Audio-technica ATH-TWX9 True Wireless ANC In-Ear Headphones Review

Posted on 9th February, 2023

Audio-technica ATH-TWX9 True Wireless ANC In-Ear Headphones Review

This new wireless IEM is an ambitious leap for its manufacturer, but has it paid off? Matthew Jens decides…


ATH-TWX9 True Wireless Active Noise Cancelling In-Ear Headphones

£279.99 RRP

Audio-technica ATH-TWX9 review

I have watched the rise of Audio-technica's in-ear monitors for years. Its new product releases have been regular and predictable, with the company really hitting its stride in 2020 with the ANC-ATH300. With a distinctive form factor, a compact clamshell case, crisp sound and handy features, it was hard not to like.

Yet, with the new ATH-TWX9, this famous headphone brand has changed its formula significantly. It's an entirely new design with a sleek aesthetic and a long list of bold features and claims. This isn't so much an iterative update as a heavy-hitting shake-up of a tried-and-true recipe.

The pricing is also a step above what we expect from releases; taking place one step above the AirPods Pro 2 and the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 is a bold move and a sign that the manufacturer is starting to develop confidence in this market segment. Not business as usual then, but more an ambitious leap. So the question is whether this Japanese audio juggernaut can pull off such an audacious move?

Audio-technica ATH-TWX9 review


Let's start with the case, which is quite something to behold – not just from a protecting standpoint but for its quirky, neat features. The status LEDs, for example, don't just blink on and off; they are animated. When you open the case, a little chase animation plays out on the lights to indicate how much battery is left. It's a minor detail but a welcome and valuable one. These lights will even play subtle dancing animations when the unit goes through its deep UV sterilisation process…

Yep, just casually throwing that little nugget out there! These IEMs will self-sterilise inside the case via clever lighting and shielding techniques. The case also has wireless QI and, most importantly, looks and feels incredible. Does the self-cleaning work well? Who knows, but I certainly love telling people about it, though – and it's an excellent selling point. The top lid quickly attracts dust, fingerprints and scratch marks, so don't put these in the same pocket as your keys if you're planning to take them with you on the run.

Audio-technica ATH-TWX9 review

From a comfort point of view, Audio-technica IEM releases have lately been functional but never too form-fitting, but the ATH TWX9 seemingly endeavours to change this. The shape seems to take on more of an 'AirPods but more square' form, and there are buttons on the stalks of each bud and a touch panel on each earpiece. They're the most comfortable in-ear monitors I've ever tried from Audio-technica. I became very fond of my ATH ANC300TW during the lockdowns, running most days with them. I really wish the ATH-TWX9 existed back in 2020, as I can run, jump, swivel and hit a punching bag with these. Even without ear hooks, they stay well balanced in my ears, remaining snugly in place during public transport travel, too.

Speaking of which, the 5-stage adaptive noise cancelling works well when out and about. When prompted, you can 'calibrate' the system through an automatic process. The TWX9 is a strong contender for best ANC on an Audio-technica earbud; it may not stack up to the likes of the AirPods Pro 2, but it is stronger than the current Sennheiser equivalent and miles ahead of previous releases from this manufacturer.

Audio-technica ATH-TWX9 review

The audio pass-through is adequate, as well. It can be adjusted for either a natural or more speech-inclined scenario using its built-in microphones. It's not quite as natural as the human ear, but it is enough to keep you safe if you're crossing the road or on time if you're waiting for a flight announcement. There are also more microphones in-built, which are beam-forming this time. While I never had any significant issues with Audio-technica true wireless microphones, these are near best-in-class for phone calls. Callers on the other end of the line happily reported no problems hearing me, even in a busy environment.

The app has some other best-in-class features as well. Choosing how many volume steps you want is brilliant – whether it's a cruisy sixteen steps while running for quick, drastic volume changes or sixty-four levels if you're doing serious listening at hope. Battery life is adequate, rated at six hours per use, with another eighteen and a half waiting for you in the case. This is just shy of the latest Sennheiser offering and almost identical to the newest iteration of the AirPods Pro.

Audio-technica ATH-TWX9 review


The TWX9 has a neat, neutral presentation with a light mid-bass hump, and a hint of sparkle up top, without being overbearing or painful. It's all very neat, safe, refined and clean throughout the range. The new proprietary 5.8mm drivers really deliver the goods, then. Immediately upon firing up Falaise by Floating Points, I was puzzled. I couldn't quite figure out if the song had started yet; until I heard the strings creeping in softly. The background was entirely hiss-free, and the signal-to-noise ratio was impeccable.

Such a silent, black background is strangely uncommon for True Wireless releases, and I love it. Then, as the song's crescendo came slamming in, the TWX9 revealed a detailed and immaculate soundstage, paired with accurate and lag-free imaging throughout the entire frequency range. As I've found to be expected with Audio-technica true-wireless releases, there were no painful treble spikes, sibilance or ringing through the upper mids.

Audio-technica ATH-TWX9 review

Drive Off A Bridge by Jakey is a great test of strength for any type of headphone. I heard an accurate, neutral presentation with lean, clean bass that was a little short on sheer slam for my tastes, but this can be dialled up via the 5-band EQ. This has several presets, with empty slots to save your own; this is great in and of itself, but even better is that the settings are saved to the buds themselves and not tied to the app. Most brands have some form of EQ which is only active when listening on the device running the app, usually on their mobile phone.

The multi-point connection is brilliant, too – not only can you connect to two devices at once, but if you're running the app on one, you can adjust settings on the fly. So, for example, you can connect to a game console and log into the buds with your phone, adjust the EQ, turn on 'low latency' mode, and log back out again. All settings are saved to the buds immediately, and you won't have to disconnect from your game at all. Very cool! Even when playing with the EQ and dialling in a little bit more rumble, the rest of the spectrum is largely left unchanged. Vocals are brought to the forefront, but don't stick too far out of the mix.

Audio-technica ATH-TWX9 review


The new ATH TWX9 is more than just a pair of earbuds; it's a lifestyle gadget as well – after all, how many headphones have you seen that can clean themselves? In a way, it also cleans the sound too – this design has a neutral sonic character that lets you really get into the groove. Factor in clever and intuitive features such as a multi-point connection and an equaliser that saves your settings to the buds themselves and not just the app, and the package is hard to fault. So it looks like Audio-technica has dispensed with its baby steps and taken an ambitious leap into the True-Wireless market.

For more information visit Audio-technica

    Matthew Jens's avatar

    Matthew Jens

    Constantly keeping himself busy, Matthew is a production manager, Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt, Head-Fi fanatic, coffee enthusiast and all-round cool Dad.

    Posted in:Headphones Applause Awards 2023 Headphones In Ear Monitors Noise Cancelling Bluetooth / Wireless
    Tags: audio-technica  audio-technica ltd 


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