Following up a recent flood of wireless headphones, the Audio Technica ATH-ANC900BT has just arrived at the Headphone Dungeon. Retailing for a solid $299, this new headphone packs wireless connectivity, active noise cancellation, and some serious sound quality. But can it compete with other industry-leading ANC headphones like the BOSE QC35 and the Sony WH-1000XM3?
Audio Technica ATH-ANC900BT Review
The Audio Technica ATH-ANC900BT provides a successor to last year’s ATH-ANC700BT – a highly-popular headphone that turned heads due to its functionality, sound quality, and low price. Despite the slightly higher price, the ANC900BT offers much better Active Noise Cancellation, as well as an updated sound and better battery life.
In terms of design, the Audio Technica ATH-ANC900BT offers a fairly lightweight listening experience. Constructed primarily from plastic with aluminum extenders for added strength, the headphone still feels solid despite the feather-light build. A hinge also allows these headphone to be folded or swiveled to lay flat.
Deep padding made from Poly-Leather covers the earpads and the topmost section of the headband, providing comfort for longer listening sessions. Dedicated controls on the left earcup allow the wearer to adjust playback and volume levels. There’s also a dedicated switch for turning Bluetooth on or off, and a dedicated button for cycling through ANC modes. In addition to the standard noise-cancellation mode, there’s also a passive, listen-through mode that amplifies ambient sounds.
The headphones charge with an included micro USB cable, and they can be used wired with ANC on or off thanks to a supplied 3.5mm aux cable. A heavy-duty carrying case and airline adapter also come with the ANC900BT.
Running on Bluetooth 5.0 protocols, the Audio Technica ATH-ANC900BT supports aptX, AAC, and SBC codecs. Battery life measures a solid 35 hours with ANC and wireless connectivity turned on, but that battery life can be stretched even further if only one mode is in use. For instance, using this headphone with a wired connection and ANC turned on (a common scenario for frequent flyers), battery life extends to a whopping 60 hours.
Present and natural lows never seem overemphasized or overpowered. Furthering this, a good bass impact adds an emotive quality to the lows. Overall, this sound remains detailed but fun, with good accuracy and bass. This low end can work with any genre of music, but sounds particularly impressive with electronica, hip-hop, and rock music.
A strong midrange compliments the lows, with a strong sense of fidelity. There’s the smallest amount of compression in the mids, but the ANC900BT still sounds better than most wireless headphones when it comes to mids. However, with zero distortion, the sound stays relatively clean and articulate. Although presenting plenty of contrast, the mids do end up sounding just a tad bit forward-leaning, making vocals sound better here than on other headphones.
In the highs, slightly sparkling detail vies for attention with a modicum of brightness. Not inaccurate, this high end remains just colored enough to sound more emotive and engaging for pop and classical, as well as some electronica. Melding with the extended low end, these highs give way to a fun sound that you just can’t stop listening to. Female vocals pop out against the background, while instrumentation remains clean and engaging for a world-class sound that benefits any listening taste.
Soundstage. Normally wireless closed back headphones struggle in this area, but the Audio Technica ATH-ANC900BT offers a surprisingly deep listening experience. While it won’t sound as good as a pair of wired open-back Grados or Sennheisers, the sound remains fairly three-dimensional for a mesmerizing listening experience.
Call quality offers another high point: during calls, my voice remains clear and articulate, so these headphones will perform well if you take calls on the go.
Compared to Bose QC35
Compared to the Bose QC35, the Audio Technica ATH-ANC900BT offers the same level of noise cancellation and better sound quality. There’s just more detail at play in the Audio Technica, so you can actually enjoy the music more. Plus, the ANC900BT offers almost twice the battery life and a two-year warranty. Damn.
Compared to Sony WH-1000XM3
Stacked up against the Sony WH-1000XM3, the Audio Technica ATH-ANC900BT weighs considerably less and sounds way more balanced. However, the Sony offers more bass, with a thumping, driving low end. The Sony sounds marginally better when playing rock and hip-hop, but sounds worse when other genres are added to the list. For balance and detail, the Audio Technica still wins out.
If you have $299 on hand and need a new over-ear noise-cancelling and wireless headphone that does it all, you want the Audio Technica ATH-ANC900BT. Despite the lightweight build, this headphone is a heavy hitter when it comes to sound quality, noise cancellation, and battery life.
Now, if you want a ton of bass and don’t mind lugging around a headphone that weighs as much as a brick, I would still recommend at least trying the Sony WH-1000XM3.
In all honesty, though, Audio Technica’s new headphone constitutes a slam-dunk for casual listeners and seasoned sound lovers alike.
Headphone Dungeon Score
Five Skulls! The Audio Technica ATH-ANC900BT offers everything you could want in a wireless, active-noise-cancelling headphone – and it does this while offering some must-have features, like longer battery life, an aux cable, passive listen-through mode, and a detailed but balanced sound profile. The fact that the headphone does all of this while still costing less than its competition just ices the cake.
Get the Audio Technica ATH-ANC900BT for the best price here:
Update: If you’re looking for the best active noise-canceling headphones on a budget, check out our review of the new Strauss and Wagner SW-ANCBT501 headphones!
|Driver Diameter||40 mm|
|Frequency Response||5 – 40,000 Hz|
|Sensitivity||103 dB/mW (when noise-cancellation used)*
100 dB/mW (when noise-cancellation not used)*
|Impedance||35 ohms (when noise-cancellation not used)*|
|Battery||DC3.7 V lithium polymer rechargeable battery|
|Battery Life||Max. 35 hours (when Bluetooth and noise-cancellation used)**
Max. 60 hours (when only noise-cancellation used)**
Charging Time: Approx. 5.5 hours (for 0-100% charge)**
|Weight||263 g (9.3 oz), without cable|
|Cable||Detachable 1.2 m (3.9′) cable|
|Connector||3.5 mm (1/8″) stereo mini-plug, L-shaped|
|Accessories Included||30 cm (1′) USB charging cable, airplane adaptor, carrying case|
|Sensitivity (Microphone)||-44 dB (1V/Pa at 1 kHz)|
|Frequency Response (Microphone)||50 – 4,000 Hz|
|Polar Pattern (Microphone)||Omnidirectional|
Communication System: Bluetooth Version 5.0
RF Output: 3.2 mW EIRP
Maximum Communication Range: Line of sight – approx. 10 m (33′)
Compatible Bluetooth Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
Support Codec: aptX, AAC, SBC