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(Pocket-lint) - Audio-Technica is an increasingly well-known Japanese audio brand. And for good reason: it makes some great turntables and headphones, including the brand new ANC900BT noise-cancelling over-ear cans, which launched at CES 2019.

Design and noise-cancelling

  • Digital hybrid noise-cancelling technology (four microphone array)
  • Three noise-cancelling modes, control using Connect app
  • Wired (1.2m cable included) or wireless (Bluetooth 5.0)
  • Touch and swipe controls 
  • Black or charcoal finish
  • Carry case included

When we first picked up the ANC900BT we were surprised by how light they are. Not because they're poor quality, because the brand has focused on locating the lightest weight components without affecting the resulting audio quality. Plus that lightness is reflected in how they wear; they're very comfortable on the head.

Pocket-lintAudio-Technica ATH-ANC900BT review image 3

Principle to the ANC900BT is the active noise-cancelling technology (ANC), which uses four microphones (two on each earcup) to reduce external noise. In a brilliant move the ANC can be activated by simply holding your palm over the left earcup, when a voice (quietly) declares it active. It's also deactivated this way too, so there's no messing around with lots of buttons and switches, which also makes for a neat design.

The noise-cancelling comes in more flavours too, with three settings available through the app. We were unable to pair a personal device to check this out, but Audio-Technica told us that different strengths of cancelling are available. The standard one we chose work very well - indeed, as the earcups fit well, outside noise is already somewhat limited. Definitely one for frequent travellers who don't want that irksom plane noise/hiss.

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Sound quality and battery

  • 40mm drivers with diamond-like carbon coated diaphragms
  • Qualcomm aptX, AAC and SBC audio codecs, Hi-Res Audio
  • Low-energy Bluetooth 5.0 wireless
  • Up to 35 hours battery life

The sound quality is where the ANC900BT go one step beyond the rest of Audio-Technica's line-up. The 40mm drivers encompass the ears comfortably, directing clean and well-balanced audio with a good kick of bass too.

Pocket-lintAudio-Technica ATH-ANC900BT review image 5

Hi-Res Audio support is part of the package, including in wireless mode thanks to aptX compatibility. Basically, whether you're listening wired or wirelessly, the ANC900BT tick all the boxes for top quality.

The on-board battery is said to be good for 35 hours, too, which is enough to get you through a good fortnight's worth of commutes and yet more. Recharging is achieved using the Micro-USB cable - it's just a shame that's not a USB-C port to make for compatibility with the latest smartphones.

First Impressions

The ANC900BT are lightweight, comfortable, deliver great sound and noise-cancelling smarts with touch-and-swipe controls. They're not quite as pricey as some of the competition - we're thinking Bose QC35 II and BeoPlay H9i - which puts these cans in a very strong position indeed.

The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC900BT over-ear headphones will be available from Spring 2019, priced £269.

Writing by Mike Lowe. Originally published on 10 January 2019.