Audio-Technica has unveiled the ATH-S220BT, the company's latest budget headphones that feature up to 60 hours of battery life and promise a low-latency wireless performance. The headphones include the ability to let users connect to two devices over Bluetooth simultaneously. Other key highlights of the Audio-Technica ATH-S220BT include support for Google Assistant and Siri voice assistants, Google's Fast Pair integration, and rapid charge for faster charging. The headphones are designed as an upgrade to the ATH-S200BT that were launched in 2019.
The Audio-Technica ATH-S220BT are available in Black and Black Clear colour options. I was provided with the black colour version of the headphones for review. The white plastic ear-cups have large rings of red that in some spots merge with the rest of the body's colour scheme to give the headphones a subtle red tint. The ear cups are fairly large, so it will be a struggle to fit your ears with the headphone covered. On the left ear-cup is a power button and a microphone for answering or declining calls. You can hold the button for 2 seconds to activate Google Assistant. The microphone does a decent job of picking up voice prompts when placed directly against your mouth, and its placement is inconspicuous enough to avoid any issues with ambient noise.
The Audio Quality
The Audio-Technica ATH-S220BT come with a pair of 6mm neodymium drivers that deliver an extremely rich bass profile. The entire range of the bass range is evident, and it can seem really powerful at high volumes. However, it also sounds quite bass-heavy, and this is actually something that the company is addressing. In the initial feedback, the company is offering a number of presets that has been designed to get the balance of the headphones to sound more balanced and neutral. The bass control is also responsive, and the headphones deliver an accurate sound signature. The Audio-Technica ATH-S220BT can be easily switched to one of the other EQ modes and use the standard six-band equaliser to fine-tune the sound.
The Battery Life
Audio-Technica says that the ATH-S220BT deliver up to 60 hours of battery life with the earphones being charged in just 40 minutes. The company says that the headphones achieve a five hour talk time on a single charge, up to eight hours of music playback, and up to 30 days of standby time on a single charge. The headphones also support fast charging that claims to charge up to 60 percent in an hour with just 15 minutes of charging. As a result of being splash and sweat resistant, the headphones are splash and water resistant, which makes them suitable for use while working out in the gym. The company claims that the headphones support environmental audio protection and have a resistance to high-velocity water jets.
The Bluetooth headphones from Audio-Technica come with features that allow for seamless playback when connected to two devices. The ATH-S220BT sports a USB Type-C port that can be used to charge the device as well as connect to a smartphone or any other Bluetooth device for the music playback. A hidden button on the left earcup provides the option to summon the Google Assistant on Google's smart speakers like Google Home and Google Home Mini. Users can also hold this button for up to two minutes and start to summon Siri on Apple's smart speakers like the HomePod and HomePod Mini. The ATH-S220BT also offer a Hi-Res Audio chip for its audio output, apart from a range of filters that can be customised by the user.
The Audio-Technica ATH-S220BT offer audio quality that's good enough for regular users, but the most noticeable downside is that the audio quality doesn't offer a good listening experience at maximum volume. The bass isn't developed enough to bring the audio experience closer to the 'mid-range' category that headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM2 and Bose QuietComfort 35 offer. The audio performance falls a little short at both mid-range and high-end frequencies, which is the hallmark of a good audiophile-grade audio headphone. The bass delivery does make up for this shortfall a bit, but most users will find it to be lacking. Overall, the Audio-Technica ATH-S220BT don't sound bad at all, but they are also hard to recommend over the other similarly priced headphones in this price range.