It’s an affordable wireless noise-canceling headphone showdown. In one corner we have the Cowin E7 Pro and in the other, the Strauss and Wagner ANCBT501. Which pair of cans is the best bang for your buck? I’ve been given the opportunity to try both, and listen to them for a good amount of time. I believe both models have a lot to offer, especially for their bargain price, and my philosophy is that each headphone has a sound for someone. However, I found the Cowin and the Strauss and Wagner to be very distinct in their timbre, even if both headphones function very similarly. So let’s ring the bell and begin this bout between the Cowin E7 Pro and the Strauss and Wagner ANCBT501.
Let’s start off by introducing each headphone properly. The E7 Pro is a wireless noise-canceling headphone made by Cowin. This is an upgraded version from a previous model: The E7. The ANCBT501 comes from Strauss and Wagner and is their only over the ear wireless headphone. In this comparison, we’ll be looking at their aesthetic, fit, design, and sound response.
Look and Feel
On the surface, both the E7 Pro and The ANCBT501 look very similar in look. I just so happen to have tried the black version of the E7s, which looks identical to the 501s. They even both use the exact same metallic material on their shells. The Cowins sport a semi-glossier finish compared to the 501s which consists of a more matte finish. The E7s looks just more polished in the parts department, as the 501s seem to have too many plastic parts. They both have plastic parts, but the 501s feel especially cheap. Trying on both cans, there was a slight difference in feel. They both sported a snug fit, but the 501s had a lighter, more weightless feel, especially after multiple listening hours. The E7s still feel comfortable, but I could feel a lot more pressure on my ears after a significant amount of time had passed. Overall build quality I think I’d have to give this one to the E7s, but in comfort, the 501s had a slight upper hand.
Design and Features
In terms of ANC, both the E7 and 501s are consistent. The 501s specifically feature 28dB of noise cancellation, and there doesn’t seem to be a substantial loss in quality when switching on and off. The E7s like to have their noise cancellation sound boxier, which works if you’re into a deeper low-end sound. There’s also a difference in drivers. The 501s support 40mm drivers, while the E7 boasts a 45mm driver. The difference here is the E7s end up having a larger overall response and don’t require much power. The 501s might need more of a boost even when ANC is enacted. Where the 501s get a leg up over the E7s though is the fact that Strauss and Wagner use Bluetooth 5.0 instead of E7s 4.0. This gives the 501s a much grander range, as well as higher bandwidth.
There’s also the importance of battery life. The E7s will last you about 30 hours, while the 501s take another lead with 40 hours of battery life. Ther interface buttons on the E7s basically consist of a slider switching on/off and Bluetooth, and a big single button on the right shell to play/pause, skip, and volume. My issue with this triangle button is that some of the buttons are too close to each other and it’s way too easy to accidentally skip a song when you just want to pause it. The buttons of the 501s are a lot more streamlined. A single button to power on/off, one button for ANC alone on the left cup, and three separate buttons for play/pause, skip, and volume. It’s much more simplistic and doesn’t take very long to get used to.
As I mentioned briefly, the E7s like to box in their sound. This grants more of an opportunity to pay closer attention to the deep lows, but the spacing suffers because of it. This becomes an even bigger issue when enacting ANC, as there’s now even less space. Some semblance of imaging is preserved, but it’s not as wide and lacks a consistent aural feel. In comparison, the 501s feature a lot more space between elements. Neither headphone boasts a high-fidelity soundstage, but there is a much more noticeable difference in spatial imaging with the 501s compared to the E7s.
What the E7s have over the 501s in the lower end of things is the width. The bass tones expand and feel powerful. However, the textures aren’t the smoothest, and the tonality gets into the muddy territory at certain points. If you’re looking for a deep, impactful hip-hop beat, this might work for you, but with other genres, it doesn’t consist of a lot of balance. This is where the 501s will succeed. Although they suffer from being a little rumbly at times, the 501s have a more balanced low-end timbre, while still delivering those deep, punchy textures.
Despite having some quite lively mids, I found the E7s to be quite dull here compared to the 501s. While not the worst tonality, there’s too much bleed from the low mids. Vocal ranges never get to seem very clear, and sometimes can have a honking consistency. The 501s have distinct clarity in their mid-range, and they successfully cut through some of the more harsh lows. This is great for more explosive rock tracks, as distorted guitars have a bit more heft to them.
I can be forgiving of a weaker high end if the bass tones and low mids can make up for it, but the E7s just lose me here. They come off as tinny most of the time and don’t have any real richness or glisten. They come off as limiting. The 501s are also kind of limited here, but there’s a big difference in overall detail. Cymbals have that shimmering tonality I look for in my high end, and the notes on a piano glisten. Female vocals in this range also have a soft elegance to them.
In short, I believe the Strauss and Wagner ANCBT501s just have a more balanced sound signature than the E7s, but the E7s may have a livelier overall output. The 501s also have the E7s beat in terms of battery life as well, but maybe the overall design of the E7s is more your taste. Both headphones are pretty top-notch considering their price point. Even though the E7s may be a bit cheaper, I would personally recommend dishing out the extra 50 bucks for the 501s.
Cowin E7 Pro Available at Amazon
Strauss and Wagner ANCBT501 Available at Audio 46
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