2020 will be the year that most audio companies offer a model of true wireless earbud that features active noise cancellation (ANC). In 2019, Sony, Apple, and Amazon were the only ones with this feature, but in 2020, you can add Audio-Technica to the list. Its $249 QuietPoint ATH-ANC300TW has made its debut at CES 2020, and it’s the company’s first true wireless earbuds with ANC.
Audio-Technica claims that its ANC system uses a newly developed hybrid design. The ANC mics are located both in front of and behind the driver, with one of the ANC mics mounted in a horizontal configuration within the sound chamber. According to Audio-Technica, this allows the location of the driver and geometry of the chamber to be optimized for an ideal balance of ambient noise reduction and audio performance.
The earbuds also feature a hear-through function that lets you pipe some outside sounds in for greater awareness of your surroundings and to have conversations. On the inside, the buds feature 5.8mm drivers with a “diamond-like carbon-coated diaphragm” that Audio-Technica claims can deliver faster response time and reduced distortion, along with generous bass response and improved high-frequency extension and clarity.
We hope the sound quality and ANC system prove to be the selling points for the ATH-ANC300TW because the rest of the product’s specs are decidedly underwhelming. Battery life is only 4.5 hours between charges and the charging case only extends this to a total of 18 hours. Audio-Technica hasn’t made any claims about the earbuds’ ability to withstand water or dust exposure, leading us to assume there’s no IPX rating. Another surprising omission is any mention of voice-assistant access.
These specs would have been somewhat surprising, but still acceptable, at the start of 2019, but at the start of 2020, they seem downright archaic.
We’re not clear on whether the ATH-ANC300TW’s control system uses touch-sensitive areas or physical buttons, but we do know that you can control volume as well as playback.
In 2019, we reviewed Audio-Technica’s CKR7TW true-wireless earbuds. They sounded great and had a much better battery life of 6 hours. However, they were plagued by a lack of features, as well as terrible video sync via aptX.
Audio-Technica has also unveiled two other models of true wireless earbuds at the show: The $169 ATH-CKS5TW are notable for their claimed 15 hours of playback time (45 hours with the charging case) and compatibility with the Audio-Technica Connect mobile app, which allows users to check battery life, adjust settings, control playback and locate the earbuds if they’re misplaced.
There’s also the $119 ATH-CK3TW, with six hours of playtime (30 with the charging case). It’s the only model of these three true wireless earbuds that Audio-Technica says will work with voice assistants like Siri and Google Assistant.
As soon as we get these models in for review, we’ll let you know if they’re better than these limited specs suggest.
Headphones and IEMs
Also taking the stage at CES alongside these new true wireless earbuds are Audio-Technica’s latest over-ear and in-ear headphones:
- $1,200 ATH-IEX1 (available in January 2020): A set of quad-driver IEMs that match two dynamic drivers for accurate lows and mids with a pair of balanced armatures for precise and clear highs. They come with detachable 1/8-inch stereo and 4.4 mm 5-pole balanced cables.
- $650 ATH-WP900 (available in January 2020): A portable, flat-folding set of over-ear cans with flame maple wood earpieces. The hi-res-capable headphones use 53mm drivers with a DLC Diamond-Like Carbon and come with two detachable 1.2 m cables (A2DC to 1/8” plug and A2DC to 4.4 mm 5-pole plug).
- $1,399 ATH-AWAS (available in March 2020): These over-ear headphones are made with rare Asada Zakura (Ostrya Japonica, a type of ironwood). With hi-res-capable 53mm drivers and Audio-Technica’s DADS (Double Air Damping System) for accurate bass response, they also have A2DC jacks and both 1/4-inch stereo and 4-pin XLRM balanced cables.
- $1,899 ATH-AWKT (available in March 2020): Handcrafted in Tokyo with Kokutan (striped ebony) hardwood, these 53mm drivers use a permendur magnetic circuit with extremely high flux density. Sheep leather earpads and a wooden storage case complete the luxurious experience.
Finally, Audio-Technica also has a new platter spinner. The $399 AT-LPW50PB is a belt-driven turntable in a glossy piano-black finish. It has a cast aluminum platter mated to a sensor-controlled motor that ensures accuracy at both 33-1/3 and 45 RPM.
It uses a straight-line, matte-black carbon-fiber tonearm fitted with an AT-VM95E moving magnet phono cartridge, which is premounted on an AT-HS4 universal-mount headshell. The cartridge uses Audio-Technica’s dual magnet design. The company claims the magnets are precisely positioned to match the left and right channels of the record’s stereo groove walls.
The AT-LPW50PB has an external power supply, a built-in phono preamp, and height-adjustable feet. It goes on sale in spring 2020.
Follow our live blog for more CES news and announcements.
- The best cheap headphones for 2020
- Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review: Best ANC Buds
- The best noise-canceling earbuds for 2020
- The best headphones for 2020
- The best headphones under $100