Tested: Audio-Technica takes on AirPods Pro 2 with its latest ATH-TWX9 Wireless Earbuds

Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 Wireless Earbuds-review

They might not feature the stark white minimalism of the latest Apple buds, but Audio-Technica’s new ATH-TWX9 set is clearly looking to take on the AirPods Pro 2 to some degree. After debuting back in November, AT’s latest is loaded with noise-cancellation tech, spatial audio, a similar form factor, and built-in sterilization in the wireless charging case, not to mention a somewhat lofty price to match. It’s time to take a closer look at the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 as part of the latest Tested with 9to5Toys feature. 

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Hands-on with Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 Wireless Earbuds

The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 are the latest addition to the brand’s wireless earbuds, packed with audio tech as well as much of the added accoutrements we see from the competition in the price range. Not the least of which is the digital hybrid noise-cancelling technology with five preset modes available at the touch of the sensor hidden on the left earbud. The ATH-TWX9 have the ability to adapt to the world around you with what AT describes as full control of ambient noise, a hear-through function, and Sidetone circuitry that “improves conversations by letting you hear your voice in the headphones when making calls on most smartphones.”

Newly designed 5.8 mm high-resolution drivers are joined by compatibility with Qualcomm Snapdragon Sound, Qualcomm aptX Adaptive audio, and Sony’s 360 Reality Audio to deliver a spatial audio experience alongside flexible dual- or single-ear usability. 

Combining innovative acoustic technology with a snug, comfortable fit and convenient controls, the ATH-TWX9 lets you create an intimate sound space that’s all your own

AT is also employing an interesting look and feel here on the actual earbuds that carries across to the charging case with a sort of two-tone stealthy black and dark copper-like color – it’s the kind of paint job that looks slightly different depending on how the light hits it. Alongside the inclusion of 12 different fitting eartip designs (4 diameter sizes, 3 stem lengths), you’re looking at six hours of wireless listening time with up to 18.5 hours of extended use via the aforementioned Qi wireless charging case. 

Speaking of the charging case, Audio-Technica has also added in a deep-UV LED sterilization setup that uses a “unique mirror processing” system to eliminate bacteria and viruses from the surface of the headphones – “the system is more than 99% effective against E. coli and bacteriophage viruses, and more than 90% effective against Staphylococcus aureus, but it is not effective against all bacteria and viruses. The effectiveness against the novel coronavirus has not been verified.”

Here’s a closer look at the spec sheet:

  • Ambience control (noise-cancelling and hear-through) can be employed for music playback and calls
  • Touch sensor controls
  • Hear-through function allows you to hear ambient sounds
  • Approximately six hours of continuous playback with up to 18.5 hours of extended use
  • Charging case deep-UV LED sterilization system
  • Rain and water splashproof design

9to5Toys’ Take

Audio-Technica’s ATH-TWX9 Wireless Earbuds are, in many ways, positioned as AT’s AirPods Pro 2 competitor. They are the only model in the brand’s current-generation lineup with the sort of AirPods Pro-like stem form factor that are packed with noise-cancellation tech and spatial audio action. To my ears and my tests, they can keep up with Apple via the noise blocking and intelligent hear-through tech but aren’t quite as hassle-free when it comes to pairing. 

Apple just seems to have mostly nailed the pairing situation with its headphones in my personal experience. The AT’s here are just fine, but you have to download the app and they were a little bit, let’s say finicky or fussy, despite the multipoint pairing that allows you to stay connected to two Bluetooth devices at once, without being entirely annoying. Once they were setup and ready to go however, everything was just fine – all of this happens via the Audio-Technica Connect app that also delivers personalized noise-cancellation calibrations, features EQ options, and allows you to save recallable profile settings for everything.

One thing Audio-Technica has nailed here is the look, and that includes both the buds themselves and the case. While AirPods of all kinds seemingly fly off the shelves anyway, I can’t help but think some folks go with other brands, at least in part, because they can’t get a nice pair of black AirPods buds from Apple and the ATH-TWX9 make for a solid option for folks in that camp. The form factor and colorway are frankly gorgeous here if you’re into that kind of thing. 

While there’s something to be said for Apple’s smooth, minimalist take – a design I can certainly appreciate, the ATH-TWX9 case just seems much more high-end all around than the AirPods variant to me. It presents a sort of soft matte black lift-top lid with the same unique copper-like tone wrapping around the sides and front along with five large LEDs to indicate battery level and pairing status, among other things. With sleek curved lines and a subtle AT logo, it is a modern-looking case that both feels more premium and carefully designed than much of the competition if you ask me. While you won’t get things like Apple’s new lanyard connector here, you’re also getting the UV sterilization that is a nice passive feature, working its magic with no effort on your part whether you’re into that kind of a thing or not.    

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