Japanese maestros of the earcup, Audio Technica makes a hell of a lot of headphones already and today at CES, it unveiled a bunch more. Of most interest (to us at any rate) were the sporty ones, and the premium noise-cancelling ones, but there’s also another premium pair that the brand is claiming to be the best-sounding Bluetooth in-ears ever. Hmm.
But which one will you want?
- Best headphones under £100
Taking a Powerbeats-esque approach to sporty headphone design – ie: a hook that goes over your ears – the ATH-SPORT70BT and ATH-SPORT50BT should be highly comfortable and fairly secure, if they’re like other hook-y headphones we’ve used. With an IPX5 water-resistant rating they’re protected from rain and sweat and can be “washed under a running tap after each session.” Ew.
The flagship ATH-SPORT70BT comes in more high-end colours (diamond black or rose gold), has better sound, abetted by “rigid carbon-coated 9mm drivers” and support for Apple’s favoured AAC codec. There’s the ability to hear more of your surroundings with a tap of the earpiece – great for those who like a little situational awareness along with their jog – and you get a so-so 6 hours of battery life per charge.
The ATH-SPORT50BT comes in a choice of acidic hues or black, and presumably sound a bit crappier: more like £69 headphones rather than £119 headphones, to put it in technical language.
• ATH-SPORT70BT, £119, ATH-SPORT50BT, £69, out in spring
Looking for a bit o’ that sweet, high-margin, noise-cancelling market action, the ATH-ANC700BT QuietPoint are Bluetooth cans which support CD quality transmission via both Apt-X and AAC.
A handsome looking pair of headphones, the ATH-ANC700BT QuietPoint takes on Bose’s QC35, Beats Studio 3 and the rest of the luxe ANC (active noise-cancelling) breed, but at a slightly lower price. Hopefully the noise-cancelling has been significantly improved from Audio Technica’s last batch of NC headphones, because while they were good-sounding cans, the noise reduction was ‘discreet’ to the point of being barely there.
• ATH-ANC700BT QuietPoint, £199, out spring
Using the mysteriously popular ‘necklace’ form for in-ear Bluetooth headphones, Audio Technica is claiming nothing less than a ‘class-leading’ performance from the ATH-DSR5BT.
The brand’s Pure Digital Drive tech “keeps the original audio signal completely digital from source to driver for an unrivalled performance”. That sound you can hear in the background is analogue-loving audiophiles’ heads exploding, so let Audio Technica explain: “Sound quality during a digital-to-analogue conversion will often distort and degrade. By implementing a Trigence Semiconductor Dnote chipset, the digital-to-analogue process is bypassed, keeping the audio signal completely digital from the source to the headphone drivers.”
The press release is pretty damn bullish about this, promising, “Crystal clear and natural audio performance, revealing a level of detail and clarity never heard before over a wireless connection.” So these had better be good, or I’m just going to feel quite horribly betrayed.
AAC and Apt-X CD-quality sound is supported, and as you’d imagine, these are not exactly coming free with cornflakes.
• ATH-DSR5BT, £349, out in spring
The jauntily-styled ATH-S200BT is Audio Technica’s latest entry to the sub-£100 Bluetooth over-ear sector and should provide plenty of bang for your (not many) bucks.
The lightweight, wireless cans boast a huge 40 hours maximum playback time per charge, on-ear controls and 40mm drivers. There’s no AAC or Apt-X support but I suspect these will sound just dandy anyway, particularly for the price. Your colour options: black, white, black with red accents, grey with blue accents.
• ATH-S200BT, £59, out in spring