Stereocheck Reviews:

Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7: Worth checking out

I have been acquainted with the Audio-Technica brand for quite some time now. I have always been intrigued by their headphones, and for almost a decade, I have been using the Audio-Technica ATH-M50...

I have been acquainted with the Audio-Technica brand for quite some time now. I have always been intrigued by their headphones, and for almost a decade, I have been using the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 headphones, without the X prefix, which are still functioning flawlessly. Despite being discontinued long ago, they continue to excel in their primary functions. Currently, I utilize them for video editing purposes.

Now, let’s shift our focus to the main subject of this review – the recently released wireless headphones. I have acquired the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 model, which is considered one of the top TWS options from this Japanese brand. Priced at approximately $250, they do not surpass the psychological threshold of thousands of dollars. This is in contrast to their flagship model, which bears the TWX9 designation.

Although I have had the opportunity to listen to the flagship headphones, I will refrain from comparing them in this review as it would be futile. They belong to completely different price ranges. However, I can confidently state that in terms of sound quality and overall presentation, I found these headphones to be more appealing. But fear not, we will delve into all the details in due course.

Unpacking and packaging

Let’s start with the box in which the headphones are delivered. It consists of a white cover that is wrapped over a box made of ordinary “kraft” cardboard. On the cover, we can see the brand name at the top, the earphones at the bottom, and the model name at the bottom, and the main features: LDAC codec support and wireless Hi-Res certification. This means that without wires, the upper limit of the frequency range reaches 40 kHz.

The package for wireless headphones is slightly expanded :

  • Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 headphones
  • cable (30 cm) for recharging USB Type C – USB A
  • 8 pairs of ear pads, including 1 pair that is already installed on the headphones. Regarding the ear cushions, I will say that there are 4 pairs of ear cushions with a hard core with sizes (XS, S, M, L), the manufacturer claims that they provide a better fit and stability. And with a thicker (softer) core, also with sizes (XS, S, M, L), they will reduce the strain on the ears during long-term use.
  • a fabric bag for transporting the headphones is also included
  • and a whole bunch of waste paper, of which the warranty card and the user manual are important and interesting

 

Specifications

Weight and size indicators :

  • weight of headphones: 4.7 grams each
  • case weight: 47.5 grams

Acoustic parameters :

  • speaker diameter: 5.8 mm
  • frequency range: 10 – 40,000 Hz
  • sensitivity 100 dB/mW
  • resistance: 16 ohms

Wireless connection :

  • Bluetooth version 5.1 (up to 10 meters)
  • codecs: LDAC, AAC, SBC
  • support for sampling frequencies of 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 96 kHz (when using the LDAC codec)
  • 20-20,000Hz via AAC, SBC and 10-47,000Hz (via LDAC at 96kHz sampling rate)

Battery :

  • 3.85 V, 500 mAh
  • provides up to 6.5 hours of operation with activated ANC and up to 7.5 hours without it
  • together with the case up to 20 hours with ANC, and up to 24 hours without it
  • charging time is about 1.5 hours for the headphones and 3 hours with the case
  • wireless charging up to 5 hours

Features :

  • IPX4 water protection of the headphones themselves

 

Design and features

The case design, along with the headphones themselves, strongly resembles the flagship model Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9, but is visually perceived as less fancy and more restrained. Personally, I prefer the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7. The case is more compact, making it easier to carry around, while still maintaining its futuristic shape. Inside the case, there is no UV or proximity sensors for automatic play/pause, but these features are not necessary when the focus is on music playback quality. Additionally, there is a transparency mode and noise reduction, which I will discuss in more detail later. I tested the black model, but there is also a white version available for purchase.

The case features a charge indicator that lights up green when the headphones are fully charged, yellow when the charge level is above half, and orange when it is below half. The case is sturdy and does not creak, with minimal movement in the top cover when gripped tightly. It can be considered one of the top 5 cases in terms of build quality. Inside, there are 2 spacers that prevent bouncing and clicking when the case is closed. The gentle closing of the case gives it a premium feel, reminiscent of an expensive eyeglass case.

The headphone features a unique futuristic design with a deep fit that may not be considered universal, so it is advisable to measure it before making a purchase. Each earpiece is equipped with 3 microphones, one of which is dedicated to noise cancellation. Control functions are managed through physical buttons on the headphone’s arms, as well as touch panels on the faceplates that display logos. A white indicator above the microphone on the stand signals connection to the phone and playback status (blinking during playback). To connect to a sound source, simply remove the headphones from the case to activate search mode, then locate them in the Bluetooth search on your device.

