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The TaoTronics SoundSurge 90 is a good pair of headphones for canceling external noise on a busy commute. Offering premium features at an affordable price, these headphones make up for the poor sound quality with hybrid ANC and long battery life, making them a compelling package.
Having a modest price of under $100, the wireless SoundSurge 90 is the second most expensive pair in TaoTronics’ noise reduction lineup below the SoundSurge 55. The SoundSurge 90 also features Hybrid ANC with Bluetooth 5.0, dynamic 40mm drivers, voice assistance, and a 35-hour battery. But how do they work?
TaoTronics SoundSurge 90 Hybrid ANC Headphones Review
1. Overview - not finished
Type: Over-ear Noise Cancelling Headphones | Bluetooth: 4.0 | Battery: 30 Hours | Charging: 4 Hours | Drivers: Dynamic | Drivers-Size: 45 mm | Weight: 385g
The headphones come in a TaoTronics standard orange/white box. Inside, you will find the headphones, including a transport case, a micro-USB charging cable, a 3.5mm audio cable, and a multilingual user manual. As usual, these TaoTronics headphones are only available in black.
Visually, the new TaoTronics SoundSurge 90 is reminiscent of its predecessors SoundSurge 85 and SoundSurge 60, which in turn cannot deny a certain similarity to the Bose QC35 II. The TaoTronics SoundSurge 90 hasn’t employed a different design, remaining similar to its predecessors in terms of design and weight. The weight of 230 grams is not too heavy, but not too light either. Prolonged wearing doesn’t become inconvenient.
As with most over-ear headphones, this model mainly uses plastic. Only on the back of the earcups is a metal shell on which the TaoTronics logo is glued. Also, the slider of the headband is reinforced with metal. The ear cushions made of artificial leather make a comfortable first impression. The earpads have a foam membrane on each earcup that covers the driver and is soft and comfortable. The inside of the headband is also padded. All in all, the TaoTronics SoundSurge 90 ANC over-ear is well made. No manufacturing or material defects were noticed.
The SoundSurge 90s are pretty basic in terms of looks, but an attractive pair nonetheless. The exterior is a matte black finish, while the TaoTronics logo is embellished in silver on the ear cups. It’s a comfortable pair to wear with the foldable and adjustable headband with plenty of padding included on the soft protein leather pads. Despite their bulky appearance, the SoundSurge 90 is surprisingly light.
The charging port is located on the left ear cup, while the right houses the controls, including volume / skip buttons, a multi-function button for power and voice assistance, and a 3.5mm jack and switch ANC.
The ear cups swivel 90 degrees, which means you can twist them flat or fold them inward to fit into the hard carrying case. The Soundsurge 90 feels pretty sturdy, and while I wouldn’t mind putting them in a backpack, the extra protection and storage the case offers are appreciated.
The TaoTronics SoundSurge 90 headphones use Bluetooth 5.0 for a stable connection. Unluckily, it only supports the SBC standard, and the AAC codec as the Bluetooth chip does not come from Qualcomm and, therefore, does not support the aptX codec.
The connection between smartphones and headphones remains stable over a distance of around 15 meters in open space. However, this number drops slightly indoors, depending on how many massive obstacles the wireless connection has to overcome. We’ve had issues with the connection being cut off, and it’s worth noting that the headphones can time out if they don’t receive an audio signal for a while.
The headphones have a 500mAh battery that can be fully charged in 45 minutes. This means that under an hour of charging provides 35 hours of listening with ANC turned off, or 32-33 hours with it. Overall, the battery life of the over-ear headphones is satisfactory. But what I don’t understand at all is why micro-USB is being used again here. Especially because the SoundSurge 85 (as a predecessor) already comes with a USB-C charging connection.
Taotronics claims the headphones support fast charging when you’re in a rush to get out of your house, so five minutes of charge provides two hours of playtime, enough to get you from A to B before another charge is needed.
These headphones also work with Siri and Google Assistant on your device. Just hold down the multi-function button for two seconds (the same button you would use to turn on the headset), and you can initiate voice commands. Make sure to stop at the beep. Otherwise, you’ll end up turning off the headset, which is less useful.
The SoundSurge 90 headphones feature hybrid ANC, which uses both internal and external microphones to eliminate noise inside and outside the ear cups, providing more effective noise cancellation performance than the Feedback mic solution in the SoundSurge 85.
TaoTronics claims that its hybrid ANC can reduce ambient noise by up to 30dB, and performance is good. I’ve found these headphones do a decent job of blocking unwanted distractions, especially sounds that fall into the mid and low range during conversations. The words were indistinguishable, and the regular voices were lost behind the combination of music and ANC.
As with all TaoTronics over-ear ANC headphones, the SoundSurge 90 uses dynamic drivers with a diameter of 40 mm. In the case of this model, the manufacturer advertises a “deep bass.” The SoundSurge 90 offers good sound for a budget pair of headphones, and it’s clear they can handle a range of genres.
In the test, the TaoTronics SoundSurge 90, like the SoundSurge 85 recently, disappointed me a bit. Unfortunately, I can’t relate to the manufacturer’s promised “deep bass.” On the contrary, it seems pretty superficial to me. So sub-basses are actually not audible, and the bass frequencies don’t appear particularly voluminous. The headphones are similarly weak in the treble area. Here, details and nuances are often simply drowned in mid-tones, which I find a shame. Especially since TaoTronics has already proven with the TT-BH046 ANC headphones that they can do better – annoying!
TaoTronics SoundSurge 90 benefits from plenty of room for the instruments to breathe and has a strong midrange so that voices are beautifully present. Simultaneously, many details are lost in both the low and high frequencies, which means that every musical direction simply sounds very flat.
These headphones offer fantastic sound reproduction and detail for their price, but the tonal balance leaves to be desired. While these headphones won’t appeal to audiophiles, they are more than enough to keep most listeners happy.
Compared to the TaoTronics SoundSurge 85, I even like its bass overall better because it can reproduce some frequencies more uniquely. Otherwise, I would recommend the TaoTronics TT-BH046 or the Soundcore Life Q20 in the price range, both of which I like better in terms of sound.
The TaoTronics SoundSurge 90 is a fantastic pair of budget headphones. For under $ 80, you get ANC, long battery life, fast charging, and the latest Bluetooth standard.
The best features here are the lightweight, comfortable design and the long battery life. Both of these qualities make the SoundSurge 90 perfect for travel, while the fast charge feature means you hardly ever have to worry about not having music on shorter trips and commuting. Hybrid ANC is also impressive and does a great job of blocking unwanted traffic and chatter.
The reproduction of the sound isn’t outstanding next to the more expensive pairs, but it outperforms various budget competitors. If you’re not much of an audiophile and more looking for a pair of dynamic headphones to wear in stores or attenuate the conversation noises in the office, the SoundSurge 90 won’t disappoint.