Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9 QuietPoint® Headphones Review
Noise-cancelling headphones are very popular with frequent travelers and those who live or work in noisy environments. Audio-Technica's new ATH-ANC9 QuietPoint headphones supply you with three modes of operation that have impressed us to say the least. Now you can get on with grinding in peace.
Product Appearance and Design
The ATH-ANC9 headphones are circumaural. Their ear cups fit around, not against, the wearer's ears. If you are familiar with Audio-Technica's audiophile class headphones, you are probably surprised to see the more traditional appearance and styling of this pair.
Both earcups can be rotated outward forty-five degrees. This allows the wearer to shape the headphones to the contours of his head and it also allows the headphones to be placed flat on your table or desktop when they are not in use.
The headband is seven inches in length and it is lightly padded on both top and bottom. The amount of padding seemed sparse at first glance, but we never felt any discomfort or pressure on the tops of our heads.
The sliders, or ear cup rails, add another inch of length on each side. The nine inches of total headband length should allow these headphones to fit even the largest of heads. We will comment on the fit later in this review.
The two ear cups have an oval shape. The right ear cup houses the battery that powers the active noise cancellation, while the left houses the controls. The two "vents" at the top and bottom of each ear cup are actually very small microphones that measure the noise level in the wearer's environment. The headphones' noise cancellation circuitry activates and then compensates based upon the noise levels received from those microphones.
At the bottom of the left cup, there is a recessed stereo audio jack. The recessed design is used to keep the audio cable firmly plugged. On the underside of the right ear cup, the wearer can pinch the two plastic tabs together and pull these outward to reveal the battery compartment. Changing batteries takes just a few seconds.
The ear pads are three and one quarter inches long by two and three quarter inches wide. The pleather fabric is soft and it is the thickest that we have seen without being genuine leather. The pads are filled with memory foam and have a layer of thin black fabric directly in the middle. The foam inside the pads allows these to contour to each individual wearer's head shape, while the black fabric keeps dust and dirt out of the drivers.
When we removed the pads, we found some strips of ordinary foam rubber glued into place around the two drivers. We pulled it free from one of the ear cups to see so we could take a look at the active noise cancellation circuitry, but Audio-Technica wisely concealed it underneath the plastic driver housing.
You can see how the ear cup swivels with a large, round plastic peg from the top of the ear cup fitting firmly into the "arm" above. Many gaming headsets have only small plastic tabs, rather than a large pegs, which tend to break easily under normal wear and tear.
Both ear cups can swivel inward twenty degrees so adjusting these to your personal taste and head shape should be no problem.
Audio-Technica has included a gold-plated airline seat audio adapter and a one quarter inch stereo adapter for use with larger jacks. The two thin audio cables, like the one seen below, have a thick rubber coating which makes them feel durable to the touch. The rubber is a great choice as it is simply more durable than ordinary plastic would be.
Both audio cables have standard quarter inch sized jacks, but one of the cables has an inline control for cellphone usage. It is not compatible with standard audio jacks like the one found on your sound card or mp3 player and it has no volume slider. We think the lack of analog volume control was a poor design choice on Audio-Technica’s part as many pairs of noise cancelling headphones have some type of volume adjustment on the audio cable as a standard option.
In the last photo above, you can see the cell phone cable audio jack. The tip-ring-sleeve design has an extra ring than what you would find on a standard stereo cable and that is why it is not compatible with standard audio jacks.
This is a very sharp-looking, compact pair of headphones. Although, these are made primarily of plastic, we found no obvious weak points or flimsy construction. These are very durable when we flex these in our hands, but feel lightweight at the same time.
We feel that Audio-Technica missed an opportunity by not using one of its custom colors for the exterior portions of the ear cups. The rich metallic purple, blue, or black of its audiophile models would have really given these headphones a vibrant and classy appearance and appeal. This would have given consumers a great-looking alternative to cheaply made, shiny plastic headphones like the Beats and Soul by Ludacris brands.
The ATH-ANC9 headphones are obviously designed for the workplace professional or busy traveler that wants to maintain a more conservative look.