The active noise cancelling headphone space is dominated by brands such as Bose and Sony, selling premium-grade headphones for serious money. The Taotronics TT-BH-22 is an unashamedly cheap set of noise cancelling headphones, which might make you wonder where corners have been cut to meet their very low price point.
While there are some obvious spaces where they don't compare to the big players in the field, if all you want is a simple set of Bluetooth headphones with light noise cancelling, they're an easy recommendation.
Looks like a set of Bose headphones.
However, not built like them.
Carry case included.
No airline adaptor.
The Taotronics TT-BH-22 headphones looked rather familiar when I took them out of their box and provided carry case, and that's because they're pretty unashamedly clones of Bose's rather desirable QuietComfort headphones. It wouldn't take much imagination – not much beyond a set of Bose stickers really – if you wanted to fool people that you were indeed rocking a pair of Bose's highly regarded noise cancelling cans.
Not that the illusion would last beyond any kind of close examination, because the Taotronics TT-BH-22 are rather obviously much more cheaply built than their premium counterparts. The plastic of each ear cup is light and very clicky, whether you're switching active noise cancelling on or off, or adjusting volume or power settings. If you're someone who constantly adjusts volume you'll very quickly realise how cheap the buttons on this headset actually are, and it does make me ponder their long-term durability.
Usually, cheap headphones feel terrible when worn, but here the Taotronics TT-BH-22 score highly. The light plastic of their construction means that they don't press down on your skull all that hard, and even larger heads (like my own) can accommodate their simple leather band with comfort even over many hours of wearing.
Taotronics supplies a carry case with the Taotronics TT-BH-22, which is a nice added bonus for such a low-cost pair, as well as a standard 3.5mm audio cable if you prefer your audio wired. You also get a microUSB cable for charging, but what's not present is a two-prong airline adaptor. Frequent flyers are often heavy users of noise cancelling headphones, and it would have been a nice inclusion. Thankfully, converter plugs are pretty cheap if you don't already have one.
Audio quality much better with noise cancelling enabled.
Actual noise cancelling is pretty weak.
Wired audio capability works well.
The Taotronics TT-BH-22's audio performance is quite variable, depending on whether you're using them as cabled headphones, straight Bluetooth headphones or with active noise cancelling enabled.
In cabled or noise cancelling modes, the audio quality is actually better than I'd expected for a low-cost set of headphones. That's not the same thing as superb, with a notable bias towards treble rather than bass, and a relatively low top volume that may be a concern for some users.
Switching the noise cancelling off not only disables the noise cancelling – as you'd expect – but also drops audio quality notably, well beyond what you might expect simply for having noise cancelling enabled. I can't think of too many buyers of noise cancelling headphones who wouldn't use the feature most of the time, but it is a noticeable flaw of the Taotronics TT-BH-22 headphones.
Taotronics' claim for the Taotronics TT-BH-22 is that its noise cancelling will deliver, and I quote, "A Personal Oasis of Quiet".
Like just about everyone's noise cancelling claims, this is a big, fat, juicy, BBQ-sauce-covered fib. That's actually a good thing, because for most Bluetooth headphone users, having no outside audio would be a bad (and sometimes) dangerous matter, what with nearby traffic, workmates or even inflight announcements to be aware of.
Even with that general observation out of the way, the Taotronics TT-BH-22's Active Noise Cancelling is very light indeed. It's acceptable for very low-grade noise, but voices especially tend to cut through it with ease. On one Sydney train trip, I could hear every word of one inconsiderate commuter behind me who announced all her relationship woes and sexual inadequacies for 30 minutes straight without missing a phrase.
Tip: Don't make that phone call on the train, even if you do think the person next to you has noise cancelling headphones on. Just... don't.
That should, I'd hope, be a relatively rare occurrence, but it does mean if you're looking to pick up the Taotronics TT-BH-22 for in-office use, be aware that you're probably going to still pick up a lot of water cooler chatter.
Good battery life.
Cheap headphones all too frequently stay cheap with low battery capacity, and an awful lot of leaning on the "up to" part of their battery life specifications.
Taotronics lists the Taotronics TT-BH-22 as being capable of "up to" 25 hours of battery life in Bluetooth mode, and even with active noise cancelling enabled most of the time, that's a fair enough estimate. I'd say you're more likely to hit around 20, although you do have to remember that the Bluetooth connection and noise cancelling features are separate switches.
It's feasible to switch the headphones "off" from their Bluetooth connection and still have noise cancelling pointlessly running, wasting power if you're not careful.
A good range of features for the asking price.
Not going to challenge the big players any time soon.
Typically with cheap headphones you only get what you pay for, and sometimes less. The Taotronics TT-BH-22 do stretch beyond that modest aim, because it's very unusual to see active noise cancelling in headphones that sell for under $100 at all. Combine that with their solid battery life and decent, if not exceptional audio quality, and they're a very good value pair of headphones. If you're more in the audiophile space you'll quickly recognise their limitations, and just about anything out of the likes of Sony or Bose in the noise cancelling space will run rings around them, but as a basic pair of high-value, low-cost headphones, the Taotronics TT-BH-22 come recommended.
Pricing and availability
The Taotronics TT-BH-22 sells via Amazon for around $90, but pricing can vary. At the time of writing, a pair will cost you $84.96, including delivery.
Buy the Taotronics TT-BH-22 Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones from Amazon AU
With active noise cancelling, 25 hour battery life and the choice of wired or Bluetooth wireless connectivity, why pay more for your next set of headphones?
There's really not much at this price point with this feature set, which means if you're after noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones, you're going to have to spend a bit more. That being said, a nice pair of Bose Quietcomfort QC35 headphones, or for that matter Sony WH-1000XM2 headphones will deliver both superior sound quality and markedly more efficient noise cancelling.
Alex Kidman was the tech and telco editor at Finder and is now a freelance technology writer. He's been a technology writer with experience spanning more than 20 years, writing and editing at Gizmodo, CNET, PC Magazine, Kotaku and many more. Alex has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New England and a serious passion for retro gaming.
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