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Review: Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT – Affordable Freedom

The ATH-M20xBT.
The ATH-M20xBT.

The most affordable model in the M series receive a Bluetooth upgrade.

Thank you, Audio-Technica Southeast Asia (S.E.A), for providing the ATH-M20xBT headphones for review.

It is no secret that Audio-Technica has a stellar reputation for sound, and if you have never been able to enjoy it, then you should begin your search here with the affordable ATH-M20xBT.

They are the latest addition to the popular M-Series and are very similar to the well-received ATH-M50xBT. Priced under USD$100, they have a minimalist design, a well-balanced soundstage that complements all music genres, and a ridiculously long battery life.

The ATH-M20xBT.
Bottom Line

The ATH-M20xBT are an excellent budget option for anyone looking for a neutral-sounding pair of headphones suitable for editing videos or music without spending much money. In addition to great sound, you also receive Bluetooth multipoint connectivity and a low latency mode, which I consider to be valuable productivity features. The ATH-M20xBT are a pair of headphones designed more for functionality than form, and if you appreciate that compromise, you will find them to be a good value.

What We Like
  • Clean and detailed sound
  • Multipoint pairing
  • Long battery life
  • Affordable price
  • Stable connectivity
What We Don't Like
  • Ear cups cannot fold in or swivel flat
  • The plastic used feels a little cheap
  • Treble might be harsh in some tracks

How are Audio-Technica’s laudable sound qualities maintained at such an affordable price? The full review will reveal the secret!

Company Introduction

Founded in 1962, Audio-Technica is a worldwide group committed to designing, manufacturing, marketing, and distributing problem-solving audio equipment. Audio-Technica started its journey in the audio industry with its well-known state-of-the-art phonograph cartridges.

The company 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 the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to significant broadcast music events like the GRAMMY® Awards and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, Audio-Technica’s products are chosen because of their reputable track record.

Technical Specifications

  • Form: Closed-back Bluetooth wireless headphones
  • Drivers: 1 x 40mm dynamic driver
  • Impedance (Ohm): 36 Ohms
  • Sensitivity (dB): 100 dB/mW
  • Frequency Response (Hz): 5 Hz – 32 kHz
  • Removable Cable: Y
  • Source Jack: 3.5mm TRS unbalanced jack
  • Cup/Shell Jack: 3.5mm TRS unbalanced jack
  • Bluetooth Audio Codec: SBC and AAC
  • Battery Life (hrs): 60 hours
  • Bluetooth Version: 5.0
  • Mic: Y
  • Microphone Type: Electret condenser
  • Microphone Sensitivity: -42 dB (1V/Pa, at 1 kHz)
  • Microphone Frequency Response: 50 – 20,000 Hz
  • Microphone Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional
  • Weight (g): 216 g

Packaging

The ATH-M20xBT come in similar packaging to the ATH-M50xBT2, which I reviewed earlier. The specifications and unique selling points can be found around the packaging.

In the box

  • Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT over-ear headphones
  • 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable (1.2m)
  • USB Type-C to USB Type-A charging cable
  • User manual
The ATH-M20xBT come in a white cardboard box, with specifications printed on the back.
The ATH-M20xBT come in a white cardboard box, with specifications printed on the back.

Cable

Despite being Bluetooth headphones intended for wireless use, the ATH-M20xBT can be connected to your music source with the provided analogue 3.5mm cable. The stock cable provided in ATH-M20xBT’s packaging looks cheaper and thinner than the one included with the ATH-M50xBT2.

We can start to see how Audio-Technica achieves the ATH-M20xBT’s affordable price.

The stock 1.2m analogue cable is thin and looks cheap.
The stock 1.2m analogue cable is thin and looks cheap.

Design

Regarding aesthetics, the ATH-M20xBT headphones have a very minimalist design; the entire headphones are encased in black plastic except for the metal adjustment rails. Audio-Technica’s branding appears on the top of the headband.

In contrast to the ATH-M50xBT2, the ATH-M20xBT are primarily constructed of a lower-quality plastic. The build quality is similar to the ATH-S220BT. The adjustment rails retract and extend as required, but they do not have any defined steps on their adjustment rails.

The ATH-M20xBT do not have sideways or inward-folding earcups like the ATH-M50xBT2.

This design is most likely done to cut costs, but it harms portability and durability.

With Bluetooth functionality added, the ATH-M20xBT now includes physical buttons on its left ear cup. All media playback functions are available through the three-button control, including play/pause, skipping tracks, and volume adjustment.

