Noise-canceling headphones are all the rage these days. Gone are the days when the de-facto option for a pair of active noise canceling (ANC) used to be the Bose QuietComfort series. Now, you have a smattering of choices with the Sony WH-1000XM3 being my favorite choice. And therefore, the Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC seems like a very compelling option.
The major reason I am excited is that Beyerdynamic makes excellent sounding headphones. In fact, my favorite pair of headphones last year was the Beyerdynamic Aventho Wireless. To make things interesting, I’ve framed the review in a question-answer format for easier reading.
How is the noise cancellation?
The Lagoon ANC has two levels of noise cancellation. And surprisingly, I really can’t tell the difference between the two levels, especially when you are listening to music at more than 80% volume. Inside a flight, the Lagoon ANC’s driver can cut out a big chunk of the engine noise at level 1 itself. Therefore, you can stick to Level 1 ANC and save some extra battery while you are at it.
What I like about is that switching on ANC doesn’t create the vacuum effect in your head. All the positives aside, if I have one gripe it has to be the fact that with ANC on you can clearly hear a hissing noise in a silent room when no music is playing in the background. I think this is where Sony and Bose do it better. Regardless, the WH-1000XM3 and the Bose QC 35 II offer better quality ANC, IMO.
What about sound quality?
Oh, we are asking the most relevant questions first, I see. I appreciate it. I tested the Lagoon ANC connected to a Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ and streaming in aptX HD codec. Firstly, the sound-staging and spatial separation are good enough but not too wide. I generally concentrate on the penultimate section of the song Do I Wanna Know by The Arctic Monkeys to check for imaging and instrument separation and the Beyerdynamic is generally excellent. In fact, a clean presentation, great dynamics, and excellent instrumentation is a strong suit of Beyerdynamic. This pristine reproduction is the wow factor of the sound signature actually.
In fact, the treble-heads or more commonly known as audiophiles, are bound to love Beyerdynamic’s love for heightening the sparkle and shimmer. The high notes never get shrill but they have a great extension. In Chris Forsythe’s modern-day masterpiece The Past Ain’t Passed, the underlying shimmer of the cymbal scratch throughout the song is transcendental. Obviously, the guitars, the bells, and all the other mid and high notes sound absolutely fantastic too.
Another strong point of the Lagoon ANC is the exciting mid-bass thump. In a commercial hit like Nucleya’s Mirza, the thump engulfs you and at high volume levels, the resulting vibration can rattle your head. Bassheads who listen to a lot of drum and bass are bound to love the sound signature. Having said that, the sub-bass roll-off in a song like Jai Paul’s BTSTU is rather distracting. So, if you are into something more downtempo, the Lagoon ANC could disappoint you.
Finally, coming to the mids, I am slightly underwhelmed here. Benjamin Clementine doesn’t sound as exciting as the piano and the clappers in the background of his vocal masterpiece Nemesis. Moreover, Rashmeet Kaur’s female vocals sound more inviting in Mirza compared to Raftaar. Female vocals sound better than male vocals in general. And yes, the mids have the tendency to get drowned in the forward sounding mid-bass and treble.
Having said that, when a song gives more prominence to the mids, like the wonderful Cherathukal from Kumbalangi Nights, the Lagoon ANC just shines. The moment the first guitar riff hits your ears to the backdrop of wafting water, I was immediately transported to the idyllic backwaters of Kumblangi. And, Sithara Krishnakumar’s soothing vocals are reproduced accurately. Oh by the way, despite being a closed-back pair of headphones, I am slightly disappointed by the sound leak at high volumes.
Overall, I feel the sound signature of the Lagoon ANC is like sushi, it is an acquired taste, and you will either like it or hate it. There is no middle ground here. As for me, well, I don’t like sushi but I like the sound signature of the Lagoon ANC. For folks wondering why I made that analogy, sushi is just a placeholder here. It could be Durian or Rasam Vada or Calamari rings. Man, I am hungry now.
And, what about the microphone?
This is generally the weak spot of most BT headphones and the Lagoon doesn’t fall prey to that common trait. The microphone does a great job and sounds great in calls. I have no complaints.
What do you think of the design?
To start off, I concur with my friend Dhruv Bhutani’s views: the new Half Life-inspired lambda-lookalike logo looks slightly off for the brand. My plain black review unit looks pretty staid in its plastic build. The build itself feels sturdy and light. Additionally, I like the amount of flex available on the headband.
Also, all the physical controls and ports are placed under the right cup. Essentially, there is the 3.5mm aux port for wired connectivity and a USB Type-C port for charging. And, apart from that, you get a slider for switching on the headphones and putting it in Bluetooth pairing mode. I found these sliders very easy to use. That’s not it, you can control your music playback with the touch-sensitive panel on the right ear-cup. Double-tap to play/pause, one swipe forward/backward to go to the next/previous track, swipe forward/backward and hold to fast forward/rewind, and swipe up/down for volume up/down. All the controls work seamlessly except for the fast forward and rewind function. I could never get it to work for some odd reason.
However, the most interesting design element on the Lagoon ANC has to be its Light Guide System (LGS). Essentially, the Lagoon ANC has a LED circle of lights inside the earcup which tells you the state of charge it is in, whether the headphones are in BT pairing mode, and more. Honestly, it is too much to learn and remember, so I didn’t bother frankly.
Are the fit and comfort good?
The fit and comfort are the reason why BT ANC headphones exist. At 283g, it may not be the most lightweight headphones out there, but the Lagoon ANC is extremely comfortable for long listening sessions. The plush ear-cups and headband with memory foam and faux leather are super comfy. And for someone like me, who prefers IEMs over headphones because his ears heat up, the Lagoon ANC is the perfect product. Even after a continuous 3-hour listening session, the Lagoon ANC stayed cool on my head. Love it.
If I have one concern, then for a large head like mine, I didn’t have to adjust the headband. So, I am guessing these headphones could be big for folks with a small head by default.
Does it connect to all smart devices and how long does the battery last?
With BT v4.2 support, the Lagoon ANC can easily connect to any smartphone. In fact, I could connect to my MacBook Pro and the Note 10+ at once, which means dual active connections. Hell, yeah. Switching was slightly slow, but I can live with that.
Coming to the battery performance, I got around 22 hours of battery life on a single charge with ANC on. That is slightly lower than what the Sony WH-1000XM3 can achieve. Still good, though.
The most important question: is it better than the Sony WH-1000XM3 or the Bose 700 ANC?
Okay, this is a complex one. But, one thing I can answer definitively is that I haven’t reviewed the Bose 700 ANC so I will refrain from commenting on that. The Sony WH-1000XM3 is still the best in my opinion, though. Having said that, if I had to choose a pair of headphones purely for the audio fidelity on offer, then the Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC might have a slight edge over the others.
Okay, so should I buy one?
It is a very competitive market out there now. I am still considering the Sony WH-1000XM3 as the pinnacle of ANC headphones. But, the Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC is right up there. It is at least 90% as good as the Sonys and that is saying a lot.
In fact, I’d pick the Lagoon ANC for audio fidelity over the Sony but that’s personal preference. Having said that, the Lagoon ANC is available for Rs 29,990 at launch. You might want to wait for the price to drop. The Sony WH-1000XM3 is available for a lower price and it’d be a better option today.
So, what do you guys think? Like the Lagoon ANC? Do let us know in the comments section below. If you want to buy one, head over to this link.