Hands on: Audio-Technica ATH-SPORT7TW review

Audio-Technica goes true wireless with these sporty earbuds

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Our Early Verdict

The Audio-Technica ATH-SPORT7TW have been made with fitness in mind - combining a more rugged look, touch controls and water resistance. They fit well in the ear and offer decent sound. For the price, though, we would like a few more smarts.

For

  • Water resistant
  • Great charging case
  • Solid sound

Against

  • Chunky in the ear
  • No voice assistant functionality
  • Battery could be better

Like buses, you wait ages for one pair of true wireless earphones from Audio-Technica and then two come at once. 

Launched at IFA 2018, the Japanese audio giant (never one for snappy names) released the premium ATH-CKR7TW and this pair of sport-focused earbuds, the Audio-Technica ATH-SPORT7TW range.

Both sets of earbuds offer up something different. And while the sportier range can't quite compete when it comes to battery life or sound performance, they do still have a few interesting tricks that you need to hear about.

Design and features

While its bedfellows, the Audio-Technica ATH-CKR7TW have the premium look and feel, the ATH-SPORT7TW's chassis is a built more for sport than looks. 

Instead of having a 'stepped' design with the logo in front of the chunkier part that houses the components, it's more lozenge shape so when it's in your ear it protrudes more. Around the edges of the earbuds are small ridges. 

They also come with earfins, which helps hold them in when you are using them for sports. 

These ones can be run under a tap, too, thanks to IPX5 certification and have a nifty switchable ambient noise hear-through function, which is good for when pounding the pavement and need to hear what's going on around you. 

Audio quality comes in the form of 5.8mm dynamic drivers, which are around half the size of what's found in the ATH-CKR7TW. 

When it comes to battery life, again these aren't as impressive as Audio-Technica's other range but you should get 3.5 hours of charge. 

And then there's the charging case. This is a really nice bit of kit, where the earphones click into them thanks to magnets - once in, they can be charged for a further 14 hours and it only takes 10 minutes to get a 45-minute charge, which is a really good addition given that's the time of an average workout. 

As long as you have the case with you, you shouldn't really have to worry about the reduced battery load.

Performance

It was fairly easy to get the ATH-SPORT7TWs into our ears and when they were in they weren't going to come out anytime soon, thanks to the earfins that can be used to hold them into place. 

Audio-Technica knows that there are many different ear shapes and so has supplied a number of tips with the device, as well as the soft memory foam Comply sport ear tip which is sweat proof. 

We didn't like the design of these are much as Audio-Technica's other true wireless earbuds but that's only because they stuck out a little more, which makes them feel a little bulkier in the ear. They were really comfortable, though, and we could easily see ourselves going for a jog in them without fear they will fall out or become irritating. 

The touch controls, as mentioned in our other hands on with the premium pair, took a little while to get used to but they are definitely intuitive. Another nice addition here is the use of the hear-through function. Press your finger on the earbud for a few seconds to do this. 

These aren't noise cancelling but that's not what you want when on the go, given you want to know your surroundings when out exercising but they did block the majority of large sounds. 

Listening to some Pink Floyd on them and the bass was a whole lot more noticeable on these earbuds - we're wondering if they have been tuned that way as they are fitness focused so you'll mostly be listening to something with a beat through them. 

Although the drivers are half the size on these earbuds, we didn't notice too much difference in the sound scapes - though it certainly wasn't as rich as what was heard through the premium version, there seemed to be a little more oomph. 

Early Verdict

The Audio-Technica ATH-SPORT7TW true wireless earbuds have been primed for fitness bags and runners' ears. They fit well, can be washed under a tap and certainly have the durability needed to survive many a workout. 

They may not have the sonic prowess as Audio-Technica's other launch but they are for a different purpose. 

The Audio-Technica ATH-SPORT7TW are priced at £179 / $199 (AUS pricing TBC) and will be out in the coming months.

  • IFA 2018 is Europe's biggest tech show. The TechRadar team is in Berlin to bring you all the breaking news and hands-on first impressions of new phones, watches and other tech as they're announced.

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.