Buying a pair of wireless headphones is not an easy task. There seems to be an almost endless range to choose from and there is usually a choice to be made between quality and price.
Of course, if you want top of the range noise-cancelling and have the money to pay for the best, you want to go for something like the Bose QuietComfort 35. But let’s be honest, not everyone has hundreds to spend on a set of headphones.
There are some super cheap wireless headphones on the market, but here you're forced to make some difficult compromises. So the question is, where is the happy middle ground?
The BNX-60 definitely fall into the cheaper camp; at $157.80 (£89.99, AU$199) they aren’t quite in the cheap and cheerful category, but you definitely get good value for money. The build on them is on the cheaper side, but what’s great about them is how far away from cheap they sound.
The BNX-60’s are a uniform matte black all over, with one splash of vibrant red on the inside of the cups. The uniformity of the design gives them a sleek finish, which makes them look high value, even though they are almost entirely made of plastic.
There are a couple of draw-backs to the plastic make. The first is that they are a bit fingerprint hungry, meaning they will probably be hard to keep pristine if that’s important to you. The second, and this may be a deal breaker for some, is that they are more susceptible to breaking.
The pair that we were reviewing unfortunately broke during the review process. It was only the clasp that keeps the strap neat, but still, a break is a break. At the price these headphones are, we would expect better than that.
The controls are all well placed, with playback controls on the left ear, volume and noise cancelling on the right. All of the controls feel clearly differentiated, and we never found ourselves accidentally pressing the wrong buttons when we were feeling for them.
The volume wheel is easy to find and use, and far enough away from the noise cancelling button that you won’t accidentally adjust one while adjusting the other.
The only issue we had with the volume wheel is that it's not linked to the volume of your device. This means that occasionally you can turn the volume dial up to maximum on the headphones but still find the volume too low because the volume on the device itself is still set to minimum.
The cups have a good range of movement, and the strap is adjustable, meaning they fit well on the different sized heads of the people in the office. They feel very comfortable to start with, but as the cups aren't very deep, it means that the cans press against your ears, meaning they can become uncomfortable with extended use.
This will be a problem if you intend on using the headphones for your entire work day or on a long-haul flight; but if you are just looking for an out-and-about pair of headphones for your commute, these will do nicely.
There is also a microphone on-board so you can use the headphones for hands free calls with just a simple press of the play button. You do get into the weird territory of not knowing how loud to talk because of the noise cancelling but it’s not the end of the world.
Finally the compact case comes with the standard wireless accessories including a wire, which is useful for if you ever want to connect to a device without bluetooth, as well as the conversion jacks necessary for plugging into airplane seats and larger stereo ports.
The sound quality on the BNX-60’s is surprisingly good for a more budget set of headphones. That said, you definitely want to have noise cancelling on. With noise cancelling off, the sound can get pretty slushy.
The second you turn the noise cancelling on, the entire sound of the headphones shifts, but be warned it also gets significantly louder. If you’ve been turning the volume up in a loud room before putting it on you may get a bit of a shock.
When tested on James Blake’s Limit To Your Love, the deep oscillating bass line under the track is very present which is welcome as if you’ve only ever listened to that track on a low quality system you may not even realize that line is there.
They cope just as well with paired back acoustic tracks. Listening to You Can Close Your Eyes by James Taylor, the guitars are warm and clear, and Taylor’s voice doesn’t lose any of it’s beautiful tone or clarity when the beautiful harmonies kick in.
To test the BNX-60’s ability to cope with a complicated, fast paced track, we tried Snarky Puppy’s Lingus and we were very impressed. There are a lot of different instrumental tracks layered on top of each other in this track and each of them was clear, distinct and easy to track.
What’s more, the feeling of the track really carried over. We were so busy grooving out that we had to take a little break from writing this.
The noise cancelling isn’t the best we’ve ever experienced, but at the price we wouldn’t expect it to be. It does a good job of taking out any constant sounds, but struggles with unexpected sounds. To give an example, we could still hear people talking and even typing in the office with noise cancelling on.
The battery life on the BNX-60’s is admirable. From intermittent office use (a few hours each day) they lasted just over three weeks. A full charge took three hours plugged into our computer’s USB port.
The led on the headphones indicate the charging status so you can clearly see when they’re ready to go.
The BNX-60’s are a surprisingly complete package considering their price. The sound quality is good, the controls are easy to use, and bluetooth pairing is easy with a solid connection.
They aren’t the most comfortable pair of headphones in the world, putting a little too much pressure on our ears, making listening for a long time uncomfortable.
The plastic construction, though generally good, did result in our review sample breaking during testing. Although this could be a one-off, we'd still expect better for this price.
Finally, the plastic finish does mark quite easily so we can imagine over time that these headphones will end up looking worn.
The BNX-60’s are a surprisingly good set of headphones for the price. If you are looking for an everyday set of headphones that are a step above your standard cheap set but won’t break the bank, these are for you.
We would happily use these as our everyday headphones, but considering the fact they broke during our review, we'd only recommend them wholeheartedly if they were reduced come Black Friday.