3,752 of 3,784 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2009
Bose QC15 vs. Sennheiser PXC 450 vs. Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b
Disclosure: I have tried all these on an airplane. I am not an audiophile. Noise Cancelation is the most important attribute to me.
The Carrying Case: All three are quite durable and stiff.
1.) Bose- the smallest, a low profile, room for an Ipod, accessories too.
2.) Sennheiser- Square shape, low profile, however not a lot of room for anything else in case.
3.) Audio Technica- Nice big case if you want to carry extra stuff (Nintendo DS, ipod, etc).
1.) Sennheiser- you can tell this is built VERY well. Strong plastics, good components, thick cord. Top notch. You feel like you are getting something really high quality.
2.) Audio Technica- Nice solid construction, appears durable.
3.) Bose- If this had a Sanyo logo on the side, I would not have flinched. How can something $300 be so incredibly cheaply made.
1.) Bose- as far as over the ears go, these are pretty small.
2.) Audio-Technica- mid-sized.
3.) Sennheiser- These are big. No question, but they store flat.
1.) Sennheiser- Very comfortable, will fit almost any size ears. Keep on for hours.
2.) Bose- Also comfortable. I did not experience "highs" discomfort.
3.) Audio-Technica- Perfectly satisfactory. Larger opening than previous AT model.
1.) Sennheiser- I actually wore these at home too, simply to hear parts of songs I had never heard before. Astounding. My 10yr old music collection sounded totally NEW.
2.) Audio-Technica- Well balanced, good sound.
3.) Bose- Great sound, but very heavy on the bass. I listen to a lot of rap and pop, so it was mildly annoying. I ultimately had to turn my treble settings up on my ipod to balance the sound.
1.) Sennheiser- nice cord, push to talk button (temporarily mutes NC and sound which is great for interruptions on airplanes).
2.) Bose/Audio Technica- just the basics. Bose simply an on/off switch.
1.) Audio Technica- $150 to $225 depending on how you shop.
2.) Sennheiser- $200 to $275
3.) Bose- Hard to find below $300+.
1.) Bose- No question here, far surpassed the other two. Best Noise Cancelation.
2.) Audio-Technica- Good Noise Cancelation.
3.) Sennheiser- Not sure what happened here. Incredible sound, satisfactory noise cancelation.
I ultimately kept the Bose because I was only using these for flying and the Sennheiser's (as much as I loved them) let me down in the Noise Cancelation department. The Sennheiser's had by far the most superior sound, but the Bose Noise Cancelation was night and day. The Bose are made very poorly for a $300+ product, it was disappointing.
Audio-Technica- best balance of value for money
Sennheiser- Best sound and comfort
Bose- Best Noise Cancelation
756 of 770 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2010
I have owned these headphones for a couple of years now. I have used them on a multitude of flights. I also recently purchased a new set of Bose QC15s because my ATs were inadvertently thrown into the washing machine when they made their way into a pile of laundry. I am now able to provide a comparison between the two products. They both have their positives and negatives. The following lists are arranged in order of my preference with a score out of 10 in parentheses.
2)Audio Technica (6/10)
The Bose are definitely cleaner and sleaker in appearance. The AT's are simply too bulky for my taste. I feel like I have a set of soup cans on my ears when wearing them.
1)Audio Technica (8/10)
The AT's definitely have a shell that is sturdier and more resistant to abuse. The Bose feel cheap considering the high cost.
2)Audio Technica (7/10)
The AT's are definitely amenable to long use. However, the leather and cushioning on the Bose are superior.
Not much to say here. I could nitpick the volume of each. However, they both do their jobs quite well.
1)Audio Technica (8/10)
Once again, all personal taste. The Bose definitely emphasize the low end. On the other hand, the AT's have a better balanced sound that isn't as fatiguing on the ears. I wonder how anyone could think the Bose sound better because to my ears it really isn't that close.
2)Audio Technica (7/10)
Bose wins this category fairly easily. They simply cancel more ambient noise. However, the AT's do more than an acceptable job and are able to handle plane engine noise with ease.
The AT's biggest drawback is the sound leakage noted by many other reviewers. If used primarily for travel on a plane, it really isn't an issue. However, use in a library is out of the question.
Of note, my AT's actually survived getting tossed around with water and detergent. After 3 weeks of sitting on a table, they magically came back to life without a glitch. Speaks wonders about their build.
Final Score 36-36
Price. The AT's are much cheaper and provide a comparable experience with competitive noise cancellation and better sound. However, if sound leakage is a problem you may shell out more for the Bose. My opinion is that you should at least give the AT's strong consideration at their lower price point. If you must have the Bose because of the "perceived" quality then you probably aren't even reading this review.
473 of 501 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2009
I've been toying with the idea of getting a set of active noise canceling headphones for a while. Both my wife and I are having to fly more for our jobs, so I can certainly justify this expense. While I hadn't directly tested anything else, I've read reviews both at Amazon and other places for a number of different headphones. The predecessor to these, Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7 QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones generally scored well in the reviews, and seemed favored even over the venerable BOSE Quiet Comfort models, the several low rated reviews about sound leakage gave me pause.
