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I’m a big believer in occasionally closing oneself off from the outside world. In an age where information overload is all too common, shutting out all outside distractions and focusing on a single task at hand can be extraordinarily meditative and cathartic. To that end, I have a set of Sony WH1000MX3 noise-cancelling headphones, a set of cans that has phenomenally brilliant technology to shut out any unwanted cacophonies around you.

They’re a pricy set though, and likely far out of the reach of most consumers who’d balk at spending close to R6000 on them. Heck I only got mine because an online special and ebucks cut the price down to half that. Taotronics on the other hand, reckons it has just the solution for anyone with a tight wallet and open ears.

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The Taotronic SoundSurge 90 features hybrid ANC, Bluetooth 5.0, 40mm dynamic drivers, voice assistant support and a claim of 35 hours of battery life in a modest package. It’s admittedly a minimal design when you take it out of the box. A matte black finish, synthetic leather, and a logo on each rounded cup. A Spartan appearance, but a nice one at that. A charging port can be found on the left cup, the cans can be twisted for easy lugging about, and overall it feels like a sturdy design.

So how does the ANC function then? The noise-cancelling, not the horribly corrupt political party that is. The hybrid ANC uses internal and external hardware to mask outside interference on the low to mid range, with Taotronic saying that the SoundSurge 90 can reduce up to 30db of audio. In practice, this means that the ANC is actually…surprisingly good!

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It’s not a patch on the Sony or Bose headsets at the top and more expensive tiers of what’s available currently, but for filtering out annoying background chatter such as birds chirping, roadside traffic, and that one guy at gym who makes the weirdest grunting noises when he lifts heavy bru, they’re more than adequate. Once you’ve actually got music playing, you’ll be surprised at just how much is filtered out, especially when you’re trying your best to ignore a conversation with your tax consultant.

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Where the SoundSurge 90 does feel like a budget device though, is in the audio delivery department. Music sounds just fine at best in the midrange of songs, but you’re hardly going to tickle the ear canals of an audiophile when you give them the headset and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album. Playing music from Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, and Daft Punk highlighted a headset that transmits acceptable sound, but faltered on the low and high end of the spectrum.

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Again, it’s good stuff, but it won’t be winning any awards for its lackluster balance.

On the plus side, the SundSurge 90 tick plenty of other boxes for a reliable headset. The 500 mAh battery can be charged within an hour, or if you’re in a rush you can easily top the set up with a ten-minute charge that should last for your gym session. With a full charge though? The chunky battery life is definitely up for the task of providing dozens of hours of energetic beats couriered directly to your brain bits from the headset.

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The Bluetooth range is also impressive, as I was able to start up some Nirvana, and walk outside to get a breath of fresh air during the day without dropping a beat along the way. There are other functions as well which simply work as intended, such as Siri and Google Assistant which can be accessed with the multifunction button. Not too shabby!

Last Updated: December 18, 2020

Taotronic SoundSurge 90
The Taotronics SoundSurge 90 isn’t designed for the discerning audiophile, but it’s still a pleasantly surprising piece of hardware. If you’re on a budget, need a reliable pair of cans, and happen to be craving a surprisingly effective range of active noise-cancelling when you’re on the go, then the SoundSurge 90 is well worth taking a gander and a listen to.
8.0

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