Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7 Headband Headphones - Black

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Best Bang for the Buck Noise Cancellation headphones out there

Jul 20, 2007 (Updated Aug 21, 2007)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:It's 95% as good as Bose at 1/3 the price (if you shop for them).

Cons:Price is going up, and getting close to refurbished Bose QC2 price.

The Bottom Line: 1/3 the price (if you look hard) for the 95% of the functionality of Bose QC2. This is the best 'bang of the buck' out there.


I've owned several noise cancelling headsets. Many were returned becuase they did not do their job. I currently own 3 headsets. The first noise cancelling headphones I bought from sharper image, Bose QC2, and now Audio-Technica. I haven't had a chance to travel, but I have worn these for a good 3 hour period, and have had a chance to try them out in my office with the A/C and duct system that is a bit annoying.

To be quite fair, everyone compares noise cancelling headsets with Bose. As much as people despise their market hype they do make good headphones. Sound quality may not be all there, but noise cancelling does work. Nobody will disagree. Does it make sense for everyone to spend $300 on pair of these? If you travel a lot and you are sick and tired of roars of air planes, or trains, then you may decide to go for it. But most have to think good long while before they pick them up. As my office mate showed me these headsets, he said "They sound almost as good as Bose.". (Yes, he also owns QC2 as well) I gave them a shot, read the NY Times reviews, found a site selling them for $137 and decide to give them a shot. So I will compare these with the Bose QC2, which I have owned for over a year now. Before we start, I picked out QC2 over the new QC3, because I didn't want to carry a battery charger and dealing with spare chargers. I always carry a spare AAA battery in the case and if I need more, it's easy to get to. As for comfort, I prefer that my ears are covered, rather then having something sitting on top of it.

Now, here are the winners of comparisons and reasons. (QC (Bose QC) vs. AT (Audio-Technica)
Price -> AT. At 1/3 the cost, AT is a clear winner.
Construction -> Tie. So far, I find the construction to be of same calibre.
Usability -> QC. Bose win this on an very slim reason. 2 good reasons. First, the power button feels easier to turn on and off. Second, They have an high/low switch on the headset, which is great of kids, and third, they provide extension cord. The one really bad reason is Bose will stop playing when it's out of battery. It has not happend to me, but I can see how people could get really upset when their headset dies completely because of battery.
Comfort -> QC. I feel that bose is just a bit a tad bit more comfortable. My office mate feels the same. QC2 seems a tad bit bigger and the band does not feel as compressed either. (Means that it doesn't pinch)
Noise Cancellation -> Tie. Though AT does feel quieter, I hear a very low hum as well. With Bose, the hum is very subtle and I have to listen for it, but doesn't cancel all the noise either.
Sound quality -> Tie. It's all up to the user's preference. But I find AT to be tighter, more accurate and Bose to feel more spacious and loose. If sound accuracy is more important, then AT is better. If you prefer those sound editing things, then you'd want Bose.
Accessories -> Tie. Though Bose does offer extension cord, I find that with AT, it will be easy to replace the part with generic cord/cables. If I happen to snap off the special adapter the headphones, I will need to contact Bose and hope they can replace it.


Overall:
You get about 95% of the functionality of Bose for almost 1/3 the price. For someone who cares about comfort at what ever cost, QC2 is probably the way to go. And for budget conscious individual, Audio Technica will be the choice. For all those who are in the middle, I think you should try both on and think about what it's worth... Some would argue that Audio Technical is superior in many ways, but overall, they are very close with Bose better by a very small margin.

Bad news:
It's too bad that people are starting to catch up on these headphones and vendors shot their price up to $199 after the New York Times review. Is it worth $200 for these headphones? For me, no. I would rather buy a refurbished Bose QC2, recently offered, for $250 at a Bose store instead. The good news is if you look hard enough, you can still find these headphones for under $150.


Recommend this product? Yes


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