I think my first ever ANC headphone was a Bose QC3 if memory serves me correctly. Then I moved in the opposite direction with a Grado SR80 and the QC3 was sold almost immediately. Mind you, the ANC side was stellar, just that the sound quality was not.
Since then I have not really gone for ANC due to custom monitors offering almost perfect passive isolation with excellent sound quality. Still, for many, a custom or an IEM is not the preferred choice for travel and a small light headphone may well be considered a comfier option.
So, when beyerdynamic suggested I try their Lagoon ANC Traveller I thought why not. Let’s see if ANC and sound quality can mix it in 2019. This is a mid-priced circumaural but compact active noise canceling headphone with Bluetooth connectivity and apps integration. Targeting pretty much all the key things a modern traveler tends to look for these days.
The LAGOON ANC Traveller is a circumaural closed-back headphone with a 40mm single dynamic driver. There is another edition called the Explorer that’s really just a different tan and grey finish to the all-black Traveller.
I do not believe this is a Tesla design or it is not stated in any of their technical data. As with many beyerdynamic offerings of late, the LAGOON ANC offers both a wired and wireless experience.
The wired experience is a 20Ω and 107dB SPL rating which should make it fairly easy to drive from most moderate sources so you can consider this a fairly portable headphone. DAPs and even some smartphone sources will be the target market here.
To emphasize the smartphone integration the LAGOON ANC will also work with their MIY Android and iOS app and make use of their excellent MOSAYC sound personalization features when going wireless. I have used this a few times with the Amiron wireless and Xelento wireless and its age-related sound setup is actually quite interesting.
The LAGOON ANC wireless connection is Bluetooth 4.2 which is a bit dated for me and it does lack LDAC and even aptX-HD which they have on their higher-end Amiron and Xelento wireless. What is does have is up to aptX and AAC for Apple, up to 45 hours battery life using BT and the very cool touch-sensitive faceplate control system drawn from the Amiron wireless.
It also has a multi-point connection system allowing a maximum of 15 sources to be connected to the LAGOON ANC at the same time. That makes for pretty easy switching without taking off the headphones or fiddling with buttons.
Beyerdynamic has introduced two different types of ANC with the Lagoon design. You can alternate via ANC I and ANC II via a simple switch at the base of the right cup.
ANC I is defined by beyerdynamic as a moderate level of noise cancellation for quite areas that do not require too much isolation. ANC II or level 2, is a more extreme form of active noise cancellation design for noisy environments such as commutes, planes or window-type air-con rooms.
Both will shape and define the quality of audio a little as well as introduce different levels of electronic noise into the background. That will mean ANC II might deliver a slightly higher noise floor but maybe more suitable than large amounts of external noise. You get the drift.
Packing for the LAGOON ANC is so incredibly beyerdynamic. You could literally lift the box out of their range at any point over the last 10 years and it would not look out of place. That does not mean that is antiquated or retro but rather everything is so neat and tidy or precise that you could never put a year on it.
Timeless is a good word to describe the simple box with that clean graphical overlay. Some designs never seem to age. Inside you pull out the carry case and manual then you are done with the box. Just pack it away and save it for a rainy day.
All the accessories apart from the user manual are packed inside the carry case of the LAGOON ANC. There is not much really, nor does there need to be. You get the following:
USB-C to USB-A charging cable
Detachable 1M cable with 3.5mm terminations at either end for allowing the LAGOON ANC to work in wired mode
Carry case itself
I quite like the carry case, to be honest. It is fairly slimline and since the LAGOON ANC is foldable (read below) it doesn’t take up huge amounts of space either. It is not as stubby as something like the LCD-1 or AEON 2 cases but it is much thinner.
Inside, the case lining is fairly basic with some contouring to hold the headphones and cables in place. Travelers should also take note that the zipper system is fairly tough looking so it can take a bit of a beating and unlikely to fall apart.
There is also a little latch and strap system with a grey lock to the side (pic above) that should allow you to either carry in a lanyard format or keep it out of the way by wrapping it around the outside.
The LAGOON ANC is mostly a black plastic affair with a spring steep internal headband. That being said the contouring is immaculate and the finishing as smooth as you like. The overall design is a modern consumer headphone so yeah, a bit more elegant than some of the more hardcore beyerdynamic audiophile DT range but probably not as durable.
This is a circumaural headphone but one that I would class as slightly on the small side for that classification. I understand that ANC cups are rarely going to be that big in order to produce a consistent seal for it to work but for me, this is a very large supraaural and there is a little pressure on the very outer edges of my ear.
All the controls and features are housed inside the right cup but beyerdynamic has done a good job of ensuring the weight disparity between the two cups is kept to a minimum. On the base of the right cup, you will find the 3.5mm socket for wired, power on and BT as well as the ANC controls and charging USB-C socket.
What surprised me was the 283g weighting which is quite heavy for a headphone of this size. I presume the ANC and touch-plate tech plus the battery will be the main factors for those weighty cups as the headband is not that heavy at all.
