Active noise-cancelling headphones are starting to come down in price, and we’re finally starting to see ANC headphones come in at under S$300. We have the Philips TAPH805 today, and we’re going to take a look at how they balance out their feature set against the more affordable price point.

First off, the design of the headphones has definitely taken inspiration from Sony’s WH-1000XM3, with similar-looking earcups and touch controls implemented. There’s a strip of glossy black plastic running along the sides of the earcups which break up the monotony of the otherwise all matte black look. I would recommend keeping the headset in the provided hardshell case if you’re going to toss it into a bag though, since this glossy strip would pick up scratches easily.

Speaking of the case, it’s not the ideal case since it’s quite bulky and will take up more space, but it provides good protection and has a small pocket to contain the 3.5mm aux cable, charging cable and flight adapter that’s included with the headphones.

Sound-wise, it’s definitely rather balanced. The bass is tight and responsive enough, while not overpowering the mids. Treble has a slight roll-off which makes the overall sound signature a bit warmer and inviting, while still being clean and retaining detail.

Unfortunately, there’s just not much dynamic range on these headphones because of how even the sound is. Everything blends nicely, but that makes these headphones feel that they’re a bit laidback. You get occasional flashes of sparkle and energy, but they’re rare.

Imaging is great though, instruments are accurately placed and the soundstage is what you would expect out of a pair of closed-back headphones.

I do like that the touch controls on the earcups can be used for volume control, playback and activating the voice assistant, while there’s a slider button on the right earcup for turning the headphones on, pairing and track control. Comfort is pretty decent, although the earcups might be a tad small for people with bigger ears. The clamping force is adequate, and there’s no pinching at the crown of my head.

The big feature is noise cancelling, and unfortunately, it didn’t quite match up to my expectation. Comparing this to the FiiO EH3 NC which is relatively close in terms of price, I felt that the ANC on the FiiO headphones was better. The ANC on the TAPH805 will still be adequate to block out noise while commuting, but if your main priority is noise isolation, I recommend looking elsewhere.

Battery life is excellent, rated at 30 hours with ANC turned on for a single charge. There’s also a 3.5mm jack on the right earcup for wired listening, but I am disappointed that these Bluetooth 5.0 headphones only support the SBC codec.

My other gripe? The TAPH805 still uses a Micro-USB port for charging. I’d be a lot more impressed if Philips could have found a way to fit a USB-C port in here, but it is what it is.

Aside from those though, the Philips TAPH805 is actually a pretty decent pair of ANC headphones for the price. While they don’t have the best ANC, we aren’t expecting it either. The sound quality is definitely better than what I expected, so big thumbs up there.

More information and purchase options for the Philips TAPH805 (S$249) can be found on Philips’ website.