Seeing these supposedly new and improved versions recently come to market, I decided to take a chance with the hope that this one negative would be fixed for what is otherwise an excellent product.
I've not been exposed to the original to know first hand how bad the "sound leakage" issue is, but it is something I wanted to test for. I can say that, when I have my Ipod cranked up full (almost at a painful level) and the ANC turned on, it is pretty easy for someone outside to hear what is playing, particularly when there's not a lot of noise in the area. However, in a more "real world" test, I had my wife listening with them while we took a trip with the kids in our minivan. While not up to aircraft levels, the van can generate a decent amount of noise, especially at speed and on noisy asphalt. In this case, I had her turn it up as loud as she could comfortably do. I managed to barely be able to hear something from the headphones, but not even to the point that I could tell what she was listening to. That test was enough to allay my concerns about the "sound leakage" issue as a practical matter.
My wife greatly appreciated using the headphones on our road trip and found them very effective and damping down the road and engine noise. For the most part, our trips don't happen at the same time, but I can already tell that, if we are traveling together, I'll be adding a second set to our house hold. While not as good sounding as some of my dedicated over the ear heaphones for music, especially with the ANC on, the sound quality is still well more than acceptable and a fair compromise to go along with the ANC capability. As is typical of the technology, most of the sound reduction comes at the lower frequencies, with higher vocal level frequencies getting much less attentuation. These will knock down the low level engine rumblings, but not silence a conversation.
As for the package in general, it's very simple and elegant. The battery compartment takes a single AAA battery and it is easy to rotate the cover on the right earpiece to expose and replace the battery. While it doesn't lock, it is firm enough that I don't think there's going to be an issue with accidentally opening the battery compartment. The headphones use a standard 3.5mm stereo connection and the package comes with both a short (good for having a player in your hand or on a belt clip) and longer cable that would be suitable plugging into a set of desktop speakers and allowing you to move about your desk. There are also 1/4" adapter plugs for use with a typical home stereo/AVR as well as the typical two pronged airline connector. The case has a zippered internal pocket to hold all of these, along with extra AAA batteries (one Energizer even comes with the package). The case is pretty compact, which is good for using with a carry on bag. Even so, there is sufficient room to easily hold my Ipod 5G 60GB inside. There's space still for something a little wider and a good bit longer, so I suspect an Ipod Touch or Zune would fit with no trouble. The case itself is pretty sturdy with heavy inserts in the back, front, and sides to hold the case's shape.
When I made my purchase, the price difference between the new model and the old one was effectively the same. Even as of this writing, there's only a net $10 difference. With that in mind, if you have looked at the previous generation, I see no reason to get it anymore. This unit incorporates at least two year's worth of improvements over the original and comes in at a very competitive pricepoint, especially compared to BOSE and some of the other high end ANC headphones.
731 of 782 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2009
***Note: Update given at bottom of review***
The details of the review are given below, but I decided to write a short summary for people just interested in the overall message from this review.
The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b Active Noise Canceling Headphones are well made and come with nice accessories. The noise canceling feature works very well, however the significant sound leakage of these headphones makes them unusable in an office/coffee shop setting. The headphones also have much poorer sound quality than I was expecting for headphones in this price range. I would strongly encourage potential buyers to really consider whether or not they can tolerate very significant sound leakage (i.e. do you care if everyone around you at work is listening to what you are listening to?). More details and explanations below.
More Detailed Review:
After a few weeks of research about Noise Cancelling headphones on the internet I finally decided to purchase the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b Active Noise Cancelling Headphones. These are the new version of the ATH-ANC7 series of headphones which generally got pretty favorable reviews. As "A Texan" mentioned in their review above, the general comments about these headphones from most reviewers are:
1)Much better price than Bose Quiet Comfort
2)Noise cancelling is just as good as Bose Quiet Comfort
3)Sound is good - maybe slightly worse than Bose Quiet Comfort, but not $100 worse
4) Some reviewers complained about sound leakage or bleed through when listening to music.
I bought these headphone aware of point 4 above and hoping that the sound leakage wasn't nearly as bad as some made it out to be. In fact, the review by "A Texan" on this page help put my fears about sound leakage to rest.
Once I received the headphones, I unpacked them and gave them a whirl. Read the sections below for my impressions.
The headphones come packaged nicely in the hard carrying case. This case is very nice and about as sleek as you could hope for with large over the ear headphones like these. You get some nice headphone cables and adapters that all appear to be gold plated and all fit nicely in a small zipper pouch on the inside of the carrying case. You also get a AAA battery which is very easy to install in the right ear of the headphones.
