Top positive review
The best ANC I've tried. Sound quality is not excellent, but really really good!
April 6, 2019
I have been traveling a lot for business over the past couple years. During travel, I have noticed more and more folks using over-ear ANC (Active Noise-Cancelling) headphones. I have tried the $300+ headphones but was never impressed enough to spend the money.
As each year passes, I hope that someone comes up with an affordable set of quality ANC headphones. I don’t think we’re there yet, but we’re getting close. I have been searching and reviewing specifications for <$70 sets almost every year. The specs and features are getting better every year.
Recently, A friend brought the Boltune ANC headphones to my attention. They had the right stuff at the right price, so I thought I’d give ‘em a try.
They come with a travel-pouch. So... pouch in bag… in box.
1) Pouch: Sturdy high-density foam with easy-zip. Inside has netting for cables (and manual if you can’t remember how to pair or clear pairing memory. I suggest making a note and sticking it in your wallet
a) Direct-connect 4ft (1,220mm) 3.5mm right-angle/straight. They aren’t very flexible, but have (apparent) gold plated connections
b) USB to mini-USB for charging. Cable is 32in (812mm)
a) Unlike movie stars, the Boltune headphones are better looking in person. The dogahide PU leather covering the earpieces and headband look comfy… and they are
b) The slip-fit is sturdy and not super easy to adjust while wearing—as they should be
c) The lowest portion of the headband has some sharp edges, but nothing to worry about
d) They fold nicely to be stored in the provided pouch or your carry-on
1) These are quite soft. The foam is just right… not too firm… not too soft
2) If adjusted properly, they can be worn comfortably for hours. One of the reasons why I like earbuds for travel is that I sleep against the window. I will report on how that goes with over-ear headphones after my next long flight
1) No issues pairing. If you have the headphones on… turn them off by holding the power button for 5 or so seconds. Turn off the ANC switch. Hold the power button until the blue light flashes indicating that headphones are ready to pair.
2) If your pairing memory ever gets full, you can clear it by holding volume “-“ and power button for 7 seconds
1) My wife said that normal conversation in a quiet environment was clear and loud. I’ll try in a noisy airport the next time I fly.
2) It’s always weird not being able to hear yourself while talking on the phone… something I need to get used to
1) Battery performance was a little bit better than advertised... so 5-stars for battery performance
2) After running them down (Bluetooth cut out) I got around 3-hours with ANC engaged on a short-charge
3) I wasn’t watching the charge cycle that closely, but I can say that it was around 7 minutes.
4) I have more than 20 hours of use on a full-cycle charge and they're still going. I'll update with statistics once I get a few cycles on the batter. So far, very impressed
Equipment: Samsung S7 Edge
Application: Pi Music Player
How the evaluation was performed: Pi has some nice equalizer features… and a kill switch for all effects to allow the listener to hear everything raw. For each song, I got the equalizer set up to perfection… listened to the song with earbuds, then switched to the Boltune headphones to compare
I performed the evaluations with my 3D-printer going in the background. My computer fans are usually noticeable as well. I could not hear the fans at all. I could only hear the printer momentarily during large moves. In general, the ANC is probably the best I’ve heard (next to my ANC shooting-range earmuffs)
From the list of songs that I use, you’ll see that I’m not a banger or heavy rock guy. I do tend to prefer thumpy low-end and crisp/shiny cymbals and highs. I have tried some of the high end ANC headphones from the other company who’s name starts with B… Those come thumpy out of the box. I had to play with the equalizer for a while trying to get a balance. In the end, I got better than satisfactory results.
Artist / Song / Reason for that song (duration) / Comments:
Supertramp / Take The Long Way Home (1:00)/ I wanted to hear the strings against the quiet in the beginning of the song, then the crash of the piano, and harmonica / Both very quiet at the beginning. Boltunes performed well. Almost perfect ANC silence waiting for the strings to come in. Magnifique!
Ramsey Lewis / Apres Vous / Crisp drums w/ strong bass-line and subtle piano (0:40) / With the EQ set they way that I would normally set it, I lost the piano. When I turned off the EQ I could hear the piano much better… I actually preferred the song raw better than EQ’d. There was just little distortion on the high end. Not bad!
Yanni (Lauren Jelenkovich) / Usignolo (Nightingale) / Bass and clearness of buttery voice (1:45) / This seems to be the tough one for all headphones. I know that it’s not the recording since it plays perfectly through my Mackie monitor speakers and a pair of ANC earbuds that I’ve had for nearly a decade. I hear undesired harmonics at around 3-6kHz. It’s tolerable at low and mid volumes, but intolerable at high volumes
Keiko Matsui / Journey To The Heart (2:58-3:30) / Dobro against piano against strings / In general, good performance. The string bass was a little muddy regardless of EQ or raw. The dobro cut through really well and seemed crisp. The piano was a little bit distorted in the 3-6kHz range.
Within Temptation / Our Farewell (1:20-1:50) / The “s” of a feminine voice and the transition at 1:41 / Mixed results. Listening to this song without EQ was unbearable at reasonable levels. Just too much distortion. With EQ, it was quite good though subdued. Turing off the ANC made things better, but that’s not the way I would usually use these headphones.
I tried the headphones connected directly to my phone and PC. I got a good comparison on my phone. I could not distinguish the difference (as expected). I could not pair the headphones with my PC (my PC’s problem, not the headphones). I was able to compare some of the songs with my phone’s music app and finer EQ on my PC. The results were comparable (distortion in the same frequency range)
The phone features are a nice bonus. I’m a bit of a tech idiot. I use regular earbuds until I get on the plane. I will probably use only just prior takeoff/landing. For folks who would use this feature on a regular basis… the system works very well.
The Boltune ANC headphones are well-priced at $70 (at time of review). If you need Active Noise Cancellation, these are some of the best I’ve tried (including the other B-company’s at >$300). The quality of the sound is 7 out of 10 for most audio (with EQ). Without EQ, I give them a 5.5 out of 10 at medium to high volumes.