Customer Review

413 of 433 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just what I needed, August 16, 2009
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This review is from: Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling Closed-Back Headphones (Electronics)
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.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 21, 2009 8:25:53 PM PDT
Very helpful review, thanks!

Posted on Nov 20, 2009 3:30:43 PM PST
Alaska's says:
My husband flys for his job a lot. He requested a Christmas present of an MP3 Player and headphones to listen to music while on a flight. I would characterize him as an almost audiophile and definitely electronics savvy. Unfortunately for him, I am not and this is a difficult task finding the right MP3 and headphones for him. I read your review and many others; yours at least addressed the airplane issues. What do you think? Should I buy these for his purposes? Are they lightweight and small enough to easily place in his carry-on? Can I purchase the headphones before I decide on the MP3? Any suggestions as to the MP3 player would be most appreciated, as well. We have Windows based PC, not Apple. I live in rural Alaska and the nearest Best Buy is an hour and a half away. Any ideas from you or others would be most appreciated.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2009 3:07:37 PM PST
T. Maltby says:
I think I can probably help you. I'm also a semi-audiophile and tech savvy. I don't have these headphones, but I've had the ATH-ANC7 headphones for a few years now. Judging by the description on here and Audio-Technica's site, these are not much different from the ANC7s. I have to say, I love the ANC7s. They are without a doubt the best headphones I've ever had. I used to have the Bose Triport OEs, but those broke in a way (I have a review for the ANC7s and I elaborate on how they broke, if you want to look at that). Now that I have the ANC7s, I hate Bose headphones. So overpriced.

Since he is an almost audiophile, the sound quality on the ANC7s is fantastic. It's very balanced. The treble and midrange is excellent, the bass isn't as good but don't let that fool you. The bass is definitely there and it's also pretty decent. The highs are also very good.

Now for the airplane issues (noise cancelling, comfort, sound leakage). For the noise cancelling, it's excellent as well. It will block out mostly all jet engine noise. I say "mostly all" because no pair of noise cancelling headphones blocks it all out, at least not yet. For comfort, the ANC7s are very comfortable as well. It depends on what he's doing. If he's watching an action movie or something, his ears will get warm after a while and he may want to take them off for 5 mins. or so. If he's trying to sleep or something, then he could probably wear them for a few hours or more without his ears getting warm. Now, for the sound leakage. I'm afraid I have to confirm what the other reviews have stated. However, it's not nearly as bad as some of them say it is. That one review for the ANC7s that says the person could hear the sound across the room or upstairs or whatever is ridiculous. In order for that to happen, you'd have to have the noise cancelling on and have music at a crazy high volume, and even then I'm not sure if it would happen. They do leak sound, but not very much overall. The sound leaks more with the noise cancelling on than off. I have a more detailed description of the sound leakage in my review. In general, on a plane, the leakage probably won't be a problem since the jets are so loud and many other people have headphones on themselves.

As for the weight and size, they do come with a very nice firm case. It isn't small though. It's kind of big in width and length but flat in hight. It is fairly lightweight.

It should be fine buying the headphones first. The iPhone and maybe iPod touch are the only electronic devices I know of that require headphone packages to say "compatible with iPhone" for the headphone jack. As for the mp3 player, there are so many out there now. I would go with an iPod. I have an iPod classic. Because iPods are the main mp3 player now, most accessories in stores are made for them. If you get another mp3 player, you'd probably have to go to the company's website to find accessories. The iTunes store also has one of the biggest music collections out there. As for the Windows PC no problem. iTunes works with both. Good thing too, because Macs are horrible in most cases. I despise them for many reasons that I'm not going to elaborate on unless you ask because I can go for hours. With Best Buy being 1.5 hours away you might want to order both on Amazon. I love Amazon because the selection is good, the reviews are helpful, the shipping is always reasonable, and it's almost always cheaper.

