Unfortunately, Audio-Technica’s $220, noise-cancelling beauties have turned me into a complete twit. They’ve caused me to belt out John Legend’s “If You’re Out There” while in line at the local Starbucks; and they make make me look like Lando Calrissian’s crony in The Empire Strikes Back
I don’t care. They’re so good, I’m probably never taking them off.
With the noise-cancelling circuitry switched on, the QuietPoint ATH-ANC7b‘s deaden ambient sound, and practically eliminate low- and mid-frequency rumbling, like that of plane turbofans, a bus engine, or the chatter of loud conversation. Audio-Technica claims up to an 85 percent reduction of noise, and I’d say that’s about right. And the leftover high-frequency sound that isn’t canceled gets blotted-out when the music starts.
I was stunned to find the earphones even eliminated wind noise while cruising down the road at 20 mph on a bicycle (note: doing this is not recommended; beside the fact that it’s dangerous and in some places illegal, I don’t think I’ve ever looked more like a goober).
Overall, sound from the QuietPoints is superb. I was never able to overwhelm them by turning the volume up or heavily weighting the equalizer in any direction. Mid-treble notes are exceptionally clear; a modest lack of bass punch was easily corrected by setting my iPhone’s equalizer to “Bass Booster.”
The QuietPoints are also extremely comfortable. The ear-cups and top bar are padded with just the right amount of velvety plushness, and they seem lighter than their bulk would suggest. These cans scream quality, and have a well-finished look and feel in line with that of Bose’s iconic noise-cancelling QuietComfort series.
In fact, I found little difference in performance between the $300 Bose QuietComfort 2s and the QuietPoints. A comparison of the noise-cancellation performance showed a negligible difference between the two. And while the QuietPoints don’t have quite the base heft of the Bose unit, they seem to reproduce sounds in the treble range with more clarity.
As an added bonus, the QuietPoints will work — although with muffled, muddy sound reproduction — even without being turned on, a plus when the battery dies after about 35 hours of use; and since the QuietPoints run on a single AAA battery, getting the power back up shouldn’t prove too difficult anyway.
Quibbles? Just one: The QuietPoints tend to bleed sound a little; they neither isolated me from outside sounds nor isolated those around me from my music as well as other over-the-ear headphones.
One reason for wearing headphones is to avoid enthusiastically sharing music with the surrounding environment, and the ANC7bs miss the mark a little here. But the problem isn’t noticeable in most situations, and diminishes with noise-cancelling turned off.
Buy the Audio-Technica QuietPoint ATH-ANC7b Noise-Cancelling Headphones from Amazon.com.