Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT Review: Excellent Wireless Headphones

With inflation through the roof, there’s at least one audio company looking to help you get the most sound for your money. Audio-Technica’s new Bluetooth-enabled version of its popular M20x headphones—the M20xBT—boasts 60 hours of wireless playtime, a super lightweight design, and excellent frequency response, all for just $79.

They sound awesome, have a classic look, and cost about the same as a dozen lattes in a major metropolitan area. Those lattes might help you make it to lunch, but they won’t help you meditate the pain of the modern economy away on Headspace, or transport you to another world via Spotify, Audible, or other audio-based distraction of your choice.

Simple and Satisfying

Audio-Technica knows a thing or two about making good over-ears. The company’s more expensive products are a staple of studios and stages around the world, known for durability, clear sound, and good value. In form, the new M20xBT fit squarely inside the company’s well-trodden design language. They are simple, utilitarian things. 

Flat plastic ear cups with ruffled plastic leather ear pads connect to a basic headband with the Audio-Technica logo printed across the top of the padding. On the bottom of the right ear cup, you’ll find controls for adjusting volume and playing or pausing music.

They’re surprisingly light, which also makes them a bit scary to travel with, as it feels like they might break easily. I found myself either leaving the M20xBT on my head and pulling one ear cup off to talk to someone or hanging them around my neck like a terrible DJ. When not in use, you’re better off getting a headphone stand. If you plan on traveling with them often, I’d recommend a cheap hard case for peace of mind. 

That said, this lightweight design makes them very comfortable on my head, as does the rather thin padding in the ear cups. They disappear into your skull when you wear them, which is a rare thing for headphones in any price range. 

With 60 hours of playtime, you’ll get more than an entire work week of listening in before you need to plug them into a USB-C port. (They also have a decent microphone for Zoom and phone calls.) But I like that you can also listen to them via a cord without any power; I found myself using them to wander around my neighborhood and jam out with my phone in one moment, then plugging ’em into my interface to record music in my home studio. The included 3.5-mm cable is sure to make frequent flyers happy too. There’s no noise-canceling tech, but the earmuff-style design of the headphones offers pretty decent passive sound isolation on their own.

Sounding Off

Photograph: Audio Technica

Given the price and the relatively basic build quality, it’s clear that Audio-Technica’s engineers poured most of their resources into how these headphones actually sound. That paid off. They perform staggeringly well for a pair of $79 wireless headphones.

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