charge that is left on the earbuds. At least my Pixel 5 did.
The SOUL S-PLAY wireless earbuds came with the fewest ear tips I’ve seen recently. Four sets total. While I didn’t have a problem finding a set that fit (one up from the smallest), I did note that improper fit really hampered the sound quality. When I tried the smallest, it was obvious that the seal wasn’t perfect and it was degrading the sound quality. Increasing to the next size fixed the sound degradation but I fear that the lack of options may leave some people without a comfortable option.
SOUL S-PLAY Fit and Control
I don’t know if it was the softness of the ear tips or just how the SOUL S-PLAY wireless earbuds fit, but these aren’t the most comfortable earphones I’ve tested. They seemed to put more pressure on my ear canal than was comfortable. You may find them to be fine. A wider variety of ear tips (styles and sizes) may have eliminated this issue.
Unlike many newer earbud offerings, SOUL S-PLAY cannot be controlled by an app. The controls are set and unchangeable. I generally don’t care one way or the other about this (honestly, I’m sort of sick of everything having an app) but it is worth noting. Controls are fairly standard with the left earbud controlling volume, transparency mode, and voice assistant access. The right earbud controls calls, start/stop, and skip functions as well as engaging Entertainment mode.
I didn’t find the controls to be the most responsive. I appreciated that there wasn’t much of a delay between the tap and the response. But I found that many times my first command was (seemingly) ignored. It was only after the first command that the headphones seemed to “wake up.” Then they would control normally. Also, getting the headphones to start music often required me to either unlock my phone or control the music app (Tidal for the most part) first. Once the music was started, pausing was no issue. But if I paused for too long, then I would have to access my phone to get it started again. I’m not above thinking this is some sort of phone issue, but I haven’t experienced this with other earbuds. Your experience might be different.
Modes and Call Quality
Entertainment mode is their low-latency mode for gaming and streaming content. While this mode drains the battery faster, SOUL claims a best-in-class 40ms audio delay. Transparency mode allows in outside sounds (great for when you are exercising). Normal mode is their standard mode that will allow for the longest battery life. It is worth mentioning that Transparency mode stacks on top of the other two modes. If you are in Entertainment mode and engage Transparency, when you disengage Transparency it will switch back to Entertainment (not Normal). Same if you were in Normal mode to start.
You may be wondering about ANC (Active Noise Canceling). The SOUL S-PLAY wireless earbuds don’t have any! Honestly, I don’t think ANC is necessary for every set of headphones. In-ear monitors (like these) block noise perfectly well passively. ANC done poorly is not as good in my experience. What the SOUL S-PLAY wireless earbuds do have is what they call “Environmental Noise Cancelation.” This function engages whenever you are on a phone call. It cancels out much of the noise around you so that you can be heard more clearly.
I tested this function on a call. I engaged a white noise app on a tablet and called a friend. They reported that they could barely hear the white noise at all. More so when I was speaking but it was pretty much eliminated when I was silent. This made phone calls extremely clear. As with nearly all headphones, I sounded like I had the call on speaker, but outside noise was nearly completely eliminated.
SOUL S-PLAY Wireless Earbuds Sound Quality
The S-PLAY’s Bluetooth connection supports A2DP but not the higher-quality aptX. While it can decode AAC natively, most of your content will be sent via the lower-quality SBC codec. While this is not a dealbreaker for most users, it is worth noting.
If you are looking for bass, the SOUL S-PLAY earbuds are for you. Even at low volumes, where we can’t hear bass very well, the S-PLAY had tons. As you might expect this made them present bass-heavy at higher volumes. Playing a sweep, the S-PLAY immediately kicked in at 20Hz. Above 5kHz the earbuds got a little squirrely with some volume oscillations.
I did some critical listening and the S-PLAY’s bass-forward presentation was always evident but not necessarily offensive. Where I really enjoyed them was at lower volumes. Most earphones lose all bass at low volumes. Not the S-PLAYs. I spent all day at a college orientation for my son. I kept one earbud in the whole time in Transparency mode. Having bass at lower volumes, even if it was a bit overdone, made that listening much more enjoyable. I must also mention that the SOUL S-PLAY wireless earbuds are one of the few earphones I’ve tested recently that didn’t freak out when you tried to use just one. Many I’ve tested would disconnect or simply just cut out for a bit if you removed one and put it back in their case for charging. Not the S-PLAY. Once you had music playing, you could take one out and put it back in the case and the other would soldier on. Very convenient!
There is a lot of like with the SOUL S-PLAY wireless earbuds…especially if you are a bass-head. The design is nice, the call quality (especially for the other person) was fantastic, and the low latency mode should be attractive to those looking to game or stream with these. While I found the controls finicky and the fit not to be of my liking, your experience may differ. The price is reasonable and the design is certainly eye-catching. Check them out at SoulNation.com.