Reviewing the BeyerDynamic Lagoon makes me sad. Not because it’s a bad set of headphones—it’s very good. But because in spite of a top-notch job in almost every aspect of the product, recent advances have outclassed it.
The Lagoon offers an amazingly polished presentation that justifies its high price, at the top of the ever-growing pile of Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) Bluetooth headphones. But it’s impossible to deny that competition from the likes of Sony and Bose have made this tech accessible at a lower price point. The simple truth is that, apart from an admittedly excellent fit and finish, you can get a better experience elsewhere for less money.
Nicer, Not Better
The Lagoon offers pretty much everything you could ever want from a high-end set of headphones. A beautiful, understated design that makes Sony look boring and Beats look trashy. A laundry list of cutting-edge features, like support for APTX Low Latency and two different levels of ANC. Even personalized sound profiles, allowing you to customize the equalizer and sound cancellation levels through the mobile app. It’s clear that BeyerDynamic wanted to squeeze every possible feature it could into this set, and have done so, in a surprisingly small package for around-the-ear headphones. And yes, that includes USB-C charging.
Let me highlight, literally, a small design choice that shows why the Lagoon is a cut above in terms of style. Most Bluetooth headphones include a single small LED for identifying things like connection status or battery level. On the Lagoon, this status light is a ring of LEDs on the inside of both cups, creating a sort of “floor effect” lighting system. It’s a delightful little touch, showing the user the information quickly and easily without making it distracting for everyone around them.
The problem is, this solution isn’t really any better than a single, small LED; it’s just nicer. That’s a common theme here. The beautiful jingle and recorded voice you hear upon turning the headphones on or activating ANC is nice, but not more useful than a simple series of beeps. The swipe-and-tap controls on the right cup make the set look stunning and smooth, but they aren’t easier to use than conventional buttons. Even taken together, these splendid details can’t overcome the shortfalls of the headphones’ more important features.
Noise Cancelling Doesn’t Compete
And unfortunately, this set falls short in a couple of crucial areas. The first, and most dramatic, is noise cancellation. The level of cancellation in the Lagoon simply isn’t as effective or dramatic as it is in the new industry standard, the Sony WH1000X M3. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good…it just isn’t anywhere near as good as it needs to be to hang out in such exalted company.
The second failure ties into this: value. BeyerDynamic sets the retail price of the Lagoon at a whopping $500, or $399 if you’re buying directly from its store. You can get the best consumer-grade noise cancellation money can buy from Sony for about $300 street price. And if you’re willing to give up creature comforts, you can find active noise cancellation that’s almost as good as the Lagoon from budget brands like Anker for under $100. For anyone concerned with value, this set it just a losing proposition.
That doesn’t mean that I can’t recommend the Lagoon to anyone. It’s incredibly appealing as a piece of consumer design; the materials are excellent, and the sound quality blew me away no matter what I was using it with. (The 40mm drivers have a super-wide 10-30,000 Hz frequency range, for you CTRL-F users out there.) Even the included Millennium Falcon-shaped carrying case is gorgeous, and much less voluminous than some other options thanks to fold-flat ear cups. The battery lasts for 20+ hours, even with ANC activated at the highest level.
Who’s It For?
So if you’re looking for ANC headphones that do almost everything as well as the big boys while looking, sounding, and feeling, fantastic, the Lagoon is for you…if you don’t care about noise cancellation. And you don’t mind paying $100-200 more than you need to. I realize that’s a pretty small portion of the market, but those who fit into it will be thrilled with the Lagoon. Everyone else will probably be better served by the more popular picks.