Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 headphones leave noise out – USA TODAY
Consumers looking for a break from noisy neighbors or clamorous commutes may want to consider the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 QuietPoint headphones ($199 MSRP).
Though Audio-Technica offers several sets of cans with remarkably similar names, don’t be fooled. The new ANC70s have several key improvements over slightly older and less expensive models.
The ANC70s employ active noise canceling (ANC) to block all those ambient distractions, which typically means a little added bulk — namely a AAA battery.
As active noise cancelers, the ANC70 QuietPoints are average, dependable cans. They significantly reduce outside noise with the flip of a switch — though big, bassy sounds aren’t blocked as efficiently as those at a higher pitch. In terms of that funny pressure that ANC headphones apply to your inner ear, it isn’t that bad. In fact, the ANC70′s internal processor (which emits signals to drown outside noise) seems milder than most.
The sound profile on the ANC70 headphones will vary slightly, depending on whether ANC is activated. Without the ANC feature, volume is reasonably balanced throughout the musical scale. Every note is audible. From a deep, operatic baritone, to a twanging guitar, to a delicate pluck of a harp string, the ANC70 headphones balance it all with a fairly even hand. But there are downsides.
Many listeners will note the significant lack of low-end support. To make matters worse, testing revealed audible distortion throughout the bass range — something practiced ears will no doubt resent.
When the ANC is activated, the sound immediately benefits from a much-needed bass boost. However, the midrange and high range drops in volume, creating a rather muddled sound quality. Simultaneously, uppermost notes can sound a little too loud and abrasive.
In short, the sound quality falls short whether the ANC is activated or not, though the shortcomings are different in each mode.
In terms of comfort, these Audio-Technicas aren’t the most luxurious headset that money can buy, but they offer a fit sure to please most. Rather than the hard ear cups found on some earlier Audio-Technica models, the ANC70s sport cushy memory-foam pads and a gentle headband.
The design is deceptively clever. Essentially, the left ear cup serves as mission control. To skip a song, answer a call, pause music, or tweak volume, just reach up to the left ear and you’ll find everything you need. You’ll feel like an FBI agent, pressing some mysterious, unseen button.
There are other active noise-canceling options, of course, but weighing the pros and cons isn’t exactly a piece of cake. Welcome to the world of active noise-canceling headphones, where price, quality and comfort never quite meet where you want them to.
Overall, the ATH-ANC70 QuietPoints made some great strides forward this year. These cans are very comfortable, packed with helpful extras, and decently balanced.