Headphone Construction: 10/10
The headphones themselves seem very well made. The ear cups are made of very nice foam with a soft leather like material covering them. There is a padded area when the headphones rest on top of your head which is made of the same material. The design looks very nice and the overall look of these headphones makes you feel justified in buying them. It is also very nice that the headphone cable is detachable on both sides (headphone side and player side) so that it can be easily replaced if it is damaged or has exposed wires. The ear cups swivel flat so they can be placed in the case and this is done very well. The headphones feel are very comfortable to wear and your ears should fit easily in the ear cups and be completely covered. Also the soft mesh inside of the ear cups covering the speakers is very nice and better than many over the ear headphones I have owned.
Noise Cancellation (w/ no music playing): 10/10
This feature works great. You flip a switch located on the outside of the left ear and a blue LED light comes on to tell you that Noise Cancellation is activated. These do a very nice job canceling out ambient noise and while all sound is not gone, everything is much quieter and muffled. If you were only going to use these with no music to help you work or concentrate I would definitely recommend them. I gave it a 10/10 because while they aren't perfect, they were what I expected to get with 85% noise canceling.
Sound Quality (w/ noise canceling off): 2/10
When you listen to music through these headphone with noise canceling off, they are extremely muddled. It almost sounds as if you were listening to music playing from under water. The lows are very muddled together and it would be pretty unenjoyable to listen to these headphones like this. I think the reason this is done is because most of the low end disappears when noise canceling is activated (see below). It is almost as if they had to compensate for this. While it is nice that you can listen to these without a battery (unlike the Bose), the sound quality is very poor like this and there is no clarity in the music. I am not an audiophile snob who wouldn't be happy without thousands of dollars worth of equipment either. These had poor sound quality with noise canceling off and anyone would recognize it in my opinion.
Sound Quality (w/ noise canceling on): 5/10
When noise canceling is activated the muddled music is lifted and the music becomes much clearer. While it does sound much better than listening without noise canceling, to me it is definitely lacking in the low end of the music. It almost seems as if the noise canceling feature eliminates all low end from the music. The bass has no punch at all and overall the music has too much treble and no real impact. Also, I am not trying to listen to music where I wouldn't be happy unless the headphones were rattling with bass. Just for reference, I did all of my listening tests with The Beatles Abbey Road album. Also, it appears that activating noise canceling boosts the volume as well. At first I wasn't sure if this was just the effect of other ambient noise being cut out or not, but I went to the most quiet place I could find in my house to do a test. Without music, noise canceling made very little difference because the room was so quiet already. However with music, the volume definitely was pumped louder when noise cancellation was active. This may explain something with sound leakage too (see below). Overall, my $50 in-ear Sony headphones that I was planning on replacing with these have much better sound quality than these. I was very disappointed in the sound, because in my opinion for this much money you should get decent sound quality. I wasn't expecting to be blown out of the water, but this was very weak.
Sound Leakage: 0/10
This is a huge, huge problem. These headphone have very significant sound leakage at moderate volumes. I am not sure if there is anything different about the headphones that "A Texan" got for his review and the ones I got, but the sound leakage is very bad with these. Again, listening to Abbey Road at just a moderate volume I am totally unable to use these headphones at my office. I work in a cubicle space and even at low volumes I was told that the music is clearly audible for the people around me. Basically I would not feel at all comfortable using these headphones to listen to music in my office, in a coffee shop, or anywhere remotely quiet. It sounds like the speakers are on for my laptop and I am playing at a moderately quiet volume for the whole office to hear. I work as a scientist and also listen to my headphones in the lab. At my office the lab is quite noisy with lots of equipment running full time and in this environment the sound leakage was barely audible to people working near me. So if you were only going to use these in a loud environment, they may work for you. Also, the noise leakage is much worse when noise canceling is active. I don't know if this is simply because of the volume boost that exists when noise canceling is active, but there is obviously more sound leakage when noise canceling is turned on. In the end, this noise leakage is a really significant problem and is definitely a deal breaker for me. I chose to disregard some of the reviews saying that the sound leakage was bad and it was my mistake. It really is a big problem and you should be aware of it. You won't be able to listen to these in an open office area without everyone hearing your music. I am not exaggerating.
I was really excited about these headphones and they seemed like the best alternative out there to the ultra expensive Bose noise canceling headphones. I haven't used the Bose so I won't try to compare (they may have the same problems for all I know), I will say that these headphones have left me very disappointed. The sound quality is pretty poor in my opinion, but I could live with that if it weren't for the sound leakage. I can't use these at work or to study with at a coffee shop, so basically I can't use them for my purposes. I will have to return these and try something else. If you are planning on using these in a noisy environment than they may be the right choice for you, but otherwise I would recommend you think long and hard about if noise leakage is a problem for you.
As I mentioned in the comments section of this review, I tried out the Bose QC 15 headphones at a local Bose store shortly after writing this review. In my personal opinion, the Bose headphones were better overall than these headphones (but they should be for $100 more right!). They didn't appear to have the sound leakage issues I had with these ATH-ANC7b's and overall I thought they had better audio quality. However, they are more expensive and don't play music with noise canceling turned off (a problem for some).
