Balanced sound, up to 60 hours of battery life, Bluetooth multipoint and a low latency mode for gaming and video applications – the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT bring some serious fun!
The Audio-Technica M-Series (“M” for monitor) is a well-proven range of production headphones that are as affordable as they are reliable. Their main characteristics are closed-back construction, neutral sound and a rather unspectacular design.
Our German review had many words of praise for their wired predecessor Audio-Technica ATH-M20x (to the review) and recommended them as entry-level headphones in this price range. With this wireless Bluetooth version, which can be identified by the “BT” added to the name, Audio-Technica obviously does not want to merely solder a simple wireless module into the housing of their traditional headphones, but seem to have taken a close look at the whole issue. Accordingly, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT have a number of rather forward-thinking features on offer: not only do they promise an epic battery life of 60 (!) hours, but also a complete quick charge within four hours (10 minutes is enough for 3 hours). In addition, there is an extremely low latency with the wireless link (Low Latency Mode) for gaming and video applications and the possibility of multipoint pairing, which allows the headphones to be connected to two Bluetooth players at the same time. And if you end up forgetting to charge via the integrated USB-C socket, the ATH-M20xBT can be operated via cable if need be – very nice!
Technically, we are essentially dealing with the proven M20x design, which has not simply been copied but improved in many parameters. The 40mm drivers with neodymium magnet system and CCAW voice coils remain, while the frequency spectrum has been extended from 5Hz to 32kHz and the input sensitivity to 100dB per milliwatt, and the impedance has been reduced to 36 ohms.
Visually, the cable and Bluetooth versions are like two peas in a pod. In other words, you get a matte black headset that looks very unobtrusive, the only decoration being a silver “Audio-Technica” logo on the headband. In terms of weight, the Bluetooth version has gained about 25 grams, which is surprisingly little in view of the additional battery (DC 3.7 V lithium-polymer) and wireless electronics taken on board. The Bluetooth module (codecs SBC, AAC) is technically quite a powerful component, as it is capable of pairing with two players at the same time, provides an impressively stable and long-range wireless link (20 metres in an open field) and is able to operate in low-latency mode, in which the latency between the player and the headphones is reduced to a minimum. In addition, the ATH-M20xBT is capable of “Fast Pair” connection with Android phones, if you are logged in with your Google account you can just hold the headphones and mobile phone next to each other.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT is pleasant to use: it is charged via a USB-C socket on the underside of the right ear cup. A discreetly illuminated LED on the rear panel indicates the charging status as well as active operation and pairing readiness. Next to it is the opening for the integrated hands-free microphone, a stereo mini jack for physically connecting the headphones, as well as three multifunction buttons with which a variety of actions can be triggered: simple on/off and volume adjustment, the usual functions (track forward/back, play/pause), calling up a voice assistant (Siri/Google) and activating low-latency mode. My only criticism here: if you choose the cable route for signal transmission, the stereo mini jack proves to be a bit finicky with regard to different plug designs. There were no problems with the 1.2-metre connection cable that is supplied. With other cables I tried, I had to jiggle the jack a bit to get the playback to change from mono to stereo.
It doesn’t happen that often in this price range, but the sound of the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT gives me absolutely nothing to criticise. On the contrary, the sound was well-balanced across the entire listening spectrum and resolved music with both detail and vividness. In fact, I can say that the ATH-M20xBT is positioned in what I would call the linear sound spectrum. And this is – and other manufacturers can shout about with their fashionably curved frequency responses as much as they like – the sonic ideal that is the benchmark of all things in audio technology. However, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT don’t like to play loud – so if you suffer from incipient deafness and are dependent on levels that are above normal listening volume, this pair of headphones is not necessarily the right choice. In direct comparison with some older candidates from Audio-Technica (including, for example, a ten-year-old Audio-Technica ATH-PRO500MK2), I was struck by the fact that the manufacturer has audibly adapted the sound signature of its headphones over the years to modern preferences – primarily for more stable bass reproduction. The ATH-M20xBT fills out the sound foundation very solidly so that listening enjoyment is not neglected. The quality during telephone calls is not quite as exciting, but still serviceable: a little worse on the receiving side than on the transmitting, mainly as during our test calls it seemed as if the ATH-M20xBT’s microphone tended to “swallow” the beginnings of words.
Overall the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT are really a pleasure to use, because of the balanced sound combined with a surprisingly pleasantly ventilated fit for a pair of closed headphones, which are neatly “souped up” by the wirelessness and long range. This pleasure is not dampened one bit when you look at the price tag – quite the opposite: you get a really good pair of headphones for a really reasonable price – what more could you ask for!
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)5 - 32,000 Hz
- Impedance33.85 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)105.14 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head602 g
- Weight with cable215 g
- Weight without cable205 g
- Cable length120 cm
What's in the box
- Mini jack cable
- USB-C to USB-A charging cable
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC
- BT version: 5.0
- BT profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP