Over the last year or so here at AC, I've had the chance to review a lot of budget headphones. Some of them have been really good, whereas others have left me less than impressed.
Some of the headphones I've reviewed have come from Mpow, and compared to everything else I've used, they've been the least impressive. However, after checking out the 059 and H1, Mpow recently reached out again to offer me its H12 headphones.
I went into this review with pretty low expectations, but I ended up enjoying my time with the H12 far more than I was anticipating.
Bottom line: The Mpow H12 are better than they have a right to be. They're built well, sound way better than I was expecting, and even have active noise cancellation. For the price, this is one of the best headphone values out there.
- Don't feel cheap
- Tactile playback buttons
- Shockingly good sound
- Active noise cancelation
- 30 hours of battery life
- Boring design
- Charges with Micro-USB
Mpow H12 Noise Canceling Headphones What I like
Although the Mpow H12 aren't the most visually appealing headphones I've ever used, I will give them credit for being well-built.
The Mpow 059 left a bad taste in my mouth with its chintzy, glossy plastic, but the H12 feel substantially better. They're still made out of plastic, but this time around it has a soft-touch finish that I greatly prefer.
It's easy to adjust the length of the headphones, and when you do, you'll find a metal lining to add some rigidity to the package. Even so, the H12 are still easily adaptable to just about any head size and feel fantastic while being worn. The soft head cushion and faux leather ear covers are great, as are the roomy earcups. If you tend to partake in a lot of long listening sessions, these headphones shouldn't cause any discomfort.
The last bit of praise I'll give to the H12's design are the playback buttons. On the right side, you have three for playing/pausing a song, skipping to the next track, or going back to the previous one. The buttons are easy to press, and when used, offer excellent tactility.
Good built quality aside, what surprised me about the Mpow H12 is the sound quality.
The Mpow H12 convey a crisp, balanced sound signature.
When I reviewed the Mpow 059, I was a bit put off by the muffled, bass-heavy sound profile. On the H12, I don't have anything to complain about.
Music is crisp and clear, I didn't notice any distortion when listening at high volume, and there's a good amount of bass without being too punchy. Everything is incredibly well-balanced, and at the end of the day, I just really enjoyed listening to music on the H12. On that note, there's also no audio delay when using the H12 to watch videos, and I was able to freely move around my 1200 sq ft apartment in different rooms without any audio cutouts.
In regards to the active noise cancellation, it gets the job done. While not nearly as powerful as the ANC you'll find on headphones that cost hundreds of dollars more, the H12 does manage to cut out background noise at home or the coffee shop so you can focus on your music/podcast. While there aren't any stages/levels of ANC to customize, there's a physical switch on the left earcup to turn it on or off.
Lastly, the Mpow H12 are also rated to last for up to 30 hours on one charge — offering the same level of endurance found on the much more expensive Bose QC35 II.
Mpow H12 Noise Canceling Headphones What I don't like
As much as the Mpow H12 get right, these aren't perfect headphones.
One of my biggest qualms is the fact that the H12 are pretty dull from a design perspective. Yeah, they're built well, but they're not visually appealing in the slightest. The soft-touch plastic feels solid, but it also gets dirty and scratched up very quickly. The black color is fine, but I'd have loved to see endless color options similar to what's offered with the cheaper 059 headphones.
My other complaint revolves around the Micro-USB port that's used for charging the H12.
Charge speeds are snappy, offering a full battery after two or three hours of being plugged in, but the fact that we're still using Micro-USB in beyond irritating. I've complained about this for a bunch of other headphones, and I'll continue to do so until we USB-C all the things.
Mpow H12 Noise Canceling Headphones Should you buy them?
For anyone shopping for wireless headphones with around $50 to spend, the Mpow H12 are an easy recommendation. They're built well, have excellent sound, and active noise-cancelation. The use of Micro-USB is irritating, and the design isn't the most exciting out there, but overall, this is an incredibly robust package and one of the best values you can find.
However, as mentioned above, there are tons of budget headphones competing for your dollars.
For about $20 more, you can step up to the TaoTronics TT-BH060 that come with a durable carrying case instead of the H12's velvety carrying pouch. Alternatively, the TaoTronics TT-BH046 don't have as portable of a design, but deliver better sound, ANC, and a sleek metal construction.
You can always spend more and get better headphones, but if you want to keep it around that $50 marker, the H12 won't disappoint.
Affordable headphones that slap.
The Mpow H12 are better than they have a right to be. They're built well, sound way better than I was expecting, and even have active noise cancellation. For the price, this is one of the best headphone values out there.
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