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Friday, April 16, 2021

TCL ELIT400NC review: Get it for the great sound, not for ANC

The TCL ELIT400NC headphones offer great sound and battery life, but how good is the Active Noise Cancellation? Read on to find out.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Rs. 6,899
Written by Chetan Nayak | Mumbai |
April 3, 2021 1:17:49 pm
TCL ELIT400NC, TCL headphones,Check out our review of the TCL ELIT400NC noise cancelling headphones. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) is one of the biggest drivers when it comes to consumer audio tech today. While brands that have been implementing ANC in their earphones and headphones over the years continue to launch refreshed products, new players have entered the segment bringing ANC to the masses via audio products that cost less than half the price of their premium counterparts.

One of these products that we got our hands on recently is the TCL ELIT400NC. The ANC-enabled headphones offer a bunch of features and come at a price of Rs 6,999. We tried the headphones for over a week and here’s what we think about it.

Design

The TCL ELIT400NC headphones are a pair of good looking over-the-ear headphones and feature a great design. While the black variant looks much more premium than the white one, both feature a portable form where you can fold and tuck in the earcups. The headband is cushioned and comfortable for long hours of use.

The tension between the ends is also just right for the average-sized head, offering a snug fit without the feeling of the earmuffs pressing in on your skull. The earcups themselves are cushioned very nicely and offer a comfortable hold around the ears without any aching.

TCL ELIT400NC, TCL headphones, The headphones can be folded up. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

One problematic area is the buttons on the headphones. The small buttons barely protrude from the chassis and are hard to locate in the early days of using your headphones. Further, they press in very slightly to trigger an action, which means you do not get very good feedback. Check out the picture below.

This design works well for the ANC switch on the other side since that is a sliding toggle, but the same design on the buttons makes controlling your music playback harder than on most headphones. Unlike the rest of the headphones, which offers excellent build quality, the buttons also come off a little shaky.

Sound quality

The TCL ELIT400NC offers a crisp, fairly balanced sound. The highs, mids and lows are well balanced here so users can enjoy all kinds of music genres from jazz to hip hop and everything in between. Instrument separation is great but bass-heavy tracks may feel a little flat on the vocals. The bass gets really punchy and low when a track demands it and bass heads will love the sound. These headphones make for great overall audio performance, making them great for music, movies and even games. There is also support for High-res audio for those of you who like listening to lossless formats.

However, the Active Noise Cancellation wasn’t as impressive. Sliding the toggle on turns the feature on, and you will instantly notice a difference in sound quality where the headphones will try to cancel out the background like on most headphones. This didn’t work very well for us, as even though backgrounds-sounds like that of a ceiling fan were somewhat toned-down, they were still audible.

Further, switching to ANC mode also dropped the volume output quite a bit, further making background sounds more evident. We hence preferred using the headphones with ANC turned off, and you’d likely want to do the same to get the best of this product. This would also save you some battery life as ANC is known to deplete the battery faster. 

TCL ELIT400NC, TCL headphones, The button design on the TCL headphones. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

Battery Life

The TCL ELIT400NC offers roughly 20 hours of battery life, but the company claims that you can stretch the juice for up to 22 hours, depending on what music you’re listening to and on what volume levels. That’s a very good battery life for a pair of wireless over-the-ear headphones at this price point.

Charging is still via a micro-USB port and if you use a phone with a Type-C port, you will find yourself carrying an extra charging cable. However, with the great battery life, you wouldn’t have to carry that cable very often. There’s also a 3.5mm port for the bundled AUX cable that you can use in case you finish the battery (provided your smartphone still has a 3.5mm port left).

Verdict: Should you buy the TCL ELIT400NC?

Well, yes. The TCL ELIT400NC are a great pair of headphones and the combination of crisp, rich sound, deep bass and long-lasting battery life you get with the headphones is excellent at the price. However, if ANC is your top-most priority, you will be better off with other products, which again may cost more. 

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