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Tom Bedford

Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 review: pleasantly warm sound but a weak battery

The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 on a bronze table.

Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7: Two-minute review

More so than for most tech products, your experience with the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 will depend on your taste. Want to listen to borderline warm-sounding higher-res files, after a lengthy time customizing the sound with an equalizer? Step right up. Don’t know what that sentence means? These earbuds aren’t for you.

These latest true wireless earbuds from Japanese audio brand Audio-Technica are called the ATH-TWX7 and they have dumped the gimmicky novelty of their predecessors (the TWX9 had a UV cleaner built into the case) to sell for a lower price as a result. 

Don’t expect these to show up on our list of the best budget earbuds though; Audio-Technica has had its fair share of excellent low-cost audio options (see the Audio-Technica ATH-SQ1TW as proof) but the TWX7 aren’t them. These sell for a mid-range price, which they justify in many ways.

Like many other A-T products, the TWX7 have a slightly mid-to-low-pitched warm sound (it makes sense when you consider that this is a firm famed for its turntable cartridges) that leans into the bass frequencies, and goes even further if you want it to. For hip-hop or grime fans, these earbuds will deliver all you want (or can expect for mid-rangers like these).

The buds are feature-rich too, with an app bursting at the seams with useful extra perks. These range from handy ways to make the most of your listening time (an equalizer, various noise cancellation modes, L/R balance adjustment) to some cool novel additions (soundscapes, call sound testing, an in-bud timer).

We’ve got to commend the build quality too, with attention to detail paid in (almost) every way. There are plenty of eartips included in the box so you’ll find a comfortable fit for you; the buds are lightweight and stick in your ear like they’ve dropped an anchor in them; the charging case has an unusual design that brings with it a functionality improvement too.

So why the ‘long face’ – or 3.5-star review? Well, that’s down to a few quality-of-life annoyances that hinder the experience of using the buds.

The first, and most important, is the battery life – I found that the ATH-TWX7 didn’t reliably scratch five hours of use before needing to be recharged in the carry case (when noise cancellation was turned on, as turning it off will give it some extra lasting power). Five hours isn’t all that much in the grand scheme of things, and many people take regular journeys that are longer than that.

I also found that the max volume didn’t cut it. I’m not asking for ‘head-banging’ levels of sonic force, just to be able to hear my music when I’m standing by a busy road.

And one feature that’ll be sure to divide fans is the touch controls on the bud, often a tricky area for earbuds. The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7s have two: one sensor and one physical button, allowing for a wide range of options. However, they’re fiddly to use and prone to accidental touches, and that’s if you can even remember all the combinations available to you in the first place.

Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 review: Price and release date

(Image credit: Future)
  • Announced at the beginning of 2024
  • Priced at $199 / £190 / (around AU$299)

The RRP for the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 is $199 / £190 / (around AU$299), so these are roughly in the mid-range of the consumer wireless earbuds market.

At that price, these are some of the priciest wireless earbuds that Audio-Technica sells, with only the closely-related ATH-TWX9 costing more. Those mostly cost more because of a UV sterilization feature; in terms of specs they’re quite similar.

The ATH-TWX7 have a few similarly-priced competitors on our list of the best noise cancelling earbuds including the Bose QuietComfort 2 (which we call the ‘best overall’ and used to be pricier, but currently cost the same as the ATH-TWX7) and Apple’s AirPods Pro 2. Tough company to keep… 

Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 review: Specs

Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 review: Features

(Image credit: Future)
  • 6.5-hour battery life
  • Plenty of features via phone app
  • Unreliable touch controls

I nearly ripped the ATH-TWX7 out of my ears on numerous occasions because of one infuriating feature: the touch controls.

The buds have multiple controls: there’s a touch sensor masked as Audio-Technica’s logo, which you can press once, twice, or hold down for different functions, and a physical button on the stem too. You can use the app to map the former, and even control their sensitivity, though I couldn’t find a way to alter what the physical buttons did.

The issue is that the touch sensor is more sensitive than a sleep-deprived toddler – and less reliable than one too. I’d often end up triggering it when trying to press the physical button, and the only time it wouldn’t trigger was when I actually wanted it to. This was at all the different sensitivity options selected in the app, and I ended up turning the feature off to save myself from an enraged breakdown.

