back to article What does £55 get you in the noise-cancelling headphones world? Something like the Taotronics SoundSurge 85

A few unlikely things have come into fashion during lockdown. Shonky home haircuts are one. Not showering for several days is another. And who can forget sweatpants, which are worn for several days at a time, as humankind descends into its natural Stig of the Dump state. Allow me to add another item to this list: noise- …

  1. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Sound quality is shockingly good for the price

    A lot of similar products on Amazon seem to be based on Qualcomm silicon that essentially provides all of the basic functions so they've become commodity devices. Pick your chip from the range to get the features you want.

    1. pakraticus

      Re: Sound quality is shockingly good for the price

      Welcome to the long tail market.

      I bet they're using QC reference design boards too.

      1. FuzzyTheBear

        Re: Sound quality is shockingly good for the price

        Very much possible. Reference designs are often used as is or very little modifications.They work so why bother ? That's the general idea of cheap low cost devices.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tatronics

    I'm generally suspicious of companies that "make" a relatively... exotic range of gadgets (desk lamps v. phone dashmounts v. headphones). However, I hate to say this, I have found taotronics headphones excellent (as long as I remember it's an excellence within the price range, and they exceed my expectations for what I can get for this price). I bought one, older model for my daughter, she's happy (obviously, a teenager), and I've been using one newer tt model myself (obviously, an old fart). Sure, the sound quality is poor, in comparison with the usual suspects in the £200 - £300 price bracket, but quite ok for general, on the road, cable-free "experience". Noise cancellation is far from perfect, but not bad either (which annoys my wife, for all the usual reasons). They pair quickly, range is decent, control is clunky, but simple (no f... around with an app that works until it breaks down in next update, etc.). When hung on the neck their fold flat against you, unlike one other known brand (yes, bose, it's you). They're sturdy, they fold, unlikely one other known brand (yes, bose, it's you again), and come with a semi-hard case. Last a long time between charges, charge quickly and turn off after a few minutes when not in use. They are comfy, though a bit hot. They cost me 40 quid. I would pay a lot more to get significantly much better sound, but I'm pretty sure this is unlikely to ever happen. All I can see in new models are general improvements in line with technology - shorter charging times, longer-lasting, usb-c, etc. And, really, even the better brands use sound compression, which kind of goes against the idea of hi-resolution, or even regular hi-fi. But hey, that's the trade off for cable free. Actually, for high quality on the cheap (dirt cheap) I use cabled superlux hd681b (20 quid + 10 extra for velvety pads :)

    So, thumbs up to TT

    1. Mr Sceptical
      Thumb Up

      Re: Tatronics

      +1 for Taotronics - I've been using a set of their in-ear bluetooth headphones (~£25 at the time) since Feb '18 according to my Amazon order history. They've since been superceded by fancier ones at a lower price when I just checked.

      Sound is very good for price and function (but not as clear as my Audio-Technica ATH-M50X studio monitor headphones obviously).

      The mic perfectly fine for the numerous conference calls I've been on recently. Battery life still quite good too, enough for a couple of days commuting (when that was a thing).

      Overall, excellent value for money.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Tatronics

      It was many years ago I used a TaoTronics hands-free ear mounted thing. It was cheap and worked really well. I have some more recent products from them to do Bluetooth adapting. Also very good.

      The ability of the Chinese electronics industry to get good inexpensive stuff to market very quickly is now exceptional.

    3. Terranovas
      Happy

      Re: Tatronics

      Hi: ..."Noise cancellation is far from perfect, but not bad either (which annoys my wife, for all the usual reasons)."...we are in the same club . Using a combination of Jabra Engage 75 and Plantronics Voyager focus UC for WFH. Do you think the SoundSorge 85 beat these two I use? The USB-C sold me. Cheers.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where do I put the Oxygen-free cable?

    As it's axiomatic that no sound reproducing device is incapable of improvement by adding oxygen-freeness, I am worried that foolish people may try to improve their listening experience by putting their head either into a vacuum or a container of inert gas. Can the reviewer confirm that there are suitable warning labels in the product before such behaviour is condoned by influential golf course magnates?

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: Where do I put the Oxygen-free cable?

      Just get Covid-19 for oxygen reduction. Medics are apparently flummoxed by punters, sorry patients turning up at hospital with blood O2 levels normally resulting in non consciousness with said patients sitting up talking but being a bit delirious.

      Health Warning: apparently such patients may survive for up to 10 days but most don’t make it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where do I put the Oxygen-free cable?

      If your phone does 5G, it will automatically be depleting a zone around it of oxygen by ionising the atoms with high frequency gigihertz waves so the sound quality should be even better!

    3. katrinab Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Where do I put the Oxygen-free cable?

      It's OK. They wouldn't be seen dead with a £55 pair of cans.

      Try the Tournaire Utopia - €100,000 for the headphones + €10,000 for the optional headphone stand.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Where do I put the Oxygen-free cable?

