Generally speaking you get what you pay for when it comes to tech. And in a world of $300 noise-canceling headphones, you'd probably be forgiven for not giving a $70 pair of cans a second thought.
So when someone says "you have to try these TaoTronics ANC Bluetooth Headphones — they're just $70," you want to stick around for the car crash. There's no way these things can be good, right?
Looks, I'm not going to go so far as to say these are as nice as my Bose QC35. They're not. But for just $70? These are my new leave-laying-around-the-house Bluetooth headphones — perfect for streaming situations.
First, let's start with what you get in the box. The TaoTronics come with a carrying case. That's great, but it's not something that's likely to stand up to miles and miles of abuse. If you're going to travel with these things, you're going to have to baby them just a bit. The shell is noticeably thin.
Inside you'll find the headphones, instructions, microUSB charging cable, and a 3.5mm audio cable for those times when Bluetooth just isn't going to happen. (Like with airplane entertainment systems, or if you prefer to plug in to something like Roku or NVIDIA Shield TV.)
The headphones themselves are ... headphones. They pretty much look like a standard pair of over-the-ear cans. That is, nothing really stands out, good or bad. Force me to pick something and I'll point out that the left and right ears are nicely labeled on the inside, and the cushions are that sort of faux-leather you'd expect to find on any set of cans.
The left ear houses the audio jack and active noise cancellation switch. When you want to shut off the outside world, you just flip that switch and are rewarded by a dim blue LED and ... well, just a little bit less outside noise. The noise cancellation isn't great. And in fact I think it maybe introduces a little more background noise when it's turned on and nothing isn playing. Or at least different background noise. But I'm willing to give TaoTronics a pass for that. These are $70 headphones. If I want good noise cancellation, I'm going to turn to Bose or Sony. (And spend a lot more money in the process.)
So how do they sound? Pretty OK. Decent. Not great. But good enough. Everything's a little warm, for sure, but with a surprising amount of bass.
The one weird thing here is that music actually sounds better when the noise cancellation is on. When it's off, things are a bit muddy. They brighten up a little bit when ANC is turned on. Again, these are far from what I'd call great-sounding headphones. But then again these are $70 headphones. (Get the overall theme here yet?)
The right ear has the microUSB port, and buttons for power/play/pause (and long-press to pair), and volume up/down and forward/back.
The cans extend from the usual places, and rotate and pivot from the usual places.
These are unremarkable headphones. Except for the price. For what you get, $70 isn't bad at all.
I wouldn't buy these to travel with. The noise-cancellation isn't good enough to pass muster on a long flight. (Unless you're worried about losing them, in which case you're only out $70.)
But I absolutely would buy these headphones to leave laying around the couch for someone to use while watching TV. If my kid sits on them, or if the dog happens to think they'd be a taste snack (both of which are things that have happened here — RIP some really expensive Shure earbuds), then I haven't lost a lot of money.
The Taotronics headphones are decent, inexpensive cans that I wouldn't mind for casual listening for use with any of the streaming systems. If I want to dive into some serious music or anything, I'll look elsewhere.
These are $70 headphones. That fact needs to be the driving decision for this purchase. Don't buy these headphones because you think they'll have great noise cancellation. (They don't.) Don't buy them because you think the audio is so good, you'll feel like you're in the room with the band. (It's not that good.)
But what you get here is a decent set of $70 cans. I'd use 'em for casual listening. They're comfortable enough, the Bluetooth (I can't even tell you what version of Bluetooth) works well enough, and, goshdarnit, I'm just not going to overthink these things.
If you want something cheap and easy to use in the living room, you've got 'em here.
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