It comes as no surprise, with the trend of the last decades, that the world’s audio giants are moving towards a more consumer-friendly space. Niche don’t sell and the 99% are what are truly out there. Build quality, feel, luxury, material design, ease of use trump raw sound quality and headphones are bought for use case rather than to collect; I’m guilty of this.
beyerdynamic is coming in strong with this trend by introducing the LAGOON ANC Explorer ($399) which is a wireless portable headphone with noise-canceling guts. It’s competing right at the very top of the consumer spectrum and bringing with it industry-leading materials, noise-canceling, custom hearing profiles, an RGB Light Guide system, internal sensors, and touch control. After bringing the LAGOON ANC Explorer with me on multiple trips, I am excited to share with you my thoughts on this headphone.
The materials used and general build of the beyerdynamic feel smooth and are preposterously comfortable. The rounding of the ear cups and finishing paint (silky space gray) backed by the light brown earcups scream professional and high-end. You know those Mercedes Benz commercials you see all the time? These beyers wouldn’t look out of place in one of those, they’d fit right in.
Multiple points of swivel and pivot allow the LAGOON ANC Explorer to fit just about anyone. The earcups pivot back and forth about 20 degrees and freely rotate about 10 degrees forward (your chest outwards) and then all the way flat 180 degrees back against you. The internal mechanism is buttery and seeks to accommodate, not fight against you. Equally, the metal-reinforced headband slides in and out of place with no trouble. You would think this seemingly innocuous but trust me, the number of headphones that can’t get this basic step of fitting properly and having the headphone mold TO the user is insane; on most high-end headphones, you have to fight the stiff points to get it to fit.
My favorite parts are definitely the light brown artificial leather headband cushion and earphone pads. (Note: Also available in black as the LAGOON ANC Traveler) My initial visual impression of them was met with “meh” as I quickly moved to look elsewhere. Now, 60+ hours into using the beyerdynamic LAGOON ANC Explorer, I have truly succumbed to this headphone. There is no more comfortable longer-lasting headphone I have used compared to these LAGOONs. As someone gifted with larger ears and a skin irritability to earpads, I typically can not wear over the ear headphones for more than 2 hours non-stop. I can proudly now claim that I have, and the LAGOONs are it. Their engineers and material scientists were hard at work with finding a pad that can look premium, not feel greasy or sweaty, be resistant to moisture, yet still be rigid and comfortable to wear; they’ve achieved it. I wore these round trip on a flight across the USA without taking them off, that’s how comfortable they are.
These headphones come with a suite of I/O on the right earcup. We have the ANC level switch (off, level 1, level 2), the power On/Off switch (which also functions as a manual pairing switch by sliding it upwards and keeping it in place), a manual 3.5mm bypass in case the batteries run out, and a USB-C port (oh thank you beyerdynamic). A monstrous 45-hour battery life keeps these headphones going….and going….and going. Sans my long trips, I use the LAGOONs 1-2 hours each day and trust me when I say, I have not charged it in close to a month and it’s still going at over 50%. This is causing some charge anxiety in me! Wanting your headphones battery to die so you can charge them and see that sweet triple-digit 100% is probably the most first-world problem I can think of.
Let’s talk MOSAYC and the fancy new touchpad on these headphones. Yep, you heard me right, the LAGOON ANC’s have a gesture touchpad on the right pad! My first thought when I saw it was that it was going to be funky and irritable to use; I think the 2008 era of initial touch-sensitive products have caused some deep emotional scars. I honestly don’t know what else to say but that beyerdynamic has made me a believer. The touchpad rocks hard and are my primary way of pausing music, changing the volume, and going to the next or previous tracks. They work as you would expect with close to no false positives and just keep going. The one thing you will have to get used to is people in public giving you a side glance as to why you are caressing and sliding your finger all over your headphones (golem anyone?).
MOSAYC is beyer’s new personalization app and comes by way of a smartphone app. You set it up and do a short test and it will create a personalized hearing profile for your LAGOON ANC. There’s no easy way to A/B test but it’s there as something to do. You can also use the app to configure minor settings on the device. Personally, I don’t see much need for the app, you can use the headphones out of the box without ever touching it.
You can connect to and use the LAGOON ANC in three ways. Over wireless Bluetooth, wired through a 3.5mm cable connection (no ANC), and wired through the USB-C cable. I would just recommend wireless, the others are more finicky and take away from the purpose of the LAGOON.
Part of this is because the LAGOON ANC is already a fantastic wireless headphone. Its wireless chipset is fast to connect and holds a steady connection for the most part. With two host Bluetooth computers enabled that the LAGOON was previously paired to, it will sometimes get confused and drop a signal momentarily but there have been no signal issues otherwise. Rock-solid stability and fast connecting speeds make the LAGOON easy and painless to use and keep on using. Did I mention that there is no amplifier noise with beyerdynamic’s implementation? For those unaware, a plethora of wireless headphones on the market will have a pssssssssss sound while the amplifier is active. Most have an auto muting mechanism that turns off the amp when not in use to remove that sound and save power. The Beyers simply have none of that, it is dead silent. Hence why I barely used the LAGOONs over 3.5mm or USB-C, they are simply bulkier and are a removal from this product’s intended use case.
The RGB Light Guide System is also a neat feature of the LAGOONs. They both serve as an indicator for current status but also battery and left/right orientation when in the dark. They look snazzy and do differentiate the beyerdynamic from others in the market segment. Call me basic, but I would love if beyerdynamic gave you the ability to customize the lights and use it as an aesthetic choice when the headphones are around your neck.
