The Audio-Technicas are talented enough to stand out among the competition of CES 2020 true wireless in-ears and will certainly warrant a closer inspection when they go on sale in May 2020.
- Review Price: £209
Due on sale during May this year, and expected to sell for £209, the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC300TW are the company’s most ambitious true wireless in-ears so far.
As well as aptX Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connectivity and multi-pairing functionality, the 300TWs feature Qualcomm’s ‘TrueWireless Stereo Plus’, which allows streaming to both earbuds simultaneously. This impacts positively on both power consumption and latency.
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Audio-Technica ATH-ANC300TW design – Ergonomic design aids noise cancellation
The ergonomically shaped earbuds themselves each feature two microphones to monitor external noise – Audio Technica’s ‘Quietpoint’ technology then allows the wearer to select one of three levels of noise-cancellation.
The ‘airplane’, ‘on the go’ (which allows some ambient sound) and ‘office/study’ noise-cancellation modes can be accessed from the Audio Technica Connect app, which also lets the wearer monitor battery life, control playback and locate the 300TWs should they get misplaced. The earbuds also feature physical controls for playback, volume and ‘hear-through’ (which allows the listener to hear what’s going on around them without having to remove the earbud).
The ‘buds are IPX-2 certified, and are supplied with a selection of silicon tips. Sound is delivered by 5.8mm carbon-coated drivers, and there’s Qualcomm (that company again) Clear Voice Capture technology on board to help with call quality. Battery life is an absolutely bog-standard 4.5 hours from a single charge, with a further 13.5 hours available from the case.
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC300TW sound – Very positive on both the audio and noise cancelling front
By any measure, then, the ATH-ANC300TWs have got pretty much everything you could reasonably expect. But, of course, lavish specification will only take you so far – and headphones stand or fall by the sound they make.
A convention centre on the first day of a sold-out CES 2020 is about as stern a test of noise-cancelling headphones as it’s possible to imagine, and the Audio Technicas gave a very positive account of themselves during my time with them. Getting a good fit is straightforward, and even before any clever processing takes place the 300TWs offer a good degree of physical noise isolation.
With active noise-cancellation engaged, the din of hundreds of tech-hungry attendees is, to all intents and purposes, banished – leaving me in a state of isolation plenty profound enough to form some first impressions.
A listen to Big Thief’s Shark Smile via a Sony Xperia 5 smartphone is enough to confirm the 300TWs are no duds. They create a big, convincing soundstage that’s spacious enough to put real openness into the recording. Bass is weighty and controlled, with good texture and solidity, while the opposite end of the frequency range is crisp and attacking (but never seems in any danger of getting hard or brittle).
In between, the midrange gives Adrianne Lenker’s vocal plenty of detail and nuance, bringing an appropriate amount of character to her delivery. Each earbud’s single 5.8mm driver handles the journey from the lowest frequencies to the highest smoothly, with no undue emphasis being given to any particular area.
It’s not the most dynamically challenging song in the world, it’s true, but as far as low-level dynamics and subtle harmonic variances go the Audio Technicas demonstrate plenty of skill. How they fare when confronted with real audio attack and punch remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say they’re a poised and quite eloquent listen.
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC300TW – Early Verdict
A hands-on review is never going to be able to give a full account of a product, of course, and I’d want to spend far longer with the 300TWs than a couple of goes through some pleasant folk/rock/Americana before suggesting they might be genuine contenders.
But by the time I’d finished listening to them it was clear the Audio-Technicas are talented enough to a) stand out among the plethora of CES 2020 true wireless in-ears and b) warrant a full review when their on-sale date comes closer.