Design & Construction
Bose and Sony have proven themselves in the noise-cancelling market with the QuietComfort 35 II and WH-1000XM3. But Audio-Technica wants a piece of that pie as well. Meet the new ATH-ANC900BT. Will they beat the top-dogs? Let's find out today. The ATH-ANC900BT is designed to target consumers of today's modern and minimalist world. The headphone have a very neutral look, matte black and a metallic headband extension. The left earcup has the (From Back-Front): Noise-Cancelling button, Power switch, 3.5mm input, Bluetooth LED indicator, ANC LED indicator and Micro-USB port. Pushing the Power button powers it on or off and puts it in pairing mode. Controlling the rest of the playback functions are on the touchpad of left earcup itself. Single tap to play/pause, tap and hold to activate Google Assistant or Siri, press the top to increase volume and bottom to decrease volume. Swiping up will skip forward and swiping down will reduce volume. The touchpad controls are very difficult to operate and I eventually got frustrated with the bad layout to the point I never used them. Pairing via Bluetooth is simple and quick although no NFC is available. Both sides of the headband bear the Audio-Technica logo. The headphones have thick cushions which is meant for providing a comfortable experience. The headband is very plush and will not cause discomfort to those who wear spectacles. On the headband, there is also cushioned headrest which provides a decent amount of comfort. The exterior of the headphones gives off this matte understated colour scheme but it resists fingerprints smudges very well. On the top, the headband holding the structure is made of metal and the earcups pivot left and right and folds flat for easy storage. The earcups are a little cramped, hence it does not encase your ears but rather sits on them and causes wearing fatigue after a few hours of usage. Overall, the ATH-ANC900BT sticks out considerably when wearing and doesn't contour nicely against various head shapes.
The 40mm headphone drivers a diamond-like carbon coating sound decent. Highs sound bright and the treble is sometimes ear-piercing when emphasised using an equaliser. The mids do a pretty good job of staying clear and precise. The lows, on the other hand, are quite disappointing. The bass is severally lacking and when emphasised using an equaliser, it bottoms out and bleeds into the mid-range. In the end, it sounds muddy. With the lack of a wide soundstage and proper instrument separation, the sound quality of the ANC900BT isn't on par with its competitors. The noise-cancelling when comparable to other headphones in this price point. is as disappointing. Although I could not really hear my surroundings when there was no music on, voices and high frequencies do leak in quite apparently. Call quality was unable as the caller struggled to hear me on the other end since I sound muffled.
Connectivity & Portability
The headphone operates both passively and wirelessly. In wireless mode, it supports the standard Aptx, AAC and SBC codecs and Bluetooth Version 5.0 for clear audio transmission. The mic and controls on the earcups do not work in wired mode since there is no inline remote. The battery life peaks at 35 hours with noise-cancelling and Bluetooth on, 60 hours in wired mode noise-cancellation. The headphones fold flat and up into a more compact profile and charges in 5.5 hours via the legacy micro-USB port. That is not just slow, it is very slow in 2019 with USB-C appearing in most of the new product launches. The package also includes a 1.2m 3.5mm cable for wired use, an airplane adaptor and a hardshell carrying case to protect the headphone from scratches.
Long Battery Life
Folds Flat into a Smaller Profile
No Quick Charging
Lacking Sound Quality
Difficult to Use Playback Controls
Single Colour Available
The Bottom Line
The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC900BT is a noise-cancelling headphone housing a 35-hour battery life and fold flat design that fits in bags the most compact way. However, Audio-Technica didn't get the sound, controls and fit right which makes them unworthy in today's competitive noise-cancelling headphone market. There are many other alternatives with the same price tag that prove themselves to be better.
WE RATE IT!
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