Anyway, my slight frustration with the overall audio quality of these headphones led me to look into comparably priced non-noise canceling headphones. I just wanted to see how the audio quality of these compared to their noise canceling counterparts. I am very glad I took the time to do this. It turns out that for my needs, a nice set of closed full-sized headphones (closed = headphones that don't leak sound and block some noise from entering; full-sized = over the ear) were the best solution for me. The audio quality improvement of a $150 or $200 headphone without noise canceling over these was very pronounced for me. The details and real beauty of the music really jumped out to me, and the overall audio quality was much improved over the ATH-ANC7b for me. I researched many brands/models from $100-$250 and in the end decided on a pair of Audio Technica ATH-M50s headphones. These are $150, have great sound quality, and isolate plenty of noise for what I wanted to use them for. There are many favorable reviews on Amazon that you can read.
Now this may not be the best solution for everyone. You may really, really need noise canceling headphones, and if that is the case then ignore this suggestion. However, if you are like me and aren't 100% sure if you need noise canceling or not, take the time to try out some closed full-sized non-noise canceling headphones to compare. For my use (studying, blocking noise at work) these were the perfect solution. I was never really planning on using these without listening to music and I wanted good audio quality as well as isolation if I was going to spend so much on headphones. This conclusion obviously makes sense in the end. You are paying for the noise canceling technology, so comparably priced non-noise canceling headphones should have higher quality audio (I know this is a duh...but I didn't fully appreciate it until I tried them side by side). Anyway, I just wanted to update on the path I decided to go down. Do yourself a favor and try out a pair (you can do this at Guitar Center, other music stores)of nice non-noise canceling headphones and see how you like them compared to noise canceling. In the end, all that matters is what you like and what you think. Audio products like headphones are so subjective, so take reviews with a grain of salt and remember that if you have the opportunity you should always try them out yourself and decide what you think. Good luck with your headphone search and I hope my whole experience finding the right pair of headphones for me helps some find a pair they love.
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2011
Before going into the review, I want to give a little background on myself. I consider myself somewhat of an audiophile because I also DJ on the side, so can appreciate good acoustical reproduction. However, my daytime job entails me to work long hours in a very noisy server lab environment requiring extensive noise isolation from the whiring and whining of computers and fans as well as well as accommodating a lot of music playing to counteract the monotony of the day! ' With that in mind, my priorities were 1) sound fidelity 2) noise isolation 3) comfort and 4) cost. Note that for me a perfect 5 stars means that all of these attributes are perfect, which is almost guaranteed not to happen, but I grade on that basis.
I was originally slated to purchase the Audio Technica (AT) ATH-ANC1 as recommended by CNET on their review of the best noise-cancelling headphones. Luckily I did a little more research and stumbled upon this model, the ATH-ANC7B which seemed to have much better audio reproduction and durability as compared to its sibling brother. As my purchase from Amazon was on its way (really fast shipping as well), I was fortunate also to grab a set of the Bose Quiet Comfort 15, the Monster Beats Studio, and the Sony MDR-NC200D and test them in our very noisy lab environment. My quick assessment of the aforementioned is as follows below with the ATH-ANC7B last:
Bose Quiet Comfort 15 (2.5 / 5 stars)
- Summary: Great noise isolation, however sound quality was mediocore at best and it also induced a "stuffed ear" effect on me.
- Sound Quality: Sound fidelity was very flat with the kind of music I play (R and B, House, and Electronica). I was very disappointed as it seemed almost monotone in nature. I couldn't believe these were even recommended.
- Noise Isolation: By far and away, this had the best noise isolation of all the headsets. Almost all sound was reduced significantly from low to high frequencies alike. However they also generate a high altitude affect on your ears where you feel like your ears are stuffed up.
- Comfort: The Bose were) very comfortable to wear, but prolonged exposure to the stuffed ear effect caused me to get nauseated over time. I'm told some people are more sensitive to this then others so YMMV.
- Misc: Case and build quality were nice. Battery life was acceptable.
Monster Beats Studio (3/5 stars)
- Summary: Great sound quality with booming bass and peak highs, however noise isolation was subpar.
- Sound Quality: The Beats headphonese have always been notorious for catering to a specific genre of music and the Studios don't change this fact. Bass was loud and booming as per customary with Dr. Dre's headphones. Treble was also exceptionally sharp bordering on a little harsh. This is definitely the setup if you like your music loud and into R and B, Hip Hop, or Electronic Dance music. However, some of my coworkers didn't like how boosted the sound was with more contemporary and classical music.
- Noise Isolation: Whereas the Bose had mediocore sound but great noise isolation, the Beats Studio were exactly opposite. The noise isolation was subpar. Several times I had to double check that the headphone isolation was actually turned on. Many others shared the same sentiments, especially after putting on the Bose headphones.
- Comfort: The Beats Studio was somewhat stiff at first making them somewhat uncomfortable (but not at all like the Beats Pro). Over time though, they seemed to have broken in (either that, or I must have adjusted to how they felt). I could wear them easily over the course of 2 days.
