I’ve been interested in the concept of active noise cancelling for a long time. I usually work from home and while everyone does try to keep the noise down a household with a six-year-old is inevitably going to have noise at odd times. It might be background My Little Pony, the Trolls soundtrack or just general noise, but there’s always some noise. ANC has always seemed something too expensive to access so when I saw Aukey’s active noise cancelling headset for £43 I had to try it.
So how well did it work? Reasonably. ANC works by listening to the sounds around you and playing the exact opposite through your headphones. The Aukey headphones work really well with consistent background noise. Cancelling out road noise in a car, a background washing machine or just the murmur of many conversations and it’s in it’s element. Put in some more complicated sounds and it works a bit less well.
Audio quality is reasonable – it’s lower than you might get for a dedicated wired headset but still gives you a decent listen. I found it better for spoken word or background music.
That’s all very well and good but if they’re not comfortable then whats the point? The good news is that the headphones are comfortable. I found all three sets of earbuds wider and flatter than I was used to but soon discovered this worked to block the ear a little more that fits in with the noise cancellation.
The Ergohacks Verdict
The Aukey noise-cancelling headphones are a budget device. This is often interpreted as being a bad device and they’re not. In the right situation, they’re a good choice. If you’re looking for something to reduce engine noise on the bus, want something to cut the background chatter in the office or just make the world a little quieter they’re well worth it. Add in the ability to pair to two devices and all-day battery life and they make a decent working day headset.
Buy it from Amazon +
Price: ± £43
Included: AUKEY EP-B48 Active Noise-Cancelling Earbuds, Micro-USB Cable, 3 Pairs of Ear-tips, User Manual
Aukey is a Chinese manufacturer based in Shenzhen that produces a range of products. They’re best known for their batteries and charging solutions but also make speakers, some car products, cables and a few other more odd products such as a mini-drone and Android-based projector.
The headset is an around the neck design. The idea is that you wear the necklace slightly hidden in your shirt and this keeps the earphones and controls easily available while allowing for a reasonable size battery and aerial without hanging it from your ear.
The necklace is made from hard plastic with a faux leather cover around the back of the neck. The right-hand side bulge has nothing on it but the left has four controls – a switch that turns on active noise cancellation, a power/pairing button and two volume and skip buttons. The control buttons are well placed and work well but the active noise cancelling switch isn’t that easy to change. The ANC switch also has a persistent blue LED that is somewhat annoying at night.
The two connected earbuds are made from a combination of black and chrome plastic and three sets of earbuds are included. I found them surprisingly comfortable and that they filled enough of my ears to block sound somewhat even when turned off.
- Active Noise Cancelling.
- Ability to pair to two devices at once. I paired them to my laptop and phone and apart from a couple of times where I was connected to the wrong device found this very helpful.
- Built-in microphone for noise cancelling that can also be used for phone calls and VOIP when connected to a PC. I found it worked well for this and was clear for the person I was talking to.
Product dimensions: 18 x 15cm
Model Number: EP-B48
Bluetooth: 4.1, A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP
Playtime: 20+ hours / 15+ hours (ANC on)
Charging Time: 2 hours
Input: DC 5V micro USB
Battery Type: Integrated 300mAh Li-Polymer
Dimensions: 16.5 x 16.4 x 3 cm
Release date: March 2017
Made in China
Warranty: 24 month warranty
The headset isn’t a stand-alone device when it comes to playing music – you need source of Bluetooth sound. The active noise cancellation does work without music but is far less effective without it.
We based our Ergohacks Verdict on 3 weeks of tinkering, testing and using the EP-B48 kindly provided by Aukey during May 2017. This article was first published on 1 June 2017.