When it comes to audio, Monoprice is the king of bang-for-your-buck value. Cut out the frills, fancy branding, and extensive marketing budget, and all that’s left is premium noise cancelling and features for a fraction of the cost. With the Monoprice BT-600ANC, Monoprice is putting this philosophy to use with an all-out attack on the active noise cancellation market dominated by Bose and Sony. Let’s see if Monoprice managed to pull off a major heist in the headphone game.
Who should buy the Monoprice BT-600ANC?
- Students will appreciate multi-pairing for switching from lectures on your laptop to music on your phone at a price that won’t break the bank.
- Commuters can benefit from the long battery life and exceptional noise cancelling, both of which are great for long trips on the train.
What is it like to use the Monoprice BT-600ANC?
Despite a mostly plastic construction, the BT-600ANC is solidly built and packed with features typically reserved for more expensive headphones. Leatherette-wrapped ear cups yield great passive isolation, and the headphones are relatively lightweight with adequate clamping force. Our bespectacled colleagues in the office found no issues with comfort when wearing the headphones with glasses.
Related: Ultimate headphone buying guide
Touch controls on the right ear cup let you play/pause, skip tracks, adjust volume levels, and accept calls. There is a learning curve to understanding what all the different combinations of taps, double-taps, and swipes can do, but the touch controls work far better than most other headphone models. There’s no sensor for auto play/pause when you take the headphones on or off, although you won’t find that feature in really any headphones of this price range.
The BT-600ANC headphones are solidly built and packed with features
Aside from the touch controls, there are three physical buttons on the headset. One to turn the device on or off, connect to Bluetooth, and switch between the different noise cancelling modes. The buttons are small, right next to each other, and tucked away behind the right ear cup, so it’s quite easy to accidentally press the wrong one.
Monoprice doesn’t include a companion app for the headphones, so there aren’t any advanced tweaking controls.
How well does the Monoprice BT-600ANC cancel noise?
The noise-canceling performance of the Monoprice BT-600ANC headphones is incredible. They block out noise better than nearly every pair of headphones we’ve tested so far, especially in this price range.
There are three different sound modes to the Monoprice BT-600ANC. The first is active noise cancellation, which uses onboard microphones to listen to the sounds in your environment and cancel them out. The second mode is an ambient mode, which uses those same microphones to achieve the opposite effect, projecting background noises into your ears so you can stay aware of your surroundings. The third mode is the “standard” headphone experience without any added or removed sound, which relies solely on passive isolation.
Plots like the one above provide a rough idea of how much noise is cancelled across the audible spectrum of human hearing. Taller peaks correspond to more noise being removed. Even without noise cancellation turned on, the BT-600ANC does a pretty good job of blocking out surrounding noises, especially in higher frequencies.
Turn on active noise cancellation and things get crazy, with a drastic 20-30dB reduction in sounds from 30Hz-1kHz (the location of most ambient noises). Out of all the headphones we have tested so far, only the Apple Airpods Max has better all-around noise cancellation. Yeah, the same Airpods Max that’ll cost you an arm and a leg.
On the other hand, the ambient mode is useful for commuters who need to hear their surroundings, but everyone else will rarely find themselves switching to this mode. Similar to the Sony WH-1000XM4, covering the right ear cup with your hand enables ambient mode and turns down your music—great for a quick conversation.
What Bluetooth codecs does the Monoprice BT-600ANC support?
With extensive Bluetooth codec support, the Monoprice BT-600ANC headphones can transmit more audio data than most competing headphones. Alongside standard SBC, the headphones support the Qualcomm aptX HD Bluetooth codec. While still a lossy format, aptX HD supports 48kHz/24-bit LPCM audio at up to 576kbps for more audio data preservation. The headphones also have support for the AAC codec, optimized for Apple devices. The quality of the audio you actually hear depends as much on these codecs as the quality of what you’re listening to, but it’s great to see high-res audio supported across platforms.
The Monoprice BT-600ANC headphones can transmit more audio data over Bluetooth than most competing headphones.
Bluetooth multipoint allows for simultaneous connection to multiple devices. The headphones will pair with two devices, but you can only actually play sound from one at a time. Still, I found it handy to connect my headphones to both my laptop and phone at the start of the workday for easy switching between listening to music on my phone and watching a video on my computer.
How long does the battery last?
