Review of the Monoprice Sync-ANC: nice sound, but some shoddy construction Although they can be expensive, decent noise-canceling headphones don’t have to be expensive. These days, there are deals available if you’re truly trying to stretch your money, and the Monoprice Sync-ANC fit in perfectly with that goal. They offer an unusual blend as an alternative to more expensive pairs for an inexpensive $60 and a respectable list of features.
Cheaper headphones don’t have to be ugly or uncomfortable, as demonstrated by the care Monoprice took while designing the Sync-ANC. The earcups and headband’s soft protein leather enable me wear these headphones for extended periods of time, and the extensions are fairly smooth once they are adjusted to suit properly. Even the metal bands include markings to show you how far you have to go to go back to your ideal size.
When putting the headphones away, that is important. Because you may either twist the cups to lay flat or push them inward when folding them, they don’t come with a case to store them in. There is no beautiful way to fold a pair of cans since no matter which direction you go, the two sides will collide. However, at this price, being able to fold a pair of cans is already a victory in my book.
Digital Trends / Ted Kritsonis
Regulators and ANC
Various controls and ports are visible when you look closely at each side. The active noise cancellation (ANC) switch and 3.5mm port are located on the left. The power switch, play/pause, volume control, and a Micro USB port for charging are all located on the right. Yes, Micro USB, a port that has practically become a rarity now that USB-C is the undisputed industry standard. Monoprice offers a Micro USB charging wire and 3.5mm Aux connector in the packaging, however you’ll need to bring that charging cable with you if you plan to use these devices while travelling for an extended period of time because the battery life will force the issue.
The ability for ANC to operate independently of the headphones’ own power is less frequent than separate controls for turning the headphones on and off. This feature works with wired connections when you plug in via the 3.5mm Aux connector and allows you to cancel out background noise without playing any music or utilising Bluetooth. Green LED on the left earcup will let you know when it is on.
The performance of Monoprice results in what I can only guess are unintended repercussions, despite the fact that it is clearly trying to provide some balance in how and when to employ ANC. By deepening the bass at the expense of the highs and mids, turning on ANC significantly changes the soundstage. Without a doubt, it’s not what you would call a genuine “bass boost” option because the Sync-ANC doesn’t have one, but it’s the closest thing you’ll find to one. This is strange because, while turning on ANC is typically supposed to improve audio quality in modern headphones, it is obviously having the opposite effect in this case. If you love the bass-heavy curve this function provides, you might not be as concerned, but I found it to be a drawback for several genres, like jazz or rock.
What you hear is what you get because there is no software to adjust anything or customise it. The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 over-ears, which cost $80 and provide improved passive noise isolation as well as an EQ and other unique features when used with the Soundcore app, immediately caught my attention. Additionally, the sound doesn’t degrade in any manner when you utilise ANC with those headphones, remaining constant all the way through. The Q30’s noise cancellation is also superior to what Monoprice offers here by a bigger margin relative to their price differential, despite the fact that it isn’t remarkable.
Digital Trends / Ted Kritsonis
The Sync-ANC only muffles low-frequency sounds, which is a problem because it does little to muffle voices or higher-frequency sounds. The outcomes are not particularly outstanding, even within those strict constraints. Given that these are $60 cans with ANC support, I had realistic expectations going in. However, when a feature is heavily promoted (and is even part of the product name), expectations inevitably increase as a result.
It’s unfortunate because the Sync-ANC genuinely sound rather fantastic, even when I occasionally plugged in via Aux. With ANC turned off, the default soundstage is powerful and generally well-balanced. They don’t overdrive the bass or drastically cut the highs and mids. Even though it’s not quite as effective as it is on the aforementioned Soundcore Life Q30, passive isolation is greater than you might imagine, allowing music to resonate even more. The lack of distortion at greater volumes also amazed me. While I don’t advise playing music louder than 70% for the purpose of your long-term hearing health, the Sync-ANC are quite loud at 60% to 70%, so you may put them on with confidence that they’ll be able to blast out your favourite sounds.
The call quality and codecs
Along with AAC and SBC, I also appreciate the support for aptX and aptX Low Latency, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well these performed when I used one of my Android phones to play video games through Xbox Game Pass. With the appropriate USB dongle to connect to on a Windows PC or gaming console, you could accomplish the same thing. I could move about my house without experiencing any cracking or cuts, which further demonstrated the dependability of Bluetooth range. Additionally, the Sync-ANC supports multipoint pairing so that it can connect to two devices at once. It does require a few steps to accomplish this, including turning the headphones’ power on and off to put them back in pairing mode for the second device, as is explained in the user manual. Once finished, it’s a rather seamless transition, similar to playing music on your computer and then picking up the phone to answer a call.
Speaking of calls, these headphones do a respectable job of preserving clarity, although your background will be important. You won’t have any issues in quieter environments. Callers never voiced complaints about my voice quality unless I was speaking to them in a busy or noisy area. And by “louder,” I mean that the TV was on in the adjacent space. It is more difficult to continue a conversation when there is activity around you since the onboard microphones don’t always distinguish between your speech and outside noises.
Batteries and buttons
In general, I like physical button controls, and they function reasonably well in this situation. The play/pause button is also referred to as a “multifunction button,” which means that it can be used for a variety of features and duties linked to calls. Hold it down for one second to activate your phone’s voice assistant (when done correctly, you’ll hear an audible tone) or decline an incoming call. In a great touch, you can mute yourself by double-pressing the button while you’re on the phone in addition to using it normally to answer incoming calls.
With everything going on, the Sync-ANC does substantially match its 20-hour battery life rating — if ANC is turned off. With bigger amounts and ANC always on, it will cut in half. They are hardly astonishing numbers, even though by today’s standards the Soundcore Life Q30 easily reached 40 hours and the 1More SonoFlow can approach 50 hours per charge. Both of those headphones cost more, the SonoFlow even more so at $100, but you get a lot for the extra money, like LDAC support, specialised applications, and EQs (for the SonoFlow), for each pair, as well as a simple way to upgrade the firmware to enable fixes and new features. Not to add that with ANC on, both will sound better.
A quality product with flaws
The “ANC” in the name of the Sync-ANC isn’t what makes them unique; it’s the audio quality you get even without it. Cutting savings is expected when discussing any $60 pair of cans, which is why there are physical buttons and a Micro USB connector but no wear sensors, as well as the absence of a clearly defined “correct” way to fold them. The best way to describe these headphones is as cheap and cheery. Although they lack IP protection, making them unsuitable for use during physical activity, they don’t feel as cheap when held or worn.
What’s left is a pair of over-ears that are less expensive but don’t offer as much as those that will cost you a little more. It should come as no surprise that if money is extremely tight, you will not be able to get strong ANC or a very long battery life. However, you will receive terrific sound, which may make the $60 price tag worthwhile given that this is the most crucial aspect of all.