Are you in the market for a pair of Active Noise Cancelling headphones but don’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars for a quality pair? Philips may just have the answer with their PH805 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones. Coming in at under $160, they offer high res audio, 30 hours of playback, touch controls, Google Assistant integration and more. Do they compete with the likes of Sony and Bose or does the budget price make for a budget experience?
- Current Price: $158.70 (Amazon)
- Frequency Response: 5 - 40,000 kHz
- Noise Reduction: -27dB
- Active Noise Canceling (ANC). Lose yourself, not the music
- 30 hours play time or talk time (25 hours with ANC on)*
- 40mm neodymium acoustic drivers for highly detailed sound and strong bass
- Hi-Res Audio certified so you can hear every detail as intended
- Touch control. Swipe, tap, and press for easy control
- Google Assistant compatible. Manage your life on the move
- Built-in mic with echo cancellation for clear hands-free calls
- Flat-folding and compact-folding design for easy storage
I live a noisy life. As a school teacher and soon-to-be father of four kids six and under, I value silence more than I ever have. Even though I don’t travel, I value a good noise cancelling headphone. But, as a school teacher and father of a large family, I also value products that don’t break my budget. Spending $350 on a pair of Sony WH-1000XM3 or Bose QuietPoints just isn’t in the cards.
That’s where the Philips PH805s come in. With a design that’s reminiscent of the Sony 1000XM3s, they promise an impressive -27dB of noise cancelling performance with its built-in four-microphone array. Philips uses both an external and internal microphone to monitor and cancel outside noise before it reaches your ear. It combines this with excellent passive noise cancellation thanks to a tight seal and leatherette ear cushions.
They’re a stylishly minimalistic headphone, so if you like a simple appearance without lots of buttons, this is the headphone for you. The right ear cup features capacitive touch sensitivity to control your volume and activate Google Assistant, which eliminates the need for face buttons. There’s a single toggle on the right ear cup to navigate tracks, activate ANC or ambient sound modes, and turn the headphones on and off.
The system works well, though the touch controls can be a bit, well, touchy. You slide up or down to control volume, but you also activate Google Assistant by holding or double tapping. At least once a day, I find Google reading out the time when I just meant to turn the headphones up or down. Still, the integration here is pretty cool and a step above what most other “smart” headphones I’ve used have offered.
The PH805s are a big winners when it comes to comfort. Coming in at only 235 grams, they’re more lightweight than most over-ear ANC headphones and on par with Bose’s flagship QuietComfort 35 II headphones. They’re also lushly padded with thick leatherette ear cushions and plentiful padding along the headband. I’m sensitive to headphones that push on the top of my head and I’ve been able to wear these for hours without experiencing pain of any kind. The nature of sound isolating pads is that they trap heat, however, so you’ll need to vent your ears from time to time.
As the name implies, these are wireless headphones that connect over Bluetooth 5.0. They offer a stable connection — much more so than the true wireless headphones I’ve been using lately — and I can walk to the other side of my house without skipping or losing connection. They’re also capable of Hi Res audio with a rated frequency response range of 5 - 40,000 kHz, though this best experienced using a wire since the Bluetooth connection doesn’t use any advanced codec like AptxHD, so you’ll be limited to 16-bit, 192kHz audio over wireless.
The headphones also sport a respectable 30 hour battery life (25 hours with ANC on). I rarely listen to them with ANC off and have found that the 25 hour rating was fairly close. At 80% volume, I clocked in between 20-25 hours broken over two weeks.
What really matters here is how they perform. Considering their affordable price, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect some cut corners in the ANC and sound quality departments. I’m happy to say that isn’t the case. The PH805s are impressive for the price and perform right alongside headphones that cost much more. In fact, it’s even better than the Audio-Technica QuietPoint ANC900BTs, which were great in their own right.
Like any ANC system, it functions best against steady, droning sounds like engines, fans, and white noise in the environment. Turning ANC on with the button on the earcup is easy and instantly reduces all white noise. As I write this review, I’m two feet away from my PC which is currently running eight fans. With ANC on, it is completely inaudible. Even without a key example, the PH805s provide a dramatic reduction in pure room noise. It’s as if you’ve stepped into your own little bubble.
Where sounds pass through the active noise cancelling filter, passive noise cancelling comes in. The voices of coworkers or other fluctuating sounds, like my mechanical keyboard, pass right through the ANC filter but the passive noise cancellation does a good job of cutting that down too. Add in any kind of audio and you’re in your own little world.
The sound profile is one that’s definitely tuned for mainstream audiences rather than audiophiles. The bass is big and wide with nice punch. This is great for music and games that have a lot of bass — pretty much any action game. The highs are slightly recessed, so sounds like breaking glass or high hats sit further back in the mix. Mids and middle-high frequencies are highers to make vocals and team shoutouts pop.
What this means in the real world is two-fold. First, you can listen to these headphones for hours without getting fatigued.
More importantly for us, these are excellent gaming headphones for when you want to block out the outside world. You can easily connect them to wired or wireless and enjoy the noise cancelling benefits of its ANC array. They have a real cinematic quality to them thanks to that punchy bass. In competitive games, they allow you to hear audio cues clearly. They won’t be quite as revealing or wide as something like the Audio-Technica ADG1X, but in most games that detail is often missed in the cacophony anyways. The sound stage is rather tight due to the closed-back, sound isolating design, but Windows Sonic opens it right back up and aids in picking out the position of enemies on the battlefield.
I also want to mention that the gaming world could stand to learn a thing or two from Philips' microphone implementation. The headset uses one of its embedded microphones to capture your voice, not unlike a lot of gaming headsets that drop the boom mic. Unlike those headsets, the PH805 didn't sound muffled at all. In fact, I came through much more clearly than I would have expected from an embedded microphone. You could easily use this mic for Discord and Skype without missing a beat.
All in all, the PH805 makes quite a strong case to become your "all in one" headset.
2020 may go down as the year of Active Noise Cancelling in the headphone world, so why should gamers be left out? The Philips PH805s have some of the best noise cancelling I’ve heard in a headphone, excellent sound quality whether you’re listening to your favorite song or playing a game, and have a generous battery life to match. You could easily spend more $300 or more for headphones at this quality but Philips has delivered it for less than $160. That deserves major kudos and earns my highest recommendation.
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.