There is a great internet meme that shows a person walking around with earbuds in their ears. Then the caption of the meme is “I am not really listening to music, I just don’t want anybody to bother me”.
As much as I enjoy talking to others, there are some times where I would happily sit in my chair and continue my work unbothered. The constant bother or distraction not only delays my work, but it can also cause me to miss something or do something incorrectly.
These reviews are a great example. Once started they are a start-to-finish operation, meaning the first word is written in the same time frame as the last one. By doing this it helps me remember what I’ve already said and keeps the story/review consistent.
While at work or in other public settings, like an airplane, I wanted to get into using some sort of headphones. The trick with the headphones was that they needed to be able to cope with surrounding noises, but have zero sound leakage. They also needed to be discrete and not cost a fortune.
In a public setting, there is bound to be constant activity and lots of people walking, talking, or doing some sort of activity. So, ensuring that those noises do not bother me, I would need some sort of active noise cancelation. Then, to ensure that I am not a nuisance to them, the headphones need to not leak sound. Otherwise, using these on a plane would be a challenge and an annoyance for the passenger next to me.
My friends at Topdon told me that they had just the thing, their new TP 550 headphones. Featuring active noise cancelation, Bluetooth connectivity, and a long-lasting battery, these headphones may just be the perfect fit for my real-life meme demonstration.
Welcome to my review of the Topdon TP 550 Noise Canceling Headphones. Throughout this review, I will be discussing the design, functionality, and my final thoughts of the product. A special thank you to Topdon for providing me with these headphones.
When these headphones first arrived, I wasn’t immediately impressed with the design. The TP 550 are constructed out of an all plastic frame with some questionable design elements to it.
On both ear cups you will find a carbon fiber skin that is soft to the touch. Shiny when reflecting the light, the fake carbon fiber skin was something that seemed a little off. It’s almost as if there was supposed to be a product brand name that is placed there instead. This carbon fiber also makes its way to the top headband.
Perhaps it’s that they used carbon fiber in the first place. I personally find that carbon fiber is reserved for high-end or expensive equipment and when I see it used on equipment that is not high-end, I believe it lowers the aesthetics.
Nevertheless, the odd design cues don’t stop there. On both earcups, you’ll find red rings that are imbedded into the foam earpads. Seeing that the headphones are all matte black, the red rings are different to say the least. While red partners well with black, I would have preferred Topdon to stick with the all black design.
Speaking of the earcups, both earcups feature 90-degree rotation so that when you aren’t listening to music, you can have the earcups lie flat on your chest. In exercising this, the headphones are on the bulky side and they can feel a little awkward when lying on your chest.
Again, another out-of-place design aspect is the positioning of the headphones I/O. As with practically every other type of headphones out there, the 3.5mm headphone jack is located on the left earcup. That’s not the case with the Topdon TP 550.
Here, we find that the right earcup is the one that has the 3.5mm headphone jack as well as the volume and play/pause/power controls. Then, on the left, you’ll find the microUSB charging port and the On/Off slider for the noise cancelation. More on that later.
Finally, one thing that Topdon did get right was the headphone’s padding. The headphones are quite light, only weighing one pound, but the TP 550 have some comfortable padding around the earcups and headband.
To the date of publishing this review, I still use the TP 550 everyday while at work. While wearing them for about an hour per day, not once did I have discomfort or any itching. The padding may not be memory foam or anything superb, but it surely gets the job done well.
As I mentioned earlier, the TP 550 supports the latest Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. Seeing that it can pair with most portable devices, like your phone, the headphones also support a wireless microphone, but it lacks any wireless media controls.
It’s a good thing then that the main selling point for the TP 550 is not its Bluetooth connectivity and instead is its active noise cancelation.
For those that recall the original Beats by Dre, these headphones were an early adopter of this noise cancelation technology. How the technology works is actually quite simple.
Image a swimming pool with either end having a similar wave rush towards the middle. Eventually, they are going to meet in the middle at which they cancel one another, because they are the same. This same principle is how noise cancelation works.
Noises around you have a noise frequency or a certain wave length that makes up the sounds. By transmitting the opposite sound through the headphone’s speakers, you inherently cancel out the sounds around you, or come somewhat close to doing so.
The feature can be turned on and off to save battery power, but for this review I left it running every time I was using the headphones.
I used these headphones exclusively at work where there are people talking, typing, doing different activities, and a loud air conditioner that runs up above; the perfect environment to test out the noise cancelation.
To my surprise, it works really well. People’s voices, typing, and the air conditioner were all removed from my hearing, even when music wasn’t playing. It’s not a perfect cancelation, if somebody is yelling or talking right next to you, you’ll hear traces of them, but they will be quieter than standard headphones or just being there with nothing on your ears.
When it comes to sound quality, the TP 550 are decent, but could be better. There is a noticeable lack in the bass department with highs being, what feels like, omitted. Lows and mids, however, are fair and with these headphones on a lower volume, I felt like they were just fine for office or public use.
Using them at home or in a setting where you’d like the sound to be more accurate, then you’ll be a little disappointed, although I don’t believe that is what the TP 550 are trying to be. They are headphones that people could use on the go, at lower volumes, and be unbothered by noises around you.
A plus here is that the headphones are great at keeping the sound inside the ear cups. At lower and medium volumes, there’s not a doubt in my mind that the person next to you would not hear what you hear.
Another thing that they could improve on is the built-in microphone. It’s quiet, muffled, and quite frankly, not that great. I’d prefer talking directly on the phone, rather than through the headphones, unless I were in a quiet room.
Finally, battery life on the TP 550 is excellent. These headphones will last for weeks before needing a recharge. Recharging them is also excellent as a full charge only takes a few hours. Something to note is that unless the headphones have battery power, they will not function, even if you are using the 3.5mm headphone jack.
My Final Thoughts
Topdon has the TP 550 listed on Amazon for $55.99 and in my personal evaluation of these headphones, I feel like that is overpriced for what you are getting. These are perhaps $30 headphones at best. The design of them isn’t something I adore. Then, the sound is fair and great for office music listening, but asking for better sound is what I wanted from the TP 550. The same goes for the built-in microphone.
All in all, the wireless connectivity works fantastically; they are comfortable for long periods of time, and the battery seems never ending. If you do end up purchasing these headphones for traveling, office, or public settings, then it would be an okay buy.
© 2017 Justin Vendette
Tagged 10, Active, Amazon, beats, Bluetooth, Cancel, Cancelation, cheap, headphones, headset, Noise, review, top, Topdon, Wired, wireless.