Would you recommend buying them, if not for the ANC? Probably not. It will definitely improve in the ear for the same price. But if you are looking for a pair of headphones with decent sound and the ANC is an essential feature for you, these are the headphones you should choose.


The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC33iS is a unique IEM compared to the other IEMs we have recently reviewed. Most other internal hearing aids rely on passive isolation, i.e. body tension between the earplugs and the ear to block out ambient noise. The ANC33iS, on the other hand, is based on active noise cancellation. This means, in simple terms, that there are circuits in these headphones that compensate for ambient noise by projecting a phase-shifted wave. By the way, this is one of the lowest headphones with active noise cancellation.


The design of the ANC33iS is very simple and functional. The headphones generally look like all the other Audio-Technica headphones we’ve seen before. The active noise reduction unit is located in the cable and weighs little more than the single AAA battery it houses. It comes with a clip that allows you to securely attach it to any piece of clothing, such as a trouser pocket. The ANC33iS also has an in-line microphone and a one-key remote control. You get a soft cover, but not a hard cover.


The ANC33iS is perhaps the hottest internal sound that we have tested next. Only sharp details are not found in the upper areas, but the reproduction in the lower areas is not so bad. At the lower end of the spectrum, there is enough bass, but the bass could have been more powerful. It is present in sufficient quantities, but not too tight or too hard. The passive isolation on the ANC33iS is already bad enough, but since it has active cancellation, it doesn’t matter. When I replaced the existing silicone tips with the included silicone foam tips, there was a noticeable decrease in passive insulation. The ANC does not apply any amplification or DSP effects that I have seen in other ANC units. With or without, the sound signature remains the same.

Some of our test ranges sounded pretty good. For example, Shine On You Crazy Diamond sounded with a heavy bass, but the saxophone parts came out very well. On the other hand, the rudeness of Motherjane Maktub’s version of Mindstreet was simply totally toned down. In comparison, a brilliant headset like the a-Jays Four+ manages to retain the cutting edge of the guitar as well as the high-pitched plucking of the bass strings. Our recent addition to the test tracks of Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You sounded decent enough, but the vocals seemed a little deeper. By the way, if you’re curious, we tried to test the microphone with and without ANC, but it didn’t make any difference in the audio quality. Therefore, the removal of the environment is reserved for audio drivers.

What is the quality of the ANC for which you are applying? It is quite decent to block out constant and weak noises, such as the hum of the air conditioner. To some extent it can even suppress traffic noise, but if you expect total silence, that’s not what the ANC does anyway. To make comparisons, I took my reliable Bose QC 20 active noise cancellation with me in my ear. Of course, you can hide the ambient noise much better. It would be unreasonable to expect the ANC33S to perform as well at a quarter of the cost. But is it 1/4 as good? I would say yes.

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