Clamping is steady and does mitigate any weight issues quite well. This is not limpet-like lateral pressure but it does clamp more than push down. The pressure balance is quite good actually and I am not picking up any pressure spots on the top of my head. The excellent foam padding on the underside of the headband helps also.
I suspect after a few hours, however, the slight pad pressure on my outer ear might grate.
The LAGOON ANC has what beyerdynamic call a Light Guide System and it is kind of cool actually. Plenty of BT headphones have LED indicators but I am not sure I have seen one implemented quite like this. The Light Guide System is basically one large LED ring on the inside of the cups and gives off a very cool glow in various colors to indicate a particular status.
The status categories include charging, Bluetooth pairing/connections, incoming calls, media playback, and standby. Now, when the headphone are on your head you won’t see a bit of that but take them off and they make a really nice light show. However, take them off and it is quite hypnotizing.
If your phone is on silent the LAGOON ANC light system is also the perfect warning setup to let you know when calls are incoming. Charging is super easy with a red flashing glow that changes to a constant green when the battery is at 100%. I find myself staring at it quite a lot, to be frank.
ANC Performance Impressions
With the ANC off the LAGOON ANC is actually a pretty good closed headphone passive isolation performer. This is easily comparable to the likes of the AEON 2 and better than the SINE. The pads are also very comfortable and form very well around the immediate area around my ear.
I tend to work in an aircon environment which can be a pain when testing for noise floors. Now a passive custom monitor without venting will block out just about everything so I still consider that to be the best setup. However, with ANC level I in my aircon room I get a pretty nice level of low hum cancellation from the aircon motor but with some noise coming around the 1k marker and a little more higher-pitched noise.
ANC II is really much more effective than ANC I for that damn aircon but you still get a little bit more regular noise after that 1k marker, just not as much as ANC I. You do also become a little more aware of some general EMI in the background of the LAGOON ANC when not playing music but nothing I would describe as distracting.
FYI, the dramatic intro music for each power on and off before the voice stating which level of ANC is quite funny – it is drama personified like some sort of FB storied meme sound clip.
Initial Sound Impressions
Wired Vs Wireless
This is really about dynamic range, volume levels, and headroom. Wired is the better sound overall but that should not really be a surprise. It works really well with the ANC settings also.
When you go wireless you do lose a little clarity and treble extension and with aptX a more compressed sound. However, it is not a dark sound or veiled by any means but the bass response does go up a notch when you activate ANC I and II compared to off altogether.
The overall tuning is a fairly colored and elevated low-end that is punchy and fairly weighted sounding. To be fair to the LAGOON ANC, I do not actually find this to be a sloppy bass response. It certainly does not have has much bloom and warmth as I might have expected to its surprisingly agile.
This seems to be more of an L-shape slope and suck out in the lower-mids, (400-500Hz) rather than a mid-bass bloom and warm mids approach. I tend to prefer that, especially if you are going to throw up the sub-bass quantity. Better go for a good fundamental and a cleaner midrange and less listening through molasses and overblown timbral euphonia.
The lower-mids start to rise about 600-700hz and peak around 2k so there is a solid vocal performance that balanced out that sub-bass weight nicely. Tailor-made for modern music production values. Vocals are sibilant free, front and center and flow very nicely. Female vocals are slightly better than male but this more about where it pitches and anything on that 1-2k marker is going to be in focus.
The top-end has a nice balance for my personal tastes. It peaks around 7-8k but it is a gentle rising peak and not hugely elevated. That allows the treble to retain some nice body, keeps the harmonic balance more to the natural side and prevents splashy percussion. Wired has a bit more presence than aptX driven wireless but not terribly surprising. Wireless treble on the LAGOON ANC will sound the more relaxed of the two.
Well, the Lagoon is clearly better than my old QC3 sound but is it 2019 competitive? Well, yes is the short answer and certainly, a lot cleaner sounding than the SOny variants and more dynamic than the Bose N700.
The sound is consumer-type, which I am totally fine with for casual listening. This is a weighty colored low-end with a nice smooth vocal balance, no perceptible veil, and decent headroom. Wired is even better with ANC II and whilst I would have loved to have seen aptX HD on this model, the aptX performance is better than what I expected.
Out of the box, I think the ANC performance is quite good actually on the LAGOON ANC and with its new low price certainly, a lot more competitive against the likes of the cheaper Sony units.
LAGOON ANC Specifications
OPERATING PRINCIPLE Closed
TRANSMISSION TYPE Wireless via Bluetooth®
NOMINAL IMPEDANCE HEADPHONES 20 ohms
WEIGHT HEADPHONES WITHOUT CABLE 283 g
BATTERY RUNTIME Up to 45 hours
BATTERY RUNTIME WITH ANC Up to 24.5 hours
HEADPHONE FREQUENCY RESPONSE 10 – 30.000 Hz
SUPPORTED BLUETOOTH PROFILES A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP, SPP
CODECS aptX™ LL, aptX™, AAC, SBC
SOUND COUPLING TO THE EAR Circumaural (around the ear)