In addition to the buttons on the left ear cup, there is a USB-C port for charging and a 3.5mm jack for wired listening.

The adjustment rail is the only metal part in the ATH-M20xBT.
The adjustment rail is the only metal part in the ATH-M20xBT.

Comfort

ATH-M20xBT headphones are slightly above average in terms of comfort. I find the PU leather ear pads provide decent cushioning and feel quite pleasant against my skin.

However, they could be plusher. There is a tendency for heat to get trapped inside the ear cups due to the lack of space in the cups.

After an hour or so, I find I need to cool my ears need by removing the headphones.

The ATH-M20xBT headphones are a lightweight pair weighing just 217 grams. Although the headband lacks thick cushioning, its design allows the weight to be evenly distributed over the entire band. As a result, I do not feel any weight pressing down on me. Also, the clamping pressure is just right.

The headband is sufficiently-cushioned, with Audio-Technica's logo printed on top.
The headband is sufficiently-cushioned, with Audio-Technica’s logo printed on top.

Internals

The ATH-M20xBT feature a 40mm dynamic driver and an open-back housing. In addition to having a 60-hour battery life, they also feature Audio-Technica’s Rapid Charge Technology, which allows them to gain 3 hours of battery life when they are charged for only 10 minutes.

Moreover, you can enable Bluetooth low latency mode to reduce lag and synchronization at the cost of some battery life. A microphone is also attached to the left earcup.

The ATH-M20xBT even features Bluetooth multipoint support. By connecting the ATH-M20xBT to both your laptop and smartphone, you will be able to seamlessly transition audio output from one device to another without having to disconnect and reconnect.

There are three buttons, audio output port, and charging port on the left ear cup.
There are three buttons, audio output port, and charging port on the left ear cup.

ATH-M20xBT Sound

The reproduction of high-quality audio on low-cost wireless headphones can be difficult. Even though they are not quite up to the standards of the company’s more expensive models, the ATH-M20xBT are well-tuned and deliver a pleasing sound.

ATH-M20xBT offer a neutral sound signature with excellent clarity across the entire audio spectrum. In terms of soundstage, the M20xBT provide a very accurate representation of the intended studio mix. There is a good separation between the stereo fields, and the spatial character is neutral. Dynamic response is very responsive and remains consistent throughout the frequency range.

The PU leather ear pads could be more plush to create more room for your ears.
The PU leather ear pads could be more plush to create more room for your ears.

Bass

The bass on the M20xBT is polite while still audible and very clear. Bass enthusiasts might find the bass somewhat less satisfying, but I find it well-balanced. A balance between aggressiveness and passiveness had been achieved.

The introduction of Fun’s “We Are Young” grabs my attention from the beginning. It remains steady and impactful throughout the entire song. This track is infectious on the ATH-M20xBT, and I can’t help tapping my foot to the beat. Additionally, the harmonies are clean and crisp, and the layering is detailed enough to discern the background vocalists clearly.

The ATH-M20xBT is polite in bass response.
The ATH-M20xBT is polite in bass response.

Midrange

The ATH-M20xBT feature an accurate and clean midrange, with vocals and instruments, such as guitars, taking center stage. The midrange is presented in an extremely flat manner on the ATH-M20xBT and provides a good representation of the true mix.

This tuning is essential for Audio-Technica to provide an accurate mixing experience.

Similar to their elder brother (ATH-M50xBT2), the ATH-M20xBT have accurate midrange, making them suitable for studio usage.
Similar to their elder brother (ATH-M50xBT2), the ATH-M20xBT have accurate midrange, making them suitable for studio usage.

Treble

The treble is slightly off from mix-accurate, and there are some boosts in the treble. While this enhancement doesn’t interfere too much with the ATH-M20xBT’s amazing frequency reproduction, it does tend to create some harshness on certain tracks. Fortunately, this profile does not significantly affect the listening experience.

Treble has a bright and open profile. With the ATH-M20xBT, acoustic tracks sound excellent, with vocals and guitars at the forefront, shimmering with clarity.

Where to Buy

Conclusion

The ATH-M20xBT are an excellent budget option for anyone looking for a neutral-sounding pair of headphones suitable for editing videos or music without spending much money. In addition to great sound, you also receive Bluetooth multipoint connectivity and a low latency mode, which I consider to be valuable productivity features.

The ATH-M20xBT are a pair of headphones designed more for functionality than form, and if you appreciate that compromise, you will find them to be a good value.

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