The new ATH-ANC300TW from Audio Technica is their answer to those audiophiles who are after high-efficiency active noise cancellation and high-performance sonic quality.
Audio Technica was founded in 1962. With 58 years of experience, They are a worldwide group of companies committed to the design, manufacture, marketing, and distribution of problem-solving audio equipment. Audio Technica started their journey in the audio industry with their well-known state-of-the-art phonograph cartridges.
They did not stop there. Audio-Technica now produces high-performance microphones, headphones, wireless systems, mixers, and electronic products for home and professional use.
From critical government installations such as U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to major broadcast music events like the GRAMMY® Awards and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, Audio-Technica microphones and wireless are chosen because of their reputable track records!
With more major players entering the true wireless market, Audio Technica decided to join the crowd. In July 2020, Audio Technica released the new ATH-ANC300TW. The ANC in the model name refers to Active Noise Cancellation technology, which is found in popular Apple AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM3.
With QuietPoint®, a proprietary ANC technology from Audio Technica, ATH-ANC300TW aims to provide users a perfect balance between comfort, convenience, and performance listening experience.
The ATH-ANC300TW comes in a small white box, with the true wireless earbuds photo and logo printed. On the right side of the box, the unique selling points, such as the driver configuration and battery life, are printed. On the left side of the box, we can immediately know what is in the box at a glance. Turning to the back of the box, the technical specifications are written in detail.
Opening the box, there is a layer of black foam protecting the unit and other accessories. The ATH-ANC300TW makes its first appearance when the foam is removed. The earbuds are stored in the charging case. Audio Technica is generous enough to provide four pairs of silicone ear tips (M size is pre-installed on the earbuds) and a pair of Comply memory foam ear tips.
Removing the plastic holding the case and ear tips, the charging cable is stored underneath, with a user manual. Spend some time reading the user manual; it will help you to maximise the potential of this true wireless earbuds, and reduce struggles during usage too!
- Driver: Dynamic
- Driver diameter: 5.8 mm
- Frequency response: 20 to 25,000 Hz
- Sensitivity: 106 dB/mW
- Impedance: 14 ohms
- Battery (earbuds): DC 3.7 V lithium-ion battery
- Battery (charging case): DC 3.7 V lithium polymer battery
- Battery life: Continuous transmission time (music playback) approximate 4.5 hours for earbuds, 18 hours if charging case is used in combination
- Bluetooth® Version: Bluetooth® Version 5.0
- Operating Range: Line of sight – approximately 10 m (33′)
- Compatible Bluetooth® profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP
- Support Codec: Qualcomm® aptX™ audio, AAC, SBC
Design and Build Quality
The case of ATH-ANC300TW can be considered pocket friendly. I can store them in my pocket during commuting without any issue. The lid is built with matte surface, to increase the friction between the lid and your finger. This eases the opening of the case and minimizes the fingerprint stains.
The earbuds are stored securely in the case by magnet. Even if the case is opened accidentally in your bag, the earbuds will still sit in the case. On the left side of the case, there is the USB Type-C charging port.
The earbuds utilizes mechanical press buttons, which is rare in true wireless models. However, I still prefer a press button because it is more reliable then a touch sensor. The press button is on both sides of the earbuds for basic control such as volume control, picking up phone calls and pausing the playback.
On the faceplate, the Audio Technica logo is engraved, with the ANC feedback microphone embedded underneath. ANC feedback mic is positioned perpendicular to the driver to optimize the space in the sound tube for efficient sound delivery.
Similar to other true wireless earbuds, the ATH-ANC300TW has a relatively short nozzle, compared to in-ear monitors (IEMs). However, Audio Technica implemented an astonishing ergonomic design in the ATH-ANC300TW. The shell looks like a semi-custom IEMs’ shell. It provides good insertion. This could be the best true wireless earbuds in terms of fitting.
Audio Technica designed a smartphone application for their wireless headphones, A-T Connect. I highly recommend users to install this on their smartphones. The ATH-ANC300TW supports three different ANC modes, Airplane, On-The-Go and Office modes. These modes can only be adjusted with the help of the application.
Besides noise cancellation modes, users can check the battery life and codec used. However, there is a flaw in the application, it requires location service to work. I tried to use this application on my Android powered digital audio players (DAPs) such as iBasso DX220. The application will always prompt me to turn on location service but to my best knowledge, iBasso DX220 is not equipped with location service. It simply does not work.
Fitting and Noise Cancellation
As mentioned in the earlier section, the ATH-ANC300TW has a deep insertion because of its semi custom like shell. The fitting is above average, compared to a lot of true wireless earbuds that I tried and reviewed before. With the noise cancellation on, the surround noise can be well-suppressed.
However, the ANC feedback microphones seem to be incapable in recognising the wind noise accurately. Instead of suppressing it, it sometimes amplifies it. There could be some room of improvement for their subsequent release. I didn’t experience this with my Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2.