- Misc: Build quality is great on the beats as the look like they were designed by Apple (well they were in a way with one of the original ID engineers). The included case was nice, but the way the folded in together looks like they may break or become loose over time. Also, including iPhone ready headset wires was a nice touch, but it's unfortunate that you need to turn on the headphones if you want to listen to music (cannot be ran in passive mode). Battery life was a little subpar as well, as I could drain them in about 1.5 days of usage.
Sony MDR-NC200D (2.5/5 stars)
- Summary: Mediocore sound and also noise isolation. The all around average headset.
- Sound Quality: While markedly improved from the Bose headsets, they are not up to the sound quality of the Beats Studio. Has a very flat response however so may serve contemporary and classic musical connoisseurs better.
- Noise Isolation: Improved over the Beats Studio, but nowhere near that of the Bose headphonese.
- Comfort: I thought the Sony's were pretty comfortable, much more so then the Beats Studio and probably on par with the Bose setup.
- Misc: None.
Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B (4 / 5 stars)
- Summary: Best combination of sound quality, noise isolation, and comfort for the money, period!
- Sound Quality: I would say that AT's have the most accurate in frequency response of all the headsets I'm reviewing here. Very flat linear response without sounding muffled (like the Sony's) over bewildering (like the Beats Studio). The sound is just right for any kind of music.
- Noise Isolation: While not on the par of the Bose, it is quite good with one exception. The anti-phasing seems to work great at all frequencies except the highest ones, so noises like high rpm fans are still quite audible yet bearable. I found the this much better than all other headsets except again for the Bose, but then again it doesn't give you the clogged ear effect either.
- Comfort: The ATs were very comfortable through several days of usage.
- Misc: For such an "economical" set of headphones, it came with a nice little case similar to the Bose. Also, it only requires 1 battery to utilize and lasts quite a bit to boot.
Without question, the Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B was the best bang for the buck in this group of highly praised noise cancelling headsets. While it doesn't have the huge sound amplification of the Monster Beats Studio headphones for music, it is also less overwhelming and quiet pleasant for any kind of genre of music you are playing. The noise isolation while not on par with the Bose Quiet Comfort 15 was also very good (with the exception of very high frequencies) without causing any nauseating ear pressure effects. These are comfortable enough that you can wear in day in and day out for long periods of time and affordable enough that you can buy yourself or others without feeling guilty! I highly recommend these sets for their performance as well as value!
77 of 82 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2010
We've owned the Logitech noise-cancelling headphones for a few years. My wife uses them when vacuuming, flying, etc. My job has moved to a noisy cubical, so I need my own pair. I tried to find another Logitech, but they are out of production. Needing to stay in the same price range, and get good sound, active noise-cancelling to block continuous noise, and over-the-ear cups to passively block conversation and clatter, I bought the JVC HANC-250.
The JVC HANC-250 have comparable noise-cancelling ability in the office environment, comparable physical construction, and comparable sound quality. The Logitech, when turned on, have a barely noticeable low background hiss, but the JVC HANC-250 hiss was somewhat louder. After a several minutes of listening to music in the office, I noticed that the hiss was louder in the left ear. After a couple of days, this left-ear thing became annoying. Finally, I returned them as defective.
I then bought the Audio-technica ATH-ANC7B. They cost maybe $20 more, have comparable physical construction (although a little tighter on the ears), superior music fidelity (less boomy, more balanced, better definition in the highs), and hey! great noise-cancelling. Much better. All the steady office hum and rumble is gone, and more noticeably, there is no hiss at all. I don't have to cover the hiss with music. It's just quiet in here.
About the leakage issue others have mentioned, if I play the music loud, and someone comes into my cube, they can hear faintly that I have something on. This is not a problem. For the price, I highly recommend the Audio-technica ATH-ANC7B.
74 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2009
I recently took a trip to India and a friend recommended that I buy noise cancelling headphones to make the trip more pleasureable. What smart advice!
Based on reviews and Audio Technica's reputation I decided to give these a shot. The reviews were decent and the price was right.
The biggest piece of feedback I can provide is that they work! And work well. I like music, but I'm not an afficinado and did not have any bad sound experiences. Bass was nice, but not overwhelming. Mids and treble were about as good as it gets without a built in equalizer.
When you turn these things on, the roar of the jet engine all but disappears. Listening to music and onboard movies is now a pleasure. I have a smidgen of hearing loss and these headphones made that all go away.
Importantly, I had these headphones on my ears for almost 40 hours of flying time. I didn't experience any discomfort and occasionally had to take them off the scratch my ear. While they are slight bulky - my wife said I looked like an alien with them on - they were quite comfortable.
The small zippered pouch on the inside of the case was handy for carrying a couple of extra batteries and the cables. I used the AAA that came with the phones and never replaced it for the duration of the to and from flying. But I did bring along an extra AAA just in case. The phones do not work all that great when turned off so having the AAAs available I think is important. The case is a bit on the bulky side, but very nicely made. Durable sides keep the headphones from getting crushed inside cramped bags.
