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AudioTechnica ATH-ANC33I QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling In-ear Headphones (Black)

  1. STRMfrmXMN
    Expensive, would still look elsewhere but...
    Written by STRMfrmXMN
    Published Oct 15, 2015
    Pros - Sound great, noise cancellation is existent, battery pack can clip in place which is nice, comfy, terminates with right angle
    Cons - Noise cancellation is only existent, battery pack can drag them out of your ears
    These things sound great - similar to my modded HD518s (they sound exactly the same as 598s with my mod) with deeper bass, a good sound stage and solid highs, yet ever so slightly lacking mids. These have an absolutely tremendous sound stage for earbuds. 
    The noise cancellation is OK, it can completely cancel out the sound of a car working if you're sitting in the backseat on, say, a long road trip or a carpool. Noise from a crowded bus is not quite there though. The wail of the bus is typically cancelled but the crowds around you, especially the people closest to you, manage to infiltrate your ears. This is probably as noise cancellation should be but, for lack of better words, the noise cancellation is about 70% that to Bose QuietComforts. One thing that kind of irritates me is the sound gets louder when you turn noise cancelling on which tells me that some of the NC might be a bit of a placebo. It definitely feels more "under water-y" when turned on though.
    The battery life seems to be good. I haven't replaced the battery in the week I've owned them. Can't comment on durability just yet,
    The battery pack has all the right built-in controls for music players like a volume wheel and a skip button next to the microphone (which sounds good in case you were wondering) if pressed twice. The noise cancellation switch cannot easily be knocked into the position it isn't it. It takes a good grip and force. The clip works for any belt look or pocket.
    Terminates in a right angle. I've never destroyed a pair of earbuds with a connection like this so I'm glad to see it.
    Comes with a soft touch pouch that keeps them protected and can hold my iPod Nano in it.
    Comes with a good array or earbud tips (rubber and also a pair of Comply tips which I use).
    Worth the money I paid (59 USD) but the noise cancellation could use work.
  2. VegasSteve
    These things are a CON
    Written by VegasSteve
    Published Jan 7, 2015
    Pros - They arrived undamaged (although maybe that's a con)
    Cons - The "noise cancelling" is a con. Tech support sucks.
    Got these as a gift, sent 'em back and here's why.  The only thing that 'noise cancelling' does is boost the audio.  So maybe sound amplifying, but not noise cancelling.  It didn't make the sound better, just a bit louder.  There was no noise cancelling evident AT ALL.  Not that I needed to confirm it (my ears did fine), but a dB meter confirmed a sound boost when switched on.  Which is 'ok' I guess, but that was all it did.
    I wrote the above to AT and got back a response that noise cancelling doesn't take effect until a certain hz.  Really?  Gee whiz Mister, thanks!  Another set of NC headphones I have works fine with 'droning' type sounds (vacuum and a air conditioner).
    Total junk and it makes me steer away from AT for anything.
    1. RERO
      Because one set of earphones is enough to judge a whole company.
      RERO, Jan 7, 2015
  3. mattacrazy
    ATH-ANC33IS Review
    Written by mattacrazy
    Published Dec 7, 2014
    Pros - Affordable, Good (not great) active noise cancellation, great sound, long battery life
    Cons - Cable design
    I've owned a number of different pieces of audio equipment and lurked here for a while but these are the first that made me want to write about them - they are the best purchase I've made in a long time. Some photos here: https://imgur.com/a/xUI8p
    Physical Design:
    The ANC33is feel solidly built and over a couple of months use have remained in good condition despite my jamming into pocket storage method. The cable terminates a right angle jack which also feels solid enough.
    The ear pieces themselves are fairly large one assumes to accommodate the active noise cancelling components but look nice enough. A small inline microphone and single button are positioned in the normal place along the cable and works. I don’t really know any more than that – people on the other end of calls could hear me fine and the button worked for pausing music or answering calls.
    They have a fairly bulky control and battery unit about 30cm from the 3.5mm plug which looks nice enough and features the battery for noise cancelling (1 AAA, included), an on/off switch for the noise cancelling and a volume wheel. This unit also has a clip on the back for attaching to your clothing or otherwise which isn't particularly optional as it is heavy enough with the battery installed to be rather uncomfortable and pull the earpiece out.
    The positioning along the cable of this unit however is one of the products major flaws however - it is too far along the cable to be left in my pocket with a source, or clipped to a belt or similar yet not far along enough to be sensibly clipped to a shirt in a standing position. When wearing a t-shirt the only option seems to be either clipping to the bottom of the shirt or loosely attaching it otherwise, neither of which are ideal.
    I generally find shallow to standard insertion IEMs comfortable and comfortable for extended periods of time when using them with Comply tips and the ANC33is is no exception. The included silicon tips come in a few sizes which should suit almost anyone however I stuck to the included Comply foam tips for effectively all of my use. The plastic earbuds themselves are fairly large however so as a side sleeper they aren’t great if I fall asleep with them in.
    The active noise cancelling effect is definitely noticeable to me in a comfort perspective as well and some may not like the feeling. For those considering these who have used Bose’s implementation on their on and around ear units – it is almost identical in feel. For those who have not, I think the best way to describe it would be as though you are very slightly underwater, just without the noise. I’d strongly advise trying out active noise cancelling before you buy it – at least in Australia it’s very easy to find Bose demo units at stores - to decide if the effect bothers you.
