The Mpow H5 over ear Bluetooth headphones are about the cheapest noise cancelling headphones you can get at just over £40 or $40 . They have a built in microphone, up to 30 hours of battery life, and a compact foldable design.
I’m testing their latest iteration, but what are they like and how do they compare to the Taotronics BH046s I recently reviewed?
The Mpow H5 headphones comes in fairly basic packaging with a micro-USB charging cable, a flat tangle free 3.5mm audio cable, a soft pouch and a basic instruction manual. There’s no airplane adapter.
They have a foldable design that makes them quite compact for over ear headphones. They’re lightweight at 230g and measure 180mm by 120mm by 75mm when folded with their length increasing to 190mm when opened up.
They fit comfortably in the soft pouch when folded.
The ear cups have a glossy black finish which attracts fingerprints and make them look a little cheap. But the rest of the build quality is good for the price. They are plastic with a metal headband that expands with fairly positive clicks. They’s a good amount of flex on the headband and they feel like they could take some abuse.
The synthetic ear pads are on the firmer side but still feel comfortable. They don’t appear to be replaceable. The same material lines the headband.
The ear cups rotate over 90 degrees, so even unfolded they could still be stored flat.
The right ear cup has the Active Noise Cancelling switch with a green LED that comes on when it’s activated. ANC can be turned on without the headphones being on.
There’s also a 3.5mm port for using the headphones wired, if you’ve run out of battery or want to connect to a device without Bluetooth.
The left ear cup has the volume controls, the power | Bluetooth button and the micro-USB charging port. There’s no fast charging – a full charge takes 2-3 hours charging at around 0.2A.
A 2 second press of the power button turns the headphones on and a 4 second press turns them off, both accompanied by audible prompts. The LED flashes blue and red for pairing mode when you first switch them on. Locate MPOW H5 in your Bluetooth settings to connect. There’s an audible confirmation and the LED blinks blue every few seconds.
To connect to another device, turn the power off and press and hold the power button for six seconds to restart the pairing process.
You can connect to two devices at the same time and if you pause playback on one device, you should be able to continue on the other without reentering Bluetooth settings, but this doesn’t always work.
You can reset the headphones and clear all pairing records by pressing and holding the volume up and down buttons until the LED flashes quickly three times.
Fit & controls
The headphones feel very comfortable, a combination of their light weight and not excessively tight headband. The cups easily fit around my ears. Their light weight would also make them a decent companion for the gym or even a run, but there’s no waterproofing.
The headphones are mainly controlled from the left ear cup. Holding the volume up and down plays next and previous tracks respectively. A single press of the power button plays or pauses your media and a double tap activates your voice assistant. So I can double tap the button, wait for the confirmation beep from my device and say, “What’s the weather in London”.
The controls are small but are well positioned so you do get used to them quickly. Unlike the TaoTronics you only need to use your left and right thumb to control playback and switch ANC on and off, which feels quite natural.
Performance and audio quality
There’s only Bluetooth 4.1 support and I started getting dropped audio just walking into the next room of the house. With the headphones close by though, the connection was generally stable with just the occasional blip.
They don’t have support for the aptX codec with its supposed better audio quality over Bluetooth.
Audio sync was a little better than I was expecting. Even the YouTube app on iOS which is notoriously troublesome, had barely perceptible lag.
Battery life was very good. With ANC off it’s quoted as 30 hours. I mainly used them with ANC on and got just less than half that playing at between 50-70% volume. It’s very easy to leave ANC on which will easily drain the batteries overnight.
You can’t charge them while you’re listening via Bluetooth, but a wired connection plays fine whilst charging.
The headphones use a noise cancelling microphone with Clear Voice Capture or cVc technology for supposedly clearer phone calls. Phone calls sounded ok on both ends of the call.
Active Noise Cancelling on these headphones is not their strong point. They don’t have the more effective Hybrid Noise Cancelling of the TaoTronics BH046s.
They slightly reduce low frequency sounds but you’ll find yourself checking whether you’ve turned the ANC on of off half the time. I’d almost say not to bother with ANC and save battery life, were it not for audio quality.
Their passive noise reduction is not bad, but not as effective as the TaoTronics.
The audio quality from the 40mm drivers with ANC off is ok but they sound a little flat and lack any clarity. Surprisingly turning ANC on really improves the headphones. They sound a lot brighter, with deeper bass and crisp mids and treble for such a budget pair of headphones. They are also a lot louder with ANC on and at full volume on my iPhone and iPad they were uncomfortably loud and started to sound harsh. But I doubt you’d generally need to go much above 60-70% volume depending on what device you’re listening from. There’s also a fair amount of sound leakage at higher volumes, more than from the TaoTronics.
My pair did have an occasional unpleasant fluttering artifact from the noise cancelling from the right ear cup which was more apparent at lower volumes.
There’s no app to control the headphones or adjust EQ settings but I wouldn’t have expected one at the price of these headphones.
The Mpow H5 headphones are a good value set of headphones which are comfortable and offer good sound quality for their price, especially with ANC on. I like their foldable design and the battery life was very good.
I wouldn’t buy these headphones purely for the ANC, but it does reduce some low frequency background noises to a degree. You might have to put up with some occasional artifacts from the noise reduction though. And the glossy black finish won’t be to everyone’s taste – it does make them look a little cheap.
But if you’re after a budget set of wireless over ear headphones with a decent build , good sound quality and at least an introduction to ANC they’re definitely worth a look! If you want better ANC for only a little more money, take a look at my TaoTronics BH046 review.
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