(Pocket-lint) - Audio-Technica has been busy with its true wireless range recently, adding to it at IFA 2019 last September with some cheaper models. Now here at CES 2020 it has revealed fewer products, but it’s added something significant to its range; this pair of active noise cancelling (ANC) buds.
We’re set to see a lot of true wireless earbuds upgrade to ANC over the coming months – a surefire trend alongside increases in battery life.
At present, few true wireless earbuds can last more than 4-6 hours without topping up the charge from the case. In 2020, we’ll see these battery times exceed the length of a long-haul flight, which for many is a key criteria for buying ANC earphones.
However, the ATH-ANC300TW aren’t there yet, with a battery life of 4.5 hours with a further 13.5 hours in the case. As these buds aren’t available until May, it’ll be interesting to see if other true wireless options offer more impressive ANC battery life by that time.
While we've criticised the design - including the lack of colour options - ultimately the ATH-ANC300TW are a fine pair of true wireless noise-cancellers that undercut the Apple AirPods Pro on price. Build quality is good, and sound quality is up there with what you'd expect, though we really need to give that a proper workout in a full review.
- ANC a welcome addition
- Latest tech
- Plenty of control
- Transparent mode
- Quite chunky
- Battery life could be longer
- More colours please!
Sound quality and design
- 5.8mm drivers
- USB-C for charging
We listened to the ANC300-TW briefly, as you’d expect, and we found that we really were isolated from the environment around us, despite us not having made any effort to fit them properly. Sound quality was decent, but it’ll be interesting to use them side-by-side with Audio-Technica’s other premium earbuds - which have bigger drivers than the 5.8mm units here - as well as rivals like Apple’s AirPods Pro.
However, like Audio-Technica’s previous true wireless buds we didn’t find them particularly light as a first impression. That’s a bit of a downer, because to wear something like this for an elongated period of time you really need them to be lightweight. Each bud is also still fairly large.
They are slightly lighter than the recently-announced and beefier-sounding ATH-CKS5TW (10mm drivers), but less than half the weight of the ATH-CKR7TW from 2018.
Design-wise, the ATH-ANC300TW keep it fairly safe, while the case is pretty chunky. Audio-Technica isn't alone in this regard, though. Charging is via USB-C, which is how it should be done nowadays.
Controls and app
- Three modes
- Audio-Technica app enables adjustment of ANC
- Also helps locate lost bud
There are three modes which you can enable through Audio-Technica’s mobile app – airplane (full ANC), on-the-go (transparency, so you can hear ambient noise) and office/study. You can tailor the noise-cancellation for any of these modes, while the app also enables you to measure battery life and helps you find one of the earbuds should you misplace one.
In any mode you can tap an earbud to hear ambient noise, perhaps if someone is trying to talk to you or you need to talk to them. There are also buttons on each earbud.
Once again the underlying tech inside these true wireless earphones is Qualcomm’s and as such call quality should also be very good, although we didn’t get chance to test this out. Bluetooth 5 is supported, as is aptX audio, pairing with multiple devices and Qualcomm’s TrueWireless tech for more accurate and lower power tech to stream audio to wireless earbuds. This does require a compatible device, though.
They sound great, but they could look better - and ultimately design is what detracts from what seems like a fine pair of true wireless earbuds. Noise cancelling is a very welcome addition.