  • compact headphones with a digital hybrid noise canceling system
  • transparency mode and noise reduction can be used for listening to music and calls
  • MEMS (microelectromechanical system) microphones, high-frequency noise cancellation processor and proprietary filter work together to provide excellent noise cancellation
  • listening function, allows you to hear surrounding sounds (as well as your own voice not muffled) so you can talk to other people without removing the headphones
  • the talk function lets you hear the voices around you, instantly turning down the music volume, amplifying the voices of the world around you, and increasing your voice bandwidth
  • speakers with a diameter of 5.8 mm are taken from the flagship model ATX-TW9, provide an extended frequency range and improved sound detail
  • LDAC codec support that allows you to play 24-bit/96kHz audio files
  • high-performance microphones, form a beam and work in two modes (natural and noise reduction) ensuring clear voice transmission when talking on the phone
  • the call check function allows you to check how the interlocutor hears you
  • the microphones can easily be turned off during a call
  • the Soundscape function reproduces the sounds of nature and masks noise, so that you can relax or concentrate
  • the private timer function provides advanced personal time management
  • multipoint function allows you to connect headphones to two sources for quick switching between them
  • 6.5 hours with ANC and up to 13.5 hours additionally with a case (total up to 20 hours)
  • the AT Connect application gives you additional control: you can turn on the low-latency mode, you can choose the Natural (transparency) and Noise-Reduction (noise reduction) modes during calls, change the codec or adjust the equalizer (more on that later)
  • compact charging case with SoftTouch coating that does not slip in the hand, it is easy to carry with you anywhere
  • protection of headphones against water according to the IPX4 standard
  • headphones can be used both at once or one at a time

 

Functional

In this segment, we will discuss the methods of noise reduction, transparency, and delve into the topic of microphones. I will also draw comparisons with my TWS Technics AZ60, particularly since they fall within a similar price range. Traditionally, I evaluate transparency and noise reduction by playing music through speakers rather than directly in the headphones, allowing for a more unbiased evaluation of the noise reduction and transparency quality.

Let’s kick off with the noise-canceling feature, which performs well here by effectively cutting off low-frequency and some mid-frequency sounds. When compared to Technics AZ60, there is a noticeable difference, although not a drastic one. Technics is relatively older, and advancements in technology have been made since then. I must point out that Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 allows for more sounds from the mid-frequency spectrum to come through, placing it slightly ahead. It’s important to note that good active noise isolation also requires high-quality passive isolation, meaning that the fit should be comfortable to maximize contact with the inner ear. Technics AZ60 fits me better, so the less advanced noise reduction doesn’t fall far behind.

In terms of transparency, Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 excels, offering a more natural and louder representation of the surrounding environment compared to Technics. The microphones on Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 also show a significant improvement, capturing voices with depth and timbral emphasis. During phone calls, the voice quality was praised by the interviewer. While Technics AZ60 also boasts good microphone recording, the voice tends to sound flatter, resembling a “telephone” quality. Despite this, the voice remains clear with minimal distortion. However, Audio-Technica demonstrates a notably superior performance during phone conversations.

Management and application

Let’s start with control, as I mentioned above, it is performed using the buttons on the legs and thanks to the touch panels on the faceplates.
Right earphone :

  • single press of the button – play/pause
  • double click – next track
  • triple tap – previous track

Touch panel :

  • double-click to switch between noise reduction/transparency or disable all modes

Left earphone :

  • press the button once to increase the volume
  • double tap – decrease volume

Touch panel :

  • double-click to switch between noise reduction/transparency or disable all modes

 

Moving on to the app, it’s called  Audio-Technica | Connect . Available on both AppStore and PlayMarket, it is free. Provides additional options for setting modes, changing codecs, equalizer, etc. But about everything in turn.

After installing and opening the application, the headphones are automatically detected. No need to enable location. On the main screen from the top, we see the name of the headphones, below their image is the color they are, if you click on the arrow to the right of their image, you can go to additional settings. Which we will talk about at the end.

Under the image of the headphones we see 4 buttons for basic settings :

  • charge levels of the right and left earphones (there is no display of the charge of the case in percentages, only from the LED indication on the case itself)
  • we can choose the LDAC codec (if it is not activated in the application, it will not work in the phone, only AAC and SBC will be available)
  • you can choose from 4 installed sound presets, or adjust the equalizer yourself
  • mode settings, we can choose either noise reduction or transparency, it can also be turned off. The level of transparency can be changed
  • below we see the volume level scale, by pulling up you can choose the number of volume levels (16, 32 or 64) for a more precise volume setting
  • at the very bottom of the main screen, the currently playing track is displayed, you can either pause it or switch to the next one

 

Additional settings :

  • also the same as in the main ones (you can choose either noise reduction or transparency, you can also turn it off)
  • “Talk-Through” mode – activates the transparency mode and music plays somewhere at the level of 10 percent. “Natural” – reduces low and high frequency noise to focus on the human voice. “Strong” – improves sound perception so that the user can still hear the surroundings.
  • equalizer
  • codecs
  • soundscapes, nature sounds and noise masking, for relaxation, meditation or concentration
  • low latency mode will be relevant for watching movies and playing games
  • you can change the number of volume levels
  • adjust channel balance
  • when talking on the phone, you can choose Natural (transparency) and Noise-Reduction (noise reduction) modes during calls

