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Hands-On

Hands on: Audio-Technica's gesture-controlled, noise-cancelling ATH-ANC700BT headphones

One of the year's more notable entries into the realm of high-fidelity Bluetooth headphones comes from Audio-Technica, which is trying to bridge the gap between performance and cost with its $199 QuietPoint ATH-ANC700BT, or the 700BT for short.

Audio-Technica QuietPoint ATH-ANC700BT



On the surface there's nothing particularly remarkable about the 700BT. There's one color option — matte black — and there's nothing ostentatious about its design. It looks fine, just nothing to write home about. Bundled accessories are limited to a pouch, a micro USB charging cable, and a 3.5mm headphone jack if you want or need to skip Bluetooth.

As it turns out, you might have to if you're a Windows PC user (gasp). Out of curiosity, we tried pairing the headphones with a Windows 10 PC, but for whatever reason the computer would only register them as a mic input. Pairing with an iPhone 6s Plus, conversely, was quick and painless.

As usual we'll have more to say in our full review, but our initial impressions are conflicted, if largely positive. The 700BT manages to be light and extremely comfortable, such that these are some of the few headphones we could imagine wearing all day at work. They'd be great at the gym too if they were waterproof.

They sound fantastic, which is probably to be expected from a company like Audio-Technica and a rated frequency response between 5 and 40,000 hertz. Music from Spotify's high-quality feed is crisp and clear, with perfect bass that's punchy without any sign of distortion or drowning out highs and mids. You can find better-sounding headphones, but only if you're willing to spring for something substantially more expensive.

Noise cancellation seems to work well too. When activated, it effectively kills any sound from our office fan and AC. This needs testing in noisier environments however, especially since any decent over-the-ear headphones have a certain amount of isolation built in.

One thing we're not a fan of is the 700BT's control scheme. Apart from an on/off/pairing switch, everything is controlled either in-app or from a touch-sensitive surface on the left earcup — turning on noise cancellation, for example, requires covering the whole surface with your palm. This works, but only inconsistently, and we see no reason why Audio-Technica couldn't have used real buttons.

Stay tuned to AppleInsider for the full review, coming soon.