Japan’s Audio-Technica is coming to CES 2018 with a big set of new wireless headphones to show off. The highlight among them is the DSR5BT. Its codename hints at the fact it has the same Pure Digital Drive tech as last year’s over-ear DSR9BT and DSR7BT. The difference with this technology is that it skips the usual digital-to-analog converter required to turn binary data from your phone or laptop into a signal that a headphone driver can understand and play back — and Audio-Technica believes that leads to vastly reduced distortion and a purer music playback.
The DSR5BT pair is also intriguing because of its push-pull driver system inside: it has two asymmetrically sized (one is 9.8mm, the other is 8.8mm) drivers that face each other and move together in opposite directions. This is another element that Audio-Technica says builds toward cleaner sound reproduction. As good as the DSR5BT may sound, though, one obvious compromise is in their design, with Audio-Technica adopting the dreaded neckbud design of putting a plastic collar around the listener’s neck. Neckbuds that are merely a connecting wire are much nicer, but they likely can’t accommodate the acoustic design and battery and wireless hardware that Audio-Technica wants. The DSR5BT go on sale for €399 / £349 in the spring.
Next up, the sporty SPORT70BT and SPORT50BT adopt the alternative neckbud setup, integrating most of the tech inside the earbud construction and connecting the two sides with a wire around the neck. Audio-Technica says the design is sweat-proof and weather-proof and “ensures the headphones can handle the toughest workouts.” With an IPX5 rating, both models can be washed under a tap after a workout, and both feature ear hooks for a more secure fit.
Audio-Technica promises a battery life of six hours, and the SPORT70BT have a one-tap facility to let you hear the world around you, a useful feature when jogging near traffic. The SPORT50BT are available in more and brighter colors, and are cheaper at €79 / £69. The higher-end SPORT70 go for €129 / £119.
The noise-canceling ANC700BT are Audio-Technica’s answer to the Bose QuietComfort 35 and Sony 1000X. These new headphones offer a battery life of 25 hours when operating wireless and NC, which extends to 30 hours with NC turned off. The ANC700BT are collapsible in the same way as the Sony 1000X, and they also share the similarity of using touch and swipe controls to adjust volume and toggle playback. You’ll be able to get the ANC700BT for €219 / £199 in the spring.
Priced at €69 / £59, the Audio-Technica S200BT over-ear headphones are intended primarily to give people the most affordable access to wireless headphones. They are built around a 40mm driver and a highly impressive 40-hour battery life. So if you’ve been hesitating to go wireless because of price or recharging concerns, the S200 model seems like it might be the answer to your worries.