Audio-Technica is among those few companies that attract enormous attention with each of their product releases. The Japanese company is now releasing a follow up to their excellent 2009 model. The current ATH-ANC9 over-ear headphones which we will take a look at in this review are priced slightly higher than their predecessor ANC7b, but with a promise of even better performance and build quality. So without further ado, let us see how they perform under real-life conditions.
Build and design
One of the most striking aspects of these headphones is just how incredibly comfortable they are. Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9 achieve this level of comfort thanks to their soft headband made out of memory foam and very soft leather.
The material feels great on the skin and provides a good ventilation so that your ears do not get too hot even after extended wear. The clamping force is just about where we like it to be without being too strong or too weak.
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9 come with a gold plated, removable cable with a very functional strain relive that can definitely survive even prolonged wear in your front pocket.
You also get an extra cable with media playback controls and microphone. The microphone give a good sound and works very good when used for gaming or taking phone calls.
These headphones are somewhat lacking in terms of design. Although they look great overall, their thick design makes them stick out when you put them on your head which may look a little bit awkward depending on the size and shape of your head. But it must be stressed that this extra thickens also adds to the comfort and there is really only a little pressure on the top of your head.
The similar situation can be found in terms of their weight. ATH-ANC9 are lightweight headphones which are generally a good thing but because of this they may seem a little bit fragile even though they are well built and will withstand some abuse.
Headphones with noise cancellation often suffer from poorer sound quality compared to regular headphones. This limitation goes hand in hand with the technology and this fact makes it even more amazing just how great these headphones sound.
The sound is slightly colored and could be described as a mainstream thanks to its powerful lows that are not overbearing yet will satisfy even the most demanding bass heads out there.
Speaking of bass, these headphones have slightly more bass than ANC7b with nice clarity and warm to it. The midrange is a bit recessed compared to the excellent bass but it still sounds great at any volume and the overall sound signature could be described as musical. Highs may sound a little too harsh depending on the track you are listening to, but they are without any doubt very articulate and crystal clear.
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9 do offer an audiophile grade of sound quality with an incredibly fun sound signature that will make you come back for more. The only thing you really need to be cautious about it that these headphones leak a lot.
If you like to listen to your music on the train or in your office then be aware that people around you will definitely know what you are listening to unless you keep the volume fairly low.
Noise cancellation that can be turned on or off with a switch located on the left earpad and has three different noise cancellation modes corresponding to different frequencies (airplane, office, library).
The active mode is indicated by an LED light with a different colors. Red filters 95% of sound at 300 Hz and is perfect for office or crowd noise, green filters 85% of sound at 200 Hz and is ideal for quiet noise like libraries, and finally blue filters 95% of sound at 200 Hz which makes work great in airplanes.
The noise cancellation does not work perfectly, but it does a good enough job to minimalize any outside noise to such a degree that it will become barely noticeable.
In contrast to ANC7B, the noise cancellation uses several microphones placed all around the headphones and not just one. This means that the noise cancellation is way more effective and results in a better sound quality. Another great feature is that these headphones work even without batteries so you are never completely busted when you run out of juice. Luckily, this does not happen too often since 1 AAA battery can give you almost 40 hours of playback time which is really awesome.
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9 come with a nice hard shell carrying case that keeps them protected. This case is equipped with a carabiner with a locking mechanism so that you can attach the case to your bag. In addition to the case, you also get two cables (one with a microphone and the other one without it), ¼ inch adapter, airline adapter, and manual explaining every features and functionality.