Audio-Technica is one of the biggest names in the audio world, producing some of the best-known headphones and microphones whether you’re in a studio or sitting down at your computer desk. The ATH-ANC300TW is the company’s flagship true wireless IEM, featuring active noise canceling and AptX playback for high quality listening over Bluetooth 5.0. At $199, they’re flagship priced — are they worth a buy? Let’s take a close look and find out.
- Current Price: $199 (Audio-Technica, Amazon)
- Type: Dynamic
- Driver Diameter: 5.8 mm
- Frequency Response: 20 – 25,000 Hz
- Sensitivity: 106 dB/mW
- Impedance: 14 ohms (unit impedance)
- Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth version 5.0
- Operating Range: Line of sight - approx. 10 m (33')
- Battery: Headphones: DC 3.7V lithium-ion battery
- Charging case: DC 3.7V lithium polymer battery
- Battery Life: Max. approx. 4.5 hours* (headphones); Max. approx. 18 hours* (headphones + charging case)
- Weight: Headphones (left & right combined): Approx. 14 g (0.5 oz)
- Charging case: Approx. 50 g (1.8 oz)
- Charging Time: Approx. 1 hours* (headphones); Approx. 2.5 hours* (charging case)
- Operating Temperature: 5 °C to 40 °C (41 °F to 104 °F)
- Microphone Type: MEMS type
- Microphone Sensitivity: -32 dB (1 V/Pa at 1 kHz)
- Microphone Frequency Response: 100 – 10,000 Hz
- Microphone Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional
- Accessories Included: 30 cm (1.0') USB-A/USB-C charging cable, Eartips (XS, S, M, L), Comply™ foam eartips (M)
- Maximum RF output: 10 mW EIRP
- Frequency band: 2.402 GHz to 2.480 GHz
- Modulation method: FHSS
- Compatible Bluetooth profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP
- Support codec: Qualcomm® aptX™ audio, AAC, SBC
- Supported content protection method: SCMS-T
- Transmission band: 20 to 20,000 Hz
Audio-Technica is one of those brands you need to keep a close eye on if you want to stay “up” with the headphone scene. The company has developed an incredible reputation in the professional and HiFi spaces for delivering headphones and audio equipment that punches above its class. Two quick examples we’ve covered here are the M50X headphones and the AT2020USB microphone, both of which are used by professionals and average consumers alike and are widely beloved products.
The ATH300TWS occupies a different space, however. It targets the mainstream consumer, not the studio pro or streamer. At $199, it competes directly with the likes of the Apple Airpods Pro and the Jabra Elite 85t. It’s designed with travel features in mind, like a built-in product locator and multiple levels of active noise canceling. At the same time, it one-ups the competition by supporting high-res codecs like AptX for improved Bluetooth audio quality and uses special DLC (diamond-like carbon) coated diaphragms, for distortion-free, detail-rich listening.
Inside the box, you’ll find the earbuds themselves, a medium-sized charging case, a USB Type-C charging cable, three pairs of silicone tips (S/M/L), as well as a pair of Comply foam ear tips. The inclusion of Comply foam tips is a nice touch that many other manufacturers don’t include and help to provide an even better fit.
The earbuds have a 4.5 hour rated battery life with ANC enabled, though I found this closer to four hours at about 70% volume. This isn’t terrible but falls on the shorter side of high-end earbuds today. Using the charging case, you’ll be able to recharge the buds about twice from being completely drained before needing to plug-in again. Since I rarely run earbuds dry, I found that I could go about four days before needing to recharge the case just by putting the earbuds away when I wasn’t using them. At 18 hours of total “uptime,” how much you listen will alter that obviously.
Charging time is quite good at one hour for a complete recharge. Compare that to the Jabra Elite 85t, which takes nearly 2.5 hours for a full recharge. It’s noteworthy that Audio-Technica makes no mention of fast charging, in this case, a feature many of its competitors are eager to call out, but since the overall charging time is so fast, it amounts to the same thing. Pop it in the case for 15-20 minutes and you’ll have more than an hour of listening restored.
