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I tried Audio-Technica's new earbuds: Great sound, fair price, just don't take them to the gym

Unveiled at CES 2024, the company's ATH-TWX7 buds deliver high-quality audio, customizable ear tips - and they're available now.
Written by Jada Jones, Associate Editor
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Jada Jones/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 earbuds were announced at CES 2024, and they're available to purchase now in Ash Black, Rich White, or Stone Gray for $199.
  • The ATH-TWX7 deliver high-quality, clear audio and offer customizable ear tips to accommodate all ear sizes.
  • The control buttons on the earbuds' stems are tedious to find and use.

CES 2024 is off to a great start in the consumer headphones world, with big announcements yesterday from big names like JBL and Sennheiser. Today, Audio-Technica, a Japanese audio company, announced a new pair of high-end earbuds to compete with the likes of Sony, Bose, and Apple.

Also: CES 2024: What's Next in Tech

If you're interested in earbuds that boast highly effective noise canceling and can deliver a superior audio experience, let me introduce you to the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7

Audio-Technica is known for its commitment to making affordable high-fidelity audio products for users who don't have thousands to spend on competing sound systems, turntables, headphones, and microphones. Specifically, high-fidelity earbuds like the Denon PerL Pro will cost you $350. In comes Audio-Technica, hoping its earbuds bridge the gap.

Ahead of CES, I spent a week testing the new X7 earbuds from Audio-Technica. You may have seen press releases and news articles about these buds, but I can relay my personal experience with them. Here's how it went.

View at Audio-technica

The new Audio-Technica X7 true wireless earbuds offer high-fidelity audio and digital hybrid noise-canceling and promise all-day comfort, a secure fit, and crystal-clear voice calling. 

Audio-Technica says the X7 earbuds offer 6.5 hours of playback plus an additional 13.5 hours with the charging case. The case can charge wirelessly, and the earbuds support Bluetooth multipoint.

Also: Shokz just announced its first open-ear headphones for swimmers

The X7 buds succeed the company's previous flagship earbuds, the ATH-TWX9, and incorporate the same 5.8mm high-res drivers. I found that the earbuds have a clear, detailed sound and can easily articulate a song's complex and less prominent qualities. When I listened to Don't Lose My Number by Phil Collins, I could pick apart his harmonies in the chorus and the overall sound was balanced and enjoyable.

You can play, pause, and skip tracks by pressing a button on the earbuds' stem. The control button is small and on the inside of the stem, and accurately locating the button takes some getting used to.

In the Audio-Technica Connect app, you can customize the X7's EQ settings on a five-band equalizer. You can also toggle low latency mode, left/right earbud balance, call audio modes, and switch Bluetooth codecs.

Also: This new bone conduction headset comes with an AI trainer, plus health tracking and more

The new Audio-Technica earbuds support the SBC, AAC, and LDAC codecs. Those seeking high-quality Bluetooth streaming can access Sony's LDAC codec, but if you have an iPhone, you're stuck with AAC, which is still superior to SBC.

Audio-Technica promises that the TWX7's diverse ear tip selection will help keep the earbuds secure in the wearer's ears, and I agree. In the box, you receive two types of ear tips in four sizes. One ear tip material fits firmly around the earbuds' speaker, while the other is more flexible. With the different ear tip size options, you can decide how much of a seal you want the earbuds to create in your ear. Once you find the right ear tip size, the X7 buds certainly stay put inside your ears. 

The X7 earbuds have impressive noise-canceling and ambient sound modes, which can be adjusted on a sliding scale. The X7's noise-canceling is suitable for blocking noises in an office or library. However, you must find the correct ear tip size for the noise-canceling to be as effective as possible. 

Also: Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2: Recommended by audio experts, loved by casual listeners

With an IPX4 rating, the X7 earbuds will suffice for those who want to take the earbuds on a light jog. Despite their IP rating, I don't recommend these earbuds for strenuous workouts. Not only is their IP rating not strong enough for super sweaty exercising sessions, but they just don't feel like a pair of active earbuds. 

The Audio-Technica X7 earbuds feel like a pair of premium earbuds meant for those who enjoy high-res audio but prefer to wear earbuds instead of on-ear or over-ear headphones. The X7's stylish design with metallic and silicon accents makes them feel chic and classy, not sporty.

Additionally, the X7 earbuds feature a Soundscape mode that plays calming noises to help you focus, relax, and unwind. You can pick from "Nature" sounds like ocean, fireside, or forest, "Healing" sounds like rejuvenation and tranquility, or "Masking Noise" like white noise and quiet office sounds.

ZDNET's buying advice

The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 earbuds deliver warm, balanced audio with a clarity that's expected from the audio company. For $199, the X7 earbuds are fairly priced, as they're cheaper than the list prices of the latest flagship buds from Sony, Bose, and Apple.

However, the X7 earbuds don't strike me as the kind of earbuds you can take from the office to the gym. I believe that casual listeners and budding audiophiles will enjoy these earbuds the most, while those looking for earbuds to accommodate their active lifestyles might be disappointed. 

If you want earbuds with superior sound quality, impressive noise canceling, and highly customizable EQ settings, the X7 earbuds are the way to go. If you desire earbuds for active living, consider the Jabra Elite 8 Active earbuds or bone-conduction headphones like the Shokz OpenRun Pro

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