Provides: Stereo audio playback with active noise cancellation
Developer: Fanny Wang Headphone Co.
Minimum Requirements: Any audio device with 1/8″ stereo output
Truth of the matter is that most of us don’t need active noise cancellation headphones. They’re not going to block out kids, after all, or telephones ringing, jackhammers, or that annoying morning sports talk radio show your coworker insists on tuning in every morning. That’s not how they work. But if you do need noise cancellation, consider the Fanny Wang 3000 ANC Series headphones.
Fanny Wang claims their 3000 ANCs eliminate up to 95% of interfering noise. This is mostly achieved through four microphones; two externals for measuring outside ambient noise and two for measuring noise from inside the can. They work in tandem to generate a cancellation signal which basically kills off the offending noise and allows you to listen to your music in piece.
The noise cancellation is more successful, obviously, if the offending noise is constant, the most popular example being an airplane engine. The perpetual drone is easy for the Fanny Wang 3000s to hone in on and eliminate, and you won’t believe the results until you try it. Fly with a pair of headphones like these, and you’ll never want to fly without them again (they come with an airline adapter so you can use them to watch movies in-flight and a duo-jack so a traveling companion to plug in his/her own headphones to share your music or movie).
I was only able to test that situation once, but I found them nearly as effective at eliminating the constant air conditioner drone I hear all day at the office. You don’t know how bothersome such noises are until they’re gone. If you’re not faced with such noises, you can disable the noise cancellation with the flick of a button, thereby saving battery power. Should the batteries die, your headphones will keep working but you’ll lose the noise cancellation.
Of course, active noise cancellation won’t amount to much if the headphones themselves aren’t that good, and the Fanny Wang 3000 Series does run into a couple of problems there. They strike a pretty good balance when in passive mode (no ANC), with clear highs and decent bass. It’s a nice, warm sound that produces a relaxed listening environment. When ANC is on, however, the highs become quite harsh. You can turn on the 6dB base boost to try to offset this, but it really just makes things too powerful on both ends. On the airplane when fighting to drown out the engine drone, this wasn’t quite as noticeable, and was just fine for movies and games. In my office environment, however, it was inescapable, and I preferred to just leave the noise cancellation off and let the headphone padding block out that annoying air conditioner.
A slight issue with this is that the 3000 Series headphones are bit heavy; comfortable and well padded, but heavy, and therefore not conducive to a full day of work. Fanny Wang added a microphone/remote to allow you to accept and make iPhone calls when using the headphones, but these aren’t the kind of headphones you’d want to take out for jogs or wear when lounging around the house. The iPhone remote does come in handy, though, especially on flights when you don’t want to dig around for your audio device.
Finally, the 3000 Series shines a bit more in its design. Available in black, navy/white, and white/black, they all look quite slick and modern.
They’re also constructed very well and can stand up to rigorous travel use, especially with the help of the included carrying case. Even when folded, though, they take up a lot of space, so make sure there’s plenty of room in your carry-on bag.
For the constant traveller who wants to lose himself in music or movies (or games, really) between destinations, the Fanny Wang 3000 Series ANC headphones do an outstanding job of eliminating unwanted noise, and they look good doing it. But if you don’t travel frequently, you can get a better pair of headphones for $300 that are more conducive to everyday use.