2017 has been a pretty great year for ADVANCED. Watching the brand branch out to new and interesting tech has been a great experience. The GT-R and Alpha feature planar magnetic technology. They teamed up with AAW to craft the Accessport portable amplifier. Today we are checking out ADVANCED’s take on the budget active noise cancelling market with the 747.
Competent active noise cancelling earphones have come down in price significantly in the last few years and no longer offer minimal noise attenuation at a premium price. For less than 100 USD you can get a well-built, good sounding product that offers more than just a slight decrease in external noise beyond what you’d get from passive isolation only.
The entry-level segment that ADVANCED has dropped the 747 into is very competitive and they certainly have their work cut out for them in making something that stands out. How does the 747 fare? Let’s find out.
A big thanks to the team at ADVANCED for reaching out to see if I would be interested in reviewing the 747 and for arranging a complimentary review sample. The thoughts within this review are my own and are not representative of ADVANCED or any other entity. There was no financial incentive for writing this and I was given free rein to share my honest opinion.
The 747 retailed for 59.99 USD at the time of this review; https://www.adv-sound.com/products/747
I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures in my headphones I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even and natural mid-range response, with reduced mid-bass. The HiFiMan RE800, Brainwavz B400, and thinksound On2 offer unique examples of signatures I enjoy.
For at home use the 747 was powered straight out of my Asus FX53V laptop. For portable use it was paired with an LG G5, Shanling M1, or the F-Audio S1. The 747 is no way needs to be amped, partly because when activated the ANC hardware acts as an amp, but also because the 747 is very easy to drive.
- Driver unit: 13mm single dynamic driver
- Impedance: 16 Ohm+/-15%
- Sensitivity: 90dB+/-3dB at 1kHz
- Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
- Noise cancellation: 25dB+/-3dB
- NC frequency range: 40Hz – 1kHz
- Working time: Up to 10 hours
- Charging time: 1 hour
- Rated power: 10mW
Packaging and Accessories:
ADVANCED always presents their products in a very clean and informative package, and the 747 continues the tradition quite successfully. Following the same basic design as the Evo-X, the front of the exterior sheath has the usual ADVANCED name and 747 model branding, plus a detailed, glossy image of the earpieces and the ANC module. The ANC module shown is almost the exact size (slightly smaller) of the real thing too which is a nice touch. The left side of the sleeve highlights that the ANC tech is mostly for addressing low-frequency interference. Flipping to the back you are presented with a photo deconstructing the 747 down to its base components. There is also a compensated frequency response chart alongside the specifications and a list of included accessories.
Sliding off the exterior sheath reveals a black monolith of a box. Upon opening this inner package you see the writing “Enjoy the Silence” on the left and ADVANCED’s spacious carrying case on the right. In this case is the 747 itself and all the extras you get with this product. And you get a lot of extras. All-in you’re provided;
- 747 earphones
- large clamshell carrying case
- 3 pairs of single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
- 3 pairs of Sennheiser-style dual-flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
- 3 pairs of foam tips (s/m/l)
- airplane adapter
- microUSB cable
As I have come to expect from ADVANCED, their presentation is top-notch and the included accessories are plentiful, useful, and of high quality. I am especially glad they included their dual-flange tips with the 747 as they are one of my favorites.
Build and Comfort:
The 747’s design is straightforward and inoffensive with a very traditional earphone look, unlike other ANC products which often have a little more flash or uniqueness to their design. The 747’s silver aluminum housings are quite broad in size, a necessity for housing the beefy 13mm drivers within. There is a small vent on the back under which lies the noise cancelling microphone. Facing your ear there is another vent. The rest of the earphone is a smooth bell shape with only an ADV logo for contrast. The overall fit and finish is quite good with each individual aspect fitting together tightly, though I did notice some dried glue where the plastic face and aluminum body meet.
The long, flexible strain reliefs leading out of the housing are nicely implemented with one side colored red to denote the right channel. The cable itself is also quite decent. Above the y-split it’s reasonably thick and feels quite dense. Microphonics (cable noise) are present, especially apparent when rubbing up against a zipper, but are overall quite manageable and much less intrusive than the fabric cables used by much of the competition. ADVANCED should consider adding a chin cinch to help combat cable noise.
Below the y-split the cable is very thick but give it a quick squeeze and there is a surprising bit of flex and compression. I suppose that explains why the cable starts to fold and kink when bent significantly, something that worries me slightly when it comes to longevity. That concern mainly lies where the ANC module is placed, about 4 inches above the straight jack. OVC did something similar with the H15, but their cable with its thick cloth sheath felt more suitable for carrying the weight of the module. The 747’s cable is well relieved on either end of the module, but it still kinks slightly just beyond the relief. Adding a small clip to help carry the weight of the module would be a welcome improvement. The cable kinking is also a mild concern at the y-split which is free of any strain relief.
