I’ve impressed with the way wireless headphones with active noise cancellation have evolved. Many now offer amazing sound, great battery life, and effective ANC. And many cost $300 or more. Not the TaoTronics Hybrid Active Noise cancellation though. They cost under $100. But are they any good? That was my question as I unboxed the review sample.
I didn’t know what to expect from headphones that offer Bluetooth wireless connectivity and active noise cancellation for under $100. I expected to open the box and find a cheap, flimsy pair of over the ear headphones that looked and felt as cheap as they are. I was pleasantly shocked to discover that was not the case.
I opened the box to find a pair of headphones that look refined and feel as substantial as any headphones I have reviewed in recent memory. Color me surprised.
I was even more surprised when I looked on Amazon. As expected, I was greeted with, “Price: $99.99 Free Shipping for Prime Members.” When I looked a bit closer, I noticed this too,” Coupon: Save an extra $20.00 when you apply this coupon.” In other words, these aren’t $100 headphones. These are $79.99 headphones. And yes, despite the low price, they look and feel substantial.
Inside the box you get the TaoTronics ANC Bluetooth Headphones (This is an updated model for 2019,) a hard Carrying Case, a 3.5mm AUX Cable, a USB Charging Cable, a user guide and an airplane adapter.
This last item surprised me. How could a company selling such an inexpensive product have the foresight to include a plane adapter with the headphones? Nice!
The pleasant surprises continued when I looked more closely at the specifications. The headphones get 30 hours of playback per charge. Five minutes of charging delivers up to two hours of playback, and a full charge only takes 45 minutes. I can’t stress this last point strongly enough. I went to grab the headphones so I could listen to them as I wrote this review, (I make a habit of listening to headphones or speakers as I review them) and found they were out of juice. I plugged them in and just five minutes later had plenty of power so I could listen and write in the blissful silence of ANC.
The ANC is effective enough to reduce low-frequency sound by up to 96 percent. And they have 40mm drivers. I quickly realized that my bias against inexpensive headphones might just require a bit of rethinking.
The build quality of the headphones is impressive. The headband is made of metal wrapped in a synthetic material that looks and feels like leather. The underside has plenty of padding, so the headphones are comfortable to wear for an extended period.
The connection between the ear cups and the headband is metal and size adjustment is accomplished by pulling each side out and extended the “sizing rod.” Each adjustment “step” presents a faint ”clicking sound” and holds a position unless you further extend or retract the adjustment road. They are not, however, foldable so the headphones and case will take up a bit of room in your carryon when you travel.
The headphones themselves are made from a combination of metal and plastic. Plastic is the primary construction material, and it is thick enough to feel substantial. The outer surface of each ear cup is metal and has the company logo printed in white.
The headphone pads are thick synthetic material with enough cushion to not only block out sound (that’s why the company refers to the headphones as “hybrid”) and offers plenty of padding for comfort even during extended listening sessions.
The left ear cup has a micro USB Port for charging. I was not surprised to see microUSB instead of USB-C, but the newer connection option would have been nice.
The right ear cup has the power button, volume controls, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a power indicator light, a small pinhole for the microphone and a switch to turn the active noise cancellation on and off.
All told, the headphones offer a level of build quality and comfort that pleasantly surprised me.
- Upgraded Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) Technology: Improved Hybrid Active Noise Cancellation significantly reduces low-frequency sound by up to 96%, enjoy the music no matter if you’re on a bus, train or plane
- Rapid Charge & Go: Enjoy an impressive 2 hours of music with just 5 minutes of charge; completely recharges in just 45 minutes for 30 hours of music playback
- Customizable Comfort: Super soft protein cushions, adjustable headband, 90° rotation axis for comfy all-day wear; safe storage & transportation with the carry case
- Pure Audio Power: Dual large-aperture 40 mm drivers deliver deep and powerful bass for an all-around impressive HD sound quality
- Hassle-free Clear Calls: Built-in cVc 6.0 noise-canceling microphone for clear hands-free calls; Bluetooth 4.2 for a more stable connection.
Of course, the real test of any pair of headphones is the sound. In this area, there is a mixture of good and mostly good news. The good news is that the ANC works quite well. The headphones do an excellent job of physically blocking out sound thanks to the thick padding on the ear cups. Turning on the ANC takes things to a new level and closes you off from the world quite well. The headphones did fine in the audio department. I’m used to high-end headphones that offer sharp, balanced, deep sound. The TaoTronics sound good but don’t hold up against these far more expensive offerings. The bass is a bit lacking, and the sound is a bit “soft.” The result is that the sound is what I can best describe as being a bit “distant.” That’s not to say they sound bad. I enjoy listening to them, and if they were the only headphones I owned, I would be more than satisfied. But when I compare them to some of the high-end headphones I have here at home, there’s no competition. Still, one has to consider the fact that these headphones are one-seventh the price of a pair I am currently reviewing yet they can hold their own and do the job admirably. To my mind that makes them worthy of consideration. If you are on a budget or are looking for a pair of wireless headphones with active noise cancellation for some who is prone to lose or break headphones, you want to check these out. You can buy them here on Amazon [affiliate link].
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Shockingly low price; Good build quality; Easy controls; Amazing battery life; Superb quick charge; Effective noise cancellation
What Needs Improvement: Headphones don’t fold for easy, compact travel; Sound doesn’t have the bass or the depth of high headphones