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November 27, 2020
Original: $99 USD
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. We spent a week to see if Monoprice manages to pull off a major heist in the headphone game.
Editor’s note: this Monprice BT-600ANC review was updated on September 7, 2022, add the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 to the Alternatives section.
Students will appreciate Monoprice’s headset for its multi-pairing for switching from lectures on your laptop to music on your phone, especially since it costs far less than $100 USD. Commuters of all budgets 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 pads 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.
The headphones rotate to lay flat, and you can push the headphones up toward the headband for an even more compact travel size. While the build quality seems perfectly fine, we advise that uses are careful when folding the headset since hinges are typically the greatest weak spots on any pair of headphones.
How do you control the Monoprice BT-600ANC?
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 does the Monoprice BT-600ANC connect?
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 support 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 find 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 on the BT-600ANC from Monoprice?
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 well does the Monoprice BT-600ANC cancel noise?
The noise cancelling performance of the Monoprice BT-600ANC headphones is incredible. The BT-600ANC blocks out noise better than most headphones that cost double, even triple, its price. Plots like the one above provide a rough idea of how much noise is cancelled across the audible spectrum of human hearing. We cover both active noise cancelling and isolation. 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, Sony WH-1000XM5, and Bose QuietComfort 45. Yeah, the same AirPods Max that’ll cost you an arm and a leg.
What are the different sound modes?
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.
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 and WH-1000XM5, covering the right ear cup with your hand enables ambient mode and turns down your music—great for a quick conversation.
How does the Monoprice BT-600ANC sound?
Regarding sound quality, the BT-600ANC starts to show its 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 by 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 understand 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 few 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.
Monoprice BT-600ANC microphone demo (Non-standardized):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you buy the Monoprice BT-600ANC?
If you’re in the market for budget Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones, the Monoprice BT-600ANC should 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.
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 it on sale at Amazon for under $70 USD, it is hard to deny that this headset is a great value.
If you're in the market for budget Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones, the Monoprice BT-600ANC should be on your shortlist
We have no problem recommending these to anyone looking for portable over-ear headphones on a budget. If you aren’t looking for perfectly neutral sound, you’ll have a great time with the Monoprice BT-600ANC headphones.
What should you buy instead of the Monoprice BT-600ANC?
The Anker Soundcore Space Q45 is an updated version of the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 that features Bluetooth 5.3, noise cancellation, app support, and exceptional battery life but it costs a bit more than the Monoprice BT-600ANC. With the Space Q45, you get support for the SBC, AAC, and LDAC codecs, along with wired listening. While the ANC is still better on the cheaper BT-600ANC from Monoprice, we think the ability to equalize the Space Q45 is a tradeoff that many listeners will happily make.
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 is a few years old, and you can find it online at a steep discount. It stacks up nicely against the best Bluetooth headphones under $100.
What are some more premium headphones to look into?
If you have extra cash lying around, you could upgrade to the Sony WH-1000XM4. The XM4 headphones is our go-to recommendation for most people, especially those who don’t want to shell out for the pricier Sony WH-1000XM5. The WH-1000XM4 has 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.
Frequently asked questions about the Monoprice BT-600ANC
If you don’t need noise cancelling, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 makes for a great choice. It is a bit more costly than these Monoprice headphones but offers superior sound quality and solid build quality.
Yes! The Monoprice BT-600ANC come with a full 30-day money-back guarantee, as well as a 1-year replacement warranty.
Yes, you can toggle between ANC mode, ambient mode, or regular mode without needing to play music through the headphones.