Which Audio-Technica headphones are best?
When it comes to choosing a pair of headphones, the sheer variety of brands can be overwhelming. While it may be tempting to just buy a cheap, no-name brand, this isn’t the best choice if you care about sound quality. Instead, if you want an enjoyable listening experience with great-sounding audio, you are better off opting for a reputable brand like Audio-Technica.
Audio-Technica makes consumer and professional-level headphones, including options for everyday listening and travel, as well DJ headphones and studio monitors like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X. Along with the type of headphones and who and what they are intended for, you’ll also want to consider their various features, including things like swiveling ear cups, active noise cancellation and whether or not they have a microphone.
What to know before you buy Audio-Technica headphones
Earbuds vs. over- and on-ear headphones
Earbuds are small and discreet devices that can be used anywhere from the gym, to walking around town to commuting on public transportation. Their compact and lightweight design means you’ll barely feel them in your ear and can easily toss them in a pocket to take on the go. The downside to earbuds is that they have smaller drivers than headphones and need to create a tight seal in your ear canal in order to offer good sound. If they don’t fit correctly, you can expect lackluster audio quality with very little bass.
Over- and on-ear headphones have large, plush ear cups that either seal against your head or your ear. This means fit plays very little role in how they sound. Also, since they feature larger drivers, they are capable of deeper bass and have more consistent performance across the entire audio spectrum. The downside is they tend to feel bulky on the head and can make your ears overly warm, both of which means they may not be ideal for exercising or listening to music while walking around town.
Open-back vs. closed-back headphones
Open-back headphones aren’t completely sealed. Instead, they allow air to freely pass through the ear cups, which results in a more natural sound. Because of this, most sound engineers prefer to use open-back headphones. However, they aren’t ideal for casual listening, especially in noisy areas, because they also allow ambient sound to leak in, and your music to leak out.
Conversely, closed-back headphones are completely sealed, which allows them to offer better sound isolation and, in some models, active noise cancellation. The music won’t sound quite as natural due to the resonance of the sealed chamber, but this also helps to increase the bass. Most casual listeners will prefer closed-back headphones.
What to look for in quality Audio-Technica headphones
Active noise cancellation
Some Audio-Technica everyday listening and travel headphones feature active noise-cancelling technology. This enables them to effectively block out ambient noises for a more enjoyable listening experience.
The hear-through function is only found on select Audio-Technica headphones with active noise-cancelling technology. This allows you to custom tune the amount of ambient sound you want to pass through your headphones.
If you want to use your headphones for voice calls or speaking to teammates while gaming, make sure to choose a pair equipped with a microphone. Most Audio-Technica studio monitors, DJ headphones and audiophile headphones don’t, while their everyday listening, gaming, travel and sport models usually do.
Swiveling ear cups
Swiveling earcups allow for a more comfortable fit no matter your head shape and size. Some of their models have no swivel, others offer a 15-degree swivel in one or both directions and others still offer up to 90 degrees of swivel in both directions.
If choosing a wired model, it is worthwhile to opt for one that features a detachable cable. This is because the cable is often the first point of failure on headphones. If this happens on a pair with a detachable cable, you’ll only need to replace the cable, which is usually quite affordable, as opposed to the entire pair of headphones.
7.1 Surround sound mode
Select gaming models feature a 7.1 surround sound mode for a truly immersive experience. This can be turned on and off using on-ear controls.
Battery life is only a concern when buying Bluetooth headphones, as wired models rely on power from their physical connection to an audio source. Depending on the model you choose, the battery life on Audio-Technica headphones and earbuds can range from 10 to 30 hours.
How much you can expect to spend on Audio-Technica headphones
Audio-Technica headphones vary greatly in price depending on what kind you are buying. Some sport, travel and everyday listening models cost as little as $50, while others cost upwards of $300 or more. Their studio monitors and DJ headphones start at $100 and can cost upwards of $450. For their high-resolution audiophile headphones, expect to spend at least $600 and as much as $2,000.
Audio-Technica headphones FAQ
What kind of sound profile do Audio-Technica headphones have?
A. Audio-Technica is generally regarded as having a flat or neutral sound profile, which is what makes them a popular choice among sound engineers for studio monitoring.
What is the warranty on Audio-Technica headphones?
A. The majority of Audio-Technica headphones have a 1-year end-user warranty. However, there are some select models that feature a 2-year warranty. If the longer warranty is important to you, make sure to check the details of the product you are considering purchasing.
What are the best Audio-Technica headphones to buy?
Top Audio-Technica headphones
What you need to know: Premium-sounding studio monitor headphones for a middling price, you can’t go wrong with the ATH-M50x.
What you’ll love: They are available in wired and wireless models, the former of which has a detachable cable. Also, the plush earcups swivel up to 90 degrees in both directions for a comfortable fit.
What you should consider: They lack active noise cancellation and, instead, rely on passive sound isolation.
Top Audio-Technica headphones for the money
What you need to know: A great choice for travelers, the ATH-SR50BT Bluetooth headphones have active noise-cancelling technology and a long 28-hour battery life.
What you’ll love: They can also be used wired if you run out of juice midway through a flight, and they fold flat for convenient portability.
What you should consider: Some find the on-ear touch controls to be overly sensitive.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Those who want a small and sleek pair of earbuds for walking around town or commuting on public transportation will like the ATH-CKS5TWBK.
What you’ll love: They include four sizes of silicone eartips so everyone can get the perfect fit, as well as a small charging case that gives you a total of 45 hours of battery life.
What you should consider: They have a low level of water resistance, so they aren’t ideal for exercising.
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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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