One point of contention for me with the usability is the auto-pause functionality. The LAGOON ANC has an internal sensor (most likely a gyro) that detects if the headphone is ‘flat’. The intended function is that the user removes the headphone and places it onto a table and the LAGOONs will automatically stop the music. The actuality of this is that if I move my head parallel to the ground while tying my shoes, leaning over the railing, or just looking down, my music will pause. There is an internal detector to see if your ears/head is on the ear cups and supposedly this will not activate if the headphones are on your head and you lean over. This does not always work and I get the headphone pausing my music more often than not when I bend over to tie my shoes or get something out of my backpack. I have notified beyerdynamic of this and have requested they add a configuration item in the MOSAYC app that allows users to disable the headphone auto-pausing music when the sensor sees it is flat. The only other mentionable annoyance is how often the headphone ‘talks’ to you. The opening line every time before you play music is “AptX enabled…” and then you now hear your music or movie that you have just missed out 4 seconds of.
One of the biggest selling points of the LAGOON ANC is in the second part of its name. The active noise canceling market is huge and has been widely dominated by Bose. I’ve tested the first generation Bose QC35 and Sony XM3 and my experiences with its ANC were fairly poor. Sure, it does block out the noise but now everything sounds spacey and it messes with the dynamics. What’s the easiest way to distract someone? Slap them across the face. Bose sure did block out the sound of the airplane hum, but it also trashes the audio along the way by putting noise-canceling first and audio second.
I’ve tested the LAGOON ANC on multiple flights, noisy restaurants, and out in public. On airplanes, the entirety of the cabin sound is gone. You don’t realize it right now, but there’s this subtle low hum that is happening all around you, its a natural part of the environment. Even in a quiet location, it is there. Put on the LAGOONs and turn ANC on and prepare for your mouth to drop as even that is now gone. The best thing about the LAGOONs implementation of ANC is that it does not change the sound signature of music itself. This is such a large selling point especially to an audio conscious buyer that I have to restate it twice. It literally keeps your music sounding the exact same by compensating even on the highest level of ANC. Real innovation and engineering have gone into the LAGOON ANC and it shows. It’s not common for an audio reviewer to flip back and forth while muttering ‘that can’t be right’ but alas there I was doing it multiple times on my flight.
In total from a usability standpoint, the LAGOON ANC fulfills its marketing claim that it makes you feel like a “citizen of the world”. It’s dead simple to use, uber-fast to connect, the noise canceling is unreal, and it JUST WORKS with whatever setup you have going.
Lastly, as this is an audiophile targeted publication, we’ll run through the sound of the LAGOON ANC. The following variables are observed
- LAGOON ANC
- Codec: AptX
- Mode: Wireless
- ANC Mode: Off
- Host Bluetooth: Windows 10 BT 4.0 | Android Pie BT 5.0
While on the go, the LAGOON was used with my Android Essential Phone with Spotify as the most common connection. At home, I had it paired to my Windows 10 PC and ran it with local files through Foobar or using our sponsored Qobuz Studio account (many thanks to Qobuz for sponsoring Headphone.Guru).
Starting off with “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac off their award-winning album Rumours. It is immediately noticeable that the LAGOON has a nice bass response and impact. You can hear the bass guitar in your eardrums although it doesn’t go too far into the sub-bass area or extend much farther. The bass that you do get jives with the song and allows for a nice backing without muddying any mid elements.
The loose string instruments that start showing up around the song mid-way through have ‘good’ definition to them. You can audibly hear every string plucked and it does so while maintaining its own region from the mids. The real star of the LAGOONs though is its vocal reproduction which is warm and balanced throughout the entire range and more on the laid-back side. It isn’t overly active but rather leans towards soothing. In the upper mid-range cymbal hits and strikes are surprisingly sharp despite the more subdued vocal reproduction and have bite to them.
Above is the LAGOONs with the traditional older audiophile song, but as a headphone for the citizen of the world, we need to inch more modern. And that’s where the LAGOONs truly shine. beyerdynamic makes some of the world’s best headphones, they have the strut and can walk the walk. But as it turns out, the tastes for the common listener these days leans hard-hitting pop, and more often than not, with electronica mixed in.
One song that really made me go, “wow,” with the LAGOONs was “Sweet Memories” by Kaskade. It’s deep, dark, and with an infusion of house into its predominantly EDM genre. The beyerdynamics were ‘made’ for this song; when the bass drops I get this molten lava wave of bass coming at me, but it’s not overwhelming, it’s doing what a headphone should seek to do. Entrance you into the music the way the artist had intended. With the LAGOONs, I was pulled into Kaskade’s grip and had to ride the train on that adventure for the whole 2 minutes and 37 seconds.
The LAGOONs work equally well with high quality tracks and modern pop or rock. It’s tuned to be the right mix of pretty much everything you can throw at it; a citizen of the world listens to everything the world offers, of course. It is a warm sounding headphone with a nice bass kick, partly laid back mids, and a surprising edge on the upper side; it is definitely a ‘fun’ headphone.
The LAGOON ANC is beyerdynamic’s answer to what the most premium option a consumer would buy is. It is unbelievably comfortable and works when life’s problems call. It’s not a headphone you have to fight with to get working or to fit into your routine, it’s a companion. The ANC is class-leading and sonically an engineering feat with how it is able to keep the sound signature stable. The headphone also sounds good with punchy lows and a romantic mid-range making it great for everything I have heard with it. The LAGOON ANC is your answer if you want the best of what the consumer space has to offer for a portable headphone.
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