Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9 noise cancelling headphones (preview)

These over-the-ear headphones block almost all ambient noise

Audio-Technica's latest noise cancelling headphones are cheaper than Bose, and promise excellent sound quality. Noise cancelling blocks out 95 per cent of aircraft, office or study ambient noise, making the ATH-ANC9 headphones an investment worth considering for any serious commuter.

We've had our hands on the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9 headphones for a couple of hours now, and we're impressed with both the sound quality and the noise cancelling. The headphones come with a single AAA battery, which should power the noise cancelling and amplification circuitry for around 25 hours. Using a lithium cell can hit the 35 hour mark, although rechargeable cells are only rated to 20 hours.

Flicking the power switch on the left ear-cup turns on the noise cancelling, which seems to do an excellent job of cutting out ambient noise. A pair of microphones mounted on the ear-cups pick up outside noise which is cancelled out by internal wizardry, and there are three settings.

The first Airplane mode cuts out 95 per cent of ambient noise at the 200Hz frequency: aircraft engine hums, vibrations and the like. The Office setting cuts out 95 per cent of 300Hz mutterings like copiers, PCs and air conditioners. The last Study setting is a little more tempered, designed to be used in already-quiet environments: it silences 85 per cent of 200Hz ambient noise.

The headphones have good sound quality when the noise cancelling is enabled, with punchy bass and crisp treble notes. Flick the switch off and the difference is quickly apparent; un-amplified, the headphones sound comparatively flat and balanced. In our short listening period we definitely preferred the noise-cancelling on.

We'll review the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9 headphones in full soon: let us know if there's anything specific you want us to cover!