Monoprice BT-600ANC, aptX HD And Three ANC Levels For A C-Note
Impressive 40mm Drivers, And That ANC Is Immaculate
Seriously, Use Ambient Mode If You’re Outside
At some point Monoprice is going to send something which fails to impress with the value for the money, but the BT-600ANC Bluetooth headset is not that product. At their $100 price point it is hard to find anything comparable on the market which isn’t deeply discounted. The Qualcomm chip found inside supports aptX HD Audio, SBC, and AAC audio codecs; support for A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP included.
The 40mm Neodymium drivers are exactly what you’d expect in a headset nowadays, but the active noise cancellation is the best I’ve encountered outside of a pair of $500 Sennheisers the Troll upstairs owns. It allows you to toggle between ambient and full noise suppression as well as turning the feature off, and the 35dB of noise cancellation makes it dangerous to wander your neighbourhood with the full ANC enabled. Monoprice also managed to include both physical buttons and swipe actions on the BT-600ANC, which is a very nice touch at this price point.
- Model – 41232
- Driver Size – 40mm with Neodymium magnets
- Frequency Response – 20Hz ~ 20kHz
- Sensitivity – 100 ±3dB (1kHz @ 1mW)
- Bluetooth – Version 5 with support for pairing to multiple devices
- Supported Audio Codecs – Qualcomm aptX HD Audio, SBC, and AAC
- Bluetooth Range – Up to 32 feet (10 meters)
- Supported Bluetooth Profiles – A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
- Noise Cancelling – Up to 35dB
- Battery Capacity – 500mAh
- Charging Connection – USB‑C
- Audio Playback Time – Up to 40 hours
- ANC Operating Time – Up to 25 hours
- Talk Time – Up to 30 hours
- Weight – 10.0 oz. (289g)
“Premium headphones shouldn’t break the bank. Monoprice is the internet’s best kept secret for affordable, high-quality audio products, proves it with their BT-600ANC wireless headphones that boast a surprisingly flat response curve, excellent AptX HD sound quality, flawless ANC and intuitive touch/swipe control does not have to come with a crazy price tag. “
Monoprice’s Other Higher End Headset
When Monoprice releases a product, it usually performs better than expected at the price point it sells for. When a headset from them costs more than $100, this does lead to some high expectations. The M1000ANC headphones with ANC and Dirac Virtuo Spatializer were the first we reviewed here, selling for $130 at that time though currently deeply discounted to $50. The BT-600ANC headset is priced slightly below that at $100, currently discounted to $90, which makes for an interesting review. The current sale price of the M1000ANC makes it a bit more attractive than the BT-600ANC at first glance, but there are differences which make the choice a little less one sided.
The BT-600 drops the Dirac Virtuo Spatializer in favour of Qualcomm aptX HD audio which is capable of providing 24-bit audio at a maximum 48kHz sampling rate with a bit of jiggery-pokery to fool your ears into thinking it’s of even higher quality than that. The BT-600 also seems to have changed the noise cancellation chip, it may have the same 35dB rating but the effect is markedly different. That seems to have had an effect on battery life, for while the M1000ANC offered up to 60 hours audio, 40 with ANC the BT-600 tops out at 40 hours without ANC and up to 25 hours with it enabled. They both offer dual connectivity, Bluetooth 5 and a 3.5mm jack, with USB-C for charging.
Two Very Different Siblings
There is another difference you may have immediately spotted from the pictures above; the M1000ANC has thinner padding than the BT-600ANC and uses thin material to cover the drivers while the BT-600ANC uses mesh. These two changes certainly have an effect on the audio flavour provided, in addition to the fact they are running different hardware. The Dirac Virtuo Spatial of the M1000ANC is designed to give an more open sound than headphones usually offer and indeed they do so very well. There is a toggle to enable or disable the feature, something you may switch on and off depending on the music you are listening to. The M1000ANC has been what I wear on the bus when headed back and forth from work since I reviewed them, and I have are quite a number of headphones to chose from at this point.
