While the respected Japanese brand is relatively new to the world of true wireless, it hasn't wasted any time in kitting out its latest model, the ATH-ANC3000TW, with the kind of tech that made the Sony WF-1000XM3 our top true wireless earbuds.
With built-in noise cancellation, the ATH-ANC300TW could prove a worthy rival for the likes of the WF-1000XM3. We spent a little time getting to know the new buds at CES 2020 in Las Vegas.
Price and availability
While we had the chance for a sneak preview at CES 2020, you'll have to wait a little while to get your hands on these noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds.
The ATH-ANC300TW won't be available to buy until May, and they'll set you back $249 / £209 – that works out at around AU$360 based on current conversion rates, but we're still waiting on official Australian pricing.
That's pricier than the $230 / £220 / AU$400 Sony WF-1000XM3, which we awarded a full five stars in our review. So, if Audio-Technica is going to beat the king of true wireless earbuds, the ATH-ANC300TW will need to sound exceptionally good, and offer class-leading noise cancellation.
The ATH-ANC300TW look similar to the brand's previous true wireless earbuds, the ATH-CKS5TW; two matte black buds with embossed housings sit in a pillbox-style charging case, which they snap into magnetically.
That charging case provides 13.5 hours of battery life, while the buds themselves contain 4.5 hours of juice; that's not a huge amount compared to the likes of the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1, which offer an outstanding 45 hours of battery (and are far cheaper). The charging case itself can be topped up via a USB-C port on its side.
Their overall design is quite attractive, in a minimal kind of way; the buds themselves are also much slimmer than their predecessors, which means they don't stick out of your ear canal so much.
Silicone eartips should give you a good seal, which is important for good isolation and noise cancellation; you get three different sizes included with the buds, so you should be able to find the right fit for your ears.
Features and performance
We had the chance to test the ATH-ANC300TW briefly, and we were impressed by the sound quality on offer; like most other Audio-Technica products, these buds sport a natural, wide soundstage, with good separation between the low, mid, and high frequencies.
In Big Thief's Shark Smile, fuzzy distorted chords swept below hushed vocals and brushed percussion, as higher guitar riffs soared above the mix. As expected, the audio fidelity is very good, thanks to carbon-coated 5.8mm drivers that power these noise-cancelling buds.
The latest Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology means that Hi-Res Audio codecs like aptX are supported, so you can listen to your music at CD-like quality levels. As well as that, these AH-ANC3000TW support Qualcomm's TrueWireless Stereo Plus technology, which means you can stream to both earbuds simultaneously, lowering latency and reducing lag between the buds.
The natural soundstage offered by these earbuds will likely appeal to audiophiles who crave a balanced, neutral listening experience; bassheads will probably want to look elsewhere, perhaps to the ATH-CKS5TW, which provide a warmer, bass-heavy sound than their counterparts.
Noise cancellation seems very good indeed; in a crowded convention center, we could only hear the sound of our music.
Each earbud contains two microphones (one behind the driver and one inside the duct tube), which pick up environmental noise – this noise is then reduced by a high-precision digital processor, according to Audio-Technica.
With the Audio-Technica Connect app, you can toggle between three different noise cancellation presets: Airplane, On-the-go, and Office/Study; while we didn't get to test the app out for ourselves, we like having the ability to customize the level of noise cancellation.
The app also allows you to select your preferred audio codecs, locate the earbuds if they are lost, and check on your battery life.
Based on the brief time we got to spend with the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC300TW, we like them a lot; with that characteristic natural presentation, they could be a great choice for audiophiles looking to cut the cord.
Do they sound better than the Sony WF-1000XM3? That's hard to say without testing them extensively, but at this stage, we don't think they quite beat the reigning true wireless champion.
Still, that neutral soundstage could make them a compelling alternative to bassier models on the market – whether that justifies the price remains to be seen.
- Check out all of TechRadar's CES 2020 coverage. We're live in Las Vegas to bring you all the breaking tech news and launches, plus hands-on reviews of everything from 8K TVs and foldable displays to new phones, laptops and smart home gadgets.
- The best Audio-Technica headphones you can buy