Updated: Aug 19, 2021
Written by Cheryl Tan
I’m a huge fan of the Sony WH-1000XM3 ANC headphones, so when Beyerdynamic presented us with the chance to try out their new Lagoon ANC headphones in a blind test against the WH-1000XM3, I was more than happy to do it.
Granted, it wasn’t a 100% blind test since I was very used to the XM3 and how it felt on my ears and head. I knew which one was put on me just by the size of the earcups; the Lagoon ANC have smaller cups than the XM3, but I was pleasantly surprised by my opinion at that test.
In the restaurant where there was beer pints being clinked and people chattering away, I actually thought that the Lagoon ANC fared just a sliver better than the XM3 in terms of noise cancellation. It was a close fight, but I felt that it was just a bit more muffled with the Lagoon ANC.
We received a review unit on that day and I decided to take these with me on an upcoming trip I had to test out the noise cancellation on a plane, because that’s truly the best place to test it.
On the plane however, the Lagoon ANC didn’t do as great a job as the WH-1000XM3 in cancelling out the hum of the engine. Human chatter was mostly removed however. There was an odd crackling when taking off and I wasn’t sure if it was an issue with the headset, but it wasn’t present during landing so perhaps it was just a one-off situation.
Sound quality is a whole other ballgame though, I was very impressed with how much clearer and detailed the Lagoon ANC was when compared to the WH-1000XM3. Listening to the live version of Hotel California, the soundstage was considerably wider with instruments more clearly separated and distinct.
The bass isn’t quite as warm or emphasised as the XM3, but it’s tight and punchy and still present. The mids aren’t too recessed, with a clean and smooth sound with no distortion. Percussion and guitars do very well thanks to the attention in detail here.
The highs are where it shines, and it’s incredible if you enjoy listening to orchestral or instrumental music, or have songs that have instruments like violins. It doesn’t get overly bright or harsh, but there’s enough sparkle and energy in the highs with plenty of intricacy. Female vocals also do excellently on the Lagoon ANC.
Fitwise, these cans are definitely on the smaller side with the earcups. My ears aren’t all that big so the earcups are big enough to be true over-ears for me, but for men with bigger ears, these might be more uncomfortable as it will end up pressing on the ears. I didn’t find any pinching at the crown however, so there’s that. I went through a 6 hour flight with these with no issue.
Beyerdynamic’s Mosayc app even has a sound personalisation function where the app will play varying tones at different frequencies to test which frequencies can be heard by the user, and then tune the music accordingly!
Battery life is claimed to be 24.5 hours, I found it was slightly closer to 22 hours since I had ANC on level 2. With ANC turned off, these headphones are estimated to last up to 45 hours. There’s a USB-C charging port on the right earcup alongside controls and the on/off switch, so I’m glad I don’t need to bring additional cables.
There’s also touch controls on the right earcup for play/pause, skipping tracks and volume control. Most of it is rather intuitive and the touch controls are responsive. Beyerdynamic has also come up with a light guide system that flashes colours in the inside of the earcup for a discrete way to see your battery level, pairing status and such.
I found it a bit redundant since the headset notifies you of the battery life and connection status when you first turn it on, but it’s a cool feature that might be a conversation starter, if nothing else.
Unfortunately, these are still running Bluetooth 4.2 and only support one device to be paired at any given time. They also support aptX, aptX Low Latency, AAC and SBC.
I was honestly quite satisfied with the WH-1000XM3’s sound quality, but the Lagoon ANC blows the XM3 out of the water in terms of sound quality. While the ANC isn’t quite on par, I’m hopeful that future variants of the Lagoon ANC will match up while retaining the superb sound.
More information about the Lagoon ANC (S$599) can be found on Beyerdynamic’s website.