And when we compared them to the QuietComfort 15s, we noticed some discernible differences:
- The ATH-ANC7b QuietPoints have firmer earcups than the Bose earcups. And while they're fairly comfortable, they aren't as comfortable as the Bose QuietComfort 15s.
- The Audio-Technicas' noise-canceling is good, though not quite as good as that of the Bose models.
- The ANH-ANC7b headphones leak sound. We're not sure why this is the case since closed-cup headphones typically do a good job of preventing sound leakage. But when this reviewer handed off the headphones to freelance audio expert Steve Guttenberg to have a listen, a fair amount of sound could be heard emanating from headphones, even when the volume wasn't that loud. By comparison, the Bose headphones leaked far less sound.
- The Audio-Technicas sound OK, but at this price, they should sound a lot better. The treble sounds somewhat harsh, their sound isn't terribly detailed, and the bass is lackluster. Overall, the Bose QuietComfort 15s sounded significantly better. They're more open (read: the sound is less "stuck inside your head"), more detailed, and offer better bass.
In the end, we have to say we were a bit disappointed. We've heard a lot of good things about Audio Technicas' noise-canceling headphones, and hoped that we could say that these were a much better value than competing models from Bose. Alas, they're not. In terms of sound quality, they're only OK, which leaves only their lower price as the primary advantage over Bose's offerings. (To be clear, we don't think the Bose QuietComfort 15s are a bargain at $300).
As for price, the ANH-ANC7b's list for $220 but can be had online for $200, while the original ANH-ANC7 headphones are selling for closer to $150. If you're looking for a deal on noise-canceling headphones, we can't say this new, "improved" model is it. Of course, sound and even comfort is a matter of taste, so if you can get your hands on a pair of these and some competing models, you may come to a different conclusion than we did.
Freelancer Steve Guttenberg contributed to this review.