With inflation going on ceiling, there’s at least one audio company looking to help you get the most bang for your buck. Audio-Technica’s new Bluetooth-enabled version of its popular M20x headphones, the M20xBT, boasts 60 hours of wireless playback, a super-lightweight design, and excellent frequency response, all for just $79.
They sound amazing, look classic, and cost about the same as a dozen lattes in a major metropolitan area. Those lattes might get you through lunch, but they won’t help you meditate on the pain of the modern economy in Headspace, or transport you to another world via Spotify, Audible, or any other audio-based distraction of your choice.
Simple and satisfying
Audio-Technica knows a thing or two about making good in-ears. The company’s most expensive products are a staple of studios and stages around the world, known for their durability, clear sound and good value. In form, the new M20xBT fits perfectly into the company’s well-known design language. They are simple and utilitarian things.
Flat plastic ear pads with frilled plastic leather pads connect to a basic headband with the Audio-Technica logo printed on top of the padding. On the bottom of the right ear, you’ll find controls for adjusting the volume and playing or pausing music.
They’re surprisingly light, which also makes them a bit scary to travel with, as they seem like they could break easily. I found myself leaving the M20xBT on my head and pulling out an earpiece to talk to someone or hanging them around my neck like a terrible DJ. When you don’t use it, you’d better put on a headphone stand. If you plan to travel with them often, I’d recommend an inexpensive hard case for peace of mind.
That said, this lightweight design makes them very comfortable on my head, as does the rather thin padding on the ears. They disappear into your skull when you wear them, which is rare for headphones in any price range.
With 60 hours of playback, you’ll have more than a full work week of listening time before plugging them into a USB-C port. (They also have a decent microphone for Zoom and phone calls.) But I like that you can also hear them via a cable without any power; I found myself using them to walk around my neighborhood and tinker with my phone at one point, then plug them into my interface to record music in my home studio. The included 3.5mm cable will also make frequent travelers happy. There’s no noise-canceling technology, but the earphone-style design of the headphones offers pretty decent passive sound isolation on its own.
Considering the price and relatively basic build quality, it’s clear that Audio-Technica’s engineers put most of their resources into how these headphones sound. That paid off. They perform well for a $79 pair of wireless headphones.