Audio Technica ATH-ANC3 review

A decent pair of in-ear headphones at the price Tested at £75.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Decent in-ear headphones at the price


  • +

    A very open and balanced sound for £70 in-ear headphones

  • +

    added bonus of noise cancellation


  • -

    Noise cancelling isn't quite as effective as the best

  • -

    a touch of brittleness to the very top end

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Everyone owns a pair of headphones these days. Whether you use them at home to listen to music without annoying the family; on your daily commute to work to create your own sonic comfort zone; or even if you dig them out only occasionally to stave off the tedium on a plane - we all rely on 'phones to make certain experiences more bearable.

Sometimes, though, the background noises (think fellow travellers, plane engines, and so on) are loud enough to interfere with the sonic delivery. That's where noise-cancellers come in.

Unlike many headphones of this type, the ATH-ANC3s are an in-ear design with a single AAA battery-powered external unit for turning the noise cancellation on or off. There's also a 'monitor' button for temporarily blocking the audio and cancellation so that you don't miss the cabin crew's offer of a beer.

Some might find having to carry about an external box a tad annoying, but at least it's fairly compact and lightweight, and has a handy belt clip that helps you look like a German tourist.

A touch of hiss
In action, the noise cancellation works well, though we have heard better. The truth is that the burrowing headphones block out a fair amount of noise on their own. Switching the unit on does reduce this further, but the aircon and inane conversations that form the background hum in our offices were still audible to a greater extent than we expected. It also introduces its own slight hiss.

The good news though, is that whether using the noise-cancellation function or not, the 'ANC3s have a very satisfying musical performance. Play Ready For The Floor by Hot Chip, and the delivery is nicely open and weighty, with good detail and tonal balance - only a smidge of treble brittleness creeps in on a couple of occasions.

These are very good headphones for £70 even before you consider the noise cancellation - so the fact that they aren't quite as capable as the best isn't enough to prevent them from getting a very solid four stars.

What Hi-Fi?

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