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Monoprice SYNC-ANC Wireless Headphones: Review

The Monoprice SYNC-ANC Wireless Headphones are on sale right now for under $45. But are they worth the money? Let’s take a look.

Monoprice Sync-ANC Headphones Flat

Monoprice has had a very interesting 2022; the company has unveiled at least 3 dozen new products under its Monolith brand and almost everything that we have tested so far has proven to be rather impressive. Not ground breaking but excellent value for the money.

What a lot of audiophiles don’t remember is the product that put Monoprice on the map; a pair of budget priced wired headphones known as the Monoprice 8323. They are still available for only $16.99 which is almost hard to believe in the current market. When you swap out the stock earpads for better third party ones, the value proposition goes through the roof.

My point?

While the temptation may be to only look at the Monolith series because all of the high-end magazines have said some really nice things about the products, there are still some excellent Monoprice products in their budget lineup that offer a lot better performance than you might think.

Monoprice Sync-ANC Headphone Kit
Monoprice Sync-ANC Headphones

The Monoprice SYNC-ANC Bluetooth headphones are a prime example of this.

The second generation SYNC-ANC wireless headphones offer upgraded Bluetooth capabilities and ANC for only $60 USD. There are very few good wireless ANC headphones for $60 so it made sense to give these a real shot at the budget crown.

No Frills

The headphones arrive in a cardboard box with a plastic inner tray containing the headphones, USB charging cable, 3.5mm auxiliary cable, and the manual. It does not ship with a carrying case or other extras and the packaging does reflect its budget status.

Monoprice Sync-ANC Headphones Side

The Skinny

The Monoprice SYNC-ANC Headphones utilize a metal headband wrapped in vinyl with simple foam padding with aluminum adjustment rods; the adjustments have positive clicks with markings on the outer surface of the extensions to help ensure even spacing on both sides.  

There is a hinge at the lower end of the extensions that allow the cups to fold for storage; when folded, the SYNC-ANC are only slightly larger than the cups themselves which makes them easy to carry in your knapsack or computer bag.

Monoprice Sync-ANC Headphones Left Earcup

The gimbals are single sided with attachments at the rear of the cup; this allows the cups to rotate slightly on the horizontal axis with about 15° of travel inward and 30° outward at the top. Vertical rotation is 90° to the rear with no rotation towards the front. This permits enough movement to fit most heads.  

The cups are mostly plastic with permanently attached ear pads matching the materials used in the headband. The cup size is relatively small with the pads touching my ears in several places when worn. 

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Controls are mostly on the right cup with the on/off switch to the front, a micro-USB port at the bottom, and a volume rocker and play/pause button on the reverse side.  

The left cup has the ANC switch on the front and the 3.5mm port on the bottom of the cup. Both cups have a pair of vents on the front ledge above the switches.

Monoprice Sync-ANC Headphone earcup vents

The Kishkas

Internally, the SYNC-ANC use Qualcomm’s QCC3005 Bluetooth chipset with support for aptX and aptX low latency codecs in addition to SBC and AAC support.  In addition, the chipset supports active noise cancellation and cVc echo cancelling for phone conversations. The chipset also supports multi-point for easy switching between source devices.

That represents some of the best Bluetooth codec support we’ve seen on a pair of affordable ANC wireless headphones in 2022.

The SNYC-ANC utilize 40mm drivers but Monoprice has been rather tightlipped boy the rest of the technology used internally. One item that should be noted is that the 3.5mm auxiliary port requires the headphones to be powered on to work.

Monoprice Sync-ANC Headphone buttons

Battery Performance

We run all of our battery performance tests multiple times at different volume levels to assess the performance more accurately; Monoprice claims that the SYNC-ANC will deliver 20 hours of playtime at 50% volume level with ANC disabled. The battery performance drops to 10 hours at 50% with ANC enabled.

Those are rather reasonable claims for such an inexpensive pair of ANC wireless headphones and our testing proved them to be rather accurate. The only caveat is that most listeners might listen at louder levels with some genres of music and that will drain the battery faster.

