Laptop Mag Verdict
The $299 Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 delivers satisfying 3D sound and ANC, though its low battery life is insufficient for the price.
Well-rounded audio performance
Convincing 3D sound
Surprisingly good call quality
Weak battery life
Terrible latency when watching videos
No quick charging
Costs more than Apple’s and Sony’s flagship models
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Audio-Technica has a few wireless earbuds in their collection, but they had not released a flagship model until now. The all-new ATH-TWX9 serves as the company’s top true wireless offering, carrying over many brand hallmarks such as reliable craftsmanship and stellar sound, while adding several popular features into the mix.
Colors: Japanese Black
Battery life (rated): 6 hours; 24.5 hours (charging case)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2
Water resistance: Yes (IPX4 rated)
Size: Not stated
Weight: 0.19 ounces (per bud); 2.0 ounces (charging case)
On its spec sheet: active noise cancellation (ANC), aptX Adaptive support, Bluetooth multipoint, spatial audio, voice activation, and wireless charging. These buds also boast a familiar, yet stylish design and dual-control inputs (buttons and touch panels). They also carry their fair share of flaws, from finicky software to subpar battery life.
Our full Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 review touches on everything you should know before purchasing these buds.
Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 review: Availability and price
You can buy the ATH-TWX9 in “Japanese Black” for $299 exclusively on Audio-Technica’s website. Inside the box are a charging case, USB-C cable, four sets of short tips (XS, S, M, L), four sets of standard tips, (XS, S, M, L), four sets of long tips (XS, S, M, L), and a manual.
The high MSRP puts these buds in the same company as other luxury models like the Astell&Kern AK UW100 ($299) and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 ($299). It also makes them more expensive than category favorites such as the AirPods Pro 2 ($249) and Sony WF-1000XM4 ($279). If these options are out of your financial reach, check out our best cheap noise-cancelling earbuds and best cheap wireless earbuds lists to see what works for your needs and budget.
Be sure to bookmark our headphone deals page for the latest sales.
Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 review: Design and comfort
The ATH-TWX9 has the same long-stem design as most other AirPods alternatives, though it is superior in build quality. A combination of durable shiny plastic and soft-touch rubber makes up the exterior, giving these buds a ruggedly handsome and premium appearance. Small details like the logo and shiny accent on the bottom tip are nice touches.
Audio-Technica’s charging case is just as stylish, looking like a sophisticated coin purse. Durability is on point; it uses the same materials as the buds to stave off scratches and scuffs. The buds are displayed beautifully on the inside and stay locked in their charging slots, thanks to strong magnets that also keep the lid shut tightly.
Comfort and fit are acceptable. I would often wear the ATH-TWX9 for three-hours stretches before experiencing any soreness. The elongated cavity rested gently on the concha, while the ear tips formed a decent seal around my ear for proper on-ear stability.
There is no ear tip fit test available to scan your ears for optimal fit. Instead, you get a variety of ear tips in different sizes to accommodate listeners of all ear shapes.
Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 review: Controls and digital assistant
Each bud has a touch panel on the front and multifunctional button on the stem, both of which employ a variety of functions through single, double, or triple-tap/-press gestures. The long-hold/-press gesture is available as well.
Most of the controls operate well. The buttons produce great tactility to ensure users of intended commands being met. Touch accuracy is about 80 percent; the sensors would occasionally misinterpret triple taps for double taps.
Wear detection is precise, instantly activating auto-pause when taking off one bud and resuming playback when placed back on the ear.
Google Assistant and Siri work exceptionally well. Audio-Technica’s mic array demonstrates terrific speech recognition, registering every syllable and word to execute voice commands without a hitch.
Alexa voice recognition comes part of the package to fire up Amazon’s AI bot by speaking out the wake word phrase: “Alexa.” I would love to share my experience with the feature, but my unit had trouble pairing with the Alexa app. Hopefully, a firmware update can fix this.
Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 review: Audio quality
Sound is clean and detailed with some slight punch to it. Audio-Technica’s newly designed 5.8mm high-resolution drivers extend high frequencies, plus the inclusion of aptX Adaptive dynamically adjusts the bitrate to deliver hi-res streaming on compatible Bluetooth devices. Playing tracks on a lossless music service like Tidal gets you the best results, though the sound quality from basic music apps like Spotify and YouTube Music is still enjoyable.
The reproduction on bluesy instrumentals like Pat Metheny’s “Pipeline” was serene. Every major guitar lick tickled my eardrum. Even the instrumental separation was fantastic; I distinctly heard every string arrangement as they were audibly placed one behind another.
