Oh no, they forgot about the sound
I usually wear the headphones I?m reviewing while typing up and editing my review, to give them one final listen and make sure that I?m in the right frame of mind.
For the first time ever in the last four years, I?ve broken this rule.
I can?t listen to the TT-BH060?s from TaoTronics any more. I spent the last three days using them, and I?m so done with them. They get a lot of things right for their price tag, but the sound quality is a total disaster.
It?s a bummer.
The TaoTronics TT-BH060 is a closed-back, wireless, Active Noise Cancelling headphone that sells for between $50 and $60 online. That price and its packed feature set put it firmly in the budget category, and on paper, it?s a solid deal.
As long as you like the color black, you can get the color you want.
Unlike some previous cheap noise cancelling models from TaoTronics, the 60 only comes in a matte black finish. It includes a hard carrying case, auxiliary 3.5mm cable, micro USB charging cable, and a decent 20 hour battery life.
Again, on paper, this all seems great. It looks like you?re getting the features of the Soundsurge 46 I recently reviewed, but for less money.
Unfortunately, the 60?s just don?t sound good.
With the noise cancelling turned off, the 60?s have a bland, slightly lifeless, uninteresting sound. There?s a little bit of bass, a slightly muffled midrange, and also some treble. They?re?barely okay. They sound a bit boring.
Then the real nightmare begins.
Usually, ANC headphones use digital correction and EQ when powered on, to help compensate for the noise produced by the noise cancelling system. Typically, this produces a better sound signature than running the headphones without power, as the drivers will be tuned with this EQ in mind.
The opposite is true on the TaoTronics 60?s. They sound much worse with the ANC powered on.
Bass response is slightly improved, but everything else takes a nose dive into disappointing. The midrange hollows out and drops away, taking on a strongly nasal, cupped-hands quality. It also seems to be slightly pushed out to the edges of the stereo image, as if they tried to add some artificial spatialization to it. The treble looses all sense of detail and becomes a mushy, grimy mess.
They go from sounding sort of okay for the $55 you?ve paid to sounding miserable, and I never got used to it. Everything, from my favorite music to my favorite video games, just sounded wrong, and the more I listened to them the more frustrated I got.
If I were teaching a sound design course and wanted to quickly demonstrate to new students what bad sound reproduction was like, I?d have them listen to these headphones.
This is all a true shame, because just like the Soundsurge 46?s, these actually have solid noise cancelling for their rock bottom price. It?s a little more hissy than on the $80 model, but surprisingly effective at cancelling out your ambient environment.
I haven?t been this irritated by the sound of headphones in a long time. I suppose that TaoTronics could theoretically fix this with a software update that changes the EQ correction in the ANC mode, and they?ve proven with the 46?s that they can craft a solid sound signature. Yes, the 46?s are bassy and almost too dark, but they still retain enough detail that they?re listenable.
Maybe I shouldn?t hold such a cheap product to a high standard, but I just didn?t want to listen to these for more than 30 minutes at a time.
Cheap headphones can sound so much better than this. Off the top of my head, the Corsair HS50, Koss KPH30i, Aurvana Live, and HyperX Cloud Stinger come to mind. All of those have much better sound in this same price bracket.
It feels like TaoTronics just took the innards from the BH046?s and shoved them into a new chassis without re-tuning anything for the different cup shape.
While you?re being unhappy with the sound of your new cheap headphones, you?ll at least enjoy how they feel on your head.
The ear pads here pack the same thick memory foam padding from other TaoTronics products, and it?s straight-up wonderful. Comfort is often elusive in this low price bracket, let alone higher ones, but the 60?s are wearable for hours without issues. Their mostly-plastic frame and high degree of adjustment make them more comfy than the more expensive 46?s, which I already enjoyed wearing.
If TaoTronics had put the same amount of effort into sound quality as the comfort, these headphones would be an easy recommendation.
Have you ever seen a pair of Sony 1000X?s or Bose QC35’s? Did you ever wish that someone would jam the designs of those headphones together into one headphone, and then build it with lower quality materials?
Well, then this is your headphone.
On first blush, these look just like a premium noise cancelling pair. Until you study them a little closer. They have plenty of visible seams that are just a little uneven. Screw holes are everywhere. Plastics used are quite thin and almost brittle feeling. The metal reinforcement on the headband is really just some metal bits sitting above the plastic that aren?t really attached to the frame at all.
The cheaper materials do have an upside. The headphones are quite light in the hands and on the head, and that enhances their comfort.
You?re getting exactly $50 worth of build quality here, and not a cent more. They have none of the tank-like build that the Soundsurge 46?s had, and feel just about as cheap as you?d expect.
The included hard case is nice and the headphones just barely fit inside when you fold them up. You?ll notice that the hinges feel squishy every time you fold them. The hard case has a thick profile to it, and won?t fit nearly as easily into your bag as the cases on more expensive pairs?or even the Soundsurge 46?s I keep mentioning.
Aside from that, you get the cheapest 3.5mm audio cable and usb cable imaginable. Both are quite springy and tend to kink and bend, and they refuse to be tamed no matter how much you flatten them. The 3.5mm cable isn?t proprietary at all, so you can use whatever you?d like. The control buttons on the headphones work just fine, and the mic for calls is prone to picking up background noise.
You?ll get almost 20 hours of battery life while listening to the iffy sound, so that?s something.
I guess you could buy these and use them without the noise cancelling, but wouldn?t that defeat the purpose? For $50, you?d be better off with something like the Skullcandy Riff or, if you don?t mind the wire, the Corsair HS50. Sure, neither of those are noise cancelling, but at least they sound good.
If you?re committed to buying a cheap wireless headphone from TaoTronics, I?d recommend the Soundsurge 46/ BH046 ten times out of ten. They?re better built, they sound better (especially if you like bass), and they still punch above their weight on dollar value.
The TT-BH060?s look nice from a distance and have great ear pads, and they?re pleasant to wear on the head, but I didn?t like anything about the way they sounded.