These headphones don’t need to be charged every day. In fact, many people won’t even need to charge them every week. Monoprice claims the BT-600ANC can last up to 40 hours on a single charge. In our battery test with music playing at a constant output of 75dB(SPL) with active noise cancelling turned on, it lasted 36 hours, 20 minutes. That far exceeds the battery life performance of Bluetooth headphones that cost double or triple the price of the BT-600ANC.
There’s no quick charge feature with the Monoprice BT-600ANC. If the battery runs out, Monoprice includes an audio cable so it’s still possible to listen to music the old-school way.
How do the Monoprice BT-600ANC sound?
When it comes to sound quality, the headphones start to show their price. By no means should you use these headphones for audio referencing or any serious audio work. They lack the accurate or “flat” frequency response most audio engineers and audiophiles look for. Still, the Monoprice BT-600ANC provides an enjoyable listening experience, depending on your music taste and sound preferences.
Lows, mids, and highs
Most bass notes live around 100-200Hz, and the Monoprice BT-600ANC offers a slight boost in this range. This is present when listening to the opening of good 4 u by Olivia Rodrigo, with the bass line staying very loud as vocals, drums, and other instruments are added to the mix in the verse. The headphones have a relatively steep drop off below 50Hz, so the sub-bass in songs like Montero from Lil Nas X doesn’t come across as strong as with more bass-heavy headphones.
The BT-600ANC headphones suffer from a nearly 10dB drop in the mid frequencies from 500-1000Hz. This results in a reduction of clarity on vocals, and acoustic instruments such as pianos and guitars. In the aforementioned track from Olivia Rodrigo, the bass notes mask her vocals and make it hard to register any harmonic detail.
The headphones maintain a fairly accurate response in the high frequencies until a steep drop off beyond 10kHz. This drop in the highest frequencies means that cymbal, shaker, and other percussive harmonic sounds in songs like Raging by Kygo won’t be as perceptible compared to other headsets. However, this is in the upper end of the human hearing range, and people that have experienced age-related hearing loss likely won’t notice the drop-off. Check out our hearing test to get an idea of how well you can perceive these ultra-high frequencies.
Can you use the Monoprice BT-600ANC for phone calls?
While not exceptional, the Monoprice BT-600ANC’s onboard mic works fine for taking calls on the go. Onboard Qualcomm cVc 8.0 technology cancels out background noise, with little issues even when walking around busy downtown streets.
You will want to get a dedicated mic if you plan to do any voice recordings or serious meetings, but for day-to-day use, the BT-600ANC will work just fine. Listen to the microphone test below and let us know what you think.
Should you buy the Monoprice BT-600ANC?
If you’re in the market for budget Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones, the Monoprice BT-600ANC should absolutely be on your shortlist. Exceptional noise cancellation alongside support for some of the best Bluetooth codecs help these headphones stand out from the pack.
The Monoprice BT-600ANC’s modest design and gray finish may not catch the most eyes, but don’t be fooled: premium features typically only found on much more expensive models are packed inside. Touch controls, multiple noise cancellation modes, and great battery life have these headphones punching above their weight class.
If you’re in the market for budget Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones, the Monoprice BT-600ANC should absolutely be on your shortlist
The BT-600ANC isn’t perfect; the sound quality certainly didn’t blow us away, and there’s no companion app for advanced tweaking. However, given that we’ve seen these on sale at Amazon for under $70, it is hard to deny them being of great value.
We have no problem recommending these to anyone looking for portable over-ear headphones on a budget. As long as you aren’t looking for perfectly neutral sound, you’ll have a great time with the Monoprice BT-600ANC headphones.
What about the competition?
The Anker Life Q30 features Bluetooth, noise cancellation, and exceptional battery life for around the same price as the Monoprice BT-600ANC. However, it only supports AAC, and not aptX.
If you don’t need noise cancellation and are looking for the top sound quality in this price range, check out the Sennheiser HD 350BT. This headset stacks up nicely against the best Bluetooth headphones under $100.
If you have extra cash laying around, you could upgrade to the Sony WH-1000XM4, our go-to recommendation for the best all-around headphone for most people. The Sony headphones have superior sound quality and some additional bonus features, though it’s still hard to justify a four-times price increase over the Monoprice BT-600ANC. Either way, the fact that we can even put these headphones in the same conversation should put every manufacturer on notice—Monoprice is coming for the headphone crown.