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Don't overpay for noise-canceling headphones when this $60 pair sounds this amazing

The Monoprice BT-600ANC headphones are a reliable and great-sounding pair of headphones with a price tag that will make you feel like you're not paying enough.
Written by Jada Jones, Associate Editor
The Monoprice BT-600ANC headphones lying on a wood desk
Jada Jones/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The Monoprice BT-600ANC are a great pair of budget headphones with everything a casual listener could need for $100. They're currently on sale for $60, and you'll want to take advantage of the even lower sale price.
  • Touch controls, an attractive design, access to aptX Bluetooth codecs, Bluetooth multipoint, and impressive noise-canceling make these headphones a steal.
  • However, they lack a companion app, so you're stuck with the out-of-the-box sound.

At ZDNET, we firmly believe buying a pair of headphones is a very personal choice, and your specific listening needs should dictate your buying decisions. Buying the most popular pair of headphones means you may get what you think you want, but you'll likely need to pay a few hundred dollars for them.

Also: These $99 Sony headphones are almost as good as the XM5 for less than half the price

So it's our goal to expose you to your other options, as there are many outside of big names like Sony, Bose, and Apple. If you're strapped for cash ahead of the holidays and interested in seeing what $100 (or $60, since they're on sale right now) can get you in the age of consumer headphones, let me introduce you to the Monoprice BT-600ANC.

View at Amazon

Here is some background info on Monoprice: The electronics company sells generic-branded tech products, meaning their devices are devoid of flashy branding and celebrity-sponsored marketing campaigns. It's like buying Ibuprofen instead of Advil.

Now let's talk about what you're here for -- the BT-600 sound as good as $100 can get you. Their 40mm dynamic drivers handle low frequencies incredibly well, delivering big, punchy bass that easily gets you in the groove. However, the affordable price begins to show in the midrange. When I listened to Troye Sivan's Got Me Started, I found that the vocals weren't as clear or full-bodied as I'd like. If you have a trained ear, you won't obsess over the BT-600's sound quality, but these headphones are more than suitable for casual listeners -- and that's A-okay.

Also: These $55 headphones lasted me days before needing to be charged, and they're full of comfort

In fact, less vocally demanding and more instrumental-heavy songs like Harry Styles's Satellite sound fantastic. The BT-600's sound was transparent, warm, and highly enjoyable. It's typical for headphones to sound better or worse depending on the genre of music you're listening to, and these are no different. 

The BT-600's plushy, deep ear cups and comfortable headband add to their high-quality build that you don't often see in this price range. I found the headphones very comfortable to wear, as Monoprice didn't skimp on the ear cup cushions but still managed to keep them light and breathable. Design-wise, the headphones resemble Sony's WH-1000XM4, and Monoprice fitted the right ear cup with touch controls to manipulate the volume, accept or decline calls, and play or pause your music. 

As a nice touch and a tiny luxury, I was overly excited by Monoprice covering the flat edge of the ear cups where the touch controls are with a polyurethane leather material. The PU leather absorbs the noise your fingers make when tapping the ear cup, dulling some of the jarring sounds you hear inside the ear cup. 

The Monoprice BT-600ANC headphones lying on a wood desk
Jada Jones/ZDNET

On to the next thing: the BT-600 can cancel noise like a sweet dream, which I was hopeful for since ANC is in the product name. It's in this category where you'll feel like you should be paying more than $100 for these headphones.

The performance of the BT-600, dare I say, is comparable to the Bose QuietComfort Ultra, Sony WH-1000XM5, and Apple AirPods Max headphones, which are all four times the price and our top picks for noise-canceling headphones. Now, I wasn't expecting these to hold a candle to any of those headphones, either, but I was pleasantly surprised. 

Also: The best noise-canceling headphones: Expert tested and reviewed

With ANC turned on, you'll experience dulled conversational noises and almost total protection from ambient noise, like keyboard and mouse clicks or a plane or car engine.

The Monoprice BT-600ANC headphones lying on a desk
Jada Jones/ZDNET

The BT-600's Ambient Sound mode is just as impressive for a pair of $100 headphones. Lower-priced headphones tend to have a lower-quality replication of ambient noises, giving you a noticeable static hum even with music playing. I found these headphones allow surrounding chatter and noises to pass through with a more natural sound, which is ideal. 

You'll also get up to 40 hours of playtime and 25 hours with ANC on, which is more than what the latest flagship headphones from Bose, Apple, and Beats can give you. 

Also: How do noise-canceling headphones work?

As a bonus, Monoprice gives you some nice-to-have accessories that other $100 to $150 headphone makers omit to keep costs down, including a hardshell carrying case with a mesh pouch inside to store your USB-A to USB-C charging cable and 3.5mm headphone adapter.

My only real complaint about the BT-600 headphones is that they don't have a companion app. To be clear, I despise downloading third-party apps in general for the sake of a better user experience, but companion apps for headphones often provide many ways to personalize them, especially with EQ settings. So, if you don't like Monoprice's default sound, you're out of luck.

ZDNET's buying advice

The Monoprice BT-600ANC headphones are perfect for casual listeners looking for headphones with strong noise-canceling capabilities, all-day comfort, and a reasonable asking price. 

Compared to other headphones I've tried in this price range, like the Sony WH-CH720N and the Soundcore Space One, the BT-600 have the best build quality and ANC. Sony's affordable headphones offer better sound, and Soundcore's companion app is packed with up-to-date software features, but if noise-canceling is what you're after, go with Monoprice.

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