Jay-Z’s “U Don’t Know” brought high-energy vibes despite the lackluster snares. The blaring horns came through loud and clear, along with the midrange, which emphasized the rapper’s vocals and wailing samples. I was a little shocked by how subdued the bass sounded, especially on the Tidal master version, but Audio-Technica does provide options to amp it up.
Listening with ANC off gives the low end a bit more kick. You can also personalize sound by using the Equalizer via companion app to create your own EQ profile or select from five well-engineered presets: Bass Boost, Clear Vocal, Original (default), Treble Enhance, and V-Shaped. I preferred Original since it did the best job balancing frequencies.
The ATH-TWX9 is one of few wireless earbuds to support Sony’s 360 Reality Audio platform. Optimized tracks on Tidal had more oomph to them, and the 3D sound produced on live recordings created a more immersive soundstage.
You’ll want to refrain from watching videos due to the ATH-TWX9’s awful lag. Lip synchronization is way off when streaming YouTube clips. Enabling the buds’ Low Latency mode should fix this problem, but it doesn’t.
Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 review: Active noise cancellation
Six ANC modes are selectable: Airplane, Home, Office/Study, On The Go, Train, and Optimized. Each is engineered to neutralize different levels of sound, though the differences aren’t significant. You’ll also notice a change in pressure when cycling through each mode.
Are they all effective? Yes, for the most part. Optimized is the only mode designed for use in all settings, and performance varies based on frequency levels. Distractions like car engines, co-worker chatter, and dog barking were mostly silent. High-pitched noises like bird chirping, crying babies, and whistles entered the soundscape.
Airplane tweaks the ANC algorithm to handle low-frequency sounds, specifically droning noises; it completely blocked out the multiple AC units operating in my garage. Home was fine for minimizing disruptions like loud TVs and my son’s electronic toys, while On The Go did the same for mid-frequency sounds on the streets. High frequencies could still be heard across all modes.
A five-level Hear-Through mode is available to increase awareness of your surroundings. Oncoming traffic was perceptible from a block away, which ensured my safety during strolls with the baby. I was also able to communicate with the missus from the opposite end of our living room and monitor the baby during naps.
Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 review: App and special features
Make sure to download the Audio-Technica Connect to access all special features. These include the aforementioned Equalizer, Low Latency mode, Noise-Cancelling settings, and 360 Reality Audio. Rounding things out are an audio codec selector, battery level indicators, firmware updates, Product Locator function, visual guide, volume slider, and music player.
This is a high number of features, though more should be expected for the high price. A few that come to mind are adjustable ANC, Spotify Tap integration, and a soundscape mode.
There is an overlay that shows up on your phone’s notifications screen. It shows the battery life for both buds and the charging case, but the results are off compared to what’s shown in the app and Bluetooth settings.
Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 review: Battery life and charging case
These buds meet the industry standard for battery life (6 hours) and share similar ANC playtime as the AirPods Pro 2. Unfortunately, this is still short compared to other premium rivals like the Sony WF-1000XM4 (8 to 12 hours) and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 (6.5 to 7 hours).
My testing had the ATH-TWX9 maxing out around 5.5 hours with ANC on. High volume and aptX use also affected battery life by about an hour. I got two days of moderate use out of these buds before recharging.
The wireless charging case is even more disappointing, holding up to 24.5 hours when fully charged. This is only a half hour more than the first-gen AirPods Pro case and much less than the AirPods Pro 2 case (30 to 34 hours). Adding more insult to injury is the lack of quick charging.
Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 review: Call quality and connectivity
The ATH-TWX9 is a serviceable calling headset. Many people thought I was speaking into my smartphone. My wife did notice some muffle when taking her calls outside. In addition, there was some echoing on my end.
These buds operate on Bluetooth 5.2. Range extends up to 50 feet (15 meters) in open spaces, which was sufficient for moving around the house with little dropout. Pairing was fast on iOS/macOS and Android devices, though the latter sped up the process with one-tap Google Fast Pair.
Multipoint technology let me pair the buds to two devices at the same, but the feature was buggy. The reported battery levels were different on each device: my MacBook Pro said 100% and my Pixel 6 Pro said 20% for each bud. There’s another bug that mutes Spotify audio on the second device.
Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 review: Verdict
The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 is one of the more versatile-sounding wireless earbuds in the category. Its sound profile is natural and impactful. ANC blocks out enough ambient noise for peaceful listens. Other positives like the chic design, fast connectivity, and intuitive controls also raise the buds’ value. The low battery life is a bummer, and several bugs need to be flushed out, but the ATH-TWX9 is a solid debut for a legacy audio brand.