With support for Sony 360 Reality Audio, aptX Adaptive and the latest technologies from the Qualcomm Snapdragon Sound (QSS) platform, Audio-Technica’s ATH-TWX9 wireless in-ears aim to deliver high-quality sound when you are listening to music, watching movies and making calls. The charging case is also equipped with a Deep-UV sterilisation system to eliminate viruses and bacteria on the earpiece surfaces.
The ATH-TWX9s come with ear tips in three different stem lengths, each with a choice of four sizes, which allows for a specific adjustment to suit your ear canal and promotes a comfortable, stable fit. Even though the housings protrude slightly from the ear when worn, these in-ears will fit under a winter hat if it is not too tightly fitting. The system is protected from weather-related moisture and during sporting activities by a water- and sweat-resistant finish in accordance with IPX4. The earpieces and the charging case provide an impression of high-quality impression, in both look and feel.
At a higher playback level and with noise cancellation switched on, the ATH-TWX9s achieved a listening time of five and a half hours. In basic mode, they managed just under six hours, and the headphones can be fully charged twice in the case before an external power source is required. This results in a total runtime of about 17 hours, which does not seem like very much, especially as the usage time will be reduced further if the in-ears are sterilised more frequently, and this is done automatically when they are put back into the charging case. Audio-Technica also offers the ATH-CKS50TW True Wireless in-ears in its range, which in contrast to the ATH-TWX9, provide a runtime of 20 hours per charge. The ATH-TWX9 also do not have a quick-charge function, although a charging cycle takes less than two hours. The case’s battery reserves can be restored within three hours via the USB-C connection, for which a USB-C to USB-A charging cable is included. Alternatively, wireless charging via Qi is possible, and according to the manufacturer, this takes five hours.
Pairing the earpieces, which support Bluetooth standard 5.2 and multipoint connections with two devices simultaneously can be done by removing them from the case. This turns the system on and automatically puts it into pairing mode. For Android devices, Google Fast Pair is also available for quick connection. The ATH-TWX9 can be switched on and off manually by pressing and holding the push buttons on the side of the stems. This means that the batteries do not have to be recharged and the earpieces do not have to be sterilised after every use. One-sided use in single mode is also possible.
When a wireless connection has been established, the right-hand button can be used to control playback, while pressing twice is used to skip forward and three times to skip back. The left side provides volume control, with a single press increasing the playback level and a double press decreasing it. Pressing three times activates or deactivates the Quick Hear Through function so you can communicate with other people. Calls can be accepted with a single press and rejected or ended by a short press and hold, and this is possible on both sides. The microphones can be muted by pressing the right-hand button twice. Complementing the push-buttons, the ATH-TWX9s have touch-sensitive earpiece surfaces, where a double tap on the left side will switch between ANC, basic and ambient modes. Holding the left touch surface starts the measurement process for locally adjusted noise cancelling. By holding the right side, the voice assistant or Amazon Alexa can be contacted. There is a broad range of control options available on the earpieces, but the control elements cannot be freely configured via the app. The right touch surface is customisable; other than that, button assignment can be swapped between the left and right, or music control can be prioritised on the left headphone.
The Connect app (Android and iOS) is equipped with playback control and provides information on the battery status of the earpieces and the audio codec being used. In addition to Bluetooth standard SBC, the ATH-TWX9 supports AAC format as well as aptX and aptX Adaptive. Five ANC modes (“Airplane”, “Train”, “On The Go”, “Office/Study”, and “Home”) plus the “Optimised” mode with local calibration are available via the ambient noise control. The transparency mode also offers five levels of intensity for adjusting to the environment. A graphical EQ with five bands for custom settings, which can be saved as pre-sets, is available for sound control. Preconfigured EQ settings such as “Bass Boost”, “Clear Vocal”, “V-shaped”, or “Treble Enhance” can be used as a starting point for individual settings.
The app’s other headphone settings include a step division of the volume control into 16, 32 or 64 steps, L/R balance control and a low-latency mode that improves the synchronicity of picture and sound when using SBC codec. A tracking function can also be used, which should make it easy to find the headphones, and firmware updates can be carried out. Furthermore, voice announcements, earpiece ear recognition, a sidetone function for use during telephone calls and touch-sensitive earpiece surfaces that can be activated or deactivated. The sensitivity of the touch control can also be adjusted.
