A 60-hour battery life without a huge price tag
If you’re after long-lasting headphones and don’t want to pay a premium for them, the latest pair from Audio-Technica could be right up your street.
The new ATH-S220BT over-ear headphones boast a 60-hour battery life, which is longer than most wireless headphones on the market.
In spite of that longer battery life, the Audio-Technica headphones are much cheaper than Sony’s finest, coming in at $59 / £60. While global pricing is yet to be confirmed, that works out at around AU$80. Meanwhile, the WH-1000XM4 will set you back $349 / £349 / AU$549.
Of course, you’re not getting more premium features like active noise cancellation, but Audio-Technica does have a great reputation for making excellent-sounding headphones at reasonable prices.
- Bluetooth 5.0
- SBC codec
- 60 hours battery life, with 10-min fast charging for 3.5 hours listening time
- Wired direct audio with an in-line mic without battery power
- Multipoint pairing up to 2 devices
- Support low-latency mode
- Support Google’s Android Fast Pair
- Compatible with Google Assistant and Apple Siri
- 180 grams
Design and Operations
The interesting thing about the unboxing is that the packaging is designed to be open in a different way which integrates the shelf display holder without using an extra plastic attachment.
Inside, the headphones and accessories are packs without cable ties nor adhesives, and that is friendly.
The rest of the body uses a matt plastic finish, none of the silicone coatings that corrode and turn sticky over time.
The earcup cushion is smooth and on-ear, applying light pressure on your ears to achieve a snug seal that can remove ambient noise and keep the music tight.
On the whole, well-built, despite feeling plasticky and lightweight.
The headphones operate with 3 multi-function buttons – a power button that works as a Bluetooth pairing when press-hold, the volume buttons that change track when press-hold.
To switch to low-latency mode, triple-click the power button. An LED light strip pulses to or shows operation mode.
The S220BT supports Fast Pair where Android devices will pop up a display to start pairing when you start pairing mode from the headphones.
There is no need to go to the Bluetooth menu on the phone to start pairing. You can also trigger “Find Device” to broadcast the notification sound to locate the headphones, provided your Android phone supports it.
The battery life of 60 hours is quite mind-blowing, though I never measured if it did last that long.
But, Audio-Technica seems so confident that the S220BT does not auto-power off even though no devices are connected.
From the Bluetooth menu, you can see the battery level in percentage (some Android devices with heavily-skinned UI might not have this function).
In the unlikely event of a flat battery, you can still enjoy music using a direct cable connection and carry out voice calls through the in-line mic.
During charging, the headphones cannot be power up to use at the same time.
Though the S220BT is not expensive, Audio-Technica has dedicated attention to delivering respectable sound quality within the budget.
The driver quality and the level of musical attention are not critical to target consumers, yet the S220BT offers tight bass and balanced treble clarity.
What makes the S220BT signature a little different is the elevated midrange which accentuates the vocal and instrument’s “ring”.
This audio characteristic brings prominence to main instruments, while the brightness is suppressed.
Good thing that the bass does not sound too muddy, but the intensity may not be felt if the ear cups are not sealed against the ears.
Generally speaking, the S220BT achieves a neutral sound with emphasis on midrange without obscuring the bass or treble.
In the wired mode, the overall mix is less dynamic, the bass is less impactful since the built-in amplifier is not driving the audio.
Once the cable is plugged into the headphones port, the power will be turned off.
• Bass – 7/10. Tight sounding when ear cups maintain a good seal
• Midrange – 7.5/10. Prominent mix but balanced
• Treble – 7/10. Crisp highs overshadowed by midrange
When making calls, the mic located on the left ear cup picks the voice at the lower frequency, making it sound warm and a tad muffled.
Background noises are processed to be cut unless the volume hits above a certain loudness.
On the whole, the loudness is better than true wireless earbuds.
The low-latency mode is activated by clicking the power button 3 times.
The latency is reduced though it still does not achieve responsiveness compared to direct cable.
Nevertheless, this option is there to improve the latency when consuming content and gaming, and if you still cannot stand the latency, plug in the 3.5mm cable. At least there are options on the S220BT.
- Sound Quality – 7
- Design – 7.2
- Features – 8
- Price Value – 9
The Audio-Technica ATH-S220BT puts more attention on the midrange for a fuller sound presentation on the vocals and instruments.
The bass and highs offer a good balance in punch and clarity though not exciting.
You’ll enjoy listening to them as it brings out the fullness of the vocal without losing the kick and clarity.
Still, you do generally get what you pay for with headphones. For the ultimate audiophile sound quality, you’re generally looking at paying upwards of $300 / £300 / AU$400 – and those prices can go into the thousands.
But, they are affordable, with long battery life, supports connecting to 2 devices at the same time, and operate with wires even without a battery.
They’re also pairing fast. The S220BT supports Fast Pair where Android devices will pop up a display to start pairing when you start pairing mode from the headphones.