To analyse the sound signature, I paired the ATH-ANC300TW to my iPhone XR via AAC codec. Majority of the files played are in AAC format. I also paired it to my iBasso DX220 occasionally, with aptX codec to listen to my lossless library.
The difference is not day and night. On aptX, the details delivered are slightly more and the separation is better. I would say the AAC codec is sufficiently capable to handle my daily commuting need of music. In addition, I can use the application on my phone, but not on my DAP. I settled down with an iPhone and ATH-ANC300TW pairing.
The ATH-ANC300TW has a neutral reference sound signature. Yes, you are right. A reference sound signature on true wireless earbuds. With Audio Technica’s expertise in designing reference sounding IEMs and studio monitors like their legendary ATH-M50 and ATH-M50X, the ATH-ANC300TW exhibits the profile of their in-house sound signature.
This is definitely a rare gem especially for someone like me who appreciates accuracy and precision in sonic presentation. ATH-ANC300TW is definitely a good choice!
As a former user of Audio Technica ATH-M50X, soundstage is never a problem for Audio Technica. The ATH-ANC300TW has a good width to let every note from different frequency spectrum flex their muscles, without punching on each other. Notes are flowing harmonically and parallel to each other.
The separation between instruments and vocals has been done well by the ATH-ANC300TW. With a slightly lean body, the presentation is not overly smooth, like a lot of true wireless earbuds in the market. The positioning of instruments can be recognized accurately, too.
ATH-ANC300TW is well-designed for mature listeners, who are probably more demanding in terms of detail-retrieval, positioning accuracy and separation. You are going to obtain a lot of strength in typical IEMs, which a lot of true wireless earbuds lack of. This is the uniqueness of ATH-ANC300TW.
The lows of ATH-ANC300TW is rather polite and shy as compared to typical dynamic driver powered IEMs or earbuds. It has speedy punch and decay. The extension is insufficient to create a three-dimensional soundstage. This could be the compromise for a more reference sounding earbuds with only a dynamic driver.
Driver limitation is always there and that is why a lot of IEM manufacturers are combining different driver configurations to overcome the limitation. I would not call this a weakness but Audio Technica chose to focus on other aspects more than the lows.
Despite saying that the lows are polite and shy, it has good accuracy and precision. The bass hits and goes at the correct timing and pace in the tracks, creating a clean and neat presentation without any muddiness or sluggishness. The overall presentation is very speedy and dynamic. The only effect of this tuning is some of the genres, like rock will sound soulless, because of the lack of bass rumbles.
The mids of ATH-ANC300TW are clean and transparent. It has minimum coloration. This makes ATH-ANC300TW a great pair of vocal monitoring earbuds. I cannot emphasize enough – this is really rare in true wireless earbuds. Based on my experience, normally true wireless earbuds, which are consumer range audio products, tend to give coloration and smoothening effect in the mids, to increase the excitement in listening experience.
Instead of listening to the ATH-ANC300TW with a normal consumer’s mindset, you are going to appreciate it more if you are doing critical listening with it. The detail retrieval and separation capability is definitely on par with IEMs or studio monitors.
As mentioned in the earlier section, the ATH-ANC300TW is more suitable for mature listeners. For those who are used to the consumer’s range of audio gear, the mids might sound dry and technical to you, because of the lack of coloration and warmth. Indeed, Audio Technica tends to have a slightly colder and darker sound signature, which makes their models excellent studio monitoring gears.
The highs of ATH-ANC300TW are well-extended. Despites lacking warmth from the lows and mids, the highs don’t happen to be too dominating in the overall sound signature. During the reviewing period, I didn’t face any fatigueness while listening to ATH-ANC300TW for a long time. I used it as my commuting partner. For a 90 minute ride to the town in Singapore, I can enjoy the music along the way, no treble piercing or fatigueness.
How does a reference sounding true wireless earbuds sound in the highs? Well, it’s crispy. This could be the best term I can find to describe the highs. It might be a little unnatural but very accurate in terms of speed. That is why I keep on emphasizing that Audio Technica actually put in a studio monitor into this true wireless earbuds, with ANC features – a very unique and rare model.
The Audio Technica ATH-ANC300TW is an extraordinary pair of true wireless earbuds. Unlike typical true wireless earbuds, it focuses more on the technicality, accuracy, and precision in sonic performance, rather than boosting the bass and smoothening mids for higher excitement level.
For those who are looking for a reference-grade true wireless earbuds, the ATH-ANC300TW is definitely the best choice. However, for those who don’t have much experience with critical listening capable IEMs or headphones, you might need some time to get used to the technicalities.
Being the first truly wireless earbuds with ANC from Audio Technica, the ATH-ANC300TW marks numerous boxes for being a great choice for not only consumers, but mature listeners. There is room for improvement such as accuracy in ANC and naturality in tuning. I’m expecting a jaw dropping model in their next release!