Dampen the noise, so all you hear is music on the go. (August 26th, 2008)
Product Manufacturer: Audio-Technica U.S., Inc.
Price: $169.95 US
- Multiple sized ear tips. Comfortable to use when traveling. Includes all needed accessories. Compatible with all Apple products, including the original iPhone. Can be used without battery.
- Insufficient electromagnetic shielding. Transmits noise when exercising, so unsuitable for impact activities. One-year Limited Warranty.
Audio-Technica recently started shipping their new ATH-ANC3 QuietPoint in-ear active noise cancelling headphones. The basic principle is the same as in all other products of this kind, as they state: "Electronics in the control box create a noise-cancelling wave that is 180° out of phase with the ambient noise. This wave acts like a noise eraser: it cancels out the annoying sounds that surround you without diminishing the audio you want to hear."
Complete PackageWhile the price may seem high, the overall package manages to impress with its included accessories. A sturdy travel box contains the headphones, an airline adapter (for those odd two prong connectors), soft ear tips in three sizes, and a little extension cord. The gold-plated non-corrosive mini-plug is compatible with the recessed headphone jack of the original iPhone, plus all Macintosh computers and iPods. Similar to all noise-cancelling headphones, you can use them even without any device as an advanced high-tech version of earplugs.
The advantages of in-ear plugs are their small size, and I found them much less obtrusive and more comfortable than over-ear headphones. When used on longer flights, over-ear headphones tend to heat up the ears and get in the way when trying to sleep, while the ATH-ANC3 QuietPoint are very comfortable.
FeaturesIn order to achieve a decent level of noise reduction, the fit of in-ear headphones is extremely important, thus the various sizes of ear tips are not some kind of gadget, but an absolute necessity. With correctly fitting earpieces, AudioTechnica's 85% noise reduction (Up to 20 dB) claim seems reliable. In plain words, the headphones do not completely blank out all noise, but make an extremely notable difference.
Another feature of the ATH-ANC3 is a button to override the noise-cancelling feature and mute music, for short conversations or announcements. More importantly, you can use the headphones when the battery dies. Of course, the active noise-cancelling feature is lost, but the headphones still work fine. When you select the correct ear tips, there is still some level of passive noise protection, simply because the earpieces act like normal earplugs. The headphones ship with one AAA battery, so I recommend you carry a spare in the convenient pouch. Another thoughtful feature includes a secured battery door, so there is no risk of losing it somewhere between airplane seats when changing batteries in-flight.
SoundThe well-balanced ATH-ANC3 audio delivers a fair amount of bass without dumbing out high frequencies. I enjoyed listening to a wide variety of music without any loss of quality. They are just as well suited for spoken word.
Contrary to Audio-Technica's marketing, I do not think the ATH-ANC3 headphones are well-suited for sports: Anything but the slightest touch on the cord is very audible, so to go running with them is completely out of the question. Generally, joggers should not use noise-cancelling headphones, because you need to be audibly aware of your surroundings while running.
IssuesA more serious issue is the insufficient shielding from electromagnetic interference. A mobile phone in the vicinity of the active noise-cancelling unit produces extremely unpleasant noises. When you connect the headphones to an iPhone, you should use the Airplane mode on the phone (i.e. turn off all communications), or turn off the active noise-cancelling unit. The same applies for offices cramped with electronics, which unfortunately are probably exactly the kind of workplace one wants to use noise-cancelling headphones.
RecommendedI recommend this product especially for frequent travelers. With correctly sized ear-tips, they work as well as their full size counterparts. Especially given the actual street price, the ATH-ANC3 QuietPoint headphones deserve a high rating. The less than perfect shielding, plus the thumping when running, makes them miss the fifth star.
Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor