beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC Review
Pros: Great sound quality, relatively small and portable
Cons: Can be uncomfortable if you have larger ears, noise cancellation lags slightly behind that of comparable models
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC puts an emphasis on sound quality, with all other aspects of the headphones falling into the 'respectable but not exceptional' category. While these certainly aren't the best all-around headphones available, they deliver a great listening experience, as long as your ears aren't too big for the earcups.
After dozens of hours listening to the various genres of music with the Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC, we think pretty much everyone is going to love the way these headphones sound. The one exception to that rule would be those looking for thumping, sound-defining bass.
The most compelling aspect of the sound produced by these headphones is the exceptional clarity. This results in clear and bright expression in the high and mid ranges, flattering everything from twangy guitars to screeching flutes. Acoustic ensembles similarly sound particularly lively with these headphones as every subtle nuance makes its way to your ears, hinting towards the experience of watching a live performance in an intimate cafe.
The Lagoon ANC manages to anchor that clarity with well defined and resonant bass, rounding out any type of music into a full-bodied, well realized sound. However, that bass is not powerful enough to come to the forefront and be the main driver of the sound. Therefore if you like music where thunderous, thumping bass is a prerequisite, the Lagoon ANC will likely disappoint.
One unique feature of the Lagoon ANC's listening experience can only be accessed by pairing the headphones with the Beyerdynamic MIY app. Somewhat disappointingly this app won't let you adjust the EQ, but it can adjust the balance of the headphones based on your own specific hearing. It accomplishes this by administering a hearing test in which you have to press a button in the app whenever you hear a tone playing and release it whenever you don't. We found this adjustment to either be groundbreaking or unnoticeable — some testers thought the test results completely changed (and improved) the sound profile while others noticed no difference at all. It is likely that this test yields better and more noticeable results for those that have some sort of hearing damage or loss.
The Lagoon ANC provides a respectable amount of active noise cancellation and noise isolation in general, but falls well short of the top models on the market. If you're mostly looking for a pair of headphones that sound great, the Lagoon's noise cancellation is a nice bonus. If noise cancellation is the primary reason you're shopping for headphones, the Lagoon may fall short of your expectations.
Providing that your ears are small enough to nestle into the Lagoon's earcups without scrunching up the padding, the headphones themselves provide a good degree of noise isolation. Simply putting on the headphones cut out much of the background noise of planes and cafes in our testing. Switching on the active noise cancellation (which has a low and a high setting) almost completely eliminates predictable low-frequency noises like airplane engines and fans. Higher pitched and more random noises, like talking and the clinking of spoons onto ceramic ware, tend to more easily cut through the Lagoon's active noise cancellation. While more staccato noises like this are a challenge for any pair of noise cancelling headphones, the Lagoon's defenses seem more transparent to them than the competing models from Bose and Sony.
Bottom line, we found the Lagoon's noise isolation capabilities more than up to the task of allowing you to enjoy music in pretty much any situation. However, if you're specifically looking for a pair of noise cancelling headphones that will allow you to concentrate in noisy situations, there are certainly better options available.
Like so many of the over-ear headphones on the market today, the Lagoon ANC is quite comfy unless your ears are on the larger side of the spectrum.
The main complaints we received about the Lagoon ANC from our cadre of comfort testers are that the earcups are a tad too small and shallow and that the cushioning is just a bit too stiff. Even though most of our testers' ears touched the earcups to some degree while wearing these headphones, most found the sensation benign enough that it faded away after a bit. These testers had no problems wearing the Lagoon all day. However, those with ears on the larger side of average found the earcups to be quite restrictive and to create some uncomfortable hot spots after wearing them for a couple of hours.
The basic controls of the Lagoon ANC are quite straightforward, but the touchpad used for more specific functions can be quite finicky.
These headphones pack all of their controls onto the right earcup. On the bottom are two switches, one that turns the headphones on and off and that can initiate pairing more when held for three seconds, and another that toggles between three levels of active noise cancellation (one of those levels being zero active noise cancellation). Both of these switches are easy to find and use while wearing the headphones.
More advanced controls like volume adjustments and skipping tracks requires using the touchpad located on the face of the right earcup. Swiping up and down on this pad can increase and lower the volume, swiping forward and back can skip tracks, tapping functions as a play/pause button, and a number of more complicated gestures can do things like fast forward and summon virtual assistants. Unfortunately we found the touchpad to be less than responsive, requiring just the right angle and amount of pressure to accurately register a gesture. This resulted in us generally digging our phones out of our pockets when we needed to change the volume or skip tracks. Touchpad controls are hard to get right, but we've seen much better implementations of this technology in some competing headphones.
Beyerdynamic offers an MIY app that pairs with the Lagoon. We were somewhat disappointed that this app does not allow you to adjust the EQ. It can, however, administer a hearing test to calibrate the sound to your specific ears, and provides statistics of how long you spend listening to music each day, how loud that music has been, and suggests if your ears need a break from the loud noises.
A somewhat unique feature of the Lagoon is the "Light-Guide-System" — essentially a ring of LEDs within each earcup. If you pick up the headphones while they are turned on the right earcup glows red while the left glows white. Upon entering pairing mode these lights flash blue and once a connection is made a solid blue light shines. While this feature is unique and fairly creative, we didn't find that it added much to the overall user experience.
The Lagoon ANC tips the scales at 9.9 ounces, which is about average. The headphones include a semi-hard carrying case that gave us peace of mind that shoving the headphones into a carry-on wouldn't cause any damage. However, that case is somewhat oddly shaped and the headphones must be folded into a less than intuitive pretzel to fit into the case. It took us a couple trial runs until folding the headphones into the case felt like second nature.
The Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC sits at a somewhat odd price point that is slightly below those of the top-tier models, but is still high enough to be considered premium. These headphones sound just as good, and in some cases even better, than those top-tier models, the only sacrifice you make is in the quality of the active noise cancellation. Therefore, if all you're looking for is premium sound quality and you don't care about premium noise cancellation, these headphones provide a relatively good value per dollar. However, since these headphones are already quite costly many people shopping in this price range would likely prefer to spend a bit more on one of the top-tier models from Bose or Sony.
Offering premium sound quality for slightly less than the competition, the Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC is a great choice for audiophiles. However, its titular active noise cancellation can't quite compare with that of the other premium models on the market.
— Michelle Powell and Max Mutter