Review: Tsumbay TS-BH05 Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphone

For most music listening, I love to use my Apple AirPods as they’re light, unobtrusive, and give me pretty good sound quality. But when I’m in noisy situations, the AirPods aren’t that great because they don’t do a good job of blocking external noise and have no noise cancelling capability built in. Today I’m looking at the Tsumbay TS-BH05 Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphone (MSRP $109.99, available for $59.99 on Amazon), a reasonably-priced set of Bluetooth headphones with active noise cancellation.

Tsumbay TS-BH05 Headphone. Photo © 2017, Steven Sande

Tsumbay TS-BH05 Headphone. Photo © 2017, Steven Sande

Design

The Tsumbay TS-BH05 uses an over-ear design with a soft pair of ear pads and a padded headband that can be adjusted to fit even a big head like mine. Weighing just .48 lbs (.22kg), they’re light enough to wear all day if you want to rock out for hours.

The headphone comes in a matte black finish that pretty much goes with everything, and there’s just a subtle Tsumbay logo on one side of the headband. All of the control buttons, the AUX-IN port, and the microphone are situated on the left ear cup, while the micro-USB charging port and its associated LED are located on the right side. 

A small box comes with the headphone, with a USB - micro-USB charging cable, an AUX cable with a 3.5mm audio jack on either end, and a small instruction booklet.

The headphone uses Bluetooth V4.0 (CSR+V4.0+EDR) and supports the HFP, A2DP, AVRCP and Voice Prompt profiles. Maximum transmission difference is typical, about 10 meters. The headphone has a frequency range from 100Hz to 20KHz.

Once charged for about 2 - 3 hours, the TS-BH05 provides a talking time of up to 29 hours (18 hours with active noise cancellation on), and playback time of up to 23 hours (14 hours with ANC). 

Function

Before I started the review I did a little research, and was surprised to see that Tsumbay provides a 40 day money back guarantee on the headphone, as well as an 18 month warranty. That’s quite surprising for a headphone with such a low price point.

Fully charging the headphone took about 30 minutes, so the battery came with a pretty good charge. The charging LED turns from red to green when the charging is complete, and the headphone is turned on by pushing and holding the power button until a blue LED appears.

Left ear cup: from left, 3.5mm port, power/pairing button, noise cancellation on/off, volume

Left ear cup: from left, 3.5mm port, power/pairing button, noise cancellation on/off, volume

Pairing to my Mac was fast and simple, which isn’t always the case with Bluetooth headsets. A voice prompt says “Hello” when you power up the TS-BH05, and when connected to the Mac it said “The device is connected".

Sound quality was a bit bass-heavy, which is fine if you like a lot of bass. I found the overall sound to be quite “muddy”, meaning that everything had a kind of fuzzy sound to it. It wasn’t the clear, crisp sound that I’m used to with most headphones. In case you’re thinking this might have been the case with just one specific recording, it was this way with every recording I listened to. 

I also felt that the stereo separation felt somewhat artificial and exaggerated. In order to try to make the sound more palatable, I ended up tweaking the equalizer in iTunes, but that didn’t seem to help much.

To make sure that it wasn’t just my Mac that was causing the issue, I paired the TS-BH05 with my iPhone 7 Plus and also with my Apple Watch Series 3. They sounded equally muddy, so I was beginning to wonder if my hearing had suddenly gone bad. A quick listen with the AirPods showed that my hearing, although not what it used to be, was fine.

My last test was to hook the headphone up to my Mac directly using the 3.5mm AUX IN cable. It seemed to me like the sound quality was slightly better, although still having that muddy tone.

The noise cancellation seemed to work quite well; I was able to block out some background noise as house cleaners were working on our place. I’d prefer to test these on an airplane to see how well they block noise, but I’m not flying anywhere soon… Noise cancellation can be turned on even when the headphone is connected to an audio source by cable.

Conclusion

The price is certainly right on the Tsumbay TS-BH05 Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphone, but I found the sound quality to be singularly unimpressive. However, if you’re looking for an inexpensive headphone for someone who doesn’t have high sound quality expectations and who would like active noise cancellation, you might want to take a chance. 

Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★