Priced $100 less than the top-rated Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones, Audio-Technica's ATH-ANC70 QuietPoint headphones (starting at $199.95) deliver loud audio in a light, compact frame. The ANC70's active noise-canceling technology can offer a sliver of quiet in some of the noisiest settings. And, unlike with the Bose headphones, you can keep groovin' once the battery dies. However, the ANC70's fit, as well as the lower end of their audio, could be better.
Despite their plastic frame, the ANC70 are a handsome pair of headphones. The top portion of the headband is wrapped in soft, black pleather, which covers a slim strip of memory foam. A small, glossy, plastic, silver hinge folds the ear cups upward, and a separate hinge lets them pivot 90 degrees, allowing the cans to lay flat to fit into the bundled hard carrying case.
The plastic ear plates are adorned with vertical striations. These are meant to mimic a brushed-aluminum finish, but this faux treatment left us longing for the real thing. A plastic silver logo sits in the center of each plate. When powered on, the outer rim of the left-side logo glows blue and acts as an in-line remote.
Applying some pressure on the right plate makes it slide upward, revealing a compartment for a single AAA battery. Switches for power and volume, as well as a 3.5mm audio port, are located on the bottom of the left ear cup.
Similar to the headband, the ANC70's ear cups are made of fluffy memory foam wrapped in black pleather.
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The circumaural (over-ear) ANC70 were relatively comfortable. Due to the higher positioning of the band extenders, we initially felt pressure along the top of our head. Once we made some adjustments, however, the cups pressed softly around our ears. We wore the ANC70 in relative comfort for more than 2 hours.
Still, the ANC70 were snugger than the Bose QuietComfort 15 and the Beats Executive headphones. The memory foam was also stiffer than we liked. Of the three, the Beats Executive headphones had the best fit, as their pillowy-soft ear cups gently cupped our ears.
Weighing 7.7 ounces, the ANC70 lie smack-dab in the middle of the QC 15 and the Executives, which weigh 6.4 ounces and 11.9 ounces respectively.
The single 3.5mm audio cable included with the ANC70 lacks the built-in mic and in-line remote we're accustomed to seeing on other models. Instead, the mic and controls have been integrated into the emblem on the left ear plate.
Similar to headphones with a one-button in-line remote, you can change tracks, answer calls and pause the music via a series of button presses. For example, two clicks on the logo make it skip forward, while three clicks make it skip backward.
In addition to the audio cable, the ANC70 ship with a 6.3mm audio adapter and an airline adapter.
The ATH-ANC70 use active noise-cancellation technology to block out ambient noise. Enabling the headphones' ANC without any music in our office immediately shut out softer noises, such as the furtive clicks of our co-worker's keyboard. But it wasn't totally silent; we could still hear what our colleagues were saying — they just sounded distant.
The ATH-ANC70 did a respectable job of muffling some of the louder sounds on a crowded New York City subway. We heard the rhythmic drumming of the bongo player seated in the middle of the car, although it sounded like it was underwater. The QC 15 had the quieter soundscape, almost completely muting the impromptu performance.
However, there was an insistent hiss and crackle of the white noise pumped in by the ATH-ANC70 to counteract the ambient sound. The Bose QuietComfort 15 continue to be the gold standard, as we heard absolutely nothing with their ANC technology engaged.
Once we began playing music, the world outside the ANC70 disappeared, and was replaced by loud but somewhat hollow audio. The cans' 40mm gave us an accurate mid range, but the sound was light on bass and overly bright on the highs.
When we listened to Pat Benetar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," we noticed that the ANC70 sounded softer overall than the Bose QuietComfort 15. The ANC70 delivered a raucous guitar and crisp vocals that were on a par with the QC 15. However, the hi-hats were brassier than we would have liked; it was borderline grating on higher volumes.
The headphones were pretty evenly matched on vocals during Tamia's rendition of "Love Me In A Special Way." On more nuanced parts, such as the swelling strings in the intro and the quick plucks of the guitar, the ANC70 delivered a more defined performance. However, the QC 15 delivered better percussion, including a crisper snare drum and the delicate tinkling of chimes.
As we listened to "1nce Again" by A Tribe Called Quest, we noticed that the ANC70 were a little light on the bass. The vocals from Q-Tip and Phife Dawg were clear, as were the background vocals, but the low end of the track sounded submerged against the tight snare drum. The QC 15 delivered a warmer, fuller performance, complete with a satisfying thump.
We also tested the ANC70 with the active noise cancellation disabled, and discovered a small drop in volume, with softer lows. However, the mids and highs also lost some of their edge, making the music on the cans easier to listen to at higher volumes.
Overall, the ANC70 were quieter than the AKG K495 NC headphones, which also have the ability to play music with active noise cancellation enabled. We found that the K495 consistently delivered warmer, fuller audio, though it was much less defined than that on the ATH-ANC70.
The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 QuietPoint headphones use a single AAA battery to power their active noise-canceling technology. Similar to the AKG K495 NC headphones, Audio-Technica claims its product can last up 40 hours. That's far better than both the Beats Executive and the Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones, whose batteries are rated for 25 and 35 hours, respectively.
We wish the ANC70 used a rechargeable battery like the AKG K495 headphones. Batteries are relatively inexpensive, but the cost of constantly replacing them adds up over time.
The ANC70 showed no signs of stopping after 8 hours of on-and-off use. Best of all, when the battery inevitably dies, the headphones will continue to play, just without the ANC technology. The same can't be said for the Bose QC 15 or Beats Executives, which go silent the instant their batteries die. The K495 NC also work without batteries, but cost $349 compared to the ANC70's $199 price tag.
The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 QuietPoint headphones provided a solid voice-call experience. Despite the hiss of the noise-cancellation technology insinuating its way into the conversation, both ends of the call were loud and relatively clear. A few times, our caller reported hearing faint car horns while we were walking in downtown New York City.
The $199 Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 headphones dish out loud audio with nicely balanced mids. Plus, the cans' active noise-canceling technology is powerful enough to block out most outside distractions, just not as thoroughly or quietly as the $299 Bose QuietComfort 15.
We love the ability to use the headphones after the battery dies, but were disappointed with the weaker audio quality. We also would have appreciated a more comfortable fit, comparable that of the Beats Executive headphones. Overall, though, the ANC70 headphones are a good choice for music lovers searching for active noise cancellation at a more affordable price.