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The Audio Technica ATH-ANC7b noise cancelling headphones offer midrange performance at a midrange price.

As such they are neither especially good nor especially bad.

 
 
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Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

A good middle of the road performer

A traditional over the ear and slightly clunky design for the Audio Technica ATH-ANC7b headphones.

Part of a series on noise reducing headphones - click the links on the right for extra reviews and commentary

 

 

One is reminded of the adage that there are no prizes for coming second when evaluating these headphones.

They aren't the very best headphones, and neither are they the very best price.  They fall in the middle of the range in all respects - this may appeal to people who wish a compromise between the extremes of very best and very cheapest, but for those wishing to push the limits of either price or performance, there's little appeal in these headphones.

One is also reminded of the adage 'you get what you pay for' - the headphones are fairly priced in line with competing products and the respective performance offered by them.

Executive Summary

The new Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b headphones should not be confused with the earlier ATH-ANC7 headphones, which are a now obsoleted model, replaced by these newer and better performing headphones.  The ANC7b claims to be (and probably is) better performing than the earlier product.

With a retail price of $220 and street price of $166 or thereabouts from Amazon, these are mid priced noise cancelling headphones and comparable in cost to the Phiaton headphones.  In terms of performance, their noise cancelling is middling good and their sound quality is similarly middling good.

People wishing the best will definitely hear the different if they choose the Bose QC15 headphones.  But people simply wanting some appreciable reduction in the noise about them on a flight will find these headphones do cause a positive improvement in the level of background noise.

The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b Active Noise Cancelling Headphones - What You Get

The headphones come packaged in an easily opened cardboard box.

Inside is the carry case, and inside the carry case are the headphones (of course) and a generous assortment of other items.

Two different connecting cords are supplied.  Both use standard 1/8" gold plated (3.5mm) connectors at both ends, which is a very good thing and better than most competing headsets that use a nonstandard connector at the end that plugs into the headset, forcing you to buy replacement cords only from the manufacturer.  With the Audio-Technica headset, you can readily buy a stereo patch connector from most audio and electronic stores, and at low price.

One cable is 41" long, the other is 60" long.  Most of the time the 41" cable will be plenty long enough.  Both cables have one of the two connectors with the extra thin barrel section to fit in earlier model iPhones.

The headphones also come with both a 1/8" to 1/4" plug adapter, and a double prong adapter required by some airline seats.  These are gold plated, too.

A single AAA battery is provided to power the headphones.

There is a also a manual in five languages.  The English portion spans six pages.

The headphones come with a one year warranty.

The carry case is very similar to those provided by Bose, and is semi-rigid, with a zip that runs around three sides.  Inside there are slightly molded places for the headphones to be placed, and on the inside of the 'lid' there's a mesh pocket with zip, into which you can place the spare plug adapters, spare batteries, etc.

Noise Cancelling

The ATH-ANC7b headphones tested to be not nearly as good as the new Bose QC15 headphones ($300), but also tested to be better than the Plane Quiet Platinum headphones ($85), proving the adage you get what you pay for.  They were almost as good as the earlier Bose QC2 headphones.

The cancelling did create a bit of a coloration to the remaining noise - like listening to the noise through a long tube, but definitely made a good improvement in overall quietness.

Hiss was apparent if you were listening in a quiet environment, but - of course - who ever uses active noise canceling technology in a quiet environment?

Sound Quality

We list this after noise cancelling because we consider it to be a less important consideration when choosing noise cancelling headphones.

These headphones have a pleasant warm tonal coloration.  When playing without a battery, the sound level isn't quite as high and possibly the high notes aren't quite as clear.

The sound was reasonably good overall although the Bose QC15 headphones were slightly clearer.

Comfort and Convenience

The Audio-Technica headphones aren't quite as stylish as the Bose headphones.  There's a bit of a 'clunky' look and feel to them - the mounting brackets between the earcups and the headband in particular are very big in size.

The earcups are slightly smaller than the QC15 earcups, making for a bit of a tight fit if you have large ears.  Similarly, the headband is a bit smaller - I had to have it at almost maximum extensions to fit comfortably on my head, whereas the QC15 is at about half extension.

Don't get me wrong - the headphones fit my head and ears, but my guess is that people with larger heads and/or ears may find these too small.

The ATH-ANC7b headphones didn't fit quite as comfortably as the Bose headphones either.  The foam around the ear-cups is not quite as soft so it takes longer to mold to one's skull shape.

In terms of convenience, I found myself unable to locate the battery box compartment door, no matter how hard I looked.  Eventually I 'gave in' and checked the manual.  Unusually, the battery compartment is reached by sliding (twisting) the outer cover of the right ear cup, revealing the battery compartment below.  This isn't mentioned as a negative, but as a neutral observation of a different design approach.

It is a plus that the cord is detachable, and a double plus that the cord uses a standard connector at both ends.

The blue 'power on' LED blinks when the battery is almost dead.  Needless to say, you should always travel with a spare AAA battery.

The on-off switch was easily accessed.  There are no other controls.

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b compared to Bose QC15

The following table shows the similarities and differences with the Bose QC15 headphones.
 

Feature

Audio-Technica  ATH-ANC7b

Bose QC15

List Price

$220

$300

Street Price

$163

$300

1/4" adapter included

Yes

No

Standard plugs on detachable cable

Yes

No

'On head' weight of headphones

7.5 oz

6.7 oz

Weight of headphones, cord, adapter, case

16.3 oz

14.7 oz

Carry case size (max dimensions)

7.5 x 8.25 x 1.9"

7.5 x 8.4 x 2.0"

Comfort on ear

reasonably good firmer padding

very good soft padding

Battery life claimed

40 hrs

35 hrs

Works with no battery

Yes but loses some sound quality

No

Warranty

1 yr

1 yr

Background hiss

low but perceptible in a quiet environment

almost completely imperceptible

Noise cancelling

good to very good but with some noise coloration

excellent across the board

Sound quality

good

very good

Where to Buy

The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b headphones can be purchased through a range of different retail outlets, or online and again through a range of different companies.

We found a good price at Amazon (most recently $166 instead of the list price of $220).

Summary and Recommendation

Proving the adage that 'you get what you pay for', these headphones are better than the lower priced Plane Quiet Platinum headphones, but are not as good as the Bose QC15 headphones.

Whether that means they 'slip between the cracks' as being neither the best value nor the best performing noise cancelling headphones depends on you.  You might decide to simply get the better priced PQP headphones, or you might decide to go all the way and get the better functionality of the QC15 headphones.

On the other hand, you also understandably might simply decide that these are a good middle point compromise.

FTC Mandatory Disclosure :  I was not given these headphones by the manufacturer.  I have not been paid money to write this article.  See more about our editorial policies here.

If so, please donate to keep the website free and fund the addition of more articles like this. Any help is most appreciated - simply click below to securely send a contribution through a credit card and Paypal.

 

Originally published 30 Oct 2009, last update 19 Dec 2013

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
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