When it comes to battery life, Audio-Technica states that the buds will last 6.5 hours of use, which will be bumped up to 20 by using the charging case. Judging by my testing, I’m going to guess that this figure refers to listening with ANC turned off, because I generally kept it on and didn’t come close to this figure.

From testing, I’m going to estimate a rough battery life of 5 hours if you use ANC which, while still a decent amount of time, doesn’t come close to the majority of the competitors on the market. I came close to running out of juice a few times without intending to, which is something I’ve never encountered during review testing before! If you need some lasting power, I’d recommend jumping into the app to turn off ANC.

(Image credit: Future)

I’ve mentioned the app now, so let’s metaphorically boot it up; it’s actually pretty handy as smartphone apps go, well worth installing, even if its simple on-phone title of ‘Connect’ instead of anything with the Audio-Technica name had me constantly losing it in my Android’s menu.

There are a bunch of features brought about by the app: control of noise cancellation, an equalizer (which features a few presets as well as a custom mode), the ability to set yourself an alarm, toggles for low-latency mode, the ability to test your mic quality to see how you sound, a way to balance audio between the left and right buds, toggles for LDAC, the aforementioned ability to map touch control buttons, and even a library of ‘Soundscapes’. The latter is a list of… well, soundscapes, in case you want the calming sounds of nature (Ocean, Stream, Forest), ambient music (Journey, Tranqulity, Serenity) or a brief sojourn into hell (Quiet Office). Just note, you have to download these tracks in the app before you can listen.

A tip: from the main app menu, make sure to press the top-right menu button, as many more tools are hidden in this menu.

Not all earbud control apps justify their place on your smartphone but Connect definitely does, because of how much customization it gives over your listening experience and the way you use your buds. 

The earbuds connect using Bluetooth 5.1, which isn’t the top tier of Bluetooth standard available right now, but if I’m being honest, the functional difference between this and 5.2 or 5.3 is basically nil – although Auracast is one thing that'll be off-menu when it truly arrives (in our airport lounges and so on), since that requires Bluetooth 5.2 or later. You can connect to two devices at once, a feature offered in quite a few earbuds, but the Connect app makes managing them a bit easier than on other Bluetooth Multipoint devices, since you can see and edit the connections.

  • Features score: 3/5

Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 review: Design

(Image credit: Future)
  • Clamshell charging case
  • Lightweight buds
  • Plenty of bud tips included in box

In a world of similar-looking earbud charging cases, Audio-Technica has managed to do something a bit different here; the ATH-TWX7’s case is a bit like an oyster, that opens to reveals the pearls inside.

The case is fairly light, weighing just shy of 50g, and small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. Its only feature of note is the USB-C port that you use to charge it. It took me a while to realize why I like this design so much; it’s because it reveals the entire earbud, not just the tip of it like on your standard charging case, making them much easier to remove from the case with little effort or slipping.

Just like the case, the buds themselves are nice and slight, not even tipping 5g on the scales individually. This is despite having not one but two different button types on each, which we’ll get into later.

You can pick up the buds in black, gray or ‘white’ – we put quote marks around the latter because it’s the version you can see in the pictures and ‘peach’ would be a much better name for it.

Audio-Technica includes eight different pairs of bud tips in the box with the ATH-TWX7; there are four different sizes in ‘soft’ and ‘standard’ materials, and I’d wholeheartedly recommend you opt for the soft ones over the standard ones first. That’s as long as you are able to change the tips, as the small size of the buds makes it a fiddly task – find someone with small, nimble fingers if you’re not up for the task.

The earbuds are IPX4 certified which signifies that they’re protected from splashes of liquid, but not streams or submersion; you can wear these in rain but not for a swim.

  • Design score: 4/5

Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 review: Sound quality

(Image credit: Future)
  • Immersive lower-mids 
  • Decent noise cancellation for size
  • LDAC allows for high-res music streaming

A simple way to summarise the sound quality of the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 is to recount how I kept going into the app to turn off the Bass Boost EQ mode, only to discover that it wasn’t even on. That is to say, the buds have a sonic profile that’s spent the last week basking on a Caribbean beach: it's rather warm.

