Audio-Technica Noise Cancelling Headphones

Audio-Technica Noise Cancelling Headphones

There is a certain company that has seemingly cornered the market on speakers and headphones.  Bose certainly sells the most speakers in the USA, and you see more of their noise-cancelling headphones on ears in airplanes. I have been a big fan of Bose; one of my earliest proud audiophile moments was when I hung my pentagonal Bose 901 speakers from the ceiling and rocked numerous house parties thereafter.

But I have been road testing (well, airplane testing) a set of Audio-Technica’s ATH-ANC27 headphones and they are a lovely alternative to other systems.

There are generally two sorts of headphones, over the ear being the larger but more effective style. Most manufacturers offer both styles, and some designers of ear buds have tried to incorporate noise-cancelling technology to varying effect.  The ATH-ANC27 is an over the ear style, and is surprisingly light and comfortable.  The adjustable band is padded, and provides crisp detents to expand the sizing.  The ear cups fold flat, allowing for compressed storage in the zippered hard-shell case.  The case conveniently has enough space for my iPod, making logistics easy when flying. The detachable cord for the ATH-ANC27 has a clever interlock, which secures the cord when in use. An airline adapter is also included.

Like most noise-cancelling units, the ATH-ANC27 is powered by a single AAA battery.  I noticed far superior performance when the unit is powered; other models work fine as passive headphones in quiet environments.

But it is in noisy settings that these units belong.  The ATH-ANC27 boasts a credible 85% reduction in environmental noise, which is formidable when flying.  On several cross country flights I found the ATH-ANC27 far more comfortable than other units I have tried. Most headphones eventually generate some sonic fatigue, but I only experienced that with the ATH-ANC27 after many hours of use.

The sound is very good, with no discernible sonic coloration.  The mid and high end was crisp, and the bass (so often lacking with ear buds) was solid.

This unit received a prestigious Innovations 2010 Design and Engineering Award at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show.

Although this unit lists for $120, I have seen it online below $70.  At this price and with this performance, the ATH-ANC27 is a logical alternative to the more expensive big name.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.