Review: Audio Technica ANC1 noise canceling headphones

For the last few years I've been travelling pretty regularly -- it's not unusual to be on a 'plane once every six weeks or so. And with my new-found interest in podcasts I finally decided to invest in some noise cancelling headphones to counteract the dull roar of the engines.

After some research I settled on a pair of Audio Technica ATH-ANC1 headphones. Two others I considered were the Bose QuietComfort 15s, and the Audio Technica ATH-ANC7b. The Bose looked to be too bulky to comfortably fit in my carry-on, especially given all the other paraphernalia I typically have with me. The ANC7b's looked interesting, but numerous reviews cited concerns about the sound quality and reported that they leak sound (I like to be a considerate neighbour on long flights), so I went for their cheaper, smaller brethren.

Having put the ANC1s through their paces on three flights in the last couple of weeks I'm pleased to report that they do the job, and do it well.

First, they come with a handy carrying pouch with a pocket for the adapters and extension cords that are included, so these will work with devices with a normal 3.5mm headphone jack as well as the two-pronged jacks so beloved of airlines world wide.

What you get: headphones, carry case, extension cord,
two-pronged jack adapter and one AAA battery
They also collapse to a fairly small size, and slip nicely in to my carry-on, or, at a pinch, jacket pocket.

Folded, ready for the pouch
I was initially sceptical about their performance as the earcups are too small to fit around and over the ear, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Once the noise-cancellation feature is turned on via a simple on-off control located on the headphone cord they prove to be very effective, significantly reducing (but not completely eliminating) the noise of the engines. Once you get used to the quiet induced by the headphones it's quite jarring to have to turn them off during the final descent and landing.

They're also comfortable to wear for extended periods, which is useful if you want to settle down with the in-flight movie. A simple switch turns the noise-cancelling on and off so you can hear when the cabin crew are proffering you another G+T.

All things considered I can highly recommend these, especially to the frequent traveler. If you're interested in purchasing them please consider the Amazon (UK, and .com) links below, and help me feed my technology habit...

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