These days, the problem with noise-canceling headphones isn’t battery life, sound quality, or their ability to block out the outside world — it’s how much they cost.
Our favorites from Sony and Bose do occasionally go on sale, but even when discounted they command hundreds of dollars to provide a silent space for your favorite music. More affordable models rarely offer the fidelity, all-day battery life, and noise reduction we desire.
That’s why we’re so excited about TaoTronics’ TT-BH060 headphones. With up to 30 hours of battery life, solid noise reduction, and a shockingly low $70 MSRP, what’s not to love about these affordable new cans?
Out of the box
The TT-BH060 come inside a woven fabric hard case with a 3.5 mm cable for wired listening, and a micro-USB cable for charging. There’s also a small instruction booklet to teach you how to use the headphones.
Features and design
With a sleek, all-black design the TT-BH060 could easily pass for high-end models from Bose and others, with rounded oval earcups and plush leatherette pads. The TaoTronics logo molded into the plastic exterior of each earphone is the only obvious giveaway at the outset that these are budget cans.
The understated look is clearly aimed at the budget-conscious businessperson who might want to use these headphones as respite from noisy commutes, flights, or open-air offices.
Build quality is essentially what we’d expect from a pair of $50-100 headphones, with lots of plastic on top of a metal headband, while the leatherette isn’t as soft as what you might find adorning earpads on more expensive models. Still, the TT-BH060 don’t feel flimsy, and the inclusion of the hard case makes us feel all the more confident that they’ll last a long time if treated properly.
As a utilitarian pair of headphones, these fire on all cylinders.
Controls and ports are simple and intuitive. The bottom left earcup features a micro USB charging port for power. The right earcup has a 3.5 mm port for wired listening, a switch to turn noise canceling on and off, a power button (which also plays and pauses music and enables pairing), and a rocker for volume adjustment and song skip.
The controls are easy to find while wearing the headphones and work exactly as expected, but one thing we found puzzling was that you can turn the headphones off with noise cancelation still enabled (as evidenced by the illuminated blue LED on the switch). This means that if you want to fully turn off the headphones, you need to turn them off using the power button, and switch noise canceling to off. Not a huge deal, but certainly a design quirk worth knowing about.
Noise cancelation itself is actually quite impressive, especially when playing music at moderate volume. The headphones are best at counteracting steady sounds like HVAC systems, fans, or road noise, but they struggle a bit with one-off sounds like keystrokes. In general, they provide a solid sound barrier from the outside world, helping us drown out our open-floor office or the drone of public transit during commutes. They don’t offer the same level of silence as top tier models, but they excel at the job considering their price — where many sub-$100 noise-canceling headphones do very little, these certainly have a noticeable effect in reducing the sounds around you.
Another place the TT-BH060 are thoroughly impressive is battery life. They claim to offer between 25 and 30 hours of playback with noise-canceling enabled, and we’re happy to report that we were able to listen to them for three straight work days without coming close to needing a re-charge. That’s impressive at any price point, but especially so considering that the Bose QC 35II can’t match it at many times the price. There’s also a cool quick charge feature that will get you two hours of battery life on just five minutes of charge — a nice touch for last minute listening.
You might expect a pair of headphones with so much tech and such a low price tag to skimp on sound quality, but we’re happy to report that isn’t the case with the TT-BH060.
Authoritative bass, a warm midrange, and bright top-end clarity.
These affordable over-ears boast authoritative bass, a warm midrange, and bright clarity up top. The active noise cancelation increases clarity, filtering out the sounds of the outside world to create more musical space. We particularly enjoyed listening to genres like jazz and folk, both of which feature delicate nuances that can easily be overwhelmed by ambient sound.
You don’t get the same expansive soundstage and definition offered by significantly more expensive options like the Sony WH-1000xM3, but that’s to be expected: These are many times cheaper. Additionally, while the TT-BH060 do offer very stable Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, they don’t offer high-end wireless codecs like aptX, so you’ll have to make do with standard Bluetooth audio.
Overall, though, we appreciate the TT-BH060’s very balanced sound profile. Whether listening to pop music from Kacey Musgraves, jazz from Ahmad Jamal, or hip-hop from Kendrick Lamar, we were able to pick out each and every element of the sound, without the booming low-end that many manufacturers in the sub-$k100 price range tend to gravitate towards. As a utilitarian pair of headphones, these fire on all cylinders.
TaoTronics offers a one-year warranty covering manufacturer defects.Our Take
The TaoTronics TT-BH060 are a downright astonishing value at their price point, offering fantastic battery life, balanced sound, and solid noise reduction.
Is there a better alternative?
Frankly, we don’t think so. Very few headphones in this price category even attempt to offer the same blend of specs and sound that the TT-BH060 do, and those that do are not from brands with as much market history.
How long will it last?
The TT-BH060 do have a lot of hard plastic, which has a tendency to crunch if accidentally stored outside the hard case, but provided you properly store the headphones we expect they’ll last for years of use.
Should you buy it?
Absolutely. If you’re looking for a quality pair of noise-canceling headphones on a very tight budget, the TT-BH060 are easily the best option we’ve spent time with. They offer many of the same features — and basically the same aesthetic — as the best models on the market at a fraction of the price. Need we say more?