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Samsung's Level On Pro Wireless headphones are a compelling alternative to Beats

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Samsung owners get special features, but these Level Ons work well with any phone

Samsung

For the past couple of years, Samsung has been releasing headphones and speakers under the Level brand as a clear play against Apple's Beats brand of fashion headphones and Bluetooth speakers. The Level headphones largely match Beats' offerings: there are over-ear, on-ear, and in-ear models, in both wired and wireless versions. The latest model is the $249.99 Level On Pro Wireless, which is a wireless on-ear headphone with active noise canceling and audio upscaling features.

I've been testing the Level On Pro Wireless for a few weeks and I've come to prefer them to the Beats Solo 2 Wireless. The Levels have the noise-canceling features that the Beats lack, and they are more comfortable to wear than the Solo 2, which tend to squish my ears. The best way I can describe the fit of the Level On is somewhere between an on-ear and over-ear headphones — they aren't as big as most over-ear models, but the earcups on them are large enough to cover my ears without uncomfortably pressing them against my head.

The Level On Pro Wireless fold up like any respectable wireless headphone should, so it's easy to toss them in a bag and have them always available. Their battery is good for up to 10 hours with noise canceling (or up to 20 hours with it off), which is right around what I expect to get from wireless headphones in this price range. I'm not a fan of the touch-based controls for play / pause, volume, and track skipping on the right earcup, but they did work reliably in my tests. I just much prefer physical buttons that are easier to activate without looking or while wearing gloves.

Sound quality from the Level On Pro Wireless is comparable to modern Beats, which means it's not overly bassy, but is definitely tuned for pop, hip hop, dance, or rock music. The bass on these is noticeably better than on the Level On wired headphones I tested back in 2014, so it appears that Samsung has adjusted their sound a bit since then. The big selling feature of these headphones is Samsung's UHQ audio upscaling, which promises a wider frequency range than normal headphones. It's only compatible with a handful of Samsung Galaxy smartphones and while the sound is slightly better with it on versus off, it's not a dramatic effect. It's a nice to have feature, but not a must-have one. The sound is further customizable via Samsung's Level app for Android phones, which offers an equalizer and a handful of other settings, such as ambient noise on or off.

The non-Pro model will still be available for purchase

The interesting thing about the Level On Pro Wireless is that aside from the UHQ upscaling feature, they are the exact same thing as Samsung's Level On Wireless, which the company says will continue to be offered for sale. The two models are the same price, but the Pro version is only available in black or bronzish gold, while the standard model can be had in black, white, red, or blue.

For their price, the Level On Pro Wireless offer a lot: functional noise cancellation, reliable battery life, pleasant sound, and a comfortable fit. It's not too common to see noise cancellation in wireless headphones below $300, so that's a particular bright spot here. The Level On Pros aren't the flashiest headphones, nor the highest-end models you can get, but they strike a nice balance between price and performance.