- Effective noise cancellation
- Continue to work even without power
- Pleasant sound quality
- Reasonable price
- Plastic housing
As far as inexpensive noise-cancelling in-ear headphones go, the ATH-ANC33iS are among the very best, especially if you emphasize their value. Some may be put off by their plastic build quality and unassuming design, but we see it as an acceptable tradeoff for better sound quality.
The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC33iS in-ear headphones are the successor to the highly-rated ATH-ANC23. Unlike many other manufacturers of audio equipment, who have decided to focus on design and style instead of sound, Audio-Technica stays true to its main goal: deliver excellent sound quality. While they share many similarities with the predecessor, they offer enough improvements and new features to appeal even to owners of the ATH-ANC23.
Build and Design
On the outside, not much has changed from ATH-ANC23 to ATH-ANC33iS. The newer model has ditched the silver accents that could be found on the previous one for a stealthier all-black look, and the cable has gained a few inches in length. Apart from this, it’s still the same old plastic housing.
Some prefer plastic materials due to their light weight, but others enjoy the more substantial feel of machined aluminum and steel. In our opinion, the material itself doesn’t matter if the build quality is good enough. That means no loose parts, no squeaking, and nothing that could easily break with regular use. The ATH-ANC33iS pass these criteria with flying colors.
The headphones ship with three pairs of silicone eartips and one pair of Comply foam tips. With such a sizable selection of eartips, you should have no problem achieving a comfortable fit, even though the plastic earbuds themselves are fairly large. As long as you don’t attempt to sleep with them, comfort will never be an issue that you need to worry about.
We really like the tapered, L-shaped 3.5mm plug that is compatible with nearly all smartphone and tablet cases on the market. The rest of the cable is divided into several parts, one with ATH-ANC33iS’s remote and microphone unit and other with the noise-canceling box. The microphone unit features a button that allows you to play, pause, change tracks, answer or end calls, and activate your voice assistant of choice. The noise-canceling box features a volume attenuation knob, allowing you to change volume without touching your smartphone or another audio source.
The noise-canceling box also houses a single AAA battery that can power the headphones for up to 60 hours. Even if you run out of juice, the headphones keep on playing—only the noise cancellation will turn off.
Audio-Technica is a company that takes pride in releasing headphones that perform well above what their price tags might suggest, and the ATH-ANC33iS are no exception to this. No matter which music genre you listen to the most, these headphones will never fail to please you with their lively presentation and lack of any obvious flaws.
Highs are never too harsh nor scarce in detail, bass is well-controlled and has the necessary power behind it to make your feet tap to the rhythm, and soundstage is miles above the competition—it’s wide, spacious, with flawless instrument separation.
According to Audio-Technica, the noise-cancelling hardware in these headphones should be able to mute up to 90% of ambient noises. We couldn’t objectively test whether this claim is true or not, but it certainly felt like it is. Any student, commuter, or office worker will appreciate how effective the noise canceling is.
What’s in the Box?
Included with the headphones is a handy soft pouch, a 2-prong airline adapter, a single AAA battery, interchangeable silicone ear pieces (small, medium, and large), and one pair of Comply Foam Tips, which deliver outstanding noise isolation and retention.