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All aboard the Space One headphones: Quality features for a down-to-earth price

The Soundcore Space One headphones are the perfect headphones for people who like nice things, but like holding onto their money even more.
Written by Jada Jones, Associate Editor
Describe what's shown in the image.
Jada Jones/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The Soundcore Space One headphones are a solid pair of headphones for just $100.
  • They're stylish, have good noise canceling, and come with a host of features found on much more expensive headphones.
  • However, some might find them a little too snug, and they don't come with a proper carrying case.

I think having a reliable pair of over-ear headphones is just as important as having a reliable smartphone or laptop. Everyone goes to work, travels, commutes, studies, or likes to have a solo jam session, and the right headphones can only augment those experiences. Plus, everyone deserves to feel cool and tech-forward when they wear their over-ear headphones.

Also: Sony's newest headphones eased my XM5 envy with all-day comfort and plenty of bass

But these days, consumer tech products can be all or nothing. You either cough up hundreds of dollars to have the best of the best, or pay less to have less functional, less aesthetically pleasing, lower-quality tech. Yet everyone has an inner Goldilocks who wants something right in the middle -- and that's hard to find. 

So, what if I told you that you could have a good-quality pair of fashionable headphones with luxury features for only $100? The Soundcore Space One headphones are an affordable pair of over-ear headphones that sound great, look stylish, and offer some features that a $400 pair of headphones omit.

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The Soundcore Space One headphones come one year after Soundcore released the Space Q45 headphones, which are popular for their impressive active noise canceling (ANC) capabilities, despite their $150 price tag. But the Space One headphones have better ANC, a sleeker look, and enhanced microphone performance compared to their predecessor.

Also: These funky open-ear headphones sound far better than they look

For a pair of $100 headphones, everything about the Space One headphones is impressive. These cans use adaptive noise cancellation technology to detect noise disturbances around you to eliminate them. And they do a decent job at blocking clicking sounds, such as typing on a keyboard or clicking a mouse.

Droning noises, like a refrigerator, lawnmower, AC unit, or the hum of a plane, can sneak past the Space One's ANC, but turning the volume right over 50% eliminates this problem. 

The Space One headphones deliver full-bodied bass, mids that aren't hollow, and treble that's enjoyable and clear without piercing your eardrums. These headphones don't deliver the deepest bass, so if you don't like boomy, cranium-vibrating bass, these cans are for you.

When I listened to "Part II (On The Run)" by Beyoncé and Jay-Z, the bassline was clear enough to keep me in the groove, but it was missing the deep punch that makes me feel a song in my bones. Still, the mids remain clear and natural, while the treble is steady enough to bring out small details in the song without sounding shrill.

Soundcore Space One headphones in Sky Blue hanging from a brick corner
Jada Jones/ZDNET

The Space One headphones are the latest in Soundcore's Space lineup, and their name fits the design, as these headphones have a sleek, outer space vibe. Soundcore has blended matte finishes with chrome details, and the Sky Blue color I tried solidifies the galactic feel.

Also: I test dozens of headphones a year, and these might be the best ones under $100

The Space One ear cups are made from polyurethane leather, and they're more circular than they are oval, which provides a mix of an over- and an on-ear fit, leaning more toward on-ear. 

Instead of sporting an elongated oval ear cup shape like the Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones, the circular Space One ear cups can press the ears a little too tight. I wore the Space One headphones for two-hour increments and then removed them briefly to alleviate my ear fatigue.

But you'll need plenty of breaks before the battery gives out on you, as you can draw out 55 hours of playtime with these headphones with ANC off. With ANC on, the Space One headphones will stick with you for 40 hours, and just five minutes of charging can give you four hours of playtime.

Also: Earbuds with neckbands are back in style, and I'm not mad about it

Now, let's get into the extra features Space One gives you that some headphones double, triple, and quadruple their price won't. First, the Soundcore companion app is a highly comprehensive hub for your EQ preferences. In the app, you can create a Custom HearID, which asks you a few prompts before creating a bespoke EQ setting based on your responses.

Additionally, the Soundcore app offers 22 EQ presets that adjust the Space One EQ settings to deliver the best sound based on what music you're listening to. 

For example, the Pop EQ setting will amplify the treble and mids while slightly decreasing the bass, and the Hip-Hop setting will boost the bass, lower the treble, and slightly raise the mids. These extremely tailored EQ settings don't come with the Bose 700 headphones, which will run you $380.

The Space One headphones are equipped with Wearing Detection, which is a feature that pauses music when they sense you've taken them off your head and plays music when you put them back on. This is a feature you won't have with the Beats Studio Pro, which retail for $350.

Also: These $56 earbuds converted me to open-ear headphones (and they're very super comfy)

Easy Chat can be enabled in the Soundcore app and will lower the volume of your music when the Space One headphones detect your voice, as they assume you're trying to have a conversation with someone. 

Then, the Space One headphones will amplify the other person's voice, allowing you to hear them better, all without removing your cans. You won't find this feature in the AirPods Max, despite their $550 asking price.

There's only one real complaint I have about these headphones: the carrying case -- or carrying dust bag, I should say. This is a bit tedious and isn't a direct critique of the headphones, but having a convenient carrying case adds to the experience -- and it's something that's missing from the Space One.

Inutile carrying cases that make your precious headphones susceptible to damage, like the AirPods Max case, don't give you a safe place to store your device. Hardshell cases (my preference) tend to come with more expensive headphones, but a soft, zip-up case would still do the Space One more justice than the drawstring bag they come with.

ZDNET's buying advice

All in all, the Space One headphones are great, considering their low price tag. I would recommend these headphones for people who don't want the most fancy and expensive headphones, but don't want to sell themselves short with cheaply made ones, either. 

The Soundcore Space One headphones will not be too impressive to audiophiles, but they will give the average listener everything they're looking for in a good-quality pair of headphones. If you want to make $100 stretch as far as it can for a pair of headphones, hop on the Space One. 

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