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November 9, 2022
6g (per bud)
69g (buds in case)
Audio-Technica’s over-ear headphones have been reliable options for people looking to find something that bridges the gap between consumer and hi-fi audio on a budget for a long time, but the company’s more high-tech options haven’t quite captured the same attention. The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 is a new true wireless product looking to make room in a pretty crowded market. It’s got a more distinct, stemmed design than previous entries and nicely executed features.
However, given the high asking price, is that enough to make it a must-buy?
Editor’s note: this article was updated on July 7, 2023, to add microphone scores, add the Grell Audio TWS 1 as an alternative, and update formatting.
The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 is a great option if you want high quality codec support and decent noise canceling for your morning commutes. The multitude of ear tip options and IPX4 rating also mean this is a more-than-able gym companion.
What’s it like to use the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9?
The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 is the newest true wireless product from a company better known for devices with a slightly more old-fashioned look, like the ATH-M50XBT2 or ATH-SQ1TW. However, while these earbuds definitely have some of that bulky influence, there’s something distinctly modern to their aesthetic.
To start, these earbuds feature stems like Apple’s popular AirPods, with a mix of rubberized grippy coating and glossy plastic which actually looks pretty nice — at least before the textured parts start getting grimy. Seriously, this product is easily the biggest dust magnet I’ve reviewed working at SoundGuys, and no amount of rubbing alcohol or wiping with a microfiber cloth can get it totally clean after only a few days of use.
Despite the grime issue, the ATH-TWX9 is in many ways a joy to use. These true wireless earbuds feature a truly staggering amount of ear tips, and a design that rests on your outer ear for stability, making for a very comfortable experience — seriously, there are four pairs of ear tips for shallow, medium, and long ear canals (12 pairs in total), so you can customize the width and depth of what actually goes in your ear. This gives you lots of options for finding a good seal, and makes for a very stable fit at the gym.
The earbuds’ charging case features the same grippy, dust-attracting texture and it’s a little bulky. However, while it may not fit so comfortably in every pocket, it feels nicely built and keeps the earbuds well secured with magnets and a clamshell lid.
How do you control the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9?
The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 features a combination of on-ear touch panels and buttons, leading to a comprehensive, if a little convoluted, control scheme.
Single press button
Double press button
Triple Press button
Quick hear-through mode
Double tap touch panel
Toggle ANC, Hear through, ANC off.
Hold touch panel
Optimize noise canceling (3 sec.)
Voice assistant (2 sec.)
Should you use the Connect app for the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9?
You should definitely install Audio-Technica’s Connect app (iOS/Android) if you get the ATH-TWX9, for firmware updates and for its wealth of options. Connect displays battery information for each earbud, volume levels, and what audio codec is in use off the bat. It also features multiple alternate EQ presets and a five-band EQ for customizing the earbuds audio profile yourself.
The Connect app displays all the earbuds control options, as well as the ability to change the right earbud’s touch panel to control smart assistant access, noise canceling toggling, or to give a battery level reading. You can also turn on or off features like in-ear detection, low-latency mode, and sidetone, as well as adjust the touch sensor sensitivity and on-ear volume control (by default each button press will increase or decrease volume by 10%, but you can increase or decrease the size of that interval).
The active noise canceling (ANC) function has quite a few more options than usual in Connect, too. There are multiple ANC profiles, each offering slightly different amounts of noise canceled, based on different environments, with options like airplane (the default, and most substantial), home, or train. There’s also an Optimized mode, which will turn on the microphones and listen to your surroundings for a few seconds to determine an adequate level of noise canceling for the moment — the process isn’t ongoing, so you’ll need to re-optimize every time you enter a new environment.
How do the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 connect?
There’s no Google Fast Pair for better Android integration, but the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 still works simply and reliably. These true wireless earbuds pair using Bluetooth 5.2, and support the defaults SBC and AAC, as well as aptX and aptX Adaptive audio codecs. This means there’s a great high-quality option whether you’re on iOS or Android, and the earbuds don’t have any trouble staying connected, even a couple of meters away from your device.
Pairing the earbuds is pretty simple. Here’s what to do:
- Open the charging case with the earbuds inside.
