Philips’ PH805 combine comfort and quality sound to establish themselves as the best wireless ANC headphones in their price range
- Impressive sound quality
- Reasonably priced
- Touch controls aren’t everyone’s cup of tea
There’s a lot of competition when it comes to wireless noise-cancelling headphones. With Bose, Sony and Bower & Wilkins among the many companies offering impressive ANC earware, new products have a tough time standing out from the crowd.
Philips’ PH805 headphones manage to do just that by delivering a premium user experience at a mid-range price.
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Philips PH805 headphones review: What you need to know
The PH805s, which are part of Philips’ 8000 Series, are over-ear wireless headphones utilising 40mm drivers. They have Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity with a range of up to 10 metres and the capability to reproduce frequencies of up to 40kHz when wired with the 3.5mm audio cable included in the box.
They also offer a mix of touch and physical controls, support both Siri and Google Assistant, and have that all-important active noise cancelling, which cuts out irritating background noise when you’re out and about.
Philips PH805 headphones review: Price and competition
The Philips PH805s retail at £160; significantly cheaper than some of our best-reviewed ANC headphones, including the Bowers & Wilkins PX, which are currently £219, the Sony WH-1000XM3, which you can buy for £240, and the highly impressive Bose QuietComfort 35 II, which will set you back £249.
For a similar price, there are the Sennheiser HD 4.50 Special Edition, which also have ANC and can be picked up for £180, while at £125 you have the Plantronics’ BackBeat Go 810. Those wanting a budget option may want to check out Philips’ BH305, which are available from £70.
Philips PH805 headphones review: Design, comfort and features
The PH805 won’t win any awards for groundbreaking design but they are reasonably light – weighing 280g – and come in a sleek black/gunmetal grey.
The memory foam pads lining the earcups make the PH805s comfortable to wear, creating a tight seal over your ears without cramping them. They aren’t as supremely comfortable as the Bose QC35 II though, and their larger ear cups make them more cumbersome when worn around the neck.
The headband also has memory foam padding in its centre and is easy to adjust, meaning people of all head shapes and sizes will be able to get the right fit without any issues.
Included with the headphones is a semi-hard carrying pouch that protects its contents without being too bulky or heavy and the headphones themselves can be folded up in two ways: with both ear cups flat, for storage in the case, or one cup flat and one inwards for easy storage in a bag or a (large) coat pocket.
In terms of features, the PH805s offer a nice variety without being overwhelmingly crammed with options. Everything, with the exception of microUSB charging, is found on the right ear cup.
The headphones are turned on and off by pressing and holding a toggle button for three seconds while holding it down for five seconds activates Bluetooth pairing mode. Pressing the button once plays or pauses whatever you’re listening to at the time. Pushing and holding the toggle in either direction lets you fast-forward and rewind while flicking it skips forwards and back.
When receiving a call, pressing the button once either picks up or ends the call and a double press cancels it. While on a call, a double press allows you to switch between using your phone or headphones. The in-built mic utilises echo cancellation and I found the quality of audio was more than adequate at both ends.
Volume is adjusted via touch controls on the right ear cup; swipe up to increase it and down to decrease it. I found this a little laborious at first and was craving a button I could press or hold down to quickly get my desired volume. It didn’t take long for me to get used to the swipe method but this way of changing volume may not be to some people’s taste.
The touch surface has other functions, too. Tapping it switches between three modes: ANC On, ANC Off and Ambient Sound. I found the touch-sensitive controls to be very responsive but not to the point where I ever changed mode or volume accidentally. Holding your hand over the right earcup, meanwhile, enables Voice Assistant, which supports both Siri and Google Assistant.
Philips PH805 headphones review: Noise cancellation, sound quality and battery life
Each of the PH805’s earcups house four microphones, two of which handle active noise-cancellation, with the other two taking care of the headphones’ voice control and telephonic processes. The ANC on the PH805 is effective without being outstanding and it does a decent job of keeping background distractions to a minimum when you’re listening to music or podcasts.
Without any audio playing, the PH805s don’t quite provide absolute silence and compared side by side with the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, you get a bit more background noise coming through, but that’s to be expected given the price difference.
Ambient Sound or “Awareness mode” is a neat inclusion that allows you to hear some of what’s going on around you while listening to your chosen audio. This mode doesn’t deliver the best sound quality; even at max volume, whatever I played seemed a tad too quiet and given there is no companion app, there is no way to alter the default settings. That said, the limited volume does ensure you’re more mindful of what’s going on around you, which is handy when travelling on public transport or walking along a busy street.
With awareness mode disabled, however, the sound produced by the 40mm drivers inside the PH805s is very satisfying. Running through a playlist that took me on a musical journey from progressive rock to synth-heavy happy hardcore via the unmistakable reggae sounds of Bob Marley, everything sounded crisp and well articulated. Bassy tracks popped with suitable depth and more vocal-dominated tracks were defined and detailed.
I also listened to a couple of podcasts through the PH805. These had a lot less going on aurally but I got a great sense of perspective and could easily pick up every intonation of each contributor.
The PH805’s battery life is equally impressive, providing up to 25 hours of use with ANC and wireless switched on and 30 hours of use with it disabled. The headphones can’t be used while charging but that isn’t a big deal given they charge from empty in 90 minutes. If you just need a top-up, five minutes connected to the mains will give you two hours of use, while 15 minutes sees you good for you six hours of play time.
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Philips PH805 headphones review: Verdict
The Philips PH805s deliver an impressive audio experience across the full spectrum of musical genres and are very comfortable, meaning you won’t have any issues wearing them for extended periods. Touch controls may not be for everyone but the PH805 implements them in an intuitive way that allows easy access to the headphones’ variety of useful features.
The PH805s may not provide the same level of noise-cancelling as their more expensive competitors, but for the money, you won’t find a better combination of sound quality, useful features and comfort. If you’re looking for great performing ANC wireless headphones at a price that won’t break the bank, these are the headphones for you!