    Sound Quality:
    I didn’t really bother burning in the ANC33is artificially and have used them daily for a couple of months now and haven’t detected any noticeable change in sound since I got them. My opinion is entirely from use with the noise cancelling feature ON – they do sound different with it off. My primary reference point for comparison is the Sennheiser HD 598 – a headphone I like very much. The tracks I used for testing were a mix of English, Korean and Japanese pop for the most part, with a few ballad tracks thrown in. I’ve used them with my Retina Macbook Pro 15, LG G3 and desktop which has a Xonar DGX soundcard.
    And I have to say, at the street price of around $80-$100, these sound great. I can go from listening to my 598s to out the door with the ANC33is and not contemplate if I should have brought them with me – something I've experienced with the other IEMs I've tried (The Brainwavz Beta 2012, Brainwavz M5 and some cheap Logitech things).
    Bass is fairly well controlled but very much present, perhaps a little too much for my tastes and depending on the track I even EQ’d down a little. This bass does create somewhat of a “veiled” sound in comparison to the 598. For me this would likely have been a bigger issue if it wasn’t for the strong mids, which to my ear sound better than anything else I’ve heard near this price range such as the Skullcandy Slayers or the Brainwavz HM3, clear and crisp with great detail. Female vocals in particular shine on these. In addition they have well controlled highs that never seemed too harsh to my ears.
    Soundstage on these far exceeds other IEMs I’ve heard as well in that there actually IS some semblance of it. It’s obviously a long way from the level of the 598s but comparing them doesn’t feel wrong and for an IEM at this price that is astounding too me.
    Isolation/Noise Cancelling:
    The reason I bought these – 2 hours of train commute too university. When I initially took these out of the box I was concerned as passively these really don’t do very well even when properly inserted with Comply tips which I’ve previously found isolated rather well (One of the silicon tips which inserted deeper was better in the regard but was too uncomfortable for me). Then I put the battery in and switched them on.  Wow. You don’t notice the noise around you until it’s gone. The low hum of my computer fan, the slight whine of the air conditioning, the sound of a disc spinning in a console. All gone, completely, not just muffled like previous IEMs which had no active component.
    This creates a somewhat odd effect where certain sounds are still relatively clear and audible – one of the most obvious when using them in a quiet environment is the sound of my mechanical keyboard or someone talking. These types of sounds are barely removed at all.
    What this means is that what I wanted these too do they do beautifully – make the train a relatively quiet place to be whilst providing a satisfactory music experience. They aren’t magic though and that baby crying or person talking on their phone isn’t going to go away. But in the “Quiet Carriage” where the only sounds are that of the train and the occasional newspaper being flipped, it’s an almost eerie experience. Listening to a podcast it’s possible to have the volume at a near whisper and still be able to hear where I was often near the max output of my phone before.
    The ANC33is does a surprisingly good job when you're just walking around the city as well – that is if you want the city to be a much quieter place than it actually is. Car noise and the constant sound of people which turns into an almost drone is significantly reduced. This probably isn’t a good idea if you need to cross many roads or such though, stick to pedestrian areas because you aren't gonna hear that car coming.
    Comparisons to the Bose options so often recommended are inevitable and these aren't as good as either the on or around ear models. I haven’t heard the in ear model but I’d put money on it being the same deal. The Bose are even quieter and get a few more of the annoying sounds from when I’ve tried them compared to the ANC33is. However, they are far from $200+ quieter. The Audio Technicas get about 75% of the noise cancelling capabilities at less than a third of the asking price.
    Battery Life:
    Using these for a near daily 2+ hour commute and normally remembering to turn them off when I put them in my pocket, I got a bit over a month before the included battery ran out. The included one was at least branded for what that’s worth. I've since put a standard Duracell in it and that’s going on 2 months albeit with somewhat lighter use. Basically – don’t worry about the battery life. It’s plenty and AAAs are easy to find if you really want one in a pinch – these do work without power as well so if you run out halfway through a trip you can at least still listen.
    If you’re in the market for some sub $100 IEMs, don’t pass by the ANC33is just because it has noise cancelling and conventional wisdom states that you’re wasting money.  Even without it, these sound fantastic. Additionally, only if you are intending to use them in the quietest of environments would I discard the notion of active noise cancelling. It doesn't take a lot of background noise like a plane to appreciate it, I used them just for the noise cancelling multiple times in libraries not because people were talking but because it just adds that extra level of silence. The only significant issue with the ANC33is is that the cable design is a little annoying. I think for me the most telling thing about this product is that you’d have to work very hard to convince me to buy non active noise cancelling IEMs in the future.
    1. VegasSteve
      I'm glad these worked for this reviewer.  They didn't for me (thus, my negative review).  In response to the comment I got (I guess you can't comment on your own review - or edit it?), yes, one set is enough to judge a company when they don't work correctly and you get the brush off by tech support/customer service. 
      Maybe I got a defective set, but when you get the brush off when you have a problem, maybe it's not such a hot company.
      VegasSteve, Jan 7, 2015