Hey everyone, thanks for stopping by. I'm new here, my wallet is HURTING but I'm having a lot of fun with this. Here's my review of the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC33is, a noise-cancelling earbud style in-ear headphone.
Man these things are so comfortable. And they're built well. The cables will inevitably tangle but they are made of tangle free wire (there are just a lot of them). Still a small price to pay for the noise cancelling, right? The battery pack isn't too heavy and would cause problems but for the clip that fastens it to your shirt. The cable is plenty long enough to allow for enough slack to use these comfortably with my phone in my pocket (I'm 5'11). The Comply ear-tips that A-T provided with these are so breathable! The ear-buds aren't heavy at all, and fit nicely in the ears. The driver portion (recessed from the buds slightly) doesn't touch the rest of my ears at all. They're being supported by the Comply tips alone, which makes them supremely comfortable. 10/10 seriously. I wear these all day. No breaks. I can my head on a pillow from side to side with them and they don't bother me. The rubber tips are definitely not as comfortable as the Comply ones. These would be perfect on a plane as you would be able to fall asleep with the noise cancelling on without waking up as soon as you bump the edge of the seat with your clunky over ear headphones.
These things have a double noise cancelling effect that does its job. Still, it's nowhere near as "comprehensive" as the Bose QC15 in the NC department. The QC20's are in another league altogether. But those don't cost $50 and, in my opinion, don't sound as good. The QC15's have extreme post-processing which makes many of my songs sound flat and boring. The QC15s are better in terms of sound quality but MAN ARE THEY EXPENSIVE. In Canada they cost $320 on bestbuy.ca, amazon, etc. I'm so glad I found these - they get the job done providing more than enough NC for times when you want to isolate your music from the world.
Right out of the box, I turned them on with no music playing and it seemed as though I was hearing a bit of that high-pitched hiss from the NC circuitry - or at least there was - that I noticed right away. I'm not sure if my brain just got used to the sound, but that hiss seems to have subsided considerably since I started using these. Blocks out the "din" from every-day life. Not full sensory deprivation, but again the alternatives cost so much more money.
Also, as with most headphones that have NC circuitry, I almost feel like I have to write two different reviews because the headphones tend to sound different with NC circuitry on (think Logitech UE 6000). I'll start by saying that these sound great with the NC off, but fantastic with the NC on. Turning the NC on has a discernible effect on the sub-bass and the highs. The headphones sound balanced, but in a way that seems to create a large quantity of sound. They seem to accentuate every part of the spectrum. For the most part, I listen to them with the NC on, but it's nice to know that they still sound pretty great when the battery does eventually let go. Isolation with the battery off is quite lacklustre but I think that has to do with the Comply tips which are, after all, semi-open and porous.
As I mentioned earlier, these things are SUPER comfortable. They're also very clever. These things are very sensitive and easy to drive from phones and other portable device. They have a "monitor" feature in the form of one of those old school volume dials that worked so well - why aren't they more commonplace again? The line in microphone works even with the NC on, and I've heard no complaints from anyone when using them with my PS4 for Battlefield or for phone calls.
The battery pack is lightweight and inconspicuous. The battery life is rated at 50+ hours. I've been using these for long enough that I feel I can type a review and haven't swapped the battery out once. Very impressed!
I'm going to try to do this a bit more subjectively - I don't want to throw technicalities around, just provide as relatable a music experience as possible. As a side note, I don't know why more people don't provide links to great listening songs so we can all listen to them on our amazing Hi-Fi!!! If such a sub-forum exists, I haven't found it yet so if someone can please point me in the right direction, I would sincerely appreciate it!
I am of course going to be listening to the 320kbps/FLAC version via a Fiio E11 and my Macbook Pro (just wanted to make things easier for you) so, do what you need to do.
Immediately, I'm struck by the "3d" effect of the sound coming from these. The first notes struck by the guitars are very delicate sounding. They're perfectly proportioned to her voice when she starts singing. The lead singer's voice also sounds buttery smooth - these headphones are definitely "warm" sounding. It's not a fatiguing sound at all. There's a fair quantity of bass, but it's deep, clean sub-bass that doesn't overpower the mids. Sounds like Godzilla is taking a giant step but several miles away every time that bass-drum kicks - there's also very good separation of the guitars from the piano, the drums and her voice. It sounds like I'm sitting in a big room next to floor speakers as opposed to having the music piped into my head. I guess I would describe the general sound as having an "airy" feeling to it. It sounds like the notes go on forever without sounding confined in a space. It's a very neat effect, especially coming from closed back, in-ear headphones.
The treble is definitely rolled off, as is the case with most easy listening portables. These wouldn't be great as analytical monitors. Instead, these are very forgiving of poor quality tracks and sources - they make most tracks sound great. Still can't get over her vocals in this song.
While these aren't the best sounding headphones I've heard, they're a force to be reckoned with when it comes to noise cancelling in such a small and compelling package. They sound just as good with Classical as they do with House music, Rap, Indie or Prog Rock. As long as you don't mind the sub-bass emphasis (great for modern music), you won't mind these at all. Do keep in mind that while the sub-bass is definitely there, you're treated to some gorgeous sounding mids and highs at the same time. These are very versatile headphones.
As headphone enthusiasts, we all appreciate comfort where we can find it - it seems as though there's always a compromise in comfort for superior sound. Not so in the case of the ANC33is. These things are a 10/10 on the comfort scale and I have small ears that are usually irritated very easily by buds. These A-T's have seen a LOT of mileage since I got them and they're displacing some much more expensive cans in my collection when it comes to the listening experience. Seriously, give them a try if you're still on the fence. These things are awesome.
Thanks for reading! Hope this helps those of you who've come across this/are bored/wanted an opinion. Cheers!
PS How do I get permission to post pictures?