Haylou S35 ANC headphones review: versatile sound and unusual controls

By: Nickolay Polovinkin | 31.08.2023, 13:18

You may think that all Chinese headphones under a hundred quid are the same, but we never cease to be amazed by their diversity. You might see a dozen more or less identical gadgets, but on the eleventh you'll find something that really stands out from the crowd. Today we examine the Haylou S35 ANC active noise cancelling headphones (the brand name reads "haylou", and it belongs to the Xiaomi production ecosystem). From the usual, there's good, versatile sound and adequate autonomy. Out of the ordinary, there's the odd volume control and a very effective touch button to activate transparency mode.

Haylou S35 ANC
Haylou S35 ANC
Over-ear headphones with hybrid active noise cancellation. They are distinguished by a classic design and unusual controls: the temporary inclusion of the transparency mode is moved to the touch button. They support the simultaneous connection of two devices, provide good sound quality, and have average autonomy.

Current price on Amazon

3 reasons to buy Haylou S35 ANC:

  • Pleasant, balanced sound and ANC
  • Spectacular transparency mode activated by a touch button
  • Ability to connect wired and work with two bluetooth sources

2 reasons not to buy the Haylou S35 ANC:

  • Unfamiliar one-button volume control
  • It doesn't come with a case (yes, that's how we got spoiled)

What's in the box?

The package is not rich, but not poor either. The headphones themselves, instructions and two cables: USB-A to USB-C for charging and mini-jack to mini-jack for wired operation. The audio cable is just over a metre long and the charging cable is quite short. It is a pity that there is no case or at least a pouch for the headphones themselves, in the box they are packed simply in a separate plastic bag. However, the box itself looks decent, such little things are important if the gadget is chosen as a gift.

What do they look like?

The designers offer us three colour options for the S35 ANC: dark blue (almost black), white and "purple-orange" (more like it's blue-red). We got the white version, which is more correctly called light beige.

Haylou S35 ANC is a classic headphone with large soft ear cushions and an adjustable headband. "The ears can swivel 90 degrees inwards (for easy storage or to wear around the neck) and slightly outwards (for a comfortable fit). The headband also folds inwards and is adjustable for size.

All surfaces of the product are covered with either brushed plastic or a soft leather-like material. It looks neat and clean, and the fit is good. On the outer sides of the ear cushions you can see the letter "H" in honour of the manufacturer and decorative glossy polished metal inserts. All the technical inscriptions are placed on a subtle plane near the hinge, a good solution.

All the interfaces and controls are gathered on the right 'ear', which is a plus. They are few and unusual, it is rather a minus. So, we have mini-jack and USB connectors, as well as three buttons (noise reduction, volume and multifunctional button) and a touch area (visually not marked in any way). A call microphone and a small LED complete the picture. I'll tell you how it all works a little further on, stay tuned.

The result is a neutral, minimalistic product. This colour scheme gives the headphones a certain vintage feel, a shade like "aged white", like a system unit from the nineties. If you want something more unusual, then pay attention to the bright blue and red version, but I liked this one.

How do I connect and set up?

The first connection procedure is as simple as possible.

  • All you have to do is switch the headphones on, and they will automatically go into pairing mode and become visible from any compatible device (smartphone, laptop, etc.). Select Haylou S35 ANC from the list of available headsets on your smartphone and you are ready.
  • If the headphones are already "familiar" with some signal source, but after turning them on this source is not visible for 10 seconds, again, the pairing mode will be turned on automatically.
  • A third option is to connect a second source. To do this, hold down the multi-function button for 5 seconds with the headphones switched off, after which another smartphone or other gadget can be connected to the headphones. Both the new and previously connected device will be able to work with the headphones at the same time.

To reset all tethering and return to the factory settings, hold down the two buttons: multifunctional and noise reduction, and hold them there for more than three seconds.

You can use the Haylou Sound mobile app for Android and iOS to configure the headphones. For some reason, the app requires registering an account with Haylou services, and after successful authorization it recognizes the headphones connected. There aren't many features here. You can select one of several equalizer presets, switch the noise cancelling mode, and enable or disable the reduced latency mode. The app will also help to update the firmware or find headphones that are somewhere nearby (a beep is sent to them). It seems to be nothing cosmic, but not all similar gadgets in this price range can boast even such service features.

How are they controlled?

It would seem that what new (and why?) can be invented in the management of headphones? But there are no barriers for true enthusiasts. Look what they have invented here. So, we switch the headphones on and off with a long press on the "multifunction" button. It shows a clear on icon, so you can't confuse it with the ones next to it. But the button is multifunctional, so it is also responsible for play-pause (short press), to the next track (double click) or to the previous one (triple click). With an incoming call, a short press means you answer and a long press means you hang up.

