The TaoTronics SoundSurge 90 are a good pair of headphones for drowning out the noise on a busy commute. Offering premium features at a budget price, these headphones compensate for so-so sound quality with hybrid ANC and a long-lasting battery life, making for a compelling package.
- Great ANC performance
- Extended battery life
- Sound can lack balance
- Review Price: £59.99
- Hybrid ANC
- Bluetooth 5.0
- 40mm dynamic driver
- 30 hour battery with ANC and fast charging
The SoundSurge 90 are an affordable pair of over ear headphones from budget brand TaoTronics.
Priced at a modest £60, the SoundSurge 90 are the second most expensive pair in TaoTronics’ noise cancelling range below the SoundSurge 55. While the SoundSurge 55 offers better specs, despite its attempt at a more hi-fi sound, we found the audio quality to be admirable, but not quite hitting the target Taotronic set or itself.
The SoundSurge 90 also have hybrid ANC along with Bluetooth 5.0, 40mm dynamic drivers, voice assistant support and an 35 hours of battery. But how do they perform?
TaoTronics SoundSurge 90 design — Quite basic in terms of looks
The SoundSurge 90 are a rather basic in terms of looks, but an attractive pair nevertheless. The exterior is a matte black finish, while the TaoTronics logo is adorned in silver on the ear cups. They’re a comfortable pair to wear with the headband pliable and adjustable with plenty of padding included on the soft protein leather earpads. Despite their bulky appearance, the SoundSurge 90 are surprisingly lightweight.
The charging port is located on the left ear cup, while the right houses the controls which includes the volume/skip buttons, a multi-function button for power and voice assistance, 3.5mm jack and the ANC switch.
The ear cups fold at 90 degrees, meaning you can twist them flat, or twist them inward to fit into the hard carry case. The Soundsurge 90 feel quite sturdy and while I wouldn’t worry about chucking them in a backpack, the additional protection and storage the case offers is appreciated.
TaoTronics SoundSurge 90 features — Effective ANC performance
The headline feature is the presence Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). The SoundSurge 90 headphones have hybrid ANC, which uses both internal and external microphones to clear noise from both inside and outside the ear cups, offering a more effective noise cancellation performance than the feedback mic solution in the SoundSurge 85.
TaoTronics claims its hybrid ANC can reduce ambient noise up to 30dB and the performance is good. I found these headphones did a decent job of blocking out unwanted distractions, specifically sounds that fell into the mid and low end range, especially with conversations. Words were indistinguishable and regular voices lost behind the combination of music and ANC.
These headphones also work with Siri and Google Assistant on your device. Simply hold the multi-function button for two seconds (the same button you’d use to turn on the headphones) and you can usher out voice commands. Make sure you stop at the beep otherwise you’ll end up switching the headphones off instead, which is less helpful.
The SoundSurge 90 headphones use Bluetooth 5.0 for a stable connection. I rarely had issues with the connection dropping, and it should be noted that the headphones can time out if they’re not receiving an audio signal for a period of time.
The headphones have with a 500 mAh battery that can be fully charged in 45 minutes. That means less than an hour of charging provides 35 hours of listening with ANC off, or 30 hours with it on. Taotronics claims that the headphones support fast charging for when you’re in a rush to get out the door, so five minutes of charge provides two hours of playtime, enough to get you from A-to-B before another charge is needed.
TaoTronics SoundSurge 90 sound — Good performance for a budget pair
The SoundSurge 90 offer good audio for a budget pair of headphones, and it’s clear they can handle a range of genres.
The tinkling keys in Lyle Lovett’s North Dakota are crisp and well defined, able to stand out against the rumbly low end. Bass and treble compete equally viciously in Björk’s Hunter, with the bass and drums in particular producing a detailed performance at the beginning of the song. While the midrange generally holds its own, it can end up being obscured by the highs and lows during the more climactic parts of the song.
Pink Floyd’s Time paints a similarly dynamic picture, with a defined stereo image and plenty of space for the instruments to breathe. Again, the vocals can get lost in the pounding highs and lows and I almost wish the lows would offer more detail definition or go even lower.
These headphones offer good dynamism and detail for their price, but the tonal balance leaves something to be desired. While these headphones won’t please audiophiles, they’re more than enough to satisfy most listeners.
Should you buy the TaoTronics SoundSurge 90?
The TaoTronics SoundSurge 90 are a fantastic pair of budget-tier headphones. For under £60, you get ANC, long battery life, fast charging and the latest Bluetooth standard.
The best features here are the lightweight, comfortable design and long battery. These two qualities make the SoundSurge 90 perfect for travelling, while the fast charge feature means you’ll hardly ever have to worry about being without music on shorter journeys and daily commutes. The hybrid ANC is impressive too and does a great job at blocking out unwanted traffic and chatter.
The audio is nothing special next to more expensive pairs but it does outshine a lot of budget competitors. If you’re not much of an audiophile and are more so looking for a dynamic pair of headphones to wear to the shops or to drown out chatter in the office, the SoundSurge 90 won’t disappoint.