Voice quality when making phone calls
According to the manufacturer, the ATH-TWX9 enable crystal clear call quality thanks to beamforming and Qualcomm cVc 8.0 technology, and this is true in a quiet environment. Both with a Zenfone 9, which supports “Snapdragon Sound”, and with an iPhone, the speech intelligibility was excellent, especially as both sides of the call sounded extremely natural, and the user’s own voice was transmitted when the listening function was activated. However, the suppression of wind and ambient noise was not very convincing. Although wind noise was filtered out on the iPhone, which meant that it was not affected by moderate wind, the voice quality was significantly reduced in stronger gusts. In addition, the voice of the other person on the call could only be heard very quietly. On the Zenfone 9, wind noise was only slightly reduced so that it was always audible on the opposite side of the call and affected intelligibility, even if the voice quality remained quite stable. Louder ambient noises hardly seemed to be reduced on either device.
How good is the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9’s noise cancelling & transparency mode?
The ATH-TWX9’s hybrid noise cancellation was automatically activated when the system was switched on, and it attenuated low-frequency as well as high-frequency outside sounds quite effectively. Voices or complex street and construction noise were filtered to a lesser extent, but it was still noticeable. Overall, the five ANC modes did not provide outstanding but rather satisfactory attenuation of noise sources. However, the best results were achieved when the ambient noise was measured, and a specific adjustment was made, and this was uncomplicated to use and could be implemented within a few seconds.
While there was only subtle background noise in Noise Cancelling mode, an increase from level to level was perceptible in transparency mode. The Quick Hear Through function also worked with an audible noise, and it had to be determined via the app whether the playback should be muted or continued at a significantly reduced volume. There was also a choice between “natural” or “strong” amplification, which was effective in both cases. The amplification was equally flawless in transparency mode, and even the medium intensity level enabled perception of the surroundings while listening to music.
Precise & pure: the sound of the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9
The ATH-TWX9s use high-resolution, dynamic 5.8mm drivers with an extended high-frequency range, but this requires 96kHz sampling via Snapdragon Sound technology. Thanks to the multipoint connection, it is possible to make an A/B comparison of the sound reproduction of the iPhone (AAC format) and Asus Zenfone (Snapdragon Sound, aptX Adaptive), and this served as the starting point for our listening test. No major differences in sound were detected. However, conscious listening in a quiet environment revealed subtle deviations.
What fundamentally distinguishes the tuning of the ATH-TWX9 was a precise presentation with a pure sound image that seemed uncoloured and matter-of-fact without appearing sterile. The focus was on homogeneous, unadulterated reproduction with clean separation and high information content. At the same time, the reproduction conveyed a catchy, carefree lightness that was capable of capturing attention when the November rain was pelting against the window panes outside.
In the bass range, these headphones can sound both dry and crisp as well as rich, as the far-reaching low bass seemed full-bodied rather than lean and provided the desired pressure in bass-oriented music styles. Apart from a slight emphasis in the lower bass range, the basic sound was very balanced. The midrange reproduction especially succeeds in conveying an extremely natural, realistic listening impression. It was a delight to hear how complex and multi-layered the reproduction of voices was, and it made spoken content a pleasure to listen to. The high-frequency range was relaxed and not at all brash while remaining agile and fresh. Isolated accents were emphasised without imposing themselves, and sibilants were discreetly rounded off with benign indulgence, all most conducive to listening pleasure.
In an A/B comparison, the listening room via “Snapdragon Sound” seemed somewhat more spacious, and the overall presentation was even more nimble, especially as the reproduction seemed better illuminated. In contrast, the sound via the iPhone conveyed a flatter impression, with voices being presented as a little more present and foregrounded, while on the Zenfone they seemed more embedded in the overall structure. However, these were nuances that are unlikely to be noticeable in ordinary everyday use.
The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9’s low overall battery life and low (wind) noise suppression during phone calls can be identified as particular weak points, although the voice quality was excellent in a quieter environment. On the other hand, these True Wireless in-ears score plus points for their homogeneous, natural, basic sound, locally adjustable noise cancellation and the extensive earpiece and sound settings available via the app. Additional added value is offered by the Deep UV sterilisation system.
- Extended high-frequency range via "Snapdragon Sound" (96 kHz sampling)
- Adjustable local noise suppression via calibration
- Adjustable transparency mode
- Deep UV sterilisation system
- Voice quality during phone calls (in quiet environment)
- Case supports wireless charging via Qi
- Extensive headset and sound settings
- Multipoint connections
- Certified for Sony 360 Reality Audio
- IPX4 sweat and water resistant earpieces
- Supports AAC, aptX and aptX Adaptive
- Weak (wind) noise cancellation during phone calls
- Short total battery life and no quick charge function
- Background noise in transparency mode
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)10 - 40.000 Hz
- Impedance16 ohms
- Weight without cable6 g each, case 58 g
What's in the box
- Eartips with 3 stem lengths in 4 sizes each (3x XS, S, M, L)
- USB-C to USB-A charging cable
- Charging case
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX Adaptive
- BT version: 5.2
- BT profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP
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