The Audio Technica ATH-ANC40BT is priced at Rs 13,990.
The headset features wireless connectivity through Bluetooth and active noise cancellation.
While noise cancellation is decent, the sound leaves a lot to be desired.
Active noise cancellation technology in headphones has existed for a while now, but it never ceases to amaze me. It’s a simple solution to a very real problem, and one that a lot of people are looking for as well. The principle of how the technology works may seem complicated, but it functions purely on the science of hearing. And with noise levels around us increasing as we go forward, anything to make things quieter is much appreciated.
While I’ve used a lot of noise-cancelling headphones, I don’t have as much experience with in-ear ANC headphones. Today, we’re reviewing the Rs 13,990 Audio Technica ATH-ANC40BT, which is exactly that. It comes with the legacy attached to the Audio Technica brand, but does it get the basics right? We find out in our review if the Audio Technica QuietPoint ATH-ANC40BT can live up to its asking price.
Audio Technica ATH-ANC40BT Design and Specifications
The concept of noise cancellation immediately lends itself to around-ear headphones for obvious reasons. For one, noise-cancellation would naturally work best when passive noise isolation is on point. Additionally, the batteries and microphones needed for active noise cancellation will find enough space on a larger headset. In-ear headphones on their own can’t physically do noise cancellation, and need an additional component to hold the hardware bits needed.
The Audio Technica ATH-ANC40BT has a neckband for this. The flexible band sits around the back of your neck and serves many purposes, including connecting the two earphones, holding the buttons and controls, the battery and the microphone for active noise cancellation. The plastic neckband does feel a bit cheap, but is light and comfortable to wear. The earphones themselves are plastic and rather strangely designed. On the whole, the headset looks and feels a bit dated compared to newer options.
What I didn’t really like about the design is that when the neckband is around your neck, you have no way of looking at it. Until you learn where the buttons and controls are, you’ll find yourself fumbling a lot. The volume and play / pause / call answer buttons are the hardest to access, and I often preferred controlling these functions using my smartphone. Additionally, I found the short cables running from the earphones to the band to be a bit too weak, and I was always a bit scared about their durability.
The headset features 13.5mm dynamic drivers, with the noise-cancellation system claiming up to 20dB noise reduction. The single microphone on the headset is omnidirectional and serves both for active noise cancellation as well as during hands-free usage on calls. The battery runs for about 6-7 hours with both Bluetooth and ANC in use, which is decent enough for an in-ear headset.
Audio Technica ATH-ANC40BT Noise Cancellation
Active noise cancellation is usually hit-or-miss, depending on the brand of the headphones and the company’s legacy and abilities in the field. While I haven’t heard bad noise cancellation on headphones from Bose, Sony and Sennheiser, other brands haven’t been as good. In this case, fortunately Audio Technica gets active noise cancellation right on the ATH-ANC40BT.
While it certainly isn’t as capable as the excellent noise cancellation on the Sony WH-1000XM2 headphones, it’s decent enough in its own right. It does succeed in creating the ‘vacuum’ effect in the sound, and marginally softening general sound. Things such as the hum of an air-conditioner or a vehicle are effectively muted out, and the noise-cancellation definitely helps in improving music or dialogue when you have the headset paired and in use.
Audio Technica ATH-ANC40BT Sound
The Audio Technica ATH-ANC40BT isn’t a new headset globally, but has recently been launched in India. As such the driver technology is also not the newest, and tuning isn’t quite as great as I’d have hoped for. The headset has decent enough bass output, but tends to suffer heavily in the mid-range. Vocals are weak, and this shows even when listening to dialogue in any videos, TV shows or movies you might want to watch on your phone.
There’s an audible sensitivity drop in the mid-range, which is significantly more than the typical 1-2dB reduction you’d expect from most headphones with a V-shaped sonic signature. It affects the sound quite a bit, and I often found the sound poor as a result. I do listen to a lot of instrumental-only music, and naturally the decent bass and high-end work well with those tracks. However, vocal-oriented music (which is practically everything in the Indian music and pop music genres) will not sound as good on the Audio Technica ATH-ANC40BT headset.
In terms of soundstage and imaging, the Audio Technica ATH-ANC40BT sounds pretty ordinary, and nothing like what you’d expect from a headset priced at Rs 13,990. The sound lack the tonal qualities of other similarly-priced wireless headsets such as the around-ear Sennheiser HD4.40BT, and honestly doesn’t offer enough in terms of sound to convince me to recommend it.
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The Audio Technica ATH-ANC40BT isn’t a new headset; in fact it’s almost two years old since its global launch. It has relatively recently made it to India, but it comes across as a poor option considering its age. The headset doesn’t quite sound as good as newer options, and only has its decent noise cancellation as a saving factor.
The neckband-style fit didn’t suit me too well, and is tricky to use because of its strange layout. The earphones themselves feel plasticky and tacky, and the sound is entirely average. There’s very little in the ATH-ANC40BT to recommend beyond the noise cancellation, and you’d be better served by a different option, unless you are a fan of Audio Technica and absolutely only want an in-ear noise-cancelling headset.