- Find the earbuds in your device’s Bluetooth devices menu.
- Connect to the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9.
How long does the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 battery last?
According to Audio-Technica, the ATH-TWX9 can last up to 6 hours on a single charge, but in our testing it didn’t last quite so long. When subjected to constant music output peaking at 75dB (SPL), the earbuds lasted 5 hours, 24 minutes — not quite as advertised, but not necessarily bad. The company claims the charging case has enough charge for an additional 18.5 hours of playback time (enough for three more charge cycles), and nothing during the review process has given us cause to doubt it.
The ATH-TWX9 doesn’t feature fast charging, so if you drain the earbuds totally, you’ll have to wait around two and a half hours before they’re topped up again. The charging case supports wireless charging using the Qi standard, though.
How well does the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 cancel noise?
The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 features quite nice active noise canceling and isolation performance — it can’t quite match up to the top-shelf options like the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, but it’s more than adequate in most situations. The earbuds feature multiple ANC profiles, but the most significant degree of attenuation comes from the default one, so don’t expect to get more than what’s on the chart above by tinkering in the app. The low-end attenuation is very good, canceling out up to 30dB at 250Hz, and mid-high range attenuation is even better — the ATH-TWX9 can block out up to almost 50dB of noise around 2.5kHz
How does the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 sound?
The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 outputs sound pretty well in line with our in-house preference curve with a few areas of relative deviation. Sub-bass sound up to around 40Hz is around 5dB less emphasized than we generally like, and there’s a dip of similar magnitude in the mid range around 600Hz. Additionally, there’s a little added emphasis in the low mid range up to 300Hz, and in the very high-end around 7kHz. High end extension is surprisingly good.
A frequency response like this means that most music genres will sound pretty nice coming out of the ATH-TWX9, however some very high pitched sounds may play a little too loud relative to other parts in a song. In New Guru by Vulfpeck, the instruments all come through very clearly, and the vocals are loud and clear too — everything feels distinct, however the hi hat can sound rather piercing, even at pretty moderate volume levels.
The relative underemphasis in the upper midrange from 2-5kHz also means some strings can come through a little indistinctly. Brand New Kind of Blue by Gold Motel sounds pretty good with the ATH-TWX9, but the distorted guitar and bass tracks sound a little difficult to differentiate as the song builds in intensity.
Can you use the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 for phone calls?
The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 microphone does well enough for a true wireless product, but don’t expect spectacular audio quality. In ideal conditions, it’s a tad dull sounding, and there’s some obvious coding artifacts audible on speech at times. The microphone also does a poor job rejecting external environmental noise, and more high pitched sounds could be pretty distracting (just listen to the office and street samples to see what I mean). If you’re walking by a busy street, it might be best to keep it short.
Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 microphone demo (Office conditions):
Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 microphone demo (Street conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you buy the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9?
The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 is a great pair of true wireless earbuds. It gets dirty way too easily, and the microphone is pretty middling, but otherwise this is a reliable and enjoyable product. The earbuds sound good, and the myriad ear tip options means finding the right fit is achievable for a lot of people. The earbuds’ companion app is a little convoluted, but it offers tons of features and customization options. If you’re looking for a tinkerer-friendly, Android-friendly pair of earbuds, this is worth a look.
What should you get instead of the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9?
If you’re not interested in spending $300 on a pair of true wireless earbuds, or you just don’t want earbuds with stems that may get caught on a mask, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is worth a look. These Android-friendly earbuds are cheaper ($179 at Amazon) than the ATH-TWX9 and feature better noise canceling, especially in the low end.
If you’re an iPhone user, you should probably look to the new Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation), which sell for less ($239 at Amazon) than these Audio-Technica buds, and features better noise canceling. Of course, it also features deep integration with iOS because of the H2 and U1 chips in the earbuds and charging case, respectively.
For folks interested in gaining excellent sound quality but maybe can’t stretch the budget for the ATH-TWX9, try the Grell Audio TWS 1 ($216.81 at Amazon). These buds come in a similarly bulky size, with a favorable default frequency response, and a lot of EQ customization. Grell Audio supplies you with SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive, and LHDC codecs too, so your audio won’t suffer. ANC rates as pretty good too.
Frequently asked questions