Like the ear pieces, the ANC module is very well constructed. The black aluminum shell is slim and sleek and quite unobtrusive. On one side you find ADVANCED’s slogan, “Designed for Musicians”. The other highlights their use of “Pitch Black Noise-Canceling Technology”. I know a lot of you out there hate branding but if done well I think it can look pretty damn cool, as it does here. This module is also significantly more compact than the competition despite housing all the ANC tech, a battery rated for 10 hours of use, the microUSB charging port, and the ANC on/off switch. Major props to ADVANCED for condensing all that into something so comparatively tiny.
Due to the 747’s fairly standard design and light weight, it’s quite suitable for long-term listening sessions. I routinely used them at work, and even after an eight and a half-hour shift they left my ears fresh and a daisy, free of hotspots.
While I do have some concerns about cable longevity, the 747 seems to be very well constructed. I adore how tiny the ANC module is as it stays out-of-the-way. The fairly standard design of the housings makes the 747 quite comfortable, and in use it feels like any other earphone. After having used a number of ANC earphones with learning curves for fit, or module placement, or some other aspect that compromised overall useability, this last point cannot be overlooked.
The 747 is rated at 10 hours of use with one hour of charge time. As is often the case, volume plays a part in how much use you get. Given I generally listen at lower than average volumes, over three full cycles I was able to achieve close to 11 hours with only my initial listening session (first empty to full charge) falling under 10 hours of use.
Passive vs. Active Noise Cancelling:
Despite the shallow fit, I actually found the 747’s passive isolation to be more than adequate. Sitting in a loud cafe I was still able to hear those around me, chairs sliding, plates clinking, etc. but sounds were muted enough to easily enjoy my music with only a slight volume bump needed to compensate.
The 747’s active noise cancelling on the other hand, is quite good. With it on in the same cafe, external noise was reduced mainly to the base murmur of voices with all other ambient noise falling silent. I also got to use it extensively in office at the call centre where I work. While I could still hear my colleagues somewhat, typing noise and the hum of the hundreds of computers, heating units, etc. were all successfully nullified.
Sound (ANC Off):
If the 747 wasn’t an active noise cancelling earphone and sold for the same price, I’d still have no qualms recommending it to bass lovers. The 747’s u- or l-shaped signature is warm and silky smooth with a generous bass line that caresses your music and your ears. With ANC off its treble is fairly well-extended with some roll off that keeps it fatigue-free. Detail retrieval is actually quite good and I never felt like I was missing out on anything. The treble here is also quite quick and clean free of any splashiness or looseness. I can definitely see some wanting a little more sparkle and energy, which you get with ANC on, but I’ll come back to that.
With ANC off I found the 747’s mid-range quite prominent, though not forward. It was able to easily cut through and shine despite the abundant low-end, and sounded equally natural and at home with male or female vocals. I personally found it a little sweeter with female vocals, and that it really shone with jazz influenced guitar work. Running through classic rock albums like Pick Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” or Supertramp’s “Crime of the Century” was quite pleasing. Detail and separation were above average as well, letting me pick up fine details like licking lips, fingers sliding slightly between chords, and other aspects I would expect to be glossed over.
The low-end is what most will focus on when they hear the 747. It’s big and rumbly, though a bit slow and lacking texture. It’s primary focus is on an impactful mid-bass region, still, extension is pretty good and with EDM, rap, and hip hop, you will feel a satisfying rumble. Despite the mass quantity of bass on offer, I never found the 747 particularly fatiguing, even on those off chances I decided to crank the volume on a particularly entertaining track.
Soundstage is another positive aspect of the 747’s presentation. They have a large, open feel to them, though not to the extent of ANC-free earphones that lead in this area, like the Havi B3 Pro I or Blue Ever Blue Model 1200EX. Separation and layering are overall quite decent too with the 747 avoiding congestion, even on cluttered tracks like King Crimson’s “Starless and Bible Black”.
Sound (ANC On):
While the 747’s general signature is retained with ANC on, it does gain some additional volume, lower treble emphasis and sparkle, and ends up coming across more v- than l-shaped. I found this particularly apparent when listening to vocal liquid drum and bass, such as Calyx and TeeBee’s “Long Gone”. Flipping on and off the ANC switch would lead to Calyx’s vocals pulling back as the main focus, and the extremities stepping forward. Sub-bass regions also seem to step up a touch giving the 747 a more visceral feel than it has with ANC off.
– The G5 and 747 take similar approaches to their sound with each having a bass-heavy signature. Whereas the 747 tones down the treble to bring it in line with the mid-range, the G5 has slightly boosted treble making it the more energetic listen. The G5 has a better mid-/sub-bass balance than the 747, but it lacks the extension. The G5 sounds slightly less organic and refined than the 747, especially with ANC on where it takes on a mild metallic edge. The 747 also has a more spacious presentation, despite the G5’s semi-open nature. While I prefer the G5’s brighter sound, the refinement of the 747 and it’s more lush, prominent mid-range wins me over.
– Without any music playing, Mixcder’s ANC G5’s noise cancelling does a good job but doesn’t suppress voices quite to the same extent as the 747. It also lets in more ambient noise which has a thinner, more detail rich presentation to it than what comes through on the 747. Passive isolation is no comparison with the 747 being much better. The G5 is more or less semi-open due to all the ventilation present. Isolation, both passive and active goes to the 747.
