There’s something of an easy, understated charm about Audio-Technica earphones and the latest ATH-TWX7 wireless earbuds carry that appeal with the same effortlessness as their many predecessors.
To hold the earphones, for example, the Japanese audio company has chosen a beige cloth pouch that’s a nod at folks conscious of recycling and e-waste.
Even the grey case that’s velvety to touch and the grey earphones themselves appear as modest and unassuming as Audio-Technica has been over the years.
Okay, there are also options for grey and black, but none are flashy or catch attention easily. The new earphones seem to blend in rather than stand out, like jewellery, as others aspire to be.
If you know the audio company, however, you’d find the sound quality nothing but bland. The much-loved transparency, airiness and openness are obvious in the latest ATH-TWX7 earphones as well.
These qualities are impressive from the first time you put on the Bluetooth earphones and start playing music from your phone, computer or music player.
Playing Inverted Blues by Kevin Sun on Tidal, for example, you notice the clarity and sparkle in the high notes. Similarly, the low notes also carry a good amount of weight, yet they are still tight and responsive.
Speaking of bass, Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy plays with enough presence and heft, though you wish there is a bit more attack in the faster parts of the track.
You could say the earphones seem a bit “polite” in terms of the bass at times, at least on the default settings. Travis Scott’s Utopia album, for example, sounds great with the hardware generally keeping up with fast bass. However, some might prefer it to punch deeper.
It’s not a big complaint unless you are picky. Playing another Travis Scott track – The Plan, from the Tenet movie soundtrack – the earphones are able to go fairly low and hit with a good amount of slam.
Separation is also impressive, which means you hear vocals and instruments distinct from one another. This is especially so in tracks that require dynamism for fast-paced segments as well as sudden transitions from high to low, soft to loud.
The Tenet soundtrack has a frenetic pace and sharp drops in volume and pitch, yet it sounds great on the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 earphones with their 5.8mm drivers.
They also show off great pace and poise when I play the Oppenheimer soundtrack, also by composer Ludwig Goransson. Once again, the dynamism and adaptability of the small drivers shine through.
Especially in dramatic tracks like Can You Hear the Music and Trinity, which both rise to a peak at the end, there’s a grandness befitting the movie and subject matter.
Indeed, on several occasions, the earphones surprise you with a presentation that scales up so well, by presenting a wide, easy-to-visualise soundstage.
Perhaps the best example of this is when you play a well-recorded live album, like the one called Live by Mind Games and Claudio Roditi.
The various instruments of the band come alive distinctly, along with the female vocals, in some of the faster tracks to form the image of an engaging performance in your mind. You want to tap your feet.
Quieter pieces are also engaging and show off the detail extraction the Audio-Technica earphones are capable of. Not the kind of detail that comes across etched out but more natural and well defined nonetheless.
Listen to Bill Evans Live at the Village Vanguard, for example. From the plucking of strings to when drums kick off, you hear so much, even though the piano may be the centrepiece.
Combine this good amount of detail with the airy, effortless presentation and you’re closer to breathing in the atmosphere at a live venue.
For the audio quality to shine through, it helps to have good noise cancelling. The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 earphones are effective in blocking out much of the regular ambient noise, in both active and passive modes.
You can control this in the Audio-Technica Connect app, for example, by setting a hear-through function that lets you catch ambient sounds. A talk-through function lets you hear, say, announcements on a plane.
The mobile app is intuitive and easy to use, while offering loads of options. You can set the touch sensor and physical buttons to handle different tasks, like controlling playback or noise cancelling modes.
Strangely, the touch sensors are unassigned by default, so you need to set up the app on your phone to enable them and assign them a task, like playing or pausing a track.
Just as strangely, the earphones do not automatically pause when you pull them out of your ears. You’d think, by now, this feature would be standard.
As for battery life, Audio-Technica says you should get 6.5 hours with noise cancelling on and 7.5 hours with noise cancelling off.
That’s good enough for a trip around Southeast Asia. Perhaps, with some stretching or a charge with the case, even to Japan or South Korea.
Just as important, of course, is comfort. The lightweight 4.7g earbuds feel pretty weightless and comfortable to have on for hours in the air. Or, simply working at your desk.
Though Audio-Technica isn’t a brand that’s as well known as Sony or Sennheiser, the new ATH-TWX7 earphones are as good as any I’ve tried on lately, at least sound quality-wise.
The new earphones are also cheaper than Audio-Technica’s own ATH-TWX9 earphones from last year, which come with features like 360 Reality Audio and Snapdragon Sound in a smaller format but cost a much higher S$399.
The better priced ATH-TWX7 should be on your list if you’re seeking wireless earphones offering a great fit and excellent sound quality.