Audio-Technica Australia | audio-technica.com.au | Expect To Pay: $349
Now that certain smartphone makers are moving away from wired headphones, wireless Bluetooth headphones are becoming pretty much the standard, especially as you move upward in the market. Yes, there will always be a place for wired headphones, especially in the recording sphere where latency is an issue, and in the audiophile community where only true analogue will do.
But for those of us just listening to music or podcasts on the go, a great-sounding wireless headphone set is pretty much essential. Audio-Technica is no stranger to making great headphones. The ATH-ANC700BT set is among their latest product offerings and it’s packed with features for music nuts on the go.
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First up, the unboxing experience itself isn’t a long one: the set is packaged with a 1.2m aux cable (which you’ll need if you want to listen to hi-res audio in its full glory), a USB charging cable and a carrying pouch. No airplane or 1/4” adaptors or anything like that.
The headphones themselves are quite minimal in design, with a stealthy black matte look and refreshingly few lights compared to some models out there that look like friggin’ ‘80s discos. There’s one light to indicate that the Bluetooth is active, and one for the ANC noise reduction. Control of your music or phone calls is handled by touch-and-swipe controls built into the left ear cup; you can answer and end calls, control music and video playback and adjust the volume of connected devices.
You can get up to 25 hours of use on a single charge with Bluetooth and noise cancellation used, 30 hours when just Bluetooth is used and 45 hours when you go wired and use only the noise cancellation, and the battery will remain juiced for up to 1,000 hours on standby. It takes about five hours to charge the battery from empty to a 100 percent charge. The noise cancelling is engaged via Audio-Technica’s QuietPoint active technology, a proprietary system which uses four microphones to get a read of the sound environment around you.
The speakers are a pair of 40mm drivers with a frequency response from 5 to 40,000Hz, so they’re not the trebliest headphones you’ll ever put on your head, nor will they punish your eardrums with unreasonable amounts of bass. As for the microphone for taking phone calls, it’s an omnidirectional condenser with a similar frequency response to the drivers.
Sonically, these are not designed to be flat-response monitor headphones. You can happily use them for tracking in the studio or for composing on a laptop or tablet while out and about, but they don’t sound exactly like the source material, especially when you engage the noise cancellation.
The low and mid frequencies aren’t the most mindblowingly detailed you’ve ever heard but the high end is pretty impressive, especially if you’re listening to really well-recorded, well-mastered material. Telephone/Skype call quality is quite good and the touch control method is nice and intuitive after a thankfully brief learning period.
These aren’t the ultimate monitoring headphones for musicians, but they don’t claim to be, and they do their job exceptionally well in terms of Bluetooth connectivity (in which they’re more consistent than my Marshall Major II Bluetooth headphones) and noise cancellation, and the crisp high end is a really nice selling point too.