        Since they are bluetooth the cables are presumably oxygen free, copper free and insulator free

        Just remember to install them the correct way round

  4. Cuddles Silver badge

    There are a lot more options

    "There's also a happy medium between the two. The Jabra Elite 85h has excellent noise cancelling and solid battery life, and can be found for around £170 – or almost half the price of the Sennheiser and Sony efforts."

    Unless you buy the cheaper Sennheiser and Sony efforts maybe? It's not like the most expensive models are the only ones they make. I got my Sennheiser HD4.50 for £99 (they seem to be a bit more on Amazon at the moment, but still well under £170). Sony also have a variety of models at all kinds of prices. It seems a bit weird to review a budget set of headphones but then only compare them with the most expensive alternatives instead of the huge number available in the same price range.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: There are a lot more options

      > It seems a bit weird to review a budget set of headphones but then only compare them with the most expensive alternatives instead of the huge number available in the same price range.

      Well, the performance of the top end Sony's and Bose are well known as being damned good bordering on magic. People may have tried a pair on at friends, tried them in show rooms, they're in business class airlines, private hospitals. They have become a benchmark of of sorts.

  5. Snarf Junky

    I have had a pair on Taotronic in-ear wireless headphones for about 6 months and for the money they are fantastic. Battery life is excellent and the sound is lively with a good bass hit. I'm tempted to try a pair of these as well now.

  6. Onga

    A+ would buy again

    I was about to pull the trigger on some Bose headphones last year when I stumbled across a pair of Taotronics headphones on Amazon that had feature parity with the Bose but for about £250 less, so I decided to give them a go.

    I have to say I am impressed and I cannot imagine being happier with a more expensive pair, although I am the first to admit I am not an "audiophile".

    Right now I am mainly wearing them for my once-a-day outside exercise (ok maybe once a week) and it's good to know that if I don't hear the car coming (due to the excellent ANC*) and get run over, my primary concern will be if I am broken and not if my headphones are (due to how cheap they were).

    * just kidding, I don't actually run with ANC on

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: A+ would buy again

      It's good to audition audio stuff before you buy, we don't all have identical hearing and frequency response across the spectrum so what works for one might not work for another.

      My ears have been ruined by many years of loud music, both playing gigs and attending. Plus my own bad habits with loud recorded music. So the really expensive stuff doesn't make much of a difference over cheaper stuff for me. Although the Sony headphones with the phone app so I can tweak the output for my ears is worth the extra dough.

    2. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: A+ would buy again

      I started running seriously as a 14yo back in the early ‘80s when taking the music with you required you to balance a ghetto blaster on your shoulder. The Sony Walkman came out but it was heavy and with tapes only lasting 20min a side (no auto double sides back then) and thus only 40min each when my runs were usually 60min plus.

      So I never got into the habit. And now I value my unimpeded ears. I can hear the wind in the trees, the waves on the beach the birdsong and the bike behind me on the cycle path, the engine noise from the hidden driveway ahead and the car decelerating behind me as I approach the side road.

      I value all of them. I’d be walking with my wife and pulling her over before she knew why as soon as the first noise of cycle gears hit my ears I’m now so attuned. I’m usually making sure I’m well over before the warning bell these days. And as the daylight streams towards a northern midsummer there’ll be no warning of headlights.

      Already it’s possible to tell where the sun is it crosses the northern sky as a lightening on the horizon. So you can go roaming in the gloaming, so long as it is within the Covid-19 rules of course

      1. fuzzyfelt

        Re: A+ would buy again

        cool story. I'll put you down as a "not interested" ;)

      2. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: A+ would buy again

        @muscleguy

        On the flip side I had the early "walkmans"....ok a crappy binatone job, progressed to top flight Awia (would cost around £600 these days for inflation), no such thing as volume limiting. Spent my teens in loud clubs and proper raves, sitting for hours in front of the speaker stacks at the Brixton academy and hundreds of concerts

        Had a hearing test a few months back.....hearing of someone in their twenties.

        So you can have a crazy life and still have hearing....but I guess I'm a lucky one.

        Wouldn't change a thing I did in my youth.

        1. Graham Lockley

          Re: A+ would buy again

          Eh? Whats that ? What did he say ? Something about Walking ? I also have the ears of a twenty year old, not going to tell the Police where I got em tho :)

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: A+ would buy again

            I love the birdsong too. But parts of my job mean being near loud droning machinery, so ANC is useful for me. Let's me listen to things at a lower volume. Some evidence suggests that constant noise is detrimental to your hearing even if it isn't very loud (as if your ears needs quiet time to recover).

            Keeping my hearing good. For the birds.

      3. wiltshirejohn

        Re: A+ would buy again

        @muscleguy: " I’m usually making sure I’m well over before the warning bell these days."

        You must be blessed with a bunch of considerate cyclists in your area. Most around here don't even have a bell. The 'lycra louts' are the worst.

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