Earlier than Bluetooth and wi-fi headphones grew to become a giant deal, Audio-Technica was a preferred identify within the enterprise of wired client headphones. That is to not say that the Japanese model has misplaced its relevance, however a few of its new merchandise appear to rely closely on nostalgia and the confirmed credentials of a few of its widespread fashions from the previous decade, such because the M-series of monitor-grade studio headphones. The product I am reviewing right here is strictly that — a refreshed, Bluetooth-powered model of an outdated favorite.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M20x has been round for years, and was as soon as a very fashionable choose for its then-novel studio monitor sound at an affordable worth. The corporate’s newest product is the wi-fi model of it. The Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT is priced at Rs. 13,500 in India, giving nostalgic consumers an opportunity to expertise the distinctive sonic signature, however with the comfort of wi-fi connectivity. With a promise of 60 hours of battery life, multi-point connectivity, and non-compulsory wired connectivity, is that this the perfect wi-fi over-ear headset you should buy at round Rs. 15,000 proper now? Discover out on this evaluate.
Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT design and specs
The Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT is, fairly actually, a wi-fi model of the traditional (and wired) Audio-Technica ATH-M20x. It appears to be like and feels the identical for essentially the most half, with a correct over-ear match, comfy padding across the ears and on the headscarf, and a metallic body connecting the 2 ear cups. The design similarities additionally embrace the ‘ATH-M20x’ etched into the perimeters, the mild swivel for match adjustment, the telescopically adjusting headband, and the uncovered audio wires close to the headscarf.
Accessible in a single black color (for now), the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT advantages from the extremely acquainted design and match of its predecessor. At 216g, the headphones do not weigh as a lot as you’d count on given the scale, and really feel gentle and cozy to put on with the padding across the ear cups utterly protecting my ears.
I wasn’t too impressed with the standard of the passive noise isolation, with the padding merely not doing sufficient to cease exterior sound from getting in. The upside of this was that I did not have to take off the headphones to get some air as typically, with the match permitting an affordable quantity of air circulate to my ears.
There are, in fact, small variations within the design to accommodate the controls and buttons. These embrace the stereo socket for wired listening, a USB Kind-C port for charging, and three buttons to regulate playback and quantity, all positioned on the left facet. Included within the gross sales package deal are a USB Kind-A to Kind-C charging cable and a stereo cable for wired connectivity, however sadly no carry case for the headphones.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT makes use of Bluetooth 5 for main connectivity, with help for the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs. The headphones have 40mm dynamic drivers, a frequency response vary of 5 to 32,000Hz, a rated sensitivity of 100dB, and an impedance of 36Ohms. There’s a microphone on the M20xBT, so you should use it as a hands-free headset.
Usefully, there may be multi-point connectivity, so you may pair and join to 2 units concurrently, with the headphones switching intelligently between the 2 based mostly on content material enjoying or calls acquired. There isn’t any lively noise cancellation or app help on the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT, and no wear-detection sensors as properly, making it considerably under-equipped in comparison with competing choices from manufacturers resembling Sony, JBL, and Sennheiser.
Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT efficiency and battery life
Though the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT is certainly a bit low on options, it guarantees loads in terms of an important side — sound high quality. Pitched because the wi-fi model of the ATH-M20x, Audio-Technica claims to supply the identical sonic tuning, however with the comfort of wi-fi connectivity. I will not go so far as to say that the M20xBT sounds pretty much as good because the M20x for the apparent purpose that wired connectivity will at all times sound higher than Bluetooth, however the M20xBT does come pretty shut.
The place the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT positively presents a well-recognized listening expertise is within the sonic signature. It is the identical impartial, studio-friendly sound that made the M-series so widespread, giving frequencies throughout the vary loads of room to shine. This made for a good quantity of audible element within the sound, and the power to pinpoint faint parts in tracks that tied in properly with the thought of studio screens.
This was the case throughout genres and tracks, however the sonic signature and tonality of the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT significantly suited slower, extra detail-oriented tracks. Listening to the superb Fact by Kamasi Washington, the ATH-M20xBT headphones was revealing and insightful past what most wi-fi headsets on this worth vary can obtain.
The sluggish development of this jazz observe was partaking, with the headphones delivering each mild hit of the drums, the saxophone riffs, and the occasional piano parts with excellent precision for a wi-fi headset. This mixed with spectacular timbre and growl within the lows, a transparent mid vary for the orchestral vocals, and sharp highs that sometimes felt a bit too sharp.
With Arambol by Astropilot, I had a change to hear extra carefully to the stereo separation of the headphones, in addition to particular parts throughout the frequency vary. The bass naturally didn’t sound as calculated and tight as on the way more spectacular (and costly) Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT, with the main focus extra on delivering the impartial, flat sound, slightly than on the polish and refinement that’s discovered on dearer wi-fi headphones.
The clearly completely different tuning of the M20xBT tended to point out cracks when issues bought too busy and an excessive amount of was occurring within the observe, and that is maybe the place superior codec help might need aided the general sound. With help for simply the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT felt a bit overwhelmed at instances.
On the entire, although, Bluetooth itself appears to be the issue right here; the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT is simply too true to its roots as a wired headset, and easily is not tuned for the inferior wi-fi enter sign of Bluetooth. Certainly, plugging within the cable and listening the old style means appeared to make up for a number of the shortcomings within the sound, however this is not what you are paying Rs. 13,500 for.
Name high quality was first rate indoors, with the loud sound making a distinction in my potential to listen to the particular person on the opposite finish of the decision. Connectivity was secure as properly, with the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT working properly at distances of as much as 4m from the supply system. Battery life on the headphones is great, with the headset working for round 48 hours on a single cost with music enjoying constantly at average volumes.
Audio-Technica is a noteworthy identify within the client headphones and earphones house, and the ATH-M20xBT is itself from an iconic product lineup. Nonetheless, this does not fairly assist an excessive amount of right here. Though it has the identical monitor-grade sound as its wired model, is pretty revealing and insightful, and has wonderful battery life, it is held again by a couple of points. These embrace its lack of help for superior Bluetooth codecs, and the excessive worth.
It’d make sense for followers of the Audio-Technica M-series lineup who need the advantage of wi-fi connectivity, however the ATH-M20xBT feels a bit under-equipped for the value, with no lively noise cancellation, app help, or something past Bluetooth connectivity for that matter. Objectively, this can be a good pair of headphones in itself, however ought to have value significantly lower than Rs. 13,500.