– Build quality on both is quite good. Mixcder’s greater use of plastic leads to a product that doesn’t feel quite as substantial, but their material choice lead to something a bit lighter, at least in the earpieces. I also think the G5’s design is more stylish. The G5’s ANC module doubles as the y-split and in-line mic/control module. It also carries the rest of the electronics leading to something a bit thicker and more weighty than the slender solution found on the 747. There is a built-in shirt clip to offset the weight, something I would like to see ADVANCED add to their module. In the end it’s a wash as I have mild issues with the build on each.
– Both of these earphones take a more traditional approach to their design. This means that both are quite comfortable. However, the G5 brings ear guides into the mix and the nozzle extends outwards from the housings at a very minimal angle (~25 degrees maybe) . The nozzle is also ovular as opposed to circular which limits tip options and makes fit less universal. While the G5 fits me well and is comfortable, there is still a level of fiddling required to get the ear guides sitting just right, and they do cause hotspots after long period. 747 takes it in comfort.
– You’d think the G5 would have better battery life given the thickness of the module, but nope. At 8 hours, it falls a couple short of the 747. It’s charge time is twice as long at five hours too. 747 for the win.
– The H15 goes the opposite route of the 747 and uses a tiny 6mm micro-driver as its primary driver. I say primary driver because it is actually a dual-dynamic earphone. The second driver is even larger than the 747’s at 13.6mm, and pulls double duty. It acts as the ANC driver and/or as a bass boost. OVC’s approach is more unique and versatile since you get a few different signatures depending on whether or not the bass boost is on. With bass boost off, the ANC function doesn’t change the signature much at all since there are two different drivers handling two different jobs vs. the 747’s single dynamic which handles it all. H15 has more unique tech, and it has been applied quite effectively.
– Not only is the approach to noise cancellation quite different between these two units, but so are their signatures. The H15 is much more balanced to my ear with a more detailed, mid-range and treble focused sound. It’s bass extends similarly to the 747, but lacks the emphasis and is much quicker and less bloated. The H15’s overall presentation is also a lot thinner which makes it less ideal in noisy environments where, with ANC off, most of its low end gets overwhelmed by incoming noise. Soundstage is similar with the H15 getting the nod, pending the bass boost is off. I personally like the H15’s sound more, but the 747’s signature undoubtedly has a wider appeal and works better in it’s intended environment. 747 takes it for sound.
– Without any music playing, the OVC H15 suppressed sound more effectively than the 747. Voices were more muffled, background noises less prominent, and overall the impression was of greater silence. This was especially noticeable with higher frequency noises like metal clinking, which were notably less suppressed on the 747. While fairly close, the H15’s ANC performance was a step up from what the 747 offers.
– In terms of build I find them both quite good. I prefer the 747’s metal shells and more traditional design over the H15’s plastic shells and odd (but ergonomic) shape. The H15’s cable, even if it is fabric, simply feels better suited to the purpose of these earphones and like it will last longer. I give a slight edge to the H15, almost solely due to the cable.
– The H15’s ergonomics take a hit versus the 747. The housings are larger and use proprietary tips which feature built-in silicone fins which tuck into your outer ear. I find them fairly equally comfortable, but the H15 takes more effort to put in your ear, and both the large housings and fins will reduce compatibility with a number of smaller ears. The 747’s more traditional design, tips, and general fit win out here.
– One area the 747 simply cannot compete with the H15 is battery life. The 10 hours you will get out of the 747 will be enough for most, but OVC gets 60 hours out of the H15. It’s entirely achievable too. H15 easily takes the cake here.
Comparison Summary: The 747 is a step up from the Mixcder G5 with a more ergonomic and comfortable fit, slightly better ANC performance, and improved battery life. They sound similar, but with the 747 featuring an additional layer of refinement. I really enjoy the G5, but the 747 could be considered a direct upgrade. Sorry Mixcder, but the G5 has been replaced in my lineup.
The 747 and H15 make for a more fair comparison. If you’re a road warrior, the H15 is the one to get. The extra durability, battery life, and improved ANC performance are too much to pass up. Just be prepared for a thinner, less bassy sound and a more finicky fit due to the H15’s less traditional design and ear guide laden tips. If you simply want a traditional earphone with a smooth bassy signature, one that also just so happens to have a great active noise cancelling feature attached, the 747 should be your pick.
At 60 USD, it would be asking a lot for more from the 747. Not only does it’s bassy, spacious sound come across as easy on the ears, perfect for their intended use, but the rest of the package is a win as well. It has effective active noise cancelling, a decent 10 hour battery life with fairly short 1 hour charge time, a durable aluminum build, and the smallest, least intrusive ANC module I have yet seen. Add to that a heap of accessories that are actually useful and the 747 seems like a well-rounded package doesn’t it? Yes. Yes it does.
If you want a sub-100 USD earphone with a useful active noise cancelling element, the 747 should be right up there for consideration.
Thanks for reading!
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Some Test Tunes:
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Album)
Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)