Overall, really, really happy. I honestly believe these phones made the long trip much more pleasurable and I felt more refreshed than expected. Listening to the constant roar of the engines takes its toll for sure.
You won't be disappointed.
67 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2012
Compared the Audio Technica ANC7B's vs. Bose QC15's vs. Dr. Dre Studio's vs Klipsch Mode M40's (all noise canceling headphones).
Note: Also tried the Able Planet brand of NC headphones (sold at Brookstone & Costco) - would not even recommend them as they were FAR inferior to the AT's, Bose and Dre's.
Size & Weight:
1) Bose is the smallest & lightest, slim & tapered, can barely feel them on. Could wear these for hours.
2) Dre Beats are larger than Audio Technica's but feel good as they are slightly more comfortable. Soft cushions almost on par w/Bose softness, but not quite.
3) Audio Technica's are lighter than Beats but are just less comfortable. ANC7B's have a much firmer memory foam ear cushion. Not to say it is uncomfortable. UPDATE: AT's memory foam ear cushions need to warm up while wearing before they soften up. The memory foam is very similar to body heat activated Tempurpedic material. UPDATE2: One major issue with these headphones is the fit. They adjust but unfortunately don't adjust much downward but they seemingly adjust outward - unfortunately this presents some fit issues depending on your head length/width and distance of ears from top of head - in other words, you will have to really try these on first but take note of the firmness of the foam, the squeeze factor on your head and if they fit completely over your ears. What may seem like soft foam and little squeeze at first try on will quickly get irritating with prolonged wear. In other words, if they aren't "super comfortable" at first beware. I wanted love these headphones but ultimately returned them due to constantly trying to make them more comfortable by moving them, squeezing them wider, etc and I finally concluded, they were not comfortable enough for me.
4) The Klipsch we so heavy and uncomfortable, I really could not believe they made it past the drawing board. They literally felt like bricks hanging off your head. They pressed uncomfortably.
1) Bose had probably the best overall sound by a VERY slight margin over the ANC7B's. Good Bass, not too much middle (which I like) and distinctive highs - actually, the highs were a bit much and sounded a bit close to "tinny" on some songs.
2) Audio Technica actually had a better sound curve than Bose with great bass, full mids and good highs which didnt distort. This is definitely the most subjective, but I always like to tone down the mids a bit and Bose does that. That being said, the Aud Technicas are probably more true and accurate sound reproduction across the range. They should be #1, but I personally liked the Bose a touch more. If I didn't compare them side by side, I would have never thought the AT's were lacking - they sound great.
3) Dre Beats - Dre Beats definitely had more bass and sounded good on Hip Hop tracks but sounded surprisingly mediocre on most tracks (considering their premium price) when compared side by side with Audio Technica and Bose.
4) Klipsch sound quality was not in the same league as the others.
Volume & Leakage (with NC on):
1) Dre Beats had the most volume (loudest) and just slightly more loudness than the Audio Technicas. In a semi quiet environment, people nearby might find these irritating at anything higher than 3/4 volume (on an iphone/touch volume scale).
2) Audio Technica had much more top end than Bose (about 25% more volume/loudness) but just a bit less than Beats. Might be key to those who are in more noisy environments and need the extra volume. Same leakage as Dre Beats. In a normal environment, people around me could hear my music when I had it at 75% of max (on my iphone). Leakage is definitely a concern with these.
3) Bose - were a bit too low on volume for my taste (iphone music at 100% was just loud enough - would be nice to have a bit more incase of a low volume track/audiobook). Sounded great but had to put them @ 100% to get close to same volume level as Aud Tech's @ 75%. Bose had the least leakage of the headphones tested.
4) Klipsch - they were so unwearable - I shouldn't even keep them in the rating. Lower volume than the other 3 - maybe close to the Bose.
1) Audio Technica - really quieted down the environment noticeably. Most reviewers say the Bose reduced noise the most - but in my test, the AT's were just as good. AT's cut out 90% background white noise (computer fans gone, refrigerator hum gone, plane noise severely reduced). Reduces voices about 50%. Note: When your battery dies - the AT's will still let you listen (albeit at a lower volume and without NC - Bose and Dre. Beats produce zero sound when your battery dies).
2) Bose - Definitely canceling a lot of noise but the AT's were just as good IMO.
3) Dre Beats - Noise canceling was marginal and not is the same league as the AT's and Bose.
4) Klipsch - unimpressive noise cancellation.
1) Audio Technicas - solidly built - looks like they will last.
2) Klipsch - hard to break a brick unless you hit it with a hammer.
3) Bose are a bit thin and light and appear to be subject to some possible durability issues.
4) Beats - reading reviews online - quite a few people are experiencing durability issues with Beats but their cords are top notch and much more substantial than the others.
1) Audio Technica, about $135 WHAT? yes, you read right $135...wow..bang for the buck - assuming you find them comfortable - I didn't unfortunately (I wanted to and tried everything to make them fit me)!
