Low-priced noise-canceling earphones that don’t cancel much noise
Purchasing a product using one of our affiliate links earns us a commission and supports this site at no additional cost to you. See our disclosures here.
Noise-canceling earphones for everyone! That would be TravGear’s first act if ever elected President of World Travel. Able to keep out 80 decibels of aircraft engine noise and/or the chatter of other passengers, these gadgets are a must-have for any frequent traveler. So it’s a shame that the Monoprice Horizon ANC TrueWireless earphones – a compact and affordable pair of earphones that claim to indulge in noise canceling – don’t cancel much noise at all at 40,000 feet.
Monoprice Horizon ANC TrueWireless earphones review: features
There are two types of noise canceling – passive and active. Passive means earphones that come equipped with silicon ear inserts that try to physically fill the cavity and block ambient noise from entering. It’s a plastic solution that rarely works. Active means they use an array of microphones to monitor ambient noise and then create a wave of sound that blocks it – as used by helicopter pilots. The Monoprice Horizon ANC TrueWireless earphones are the latter, with an Active Noise Canceling (ANC) function that’s activated by a two-second press on the left earphone.
Elsewhere these gloss black earphones with 13mm dynamic drivers (and a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz) come with three pairs of silicon tips (small, medium and large) while a battery case adds about 20 hours to their native seven hours of charge. A USB-C slot is provided to recharge both, but there’s no wireless charging option.
Monoprice Horizon ANC TrueWireless earphones review: mopish canceling performance
The Monoprice Horizon ANC TrueWireless earphones don’t cancel enough noise. There are three modes to toggle between – Transparency mode (for when you need to listen and reply to the inflight team’s elegant “beef or chicken?” question), ANC On and ANC Off. Settling on each one causes a (very) muffled voice to confirm. TravGear doesn’t mind that Transparency and ANC Off modes are essentially identical, but we don’t love the ANC On mode. It works to a basic degree, but it gets nowhere near the quality of much more expensive ANC earphones. We could still hear people talking close to us and even the tap of our fingers on a laptop’s keyboard. It takes the edge from the white noise at 40,000 feet, but little more than that.
Monoprice Horizon ANC TrueWireless earphones review: all-round performance
While they don’t impress much in aircraft these earphones do a reasonably good job elsewhere. They’re comfortable and the sound quality is beyond acceptable. However, the volume doesn’t go up high enough (thanks, Ear Police) and the touch-sensitive areas aren’t sensitive enough. During our test, we struggled to get to grips with the plethora of single, double and triple-taps – which are different for each ear – needed to operate the Monoprice Horizon ANC TrueWireless earphones. Probably their best feature is the battery life, which makes them useful for reasonably long flights (though after seven hours you’ll have to put them back into their charging case).
Monoprice Horizon ANC TrueWireless earphones review: verdict
It’s great to have a low-priced option for noise-canceling earphones – for so long a high-end product genre – but the Monoprice Horizon ANC TrueWireless earphones just aren’t good at what they claim to do. If you’re looking for true wireless noise cancellation at the lowest possible price then these cut-price – and comfortable – earphones will tick a box, but TravGear thinks you should save your money and pay three times the price for noise canceling earphones that cancel all the noise – not just some of it.