Adventure Travel Essentials: TaoTronics Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

All  week long this week I’ll be sharing some reviews of products that are a bit different than the my regular fare of outdoor and adventure focused gear. Instead, I’ll be posting reviews of pieces of gear that I find essential while traveling, helping me to survive not only long flights to far-flung destinations, but long layovers in airports, and extended stays in hotels and tents too. These items will often be tech gadgets that allow me to work, relax, pass time, and function while on the road, which at times can be a frequent occurrence. The first of these products is a set of noise cancelling headphones from a company called TaoTronics.

I probably don’t have to tell frequent travelers why noise cancelling headphones are such a great piece of tech to carry with you when you hit the road. Not only do they allow you to listen to your favorite music, podcasts, and audio books, they’ll let you tap into the in-flight entertainment system to watch movies and television shows too. All of those things can play an essential role when it comes to passing the long hours while traveling, helping to keep us entertained throughout the process. But what makes noise cancelling headphones even better is that they use technology that helps to block out background and ambient noise that is occurring around you, providing a bit more isolation when you’re looking to escape the outside world for a bit. For instance, when on an airplane this technology can reduce or eliminate the sound of the engines, making it easier to listen to your music or even get a bit of sleep. On more than one occasion, noise cancelling headphones have helped me to maintain my sanity as well when a crying baby sitting a row or two back decided to express its displeasure for several hours.

There was a point where finding comfortable headphones that sounded good and offered excellent noise cancelling properties meant spending a lot of money. Indeed, the pair of headphones that I’ve traveled with for years were priced at over $300 when they first came out. Today however, there are some viable options that won’t put too much of hurt on your wallet. The new Hybrid Noise Cancelling Headphones from TaoTronics is a good example of this, providing plenty of capabilities for just $100. In fact, while testing them out, I would often switch back and fourth between the two sets of headphones, sampling different types of audio. Despite the gap in price however, I could discern very little difference in terms of audio quality.

TaoTronics has created a set of cans that sound really nice, even with the volume cranked up. For my ears, they offer very nice sound quality across the entire spectrum, providing bright highs, solid medium-range playback, and a surprising level of bass. I personally haven’t experienced any muddling of the sound, both through wireless and wired playback. Vocals sound crisp and clear and it is possible to pick up subtle nuances in both music and video. While I’m not audiophile by any means, to say that I’m impressed with the quality of the audio playback would be an understatement.

There is no question that today’s market is shifting towards a wireless world. These new headphones follow suit, offering up Bluetooth connectivity with smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other media consumption devices. That said, most in-flight entertainment systems still require a wired connection, and the Hybrid headphones function quite nicely in that area too. TaoTronics has included a standard audio cable in the box, which automatically turns off Bluetooth functionality when its plugged in. This gives you the option to choose between wireless or wired playback depending on your preferences and needs.

One of the other most important features of a set of headphones is comfort. TaoTronics took great care in this area too, providing the headphone with large, cushy, over-the-ear pads that are designed for extended wear. Those pads not only make it easy to wear these headphones for hours at a time, they also provide extra isolation from outside noise. When paired with the active onboard noise-cancelling circuitry, this helps to further reduce the amount of sound that creeps in from the outside. More importantly, it means that you can put these headphones on and keep them in place, even on that overnight flight across the ocean.

For those long haul flights battery life can be a concern too, as the last thing you need is for the headphones to stop functioning before you even reach your destination. Fortunately, TaoTronics has given the Hybrid headphones enough juice to keep you rocking for up to 30 hours. I haven’t come close to putting them to the test for that long just yet, but so far battery life has been excellent. The headphones are also quick to recharge, picking up enough juice for two hours of playback from just a five minute plug in. That means that you can probably expect them to last for days in most circumstances, although since they recharge using a standard USB cable, you can pick up some extra playback time from a portable USB battery pack.

Other nice features include a built-in microphone for taking phone calls and a nice carrying case that protects the headphones while stashed in a backpack or luggage while on the go. TaoTronics ships the product with both a charging cable and the aforementioned audio cable, as well as an airplane adapter for those airlines that still use the old-style, proprietary airplane audio jacks. LED lights on the headphone indicate battery status and whether or not the noise cancelling technology is activated. Built-in switches also allow the users to pause and resume playback and provide other simply controls functionality too.

Overall, I’m super impressed with what the TaoTronics Hybrid Noise Cancelling Headphones bring to the table. They have stylish good looks, a durable built quality, great battery life, and excellent noise cancelling properties. All of that adds up to a great experience for the user who is looking for outstanding sound quality at an affordable price. With a cost of just $100, it is easy to recommend these headphones to anyone who travels frequently or is just looking for a great set of cans with wireless capabilities.

Find out more here.