2) Bose and Dre Beats both $299 - bit pricey (think I will buy Bose or Dr Dre's after failing to make AT's fit me well enough).
3) Klipsch - $349 Ha Ha Ha Ha...yeah right.
This is an important category as if they don't feel good on you, you will be noticing the discomfort before you notice how great they sound.
1) Bose - By far is the most comfortable of the lot. Super soft downy like cushions combined with light weight - you could fall asleep with these on (but then you might crack them when your head hit the pillow).
2) Dre Beats - Similar feeling as the Bose but not as light and airy as the Bose. Not bad though.
3) Audio Technica - Wanted to Love the AT's for their great sound, low price and build quality but the firmer memory foam ear cushions are a bit of a concern at first. They are actually comfortable but nowhere close to the Bose and less comfortable than the Beats. They really should have shipped a much softer cushion option with these. Combined with head squeeze and lack of adjustability, I am wondering if it is just a matter of getting used to them ...UPDATE: They didn't get more comfortable. I tried to not use them for a few days and after trying them again and again got slight headaches from head squeeze and firm ear cushions. UPDATE: I have played with the cushions trying to break them in and I believe they are a heat activated memory foam similar to Tempurpedic which gets softer as your body heat warms them up. I suggest kneading them a bit prior to use which definitely softens them up. Note: The AT's were ever so slightly hotter on the ears than Bose & Dre's - probably due to the memory foam. After 30 minutes of wearing the AT's, the ear cushions are much more soft and pliable (not as soft as Bose but definitely softer than when you put them on - might take longer if they are cold).
4) Klipsch - when you immediately say: "WOHA - what the ..." when you put them on - that can't be a good thing - and it isn't. These were HARD and HEAVY.
1) Bose - had a great range to fit smaller and larger head sizes without squeezing (glasses friendly). Doesn't feel squeezed at all. Will fit big melons.
2) Beats - Good fit range - comfortable - just enough squeeze to feel secure without irritating (glasses friendly).
3) Audio Technica - another big deal for me was the AT range of adjustability. for my head size (medium to large), I was in the middle of adjustability on the Bose. But for the Audio Technica, I was at the last setting (largest opening) to get comfortable- it is just not that comfortable - but if you have a larger head - I would give these a try at the store first (office max has a working display for these). NOTE: After playing with these and attempting to give a slight adjustment (bend) to the metal under the headband - I was able to get these a bit better fit to my head and they now fit down completely over my ears but still squeeze. From earlobe to earlobe bottom, over the top of the head, my head measures 17" and these just barely cover but require me to pull them down hard and that hurts the top of my head.
1) Dre Beats - if you are under 50 years old - the beats look pretty sweet.
2) Bose - Sleek and shiny metal - professional looking.
3) Audio Technica - look bigger than Bose and are a subtle black color (not as big as the beats). If headphone status is important to you, you might need to spend much more. You can't really see from the stock picture but unfortunately at the point where the headband join the swivel part just above the headphone, the AT's stick out too much there AND because (as I said earlier) the AT's adjust out more than down they jsut look like and a bit clunky, especially if you have them adjusted all the way out like I had to do.
4) Klipsch - Look cool w/ bronze color (for the ten minutes you will keep them on due to their uncomfortable design).
Which one to choose:
If PRICE is your primary concern: Audio Technica - great sound, noise canceling at par with Bose, better build quality and incredible price make this hard to pass up. This is the one I ultimately bought and like them despite the adjustability and firmer ear cushions. UPDATE: just found them uncomfortable and lacking in adjustment range for me to keep them - had to return. Unfortunate because two simple things would have made these work for me 1) Softer ear cushions 2) Less squeeze (greater adjustment range).
If COMFORT is your primary concern: Bose - great overall sound, style, and noise canceling - if ultimate comfort is for you - you can't beat the Bose.
If STYLE is you primary concern: Dre beats - Very Stylish and comfortable. Would have to try them out on some more tracks to see if the mediocre sound quality was for real - My son has the DRE Beats Solo's and same thing - I tried them by themselves and thought they were great until I compared them side by side with Bose and Audio Technica's and I was not that impressed with the sound quality of the Dre's. Had I not heard the Bose and AT's, I probably would have never known the difference.
If SOUND quality is your primary concern: Bose or Audio Technica
Considering you could buy two pair of Audio Technica ANC7B's for the price of one Bose (and have enough $ leftover for dinner out), it is hard for me to justify the Bose. if you have the extra coin and comfort is super important, then the Bose are great. But please test out the AT's first as you might find them squeezing and or too firm and lacking in adjustment. Let me put it this way: if you go to the Apple store and try on the Bose headphones, you immediately think "Wow, these are super comfortable". if you go to Office Max and try on the AT's and you think "hmm...these might work" think again and think hard and long. Any (and I mean any) discomfort at first will probably come back to haunt you later.