If you like your music to be two parts ‘bass’ to one part ‘everything else’, you’ll love the ATH. Whatever genre I tested, from pop to disco to country to classical, instruments that sat in the lower registers were more prominent than I’m used to. Turns out, ABBA's Waterloo has a great bass line!

While this warm sound did extend to the mids to a degree, I often found that treble ended up being lost a little. Vocals were fighting for attention with the bass line, lead guitars could fall behind rhythm guitars in the mix, and AT would have you thinking that backing vocals are largely unimportant.

To a certain extent, you can the Connect app’s EQ to fix these problems, and I enjoyed music a lot more in the V-Shaped mode. None of the modes really escape the ATH-TWX7’s warm trappings, just offset it, so these are definitely buds for people who prefer that to earbuds that lean towards brightness.

Something that isn’t as much a matter of taste is volume; it just isn’t high enough on the ATH-TWX7. Even when turning the app and my phone’s volume to max, and turning on noise cancellation, I still sometimes struggled to hear music when I was walking besides busy roads. And I’m not even a fan of super-loud, ear-damaging music; these earbuds just weren’t loud enough.

(Image credit: Future)

On the topic of noise cancellation: it works. It’s nothing to write home about, but it works. The standard mode manages to strip out annoying background humdrum and noises (take that, loud upstairs neighbours!) but didn’t work as well for louder, constant low-level problems like the aforementioned thrum of traffic. Given that truly great noise cancellation is still the preserve of over-ear headphones, I was pleasantly surprised how well the TWX7 stood up.

There’s another mode called Hear-Through which is supposed to cancel noise but allow people’s voices (including your own) through, so you can maintain conversations without having to turn off the buds. If I didn’t read that on Audio-Technica’s website, though, I’d have no idea what it was supposed to do – it sounded to my ears as though the ambient noises this processing decided to mute (or allow through) were picked totally at random. 

The only consistent unmuted sound was on my own voice, which in fairness was quite useful – if you’ve ever tried having a conversation while you’re wearing earbuds, only to remove them and realize you were talking way louder than you thought, you’ll understand why.

Let’s briefly touch on the tech that keeps the ATH-TWX7 sounding the way they do. They borrow the 5.8mm drivers from the pricier ATH-TWX9, so you’re getting some premium tech here, and support LDAC which lets you listen to 24-bit/96 kHz music (if your music is up to scratch). This isn’t really going to mean anything if you stick to Spotify streams, but if you use premium music streaming services or have a Sony Xperia phone, you’ll be able to hear the difference over rival earbuds.

  • Sound quality score: 3.5/5

Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 review: Value

(Image credit: Future)
  • You're getting what you pay for
  • Keep an eye out for sales

The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 offer good sound quality and a range of handy extra features… but at their default price, you’re not exactly getting them for a song. Basically, you’re paying for what you get – but the competition at this level is tough.

That’s not to say that the ATH-TWX7 are overpriced; they’re worth exactly what you pay for them. You’re just not getting as much value for money as on some select rivals (see: Apple or Bose). 

Saying that, if you find the earbuds on sale for a lower price (which is more likely here than with much of the competition), that’d sway the value proposition in a good direction.

  • Value score: 3.5/5

Should I buy the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7?

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 review: Also consider

How I tested the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested for 8 days
  • Tested at home, in the office and on walks

I tested the ATH-TWX7 for over a week to write this review. Testing was done with the earbuds paired to a Xiaomi Mi Note 10 smartphone, though I also paired it to an Apple iPad Pro a few times.

Testing was done in the office, in my home and on several walks, which is what brought me face-to-face with the various noisy roads that interrupted my listening. I tested using a range of musical genres across several music streaming platforms, as well as spoken word and TV shows streamed from BBC iPlayer. 

I've been testing gadgets for TechRadar for over five years so bring lots of experience to this review. Plenty of that was testing audio products.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

  • First reviewed in May 2024
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