Boltune BH010 ANC Headphones
Lately ANC bluetooth headphones have become all the rage. Take a look at all the offerings on Amazon or reviews on Youtube and you will see what I'm talking about. Even in the "high end" space Sony entered the market to challenge Bose, who cornered the market with their QC series cans. However, at $350+ msrp, I never felt they were worth the money. For a fair bit less one can acquire some amazing cans, such as Senn 600s, AKG 702s, Beyer 880 or 990, that obliterate the best ANC offerings. The problem with them, however, is that they aren't very portable, often need an amp to sound best, and worst of all, are open designs; big no-no when studying at a coffee shop. That lead me looking for a pair of ANC wireless headphones that were a) affordable b) didn't sound rubbish and c) had decent battery life. I bought a few models and got loaners to try out. Notable ones I tried were Sony CH700 (refurb), Meidong 7B, MPOW H10, Fogeek Apollo 1, and finally, Boltune BH010; the latter being the focus of this review and sent to me from Boltune.
Let me cut to the chase, you often get what you pay for and with ANC headphones that's pretty true. Without getting into too much detail the H10 and Apollo 1 were terrible. 7Bs were good (really great ANC), and the Sony's, avg sounding (terrible ANC). For the cost, the Boltunes impressed me with their great ANC, great sound with EQ applied; without it they sound just "OK / acceptable"
Construction and Fit
No complaints, made of plastic with vinyl pads, and have very simple and easy to operate buttons. In general they look an awful lot like the Bose QC35 II, you'd hardly know they weren't if you saw someone wearing them a 5ft away. Overall they feel sturdy, weight only XXX oz, are very comfortable.
Music: large range of music, Pop, rock, rap, classical from Amazon streaming, Youtube, and uncompressed FLAC
Summary: fairly average sounding didn't knock my socks off, downward tilt freq response. Good for fatigue free listening
Bass: was punchy but not nearly as powerful as the bass kings, the Sony CH700
Mids: were recessed and missing some clarity
Highs: were smooth, no sibilance, or harshness (a fault with the Sony's, can be harsh)
Summary: Much better, very acceptable, even enjoyable. Still not perfect in the mids
Bass: significantly more punch and bass. Not as deep as the Sony's but pretty nice
Mids: not as "sucked out" sounding, not bad but still lacking clarity and detail
Highs: no change, very smooth
ANC OFF w/ EQ ON:
Summary: WOW, I've never had headphones react to EQ so positively, usually no matter what I mess with I can't get it "right" and always messing with it. I felt that way with the Sony's and gave up on them. These things sound fantastic with a little EQ; very impressed for $50. Are they Senn 600/650s, no, but they sound "fun", punchy, and clear.
Bass: Very tight, good weight, very nice
Mids: missing clarity totally gone, very smooth, nice
Highs: clearer, more detail, still no harshness and smooth
EQ settings, very little needed:
ANC no music:
This really impressed me. All the cans I listed had mediocre to poor ANC performance, sans the 7B. The CH700's practically had zero noise cancellation. The Boltunes, impressed me because it wasn't just the low frequencies they were cancelling out but reached far into the trouble band as well. Comparing to a set of QC35 II and Sony 1000X3 I tried a week prior, the Boltunes were probably 85% as good. I cannot express how happy I am with the ANC performance at this price range.
Final comparison: 7B and Boltunes were close in ANC performance, Sound nod to Boltunes, the highs just never were harsh and the sound was tighter. Sony's had the best bass and sound out of the box (meaning with no EQ) but the highs sounded harsh / grainy at times, the others I tried not worth discussing imo.