Bottom Line: If you find the Audio Technica ANC7B'S comfortable - then I would definitely choose them over the Bose and Dre Beats. If comfort is a primary issue then choose Bose. If Status is what you're after then the Beats were cool.
NOTE: I use a Beats Control Talk cord with Audio Technica's and it is great - Gives volume control (which is important if you use a plane's audio system as they set louder to make up for cheap headphones they use onboard - only on long flights for movies I guess - I never use planes audio when traveling domestically) and provides start and stop functionality in a well made thick cable. You can get the Control Talk cord by calling Monster ($35) or buy a knockoff online from China ($15).
For the cheapest type of headphone with good noise isolation and comfort - I also use the JVC HS-FX35 Marshmallow In Ear Buds - these are comfortable and cheap (under $20). They cut much of the outside noise when traveling by plane (not as much as active noise canceling headphones but a lot easier to carry, fit in a pocket, no fatigue when wearing (no heat, can lay on pillow) like with some big phones. And you don't have to worry about losing them. And they sound really good (good bass and highs). Foam ear inserts (like foam ear plugs), instead of the usual silicone, make them very comfortable. They also come in a microphone version. Put it this way: when trying to watch a movie on my iphone during a flight using regular iphone headphones, I couldn't hear the dialogue - but with the JVC Marshmallows, it cuts about 60%+ of plane noise and I can hear movies and audiobooks perfectly.
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2009
When I was initially trying to decide between the Bose QC2 and this, it was a bit hard to find someone who had done a side-by-side comparison. So here it is, hopefully future buyers can benefit from this review.
So, I ended up buying both the Bose QC2 for myself, and the Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B for the wife (sorry wifey). I am a bit of an Audiophile, so the first thing I did after getting both was to do a side-by-side test.
In one sentence, I like Bose better for sound and comfort, and ATH better for the price and noise cancellation.
Pros of the Bose QC2:
- Sound is fuller and warmer
I was listening to Josh Groban, and you can truly hear his Alto voice clearly, full, and warm. ATH, on the other hand, sounds a bit tighter, with the midrange a bit distant, and hence not as warm and full.
- More natural
ATH's bass is quite strong, and treble is also quite clear. But overall Bose sounds more natural, covering more range of the bass and midrange, with slightly less strong on the treble. For the Audiophile out there, a good way to think of the difference is to compare the sound when you have an equalizer set to Rock/Disco vs. when you leave the equalizer off.
Also note, however, that my wife could not tell the difference in sound quality between the two, even on a side-by-side test. She is not an Audiophile like me. So, consider the sound difference to be fairly small.
- More comfortable to the ears
QC2's padding is softer. The tension is also less on the ear (lighter spring). The size may also makes a difference. In short, overall the ears feel more comfortable. I can wear the QC2 for hours without noticing.
Pros of the ATH-ANC7B:
- Better price (of course)
- Better noise cancellation, slightly. I didn't try this at a super noisy environment, but I did have the dishwasher running nearby. Without music, ATH sounds quieter overall. Once music is on, hard to tell the difference.
The other thing I didn't like as much of the ATH is the sound leakage. I can hear the music when my wife is wearing it - could be annoying to a fellow passenger.
I am also getting the Bose QC15. Will write more when I have it in a few days.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2010
1. soft, comfortable and do not squeeze head
2. very good noise canceling
3. as good as Bose, but way cheaper
4. two audio cords
5. good passive isolation
6. holds very long on one battery
7. good quality cord, easy to untie
1. too loud, you should buy volume control if you want to use it on the plane
These are very good headphones. Comparable to Bose but much cheaper. Nice looking and comfortable. Sound quality is very impressive and noise canceling works great.
I normally had been using ear plugs on the plane. They are comfortable to sleep with, but when you are active, they are not good for putting them on and off frequently. On the other end headphones are very comfortable to put on and off when you are woke up and want sometimes to hear better whats going on around.
For watching in-flight movies and listen to music they are just unrepleacable! After trying, you will never turn on the movie without them.
When having them on, you still hear much, like people talking etc., but engine noise is very well canceled - this is great. If you want to cut yourself completely you can still put on ear plugs simultaneously with the headphones. This is perfect - you hear engines only when opening your mouth!
Only downside is that in-flight entertainment system plays very loud to work properly with plane stock headphones together with all the noise around. When you are using your great, fancy, good quality Audio-Technica's with noise canceling you find the minimum level of volume to be to high. I recommend buying external volume control for headphones.
The good workaround when lacking volume control is to put the ear plugs with the headphones, and increase the volume of the movie slightly. Actually this works nicer that you would think.
They work great with glasses. Also they are very good for work with noisy air conditioning and computer fans running all the day long. I use them all the time in office.
One should also remember that as they are over-the-ear headphones, they are pretty big, so reserve more space in your carry on baggage.
I really like their container. It looks very nice and professional, is strong and you can store there some additional stuff like ear plugs. One thing I really appreciate that Audio Technica ship the headphones with battery, so you can try them straight away.
So buy them and try them today! You're gonna love it.