Not confused yet? Then check out the most unusual volume control! There's only one button for volume control, not the usual two. A short press increases the volume and a longer press decreases it. What prevented two separate buttons on the huge body is a mystery.

There is also a touch area on the outside of the right ear cup. If you touch it, when noise cancellation is active, transparency mode is activated, which lasts until you remove your finger. This also dampens the sound being played. Now, this is a very cool thing, because such a gesture (as if putting your hand to your ear to listen) is perceived quite naturally. But the engineers, apparently, were hard to stop, and the functions of double tap (switching the game mode on or off) and triple tap (triple tap triggers voice assistant) were screwed onto the same touch area.

When switching modes, distinctive beeps are heard in the headphones. It's good that there are at least them, but the voice prompts, when the headphones explicitly tell you that the power is off or the ACP is on, seem more informative to me.

How are they in operation?

I think after describing the control system, it's already clear that it's ambiguous and different from what we're used to. The volume control with one button is strange, and it goes up and down with different "speed": up one press changes the volume by one step, and down - by two steps. It seems to be logical: it is more important to turn down the volume quickly than to turn it up loudly, but it could be done without all these tricks, simply by adding a second button. But a touch button that temporarily turns on transparency and mutes the sound is very cool. If you want to use transparency all the time and without muting - please, the ANC button cycles through three modes: with, without, and with transparency.

The noise cancellation itself seemed to me to be more effective than in some similar models in this price level. Obviously, with closed headphones, most of the work is taken care of by the design itself, but the end result is pleasing.

An important plus that I always pay attention to is the support of multipoint, that is, the function of working with two sound sources simultaneously. Whichever of the two connected smartphones receives the call, you can answer it without reconnecting the headphones. If you need to take calls from two smartphones at all, of course.

What about battery life?

The Haylou S35 ANC has about the same battery life as other headphones of this type: 60 hours without noise cancellation or 40 hours with noise cancellation. The battery capacity is 600 mAh, which takes about two hours to fully charge. If you connect the headphones to the player via audio cable and do not use noise cancelling, the autonomy becomes infinite, in this mode no power is required.

How do they sound?

Hi-Res Audio, 40mm dynamic drivers - nothing unusual in the specifications, there are many models of this type on the market. And they sound more or less close to each other, although there are nuances. The sound of the Haylou S35 ANC is quite balanced. It does not have a pronounced emphasis on bass frequencies, which is easy to slip into in a closed design. Thanks to this, the bass doesn't sound either muffled or crumpled. The high-frequency range is also pleasing, without kinks and quite detailed. In terms of sound, and for its price, a good all-round option for every day for different scenarios, including gaming. By the way, I haven't noticed any delays that would make me want to turn on the game mode. I think it's some kind of race after nanoseconds, real delay can be found only in penny bluetooth receivers now.

How convenient are they?

The design is popular, the weight is typical (less than 300 grams), the headphones feel about the same as any other model of this plan, without surprises. Thanks to the classic transformation mechanism the headphones fit on your head well and moderately tight, they do not crush, especially the neck is not overloaded. But, of course, they are not super light, and in the heat it is better to use headphones of more open form-factors. The length of the headband, with allowance for adjustment, should be enough for everyone, except Marge Simpson.

Haylou S35 ANC
Haylou S35 ANC
  • Pleasant, balanced sound and ANC
  • Spectacular transparency mode activated by a touch button
  • Ability to connect wired and work with two bluetooth sources

Check price

Bottom line.

The Haylou S35 ANC is now being charged at the branded Aliexpress storefront for just UAH 1889 ($51), a promotional price at the full price of UAH 3314. At fifty quid, it's not bad, both in sound, functionality and overall impression. Perhaps the most striking feature of this model is the unusual controls, which are both comfortable and strange at the same time. If you like big headphones and often find yourself in a situation where you need to mute the sound to hear the world around you, you can buy this model even purely for the mute feature, although the rest of the gadget is decent as well.

Three things to know about the Haylou S35 ANC:

  • These are full-size headphones with a classic transformation mechanism;
  • They have an unusual control with a handy transparency mode switch;
  • Supports wired connection and multipoint function.
Specifications Haylou S35 ANC headphones
Type Full size sealed
Active noise cancellation Hybrid system with transparency mode
Loudspeaker depth -42 dB
Driver diameter 40 mm
Bluetooth version 5.2
Codecs SBC, AAC
Multipoint support Yes
Wired connection Yes
Playback Time Up to 40/60 hours in wireless mode with/without ACP
Charging time for headphones 2 ч
Battery capacity 600mAh
Weight 296 г

Haylou S35 ANC
Versatile sound and unusual controls