Audio Technica is a really well known audio brand among casual listeners as well as audiophiles. We’ve had quite a few Audio Technica products come by Tech2 over the years, Audio Technica ATH-S300, Audio Technica M50xMG and Audio Technica ATH-WS550iS and came out quite impressed.
Today, we have Audio Technica’s earphones and not just any earphones, but the wireless active noise cancelling QuietPoint 40BT (Bluetooth). Let’s give them a spin.
Build and Design: 8/10
The first thing you’ll notice is the rather large box and wonderful packaging that the earphones come in. Audio Technica QuietPoint certainly does make a good first impression.
The unit at first looks quite strange due to the “rest-on-the-shoulders design”, with casual onlookers calling it weird design. However, this design is quite smart and light, you don’t have anything tugging at you when moving about due to the battery weight, which you’d have to endure with the traditional inline design. Speaking of weight, the entire headphones with the battery weighs less than 40g.
In terms of wirelessness, Audio Technica QuietPoint ATH-ANC40BT aren’t fully wireless, well certainly not like Apple AirPods. So you’ll still have wires to deal with and entanglements.
Interestingly, regarding the wires, some users on Amazon have reported the wires to be delicate (with all the folding and travel usage) and can get damaged after almost a year of usage.
The unit has switches all on one side (left), the main power button on top, the play/pause button and volume up and down button on the inside. The ANC switch (Active Noise Cancellation) is on the outside. All the switches are easy to feel without looking at and are very well placed so as not to confuse.
What’s in the box?
Plenty. Audio Technica has included all the accessories that a traveller needs in the box. You get ear tips (XS, S, M, L), a USB charging cable, an aeroplane adapter, and a handy protective pouch. Audio Technica has thoughtfully made the 3.5 mm jack wire fit the micro-USB socket (also used for charging) which is smart and definitely saves on real estate of the design.
It is to be noted here that the earphones did not have as tight a fit due to their design and my particular ears (despite wearing the largest ear tips). The fitting was a bit loose, therefore leading to sound leakage and therefore noise cancelling not working as effectively as well. Your mileage will definitely vary.
The earphones are delightfully flat in response, meaning you’ll not hear overly pronounced bass nor sibilant highs nor recessed mids. It is flat in its sound reproduction without adding or subtracting from the source.
Having said that, most will consider this sound “boring”. Flat means ‘no spice’ when it comes to music, so the bass will not sound punchy, the mids sound okay and the highs “ho-hum”. Your first response would be “it’s okay” when listening to music. For that added spice a little bit of EQ setting will add the boom, enhanced mids and sweet highs.
Active Noise Cancelling
For the active noise cancelling part, it is strictly okay. Don’t expect something phenomenal such as complete silence. These earphones are meant to cancel out a maximum of 20 dB sound from outside. To give some reference, soft whisper is about 30 dB, a regular conversation is 60 dB while city traffic is 90 dB (read more about dB/decibel level here). So this effectively means, the person talking next to you will sound muffled, environmental noise especially low rumbling sounds (under 200 Hz) of buses/trucks sound less noisy.
We’ve of course heard better noise cancelling in higher-end products such as Sony’s WH-1000 XM2, but these are headphones which cover your entire ear and cost more than double at Rs 31,000.
Experimentations while meditating
In meditation, I personally prefer no sound distraction from outside. This is achieved in two ways, either you have mediation music or chants or have cheap 3M foam plugs. The foam plugs did a better job due to their perfect fitting but of course, nothing else could be heard clearly neither music nor chants.
Instead, I could hear my own body frequency in the silence which foam plugs achieved (also with higher-end noise-cancelling headphones). Those looking for near complete silence, the foam plugs would perhaps serve better.
Call Quality: 7/10
No complaints whatsoever with the call quality, the caller was quite clear and with active noise-cancellation on, you can expect to hear clearer. The mic isn’t particularly close to the mouth, so in a noisy environment, the caller on the opposite end wouldn’t get as quiet and clear voice as you would. The mic will obviously catch everything around it including your voice.
These earphones have two modes that affect the battery life, one is the regular Bluetooth mode where the battery lasts approximately 13 hours. When the Bluetooth with Active noise-cancellation is enabled, expect 8 hours or lesser. The charging time is 3 hours for full battery with a standby time up to 100 hours.
Audio Technica has thoughtfully added the 3.5 mm jack meaning the earphones can work in the wired mode even if the battery runs out. However, no Active noise-cancellation though.
One thing to be aware of is that the switch to activate noise-cancellation is a hardware switch and cannot automatically turn off on its own. That means the battery can drain off unexpectedly even when the earphones are turned off while the active noise cancellation remains on. An unfortunate outcome of a separate hardware switch design.
Verdict and Price in India
The Audio Technica QuietPoint 40BT earphones are a good pair of Active noise-cancelling earphones which sound even better with a little bit of EQing. The noise-cancelling itself is quite okay considering the price, and yet, you will not find anything better in the range of Rs 14,500 street price (MRP Rs 18,000). These are a good pair of earphones if you want to tiptoe into noise-cancellation without paying nearly double the amount for a higher-end albeit better noise cancellation earphones/headphones.
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