Right, I really need to bring some balance to this review. These may not be 5-star cans, but they are not deserving of a 3-star rating either and I would urge What Hi-Fi to review these under actual flight conditions, especially since the Sony MDR-NC500 received a 3 stars and the Philips SHN9500 received a whopping 4 stars and these cans sound MUCH better then the afore-mentioned two. Under flight conditions, these cans perform really well and it's only very few tracks that you experience harshness in the highs.
My colleagues and I travel a lot and as such have owned various noice-cancelling headsets throughout the years and on flights to same destinations we even exchange headsets (for a while) to hear how they perform in-flight.
Here's the deal - the cans that all the premier league footballers are seen with are lively, exciting cans, but the emphasis on the bass means the mid-range and transperancy and compromised. They're also pricey.Listen to any music genre which isn't hip hop or trance and you're not enjoying the music so much.
Then we re have the "B" cans that you find in all the Apple shops. They are fantasticly soft and comfortable, BUT they produce uncomfortable pressure on the ears to generate the noice-cancelling effect. This is very uncomfortable and you won't be using them on long-haul flights unless you belong to the breed of people that can't actually detect the pressure. The build quality of those cans also need to be questioned.You also can't listen to them when the batteries die. Also, if you listen to any sort of music which has an amplified guitar or a strong drum track, these aren't your cans. They also aren't cheap.
This brings us to the Audio Technica ATH-ANC7b. These noice-cancelling headphones just tick all the boxes. They sound good with a wide-range of music, they work on a AAA battery and guess what? when the battery dies, IT STILL WORKS. Maybe not as great, but you still get to listen to music.
The ATH-ANC7b is well constructed and lasted longer than my colleague's 5-star "B" cans.
Musically, these cans are very engaging, delivering a very good low end without ever being murky or compromising the mid-range. On certain tracks like on Muse's "Blackholes and Revelations" album there is harshness in the high end, but these are few and far between and in-flight you will hardly ever find this a problem.
It might be a problem in the testing room of the What Hi-Fi headquarters, but in an aircraft, the treble cuts through the engine noise nicely, so you can hear the vocals and lead guitar without having to blast the music and full volume.
The price is also lower than some of the competition (almost half price of the 5-star Sennheisers), so overall these a very good value for money cans and I definitely would recommend anybody who is looking for noise-cancelling headphones to audition them.
I think some of the reviews on headphones are sometimes done with music that nobody actually listens too. If you listen to any of the following: Ed Sheeran, Peal Jam, Feist, Jack Johnson, Nirvana, A Perfect Circle, Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, Depeche Mode, Yes, Rush, Bob Marley, Jamiroquai, Tears for Fears, Kings of Leon, The Smiths etc AND you want to buy a good-sounding, reasonably-priced noise-cancelling headset which is comfortable to wear and are solidly built and don't run on rechargeable batteries which will be obsolote in two years, then audition these headphones.
THE ATH-ANC7B ARE FOUR STAR HEADPHONES!!!
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