The BT-600ANC on the other hand moves the audio right up to your ears, instead of sounding like the band is sitting away from you, it sounds more like you are right up there on stage with them. The bass becomes clearer but doesn’t overwhelm the mids and highs and in some ways makes the audio from the M1000ANC sound a bit washed out. You can disable the Dirac feature but it doesn’t quite match the feeling you get from the BT-600. As Audio preferences as very personal you will have to decide which type of sound stage is right for you, however I’ve retired the M1000ANC in preference to the BT-600.
The other huge difference is the ANC, which is by far more effective on the BT-600. This may be in part to the design of the earcups, as the microphone remains of such quality and neither are recommended for taking phone calls on … though you certainly have that choice. The three levels of ANC cycle modes at the click of a switch, from off, to a low setting which is good for suppressing most background noise to high which is downright dangerous if you are walking around. On high you pretty much won’t have any audio queues about your surroundings and even loud trucks can sneak up on you.
The BT-600 doesn’t need a toggle for Dirac which helps with the simplified controls. There are three rubberized buttons that control power, pairing, and ANC level, all clustered towards the top of the right earcup. This is much easier to work with than the sliding ANC toggle on the BT-600, which is separated from the Dirac button which is separated from the power/pairing button, and is a superior design. As with the M1000ANC there are haptic controls on the BT-600 activated by tapping or dragging your fingers on the outside of the earcups. This allows to deal with phone calls, pause or resume a track, skip ahead or back and both incremental and continuous volume control. You can also temporarily mute your audio and ANC by cupping the right exterior with your palm, if you run into someone you actually want to talk to.
Overall it is quite a bit of headset for $100, but how does it stand up to some stiffer competition?
Fair Is A Thing Which Comes To Town Once A Year
In order to truly say that the BT-600 offer great price to performance it needs to be tested against more expensive Bluetooth headsets, something quite possible to achieve, thanks to having Troll for a neighbour. You can see, from left to right, the Sennheiser HD1 Wireless, originally sold for $350US, Sony’s WH-1000XM5 wireless noise cancelling headphones which currently run $400US, the BT-600ANC and finally the M1000ANC. There was no expectation that either of Monoprice’s headsets would outperform models costing more than three times as much, the question was how close could they get.
The four headsets were tested on two pairs of ears over a number of agreed upon songs and the answer came as quite a surprise to both testers. The expectation coming in was that the Sennheiser and Sony headsets would obviously outclass the two Monoprice models but in fact that was not the case. It was quickly agreed that the M1000ANC was the least favourite of the bunch, the Dirac solution was simply not as pleasing as the technology on the other three headsets.
The Sennheiser’s 16 Hz – 22000 Hz was the best of the bunch, but it was wonderful to see just how close the BT-600ANC’s could come to its range. The Sony was unique in that it offers Dolby Atmos with the right source, a pity but also allows you to skip needing that app in either a free or paid for version. The Sony and Sennheiser both offer more intelligent ANC, which can detect someone talking to you and suppress the cancellation to allow you to respond. A chunk of the cost from both is accounted for by the logic chips governing the ANC. The BT-600ANC might lack that intelligence but performance wise it was more effective at blocking external noise than either of the more expensive models.
The extra features found on the Sennheiser and Sony simply don’t exist on either Monoprice headset, indicating one of the ways Monoprice managed to keep the BT-600ANC at an affordable price. Those features are great but you have to pay for them. As for pure audio capabilities, the BT-600 came close but did not quite match the two more expensive headsets. The BT-600ANC did punch far above their weight and would probably match or exceed the performance of a $200 to $250 pair of Bluetooth headphones.
It’s great to see Monoprice continuing to produce high quality headsets for less, and the performance of the BT-600ANC suggests there is a very good reason for the huge discount on the M1000ANC. The quality of audio, the compact carrying case and the quality of the ANC make the BT-600ANC easy to recommend at the $90 sale price as well as at full retail, and it wouldn’t be hard to suggest considering them if you are looking at a headset with similar features that costs twice as much.
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How Product Was Obtained
The product is on loan from Monoprice for the purpose of this review.
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