 

In addition, I would like to mention that within the second tab, you will find system settings that allow you to: schedule a timer (e.g. headphones will start playing sound after 5 minutes), customize button functions if you are not satisfied with the default settings, including those on the touch panel. Moreover, there is an auto-off timer for the headphones, which will automatically power off within 5-60 minutes if no music is playing. You have the option to change the language of the voice assistant (the voice that provides information about mode changes, etc.). You can also view the list of connected devices to the headphones and check the connection history. In the help, support, and product information section, there is an option to reset the headphones in case of any issues.

Autonomy

Audio-Technica claim the battery life is quite modest when compared to its competitors. The flagship headphones, with a rating of 9, have an even worse battery life. It seems that not much effort was put into making them last for a long time on a single charge. However, I believe it would be better if the headphones could hold a charge for a longer duration to cater to everyone’s needs. There should be no limitations on the amount of time one can listen to music. Each individual should have the freedom to decide for themselves, including the volume level they prefer.

According to the manufacturer, the headphones can last for approximately 6.5 hours on a single charge when the noise reduction mode is activated and the volume level is set at around 50%. Additionally, the case provides an extra 13.5 hours of battery life. This means that in total, you can expect around 20 hours of operation or approximately 3 full charges. This is still 1.5 hours more than the flagship headphones from Audio-Technica. However, I believe there is room for improvement, and it would be ideal to achieve a total music playback time of at least 24 hours.

The actual listening time of the headphones themselves is around 6.5 hours, which translates to approximately 4.5 – 5 hours of continuous usage at a volume level close to 80%. This is a standard indicator that meets my expectations. If we consider 15 hours of listening time, it is recommended to charge the headphones every 2-3 days or at least once a week.

Sound

Let’s delve into the sound characteristics of the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 headphones. These headphones offer a musical experience that leans towards balance and neutrality, with a slight emphasis on both low and high frequencies while highlighting the midrange. This overall sound profile immerses you in the music you’re listening to. Personally, I found that activating the “Clear Vocal” equalizer preset enhanced vocal clarity and emphasized vocals, while also adding a touch of micro-contrast to the highs and soundstage, allowing for better detection of subtle background sounds in tracks. However, for the sake of objectivity, I will describe the sound without any sound adjustments. During my listening sessions, I used the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra with the LDAC codec.

By frequency :

The bass frequencies have been slightly boosted, maintaining high quality without overpowering the midrange. The depth of the bass is commendable, although the small 5.8 mm speakers may struggle to deliver a truly deep and punchy bass.

As for the midrange frequencies, they are quite pleasing with good quality and processing. The soundstage is well-defined, especially when using the “Clear Vocal” setting. Instruments are well-separated, although not as crisp as wired headphones. While not audiophile-grade, these headphones offer a musical output with a touch of audiophile quality.

Moving on to the high frequencies, they are slightly emphasized but not harsh on the ears, even for those sensitive to high frequencies. The clarity and wide perception of audio material are impressive, providing a detailed frequency spectrum. While not capturing every minute detail, these headphones handle high frequencies well, adding an airy quality to the midrange.

In terms of drawbacks, the maximum volume level is relatively low, limiting the overall scale of the sound. However, listening at 80% volume with the “Clear Vocal” preset can enhance the listening experience, compensating for the lack of volume scale. On the positive side, these headphones excel in soundstage, delivering a consistent sound profile and a touch of magic that immerses the listener in the music.

Conclusion

Audio-Technica has recently introduced a new line of headphones that offer a more affordable option compared to their flagship model. Surprisingly, these headphones actually come with some improvements, such as a longer battery life, LDAC codec, and a more convenient and compact case. However, the size of the speakers is still relatively small, which unfortunately didn’t leave a strong impression on the overall sound quality. Nevertheless, by adjusting the equalizer settings and increasing the volume level, the sound did become more immersive and expansive. On the other hand, these headphones deliver a pleasingly balanced sound profile, with a slight emphasis on the edges of the frequency range. This subtle accentuation adds a pleasant touch to the listening experience, particularly when it comes to the medium frequencies. Overall, these headphones offer a satisfactory audio performance.

Pros :

  • futuristic design of both the headphones and the case
  • good build quality of headphones and case
  • large supply kit
  • high-quality functionality: noise reduction and transparency
  • microphones are also good
  • the sound is close to neutral with a great engaging effect
  • quite an advanced application

Cons :

  • below average battery life
  • the sound is not large-scale, perhaps due to the small speaker, when you slightly change the equalizer, you can achieve a better result, but this will not be noticeable in all genres

Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7
7