Audio-Technica’s new true wireless earbuds come with all the specs you could want, including a 50-hour battery life, noise cancellation, and spatial audio support - but they cost half the price of similar models.
The ATH-CKS50TW are the latest in a line of successful audiophile-focused wireless earbuds from the Japanese company, and cost £149.99. Global pricing is yet to be announced, but that works out at around $200 / AU$280.
For anyone that’s used to sticking a pair of cheap wired earbuds in their ears, that price might seem steep. However, compared to models that boast similar specs, the ATH-CKS50TW are remarkably cheap. By way of comparison, the Sony WF-1000XM4, our pick for the best true wireless earbuds of 2022, cost $279.99 / £250 / AU$449.95.
So, what do you get for your money? Audio-Technica says its new noise-cancelling earbuds combine advanced acoustic technology with a secure and comfortable fit to deliver “phenomenal sound with deep, powerful bass”.
Large 9mm dynamic drivers should offer a well-rounded bass response, while aptX Adaptive support means you’ll be able to enjoy hi-res audio files. If the ATH-CKS50TW sound anything like their predecessors, the ATH-CKS5TW, you can expect a neutral, well-balanced soundstage with excellent dynamism and detail.
Battery life for days
The ATH-CKS50TW come with a 50-hour battery life, which is one of the longest playback times we’ve heard of for wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation (ANC is usually a big drain on battery life). That’s 20 hours of playback from the buds themselves, which is reduced to 15 hours with ANC turned on - again, that’s a longer on-board battery life than we’d expect from true wireless earbuds.
In a similar way to the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the Apple AirPods Pro, the Audio-Technica earbuds have a hear-through function, so you can quickly tap into your surroundings when needed; for example, if you need to order a coffee but don’t want to remove your earbuds.
Like Sony and Apple’s in-ear headphones, the ATH-CKS50TW come with support for spatial audio. Audio-Technica’s buds are Sony 360 Reality Audio-certified, so you’ll be able to listen to compatible tracks in virtual object-based surround sound, putting you at the heart of your favorite songs.
If you want to use the earbuds while you game or watch movies, Audio-Technica has kitted them out with a Low Latency Mode, which the company says will minimize sound delay, while a multipoint pairing feature should make it easy to swap between devices. Or, if you’re taking the ATH-CKS50TW on a run, an IPX4 water resistance rating should protect the earbuds from a little sweat or rain.
All those specs certainly sound impressive - especially when you consider the relatively low price of these Audio-Technica true wireless earbuds. We’ll have to test them for ourselves to see if the earbuds live up to the company’s claims, but we’re eager to see whether Sony and Apple have a new, budget rival to contend with.
- Read our guide to the best wireless earbuds you can buy right now
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Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.