The earbuds have a unique ergonomic shape that is designed to fit naturally into your ear. With the proper tips, I was able to achieve a good seal to experience the full sound quality the earbuds have to offer (pro tip: always take the time to try each set of tips and even mix different sizes; a poor seal will decrease sound quality dramatically). As someone with small ears, though, I found the buds to be pretty large and they stuck out of my ear quite a bit. They felt snug when sitting in place, but anything more than walking or sitting made them come loose a bit too often.
Regular adjustment isn’t unusual for me, especially with my left ear, but the ATH300TWS’s routinely let out a high-pitched squeal as my thumb covered one of the external microphones. I could avoid this by carefully grabbing the edge of the earbud, but it’s not something you would typically think to do when making a quick adjustment and was rather annoying.
The larger size of the buds also demands a larger case but A-T did well here. The case is on the larger side but is still small enough to slide easily into a pocket with room to spare for pens and change. It has a nice hinge that helps keep it closed and the buds themselves are held in place with strong magnets. They sit vertically and the magnets easily pull them into position. I also like that there are clear battery indicators on the front of the case to indicate the battery status after the lid closes. Plus, USB Type-C. That always deserves a call-out.
Controlling the buds is done through dedicated multi-function buttons on each earbud. By default, the right earbud controls tracks and calls and the left ANC and volume. It’s standard-fare for true wireless earbuds and easy to come to grips with. Single, double, and triple taps each have their own function and mean you can control all of your media, calls, and ANC without ever needing to pull out your smartphone.
What it really comes down to is sound and this is where Audio-Technica finds its edge. Despite targeting the mainstream consumer, these earbuds embrace high-fidelity audio in more ways than one. They have an expansive frequency response of 20-25,000Hz, pushing the most common areas of distortion outside the realm of human hearing. The earbuds also support AAC and AptX Bluetooth codecs. AptX in particular is a win over the ANC300TWS’s prime competition, reducing the compression audio receives when sent wirelessly (as long as your device supports it).
Audio-Technica has also treated its drivers with the Diamond-Like Carbon it applies on its high-end headphones. Like the Beryllium coating I described in my review of the Fiio FD5 earphones, this coating adds rigidity to the diaphragm, allowing it to respond with increased clarity and speed. It makes a difference. The overall clarity here is much better than the Jabra 85ts, which are my usual recommendation for a mainstream true wireless headphone.
The overall sound of the ANC300TWS is fairly flat, but there’s a solid low-end presence to make music sound full. I spent a good amount of my testing time with these headphones (around one month) listening to electronic music, and it’s able to boom and thrum with the best of them, filling out the oh-so-common pulse of electronica. At the same time, the mids and highs are clear and detailed. Percussion pops with these headphones, so cymbals and rimshots stand out. The stereo imaging is good, so songs with a lot of layers can be a lot of fun to listen to.
Like many true wireless buds, the soundstage is fairly tight. Instruments and audio layers in games and movies, while clear, feel close together. I highly recommend turning on Dolby Atmos if you’re using these with a Samsung device or PC that supports it.
The ANC is also good but isn’t as effective as Jabra or Apple. Inside the app, you can choose between three layers of sound isolation: Airplane, On the Go, and Office/Study. Rather than focus on pure intensity, each seems to hone in on a particular frequency band. They don’t always line up. Sitting in my classroom with only a vent blowing, “On the Go” is more effective than “Office/Study,” for example. For blocking out low-frequency noise, they work well and the difference between the ANC300TW’s and the Elite 85ts is small overall, but still noticeable in back-to-back tests.
Taken as a whole, the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC300TWs are a solid headphone with a few drawbacks that hold it back from being truly great. The size is too large compared to the competition and the regular squealing when adjusting them in my ears was unpleasant. The battery life is also on the low end, even with the fast recharging. That said, they sounded great, which is the most important quality behind comfort, which was good with the right tips. The active noise cancelling isn’t industry-leading but it’s good if you don’t mind using an app to adjust it. With these things in mind, the ANC300TW’s are a good headphone that’s priced a bit too high for the drawbacks it has. At $199, it’s a good buy for audio enthusiasts, but if you have smaller ears or don’t want to trouble yourself with its handful of quirks, it’s worth looking elsewhere.The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.