Close, but no cigar

Feb 7, 2013
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Way less costly than Bose; good sound and noise cancelling.

Cons:Unwearable for a long flight; they hurt my ears and the headband was uncomfortable.

The Bottom Line: Don't buy these headphones without first wearing them for 30 minutes or more to make sure that they fit you well. Otherwise, you could well be disappointed.


I decided to buy these headphones after trying them out in a store with my iPhone. I don't claim to be an audiophile, but I liked the way they sounded, and the noise-cancelling function seemed to work very well. I also liked the price I found online at Amazon -- $129, plus tax, $170 less than the gold-standard Bose QuietComfort 15 noise-cancelling headphones. I'd decided to get headphones because I had started flying more frequently to deal with family issues, and figured I would get enough use out of them on my once-a-month and sometimes more frequent flights from San Jose, CA to Chicago.

I should've read the online reviews more closely before I bought these headphones. When I finally put them on inflight for the first time, I found them to be uncomfortable -- so much so that I took them off after less than 30 minutes. First, the earpieces were too small for my ears. They sat on my ears rather than enveloping them, exerting a constant, unpleasant pressure. Second, there was not enough play in the headband, which kept pressing in on the top of my head. Try as I might, I could not find a sweet spot for these headphones. In other words, I wound up with the same complaints others have registered against the Audio-Technica QuietPoint headphones.

On the way home, my seat partner had the Bose QuietComfort headphones and I tried them on -- they were way more comfortable than the Audio-Technica headphones; they fit well around my ears and the headband had more play in it. So I bit the bullet and bought a pair. They arrived today. As I said, I'm not an audiophile so I don't feel to qualified to evaluate the sound quality of the two headphones against each other. In fairness to Audio-Technica, I'll say that with respect to sound quality, the choice between Audio-Technica and Bose is a draw.
     
If you have small ears and a small head, the Audio-Technica QuietPoint headphones could work for you. Aside from lower cost, they offer another advantage over the Bose headphones: they will work in passive mode, that is you can still use them to listen to music or watch a movie when they're turned off (or the battery dies). The Bose headphones will not work without a live battery. On the other hand, the Bose headphone cable has a volume adjustment gizmo on it and there's no way to adjust the volume using the headphones on the Audio-Technica. But that shouldn't put you off if these headphones meet your requirements for cost and comfort.
   
As I found out the hard way, you should try wearing these headphones for an extended time before you decide whether to buy them. Go to Radio Shack or some other store where you can plug a display pair into your MP3 player and spend at least 30 minutes with them. By then you should know if the Audio-Technica headphones are right for you. It doesn't matter how much you like the sound and the price. If you can't wear them comfortably, they're not going to be much use to you.


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