Mpow H5 Review
Pros: Inexpensive, good sound quality, noise cancelation
Cons: Not comfortable for people with large ears, noise cancellation on the weak side
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Mpow H5 is likely the cheapest pair of headphones you'll find with active noise cancellation. Though that technology doesn't perform as well as that in higher priced models, it is still quite good. However, small and uncomfortable earcups largely negate that advantage.
The Mpow H5 performed quite admirably in our testing considering its low price, but we still don't feel it's the best choice for budget shoppers.
The H5 produced an impressive quality of sound in our testing, earning it an above average score of 7 out of 10. While a clear step down from that of the top models, its bass quality and clarity are on par with the TaoTronics TT-BH060 and appreciably better than the Mpow Bluetooth Over Ear. Overall we were very happy with the sound quality, feeling that it was about 70-80% as good as the top of the line models, but came at a fraction of the price.
It should be noted that the H5 sounds much better with the active noise canceling turned on. This isn't just because of the dampened background noise, the drivers seem to actually perform better when noise cancellation is turned on. This shouldn't be a huge deal for most people, just be forewarned that if you're trying to save battery by turning noise cancellation off there is going to be a fairly large dropoff in sound quality.
If you're looking for active noise cancellation, the H5 is one of the most inexpensive ways to get it. And, in our testing, this technology worked reasonably well. Far away conversations were completely drowned out when listening to music, and nearby conversations were mostly unintelligible, or at least enough so that they weren't distracting. Without music playing, we were able to understand most nearby conversations. This amounted to much more noise isolation than any model we tested that did not have active noise cancellation.
When compared to other models that do have active noise cancellation, the H5 is clearly at the bottom of the barrel. The slightly more expensive TaoTronics were much more adept at drowning out nearby conversations than the H5. The top end models from Bose and Sony were able to render nearby conversations almost unnoticeable, even without music playing. Bottom line, if you're looking for active noise cancellation at a low price, we think TaoTronics offers a better value per dollar, but the H5 is still pretty good.
This is one area where the H5 floundered a bit. We wouldn't call these headphones uncomfortable per se, but if your ears are average sized and up, they will probably feel a bit scrunched in the small earcups of the H5. If you want a budget pair of headphones that are comfy enough for extended wear, we would suggest looking at the Mpow Bluetooth Over Ear. You make some sacrifices in sound quality, but the ear cups are much more accommodating than those of the H5.
The H5 offers an intuitive and streamlined user experience, earning it a fairly high score of 7 out of 10 in our testing. It has a simple control panel: a switch to turn noise canceling on and off, a play/pause button, and 2 volume buttons. You can also double tap the volume buttons to skip tracks forward an back. When using the H5 with a smartphone we found that most operating systems allow you to summon their various virtual assistants (like Siri) by holding the play/pause button.
The H5 does lack some features that high end headphones have, like a connected app that allows for the fine tuning of settings and the ability to connect to more than one device at once. However, those shortcomings are minor, and overall the H5 provides a great user experience.
The H5 fold down somewhat small and easily slides into the included semi-hard carrying case. The headphones themselves are incredibly light at just 8 ounces. This earned them a high score of 8 out of 10 in our portability testing. There's pretty much no way these things are going to weigh you down.
Taken in isolation, the Mpow H5 offer a lot of headphone for the price. For instance, it's one of the most inexpensive ways to get active noise cancellation. However, the H5 sits in an odd price range, where for just $16 more you can get better noise isolation and comfort in the TaoTronics. Also, if you don't mind sacraficing a bit of sound quality, you can get the very comfortable Mpow Over Ear for around $20 less. So while the H5 is a pretty great value, they may not be the best value for your needs.=
The Mpow H5 is a great pair of budget headphones, we just really wish its earcups were a bit bigger and more comfortable.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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