Also, based on your comment, I'm getting the feeling that this would be his first mp3 player. Assuming this is correct, since he is an almost audiophile there is one issue he might want to be aware of: (warning: technical words coming up, if you don't understand this stuff just ask him and since he's an audiophile he should know what I'm talking about) iTunes doesn't have the best mp3 encoder. This means that the sound quality won't be as good. There are ways to work around it, and here's one: instead of using iTunes to import a CD (this is the only situation where the encoder matters, music on the iTunes store is already encoded), use a program called EAC (Exact Audio Copy). It's known as the highest quality CD ripper out there (ripper/ripping and importer/importing are the same thing). Then, download and install the LAME mp3 encoder. It's the highest quality encoder out there. What sucks about the Windows version of iTunes is that it doesn't have a plug in for the LAME encoder, so you can't import a CD with iTunes and use LAME to encode it. Instead, once the CD has been encoded with LAME, drag and drop it into iTunes. Then he can put it on his iPod. Also, if you have Windows 7, you might want to google EAC and LAME and make sure there's a version that's compatible with 7. There probably is, but I'm not sure. If you have XP or Vista you should be fine.

Lastly, I'm getting the feeling that my description of the ANC7s might sound too good to be true or that I'm biased or I work for A-T or something. Rest assured all of these are false. The ANC7s are as good as the reviews and I say they are. Another thing is that when listening to the headphones for the first time, it might seem to him that the sound is muddy with the noise cancelling off and clearer when the noise cancelling on. But, once he gets used to it, he should like it either way. For some reason it seemed that way at first for me but I got used to it quickly and now I actually prefer the sound with the noise cancelling off. Sorry this comment is so long. Since I don't actually have these headphones, you may want to look at other reviews. I hope this helps.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2009 4:43:20 PM PST
Alaska's says:
Wow, thank you so much for your input and you have solved the problem with the earphone purchase. I contacted a relative with two young college-aged kids who rely on their MP3 for daily use. One was extremely helpful and talked me through the techinical aspects via email-bless that kid. I purchased the iPod Classic 160 GB, 7th generation through Amazon. He didn't, however, have any knowledge of earphones/headsets. So your blog has fixed that and I'm going to get them. If my husband doesn't love them, he can return them and buy something he likes better. Thanks again!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 22, 2009 2:06:57 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 22, 2009 2:25:01 AM PST
T. Maltby says:
You're very welcome. I always love helping people with tech stuff. I'm used to it since my mom is not tech savvy at all and I have to help her out a lot when it comes to computers and things. I also always love helping people by answering every question they have because I've emailed the tech support of various companies and I'm sick of always getting vague answers or only a single answer when I asked multiple questions. For the iPod classic purchase, smart move. Especially if he has a lot of music. The classics were designed with capacity as the most important thing. In my opinion they're also the best value since the iPod touch is an iPhone without the phone and it's so expensive. From the reviews that I've been seeing, it seems like A-T improved the noise cancelling with the ANC7b's. I was hoping they had fixed the sound leakage because that is their biggest problem. Thankfully it isn't too bad. If you get the ANC7b's and he doesn't like them I would buy the ANC7s and give them a chance because dang, they are nice, especially if he likes rock (hard rock is my favorite genre and dang, the treble on the ANC7's makes rock sound downright beautiful. Their price is also what the Bose QC2's should be priced at, because that's the actual amount they're worth. I'm also in college and use my iPod every day. If he wants to be able to put videos on his iPod (especially YouTube videos) I know some good (and free) programs for that. And, if you don't already have Windows 7, I would get it. Especially if you currently have Vista. I like Vista for the most part, but it does have its problems. 7 is so much better. I'm planning to upgrade to 7 tomorrow (I'm majoring in the computer area in college). If you have any other questions about iPods or computers or headphones (especially headphones as I've had many pairs including noise cancelling and also computers) just reply to my comment unless there's another way to talk to someone on Amazon besides the comments. Right now I'm checking this comment thread around every 2 weeks or so.

Posted on Jul 18, 2013 12:58:40 PM PDT
K. Wray says:
Mine broke after six months. Do not purchase this product.
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