Hot off the heels of the ZENBRE SoundBank Z8 Plus, a Bluetooth speaker with some bite, we’re looking at the SoundBank H6 headphones. I do like my over the ear headphones and as I’ve recently reviewed the Anker Space NC’s I’m eager to see whether they’ve spoiled me, or whether this much cheaper set of headphones can still deliver. There’s no “noise cancellation” as such here other than the pseudo-passive kind, but these hit your wallet for just a smidge under £60, and for that, you get a foldable, portable, well-made set of over the ear headphones that pack a punch. Let’s take a closer look.
- Good build quality
- Excellent audio quality
- Good battery life
- Excellent portability
- Poor dual-function button choices
- Bluetooth v4.2 (not really a negative yet)
ZENBRE wasn’t a brand I’d heard of prior to reviewing the SoundBank Z8 Plus, and I’m glad I can no longer make that claim. From the small number of products from them I’ve looked at thus far, it’s clear that there are some stylistic and material choices made specifically to cut cost, but they keep the quality where it matters and that’s in the audio. That’s certainly the case for the Z8 Plus, and based on the first couple of times I placed the SoundBank H6 on my head, it seems to be a recurring theme.
Taking the H6’s out of the box reveals a microUSB cable (boo!), a somewhat-hard carry case, as well as a 3.5mm AUX cable for when your battery runs dry. It’s not the most impactful unboxing ever, but you get exactly what you need and no more or less.
On the SoundBank H6 headphones, the headband is only slight, and whilst they have packed what cushioning they could around the metallic band, it’s not the plushest padding I’ve ever been exposed to. It’s comfortable, but it’s just enough to make me wonder whether long sessions would cause a little fatigue. Thankfully the ear cups have no such issues there. They fit over the ear well and have enough padding to cushion easy enough. The ear cups are situated on a metallic pivot which aids the folding. The metal inclusion is a nice one as one might have expected a pure plastic construction at this price.
On the left ear cup, there’s only some branding as well as a 3.5mm port for the AUX cable. Over on the right ear cup is where most of the functionality lives. The power button is a radio button for a change and not a pressure actuated one and sits as the first button on the cup. Moving back there’s a microphone, charging port, notification LED and finally the 3 control buttons. There’s a play/pause dual function button which is almost ubiquitous. The volume/track control buttons are where I actually aim one of the very few shots I have at the SoundBank H6’s. ZENBRE have chosen to make the first click of those buttons a track select, which means that a press and hold on those same buttons changes the volume accordingly. Invariably what you end up doing is not pressing long enough, and skipping or repeating a track. I’d quite like to see those functions reversed.
Audio & Use
Once the volume is selected using these buttons, and tracks are playing, it’s nothing but fun. The bass is rumbling and clear, and there isn’t a significant, to my ear, bleed between mids and highs which, at the risk of repeating myself, is excellent at just £60. Only in some more acoustic tracks do I sometimes detect a little muddying of the mids, which tends to be caused by the bass not calming itself quite as much as I’d like. It’s a small nitpick though. The inclusion of the aptX audio codec is no doubt a reason for the quality sound here and is a nice little plus, and the 40mm drivers are a nice accompaniment.
At high volume, there isn’t much distortion that I could detect and I couldn’t push them any louder though; they get very loud.
That volume, whilst important, can also cause some problems for the ZENBRE SoundBank H6 when in crowded situations. Whilst the marketing calls out the noise cancellation that can reduce ambient noise by up to 96%, and I can certainly agree that when on calls this works great, utilising the included microphone, the same cannot be said for music sessions. There is no active noise cancellation here, and whilst the cups do a decent job of blocking out the music from behind heard by the person next to you (to an extent) you will still hear ambient noises quite easily.
The battery life here was spot on the suggested 20 hours based on 7-8 sessions I undertook, and that is more than enough for me. You’ll seldom get caught without any juice, and on the off chance you are, ZENBRE saw fit to include a 3.5mm AUX jack and cable to allow you to continue to rock your tunes even when the well runs dry!
So, in conclusion, is there anything on the ZENBRE SoundBank H6 that causes me to pause for concern? The dual functions chosen for the buttons are, as previously mentioned, a strange decision, but other than that, there honestly isn’t anything specific that might be a deal breaker. The price of just shy of £60 is acceptable and in line with the competition, there is ample padding, adequate isolation albeit no active noise cancellation, and good audio. The largely metal construction also means if you’re looking for a pair of Bluetooth headphones to fold up and throw in your bag after your commute, these might well fit the bill! We’re excited to see the next wave of ZENBRE kit if they continue like this.