“The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC40BT bundles noise-cancellation with impressive sound and solid battery life, all for under Rs 20,000”
If there’s one thing commuters hate more than wired earphones, it’s ambient noise. Imagine having to sit next to someone munching chips in a busy metro in the grossest possible way. It’s not a pretty picture now, is it? Unfortunately, while there are plenty of wireless noise-cancelling headphones available in the market, most of them cost a pretty penny and are rather bulky. That’s where the Audio Technica ATH-ANC40BT come in. The in-ear Bluetooth headphones feature support for active noise cancellation and retail at a reasonable price too. I spent a few weeks testing the earphones and I feel that the company has stumbled upon a winner here. Here’s why.
Design and Comfort
There’s beauty in simplicity and Audio Technica’s ATH-ANC40BT earphones are a testament to that. Available in an all-black colourway, the ANC40BT have been constructed primarily out of plastic. However, unlike most things plastic, the ANC40BT’s don’t look or feel cheap and instead, have a professional and business-y vibe to them which I personally loved. Moving on, the individual earpieces on the ANC40BT are connected by means of a neckband, which has been constructed out of a soft, flexible TPU material. Everything considered, unless you’re purposefully looking for something flashy, you won’t be disappointed with the design of the ATH-ANC40BT earphones.
The majority of the weight of the earphones is condensed at the front of the neckband since most of the electronic components are housed inside it. This has three benefits –
- The earpieces themselves are feather light and won’t weigh your ears down. Therefore, you can comfortably listen to music for hours on end on the ANC40BT without any ear fatigue setting in.
- The neckband will stay anchored around your neck, even if you go out for a run or exercise feverishly in the gym.
- By using a neckband instead of cramming the electronic components inside a tiny in-line remote control, the ANC40BT’s sport a rather beefy battery and therefore, should last you longer.
The left side of the neckband houses all the controls, whereas the right side houses a micro-USB port to charge the earphones. Towards the top on the left-hand side, you’ll find the power button which is flanked by an LED indicator. Up next, you’ll find three buttons, two of which are programmed to increase/decrease the volume with a short press and change the track with a long press. The third button plays/pauses a track with a short press and invokes the Google Assistant/Siri with a long press. Lastly, you’ll get a switch to turn the ANC on or off towards the extreme left of the earphones.
One thing I’d like to mention is that turning on the ANC while listening to music on the ANC40BT doesn’t result in an abrupt pause in the music playback. I quite enjoyed this implementation and I’ll keep my fingers crossed for more manufacturers to adopt this seamless transition between the two modes.
Sound and Performance
Thankfully, the impressive design of the ANC40BT’s carries over to the sound quality too and I found myself listening to a lot more music at work with the earphones strapped around my neck. Now, in all honesty, you could easily find a better-sounding pair of wireless earphones if you forgo the noise-cancellation features of the ANC40BT. However, since you clicked on this review, I am assuming you knew that already.
Inside each earpiece, you’ll find a 13.5mm driver which offers a sensitivity of 100dB. The earphones can operate across various Bluetooth profiles, including A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP as well as Qualcomm’s aptX codec. The earphones make use of Bluetooth v3.0 to connect to devices and can simultaneously pair to two different systems too.
In terms of sound quality, I must say that the ANC40BT’s have a rather enjoyable sound signature which sways in the favour of the low-end ever so slightly. Make no mistake, it doesn’t cloud other frequencies, but it does feel slightly more pronounced than the mids or the highs. Having said that, the bass output is clean and after listening to Drake’s God’s Plan and Bazzi’s Mine on repeat, I can confidently say that there’s no bass bleed either. The stellar performance makes its way over to the mids too which don’t sound repressed whatsoever. Much to my dismay, the performance starts to deteriorate once you move further up in the frequency spectrum. To my ears, the ANC40BT sounded a tad bit shrill and you’ll find it difficult to identify the different notes from an electric guitar at higher volumes.
On the flip side, the noise-cancellation performance of the ANC40BT’s is pretty good, if not perfect. The earphones can cancel out most of the ambient noise and fall short of eliminating just the voices of people standing extremely close to you. What’s even better is that unlike most other wireless ANC headphones, switching to ANC mode on the Audio Technica ATH-ANC40BT has no depreciable effect on the audio quality coming out of the earpieces. Additionally, I faced no connectivity issues during my time with the ANC40BT’s either.
Audio Technica claims that the ATH-ANC40BT’s can dish out a battery life of almost 13 hours with the ANC turned off. After testing the earphones for a good few weeks, I am happy to report that the battery life of the ANC40BT’s is as advertised. Sadly, the charging time is a bit too long, and the earphones take a little over three hours to reach 100 percent charge levels. On the flip side, the earphones ship with a micro-USB to 3.5mm cable which will allow you to listen to music even if the battery on your ANC40BT’s dies.
Audio Technica has been making quality audio products for a few decades now and therefore, I am not surprised by how polished and feature-rich the ATH-ANC40BT earphones are. For their asking price of Rs 16,990, the earphones offer good sound, impressive noise-cancelation, and a stellar battery life. Coupled with the ergonomic design and rock-solid Bluetooth performance, there’s not much more a buyer could ask for, at least at this price point. Therefore, if you are looking to buy a pair of reasonably-priced wireless ANC earphones, then by all means, go for the Audio Technica ATH-ANC40BT.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- Comfortable design
- Good noise cancellation
- Impressive battery life
- Performance in the highs could be better