The battery life does extend if you decide to use a wired connection instead of using Bluetooth. We managed to get over 25 hours with ANC disabled and 14 hours with ANC engaged.

Monoprice Sync-ANC Headphone on/off button

How Do They Work?

Using the Monoprice SYNC-ANC is not very challenging after reading the excellent manual (why can’t every manufacturer do this properly) which is very clear when it comes to explaining the features; there is not a control app available for the headphones. If you don’t read the manual, you will not figure out how to engage the multi-point pairing procedure.

The buttons are very tactile and require enough force to operate that turning these on/off accidentally is not likely to be an issue. The ANC is limited to one mode so you don’t have to learn a complicated button or sensor sequence to engage or disengage it on the ear cup.

Sound

I don’t normally have very high expectations for $60 ANC wireless headphones, but Monoprice have proven me wrong on more than one occasion over the past 12 months. I paired the SYNC-ANC to my iPhone and began listening to some downloaded files and streaming tracks. It always make more sense to listen with ANC disengaged first to get a better feel for the tonal balance, presentation, and overall sound quality. Turning on ANC allows one to discern what is stripped away in the process.

Sub-Bass has good depth and is mildly elevated with enough slam and rumble to make hip-hop and movie viewing fun. There isn’t what I would deem a lot of definition in the low end, but it’s not overwhelming when you turn the volume up with certain genres of music. It is clean enough to not turn low end information into a jumbled mess.

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The mid bass has rather good clarity in comparison to the extreme low end and manages to maintain its impact and definition in the process. It sounds far more natural than the rest of the bass range. 

The midrange exhibits somewhat of a recess with male vocals being pushed slightly further back in the mix, whilst retaining a nice degree of color and texture. Guitar has more than sufficient growl and energy without overwhelming vocals in the mix and I was quite pleased with the timbre and impact of keyboards and piano on most tracks.

Female vocals have more presence and are pushed slightly forward of the instrumentation on most tracks; music that emphasizes this range too much can sound slightly hard or strident if the recording quality it tilted that way.

Treble is not overly extended with most of the energy in the lower treble range which gives percussion good snap but cymbals fall a bit flat and don’t have the life they should. Monoprice played it safe in the treble range with the SYNC-ANC and that keeps them from becoming fatiguing during longer listening sessions while commuting.  

The soundstage is fairly compact but does reproduce depth and width roughly equal in size. Seating the orchestra is a bit compact as a result, but the instrument separation is better than expected and keeps things from getting claustrophobic. The imaging is surprisingly good as well with movements easily tracked through most of the space and positions fairly well defined in space.   

Turning ANC on does reduce outside noise reasonably well with droning noises being more thoroughly eliminated than higher pitched noises. When you enable ANC, there is a degree of hiss but it disappears during music playback.

The ANC does impact the upper midrange and lower treble leaving somewhat of a veil over the music.

A couple of other points worth noting came to light during my listening sessions.  First, on a positive note, the SYNC-ANC does a better job of reacting to EQ than I expected and if you are not happy with the base signature, it can easily be tweaked to bring specific ranges into better focus. 

One weird operational quirk is that the ear pads become rather warm on your ears and you will notice it after 90 minutes or so. I capped all of my listening sessions to 85-90 minutes because the heat started to become uncomfortable.

Monoprice Sync-ANC Headphone Earcup right

Conclusion

The Monoprice SYNC-ANC are currently on sale for under $45 and at that price are a rather good deal for what they do rather well. Are they the best sounding affordable ANC wireless headphones under $100? I would not go that far but they are certainly respectable in the sound quality, battery life, and usability categories.

Nobody is selling their Focal Bathys for these.

Would these make sense for a younger listener who might want to see what wireless headphones and ANC have to offer. Absolutely.

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Are they good enough in a pinch when you need something for Starbucks and might have to take a few phone calls through the headset. I would argue that they are.

This is a case of being good enough but not stellar overall.

Where to buy: $59.99 $44.99 at Monoprice.com

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