Hands on: Audio-Technica ATH-SR30BT review

70 hours' battery life is simply brilliant

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Early Verdict

With 70 hours' battery, these headphones are already in a class of their own. While there's not a big feature list to match the big battery what is here works really well.

For

  • Fantastic battery life
  • Light and comfortable
  • Great price

Against

  • Lacks the premium feel
  • No smart on-board controls
  • No 3.5mm jack

70 hours. It’s a big, scrap that, huge number of hours for battery life and something only the Audio Technica ATH-SR30BT’s - showed off at IFA 2018 - can really boast. 

Breaking that number down, it means that you could feasibly listen to these headphones two hours everyday for a month, before you have to charge them.

That takes a big pain point that many have with Bluetooth headphones away, but what about the other specs? We put them to the test in Berlin to find out. 

Design and features

The Audio Technica ATH-SR30BT range was announced in the same breath as it’s more premium ATH-SR50BT, but comes in at a much lower price point. This means that, despite that headline-grabbing battery number, this is a headphone for those looking for good sound but on a modest budget. In the case of the ATH-SR30BT that price comes in at $99 (£99 / AU$135). 

For the money, you get a pair of headphones that fold up nicely and you can throw into a bag without fear of breaking really expensive components. They are lightweight, too, and come in a number of colors. We tried the gray pair, but there’s also black, blue and a rose gold. 

On the left earcup is where you can find all the ports and physical buttons, including an on/off button, volume control and a pause/call button. Next to these is the USB charging port. 

What you don’t get on these headphones is a 3.5mm jack - so no analog listening - and there’s no touch control functionality, either.

The reason we bring these up, is that they are features found on the ATH-SR50BTs. Those cans also offered pass-through technology so you can hear what’s going on around you with the press of a button and this is omitted here, too. 

But, you there are decent sound specs on offer. 40mm drivers are on board to boost bass, balance the midtones and hit those high Cs. These drivers have been remodelled to make sure acoustic space isn’t touching any circuitry which could cause interference. 

Music is piped through Bluetooth 5.0 and there’s support for AAC and SBCx

Performance

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: we couldn’t try out the 70-hour claims on the show floor at IFA so we will have to take Audio-Technica’s word for that one. It’s extremely impressive, though, that it has managed to pack this much battery into the headphones and for them not to be too chunky or heavy. 

Over the ears, the Audio-Technica ATH-SR30BTs were snug. The material used for the earcups and headband may not be as soft as what’s on the more expensive headphones, but they were comfortable. They envelop the ears well, too, so while there isn’t any noise cancelling on board, they do cut out a lot of background noise. 

The controls on the left earcup were easy to use and we didn’t miss touch functionality - it’s quite nice to touch real buttons when you can’t see them, it stops your fingers from fumbling around. 

We listened to a number of tracks through the headphones from D’Angelo’s Black Messiah. The chorus of 1000 Deaths had a crunching sound to match the song’s violence, while the epic and fierce You Are Everything added much needed meat to the big song. 

We rounded this off with Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love and it’s clear that these headphones like to hit the bass hard but does well to keep the clarity of the rest of the music. 

Early Verdict

The idea that you can charge the Audio-Technica ATH-SR30BTs once and get a month’s listen out of them is a game-changer for Bluetooth headphones and one that’s sure to bring new users to the brand. 

While they’ll come for the big battery, they won’t be disappointed with the comfort or the sound. Yes, there isn’t much in the way of other frills but who needs them when your battery is such a headline grabber?

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What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.