In recent years, some new manufacturers have entered the headphone game, but many traditionalists prefer to stick with proven brands. Audio-Technica is a Japanese audio producer known for its consumer electronics and professional audio devices. We recently tested the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT – a wireless version of the classic M50x headphones – and were impressed.
Although the best products from Audio-Technica are expensive and out of reach of the average headphone buyer, the company has a growing range of affordable products. It is interesting that these offers try to stay true to the philosophies that make the brand so popular with enthusiasts. One such product is the Audio-Technica ATH-S200BT, which is priced at Rs. 3,990. These on-ear headphones promise a lot for a reasonable price, but how good is it? Find out in our test.
Audio-Technica ATH-S200BT design and specifications
Audio-Technica headphones usually have a specific aesthetic, and the ATH-S200BT sticks to them. The headphones have round earcups made of solid plastic with the Audio-Technica logo on the outside – immediately recognizable for everyone who is familiar with the headphone industry. The size of this headset means that you get an ear fit where the ear cups sit on your ears instead of completely covering them.
This fit has advantages and disadvantages, and we have found more disadvantages with these headphones. The clamp was a little too strong for us and was uncomfortable for our ears. The round shape of the ear cups also meant that the sound isolation was somewhat questionable. There was significant noise loss when wearing the headphones, and our music could be heard by other people about 2 to 3 meters away.
Apart from that, the Audio-Technica ATH-S200BT is well built and the padding is sufficient considering the Rs. 3,990 price. All controls are on the left side of the headset, including a slider for power and buttons for volume and playback controls. There is also a small indicator light for the power supply and Bluetooth status, as well as a micro USB port for charging the headphones. The microphone of the ATH-S200BT is not visible, but it is present.
An important feature that the Audio-Technica ATH-S200BT lacks is the ability to use it as a wired headset. It is not possible to use a stereo cable to connect when the battery is empty. The sales package is a bit bare, with just a micro USB cable for charging the headset, which is included next to the headset itself.
The Audio-Technica ATH-S200BT has dynamic 40 mm drivers with a frequency range from 5 to 32,000 Hz. For the connectivity, the headset uses Bluetooth 4.1 and only supports the SBC Bluetooth codec. While the battery life is said to be 40 hours per charge, we haven't quite reached that number in our tests. We managed to achieve a remarkable 28 hours on a full charge, which is far more than what we saw with other headphones in this price segment, but far less than the company's claim.
Audio-Technica ATH-S200BT performance
The Audio-Technica ATH-S200BT doesn't offer much comfort and design, but it makes up for it with the sound quality. It is worth noting here that the sound is different than most other headphones in this price segment – the sound is neutral and does not follow the typical V-shaped curve, in which the bass and treble are amplified, but not the middle range.
When testing the Audio-Technica ATH-S200BT, we used an Android smartphone as the primary source device. We streamed music from Spotify and YouTube Music and listened to our collection of high quality test tracks. We also used the headset for voice calls.
Although we mentioned earlier that the acoustic signature is not particularly strong, we were impressed with the low-end resonance of the Audio-Technica ATH-S200BT. When we heard Shur-i-Kan's progressive house track Conundrum with a volume of around 75 percent, we found the aggressive structure and tightness of the bass great. Although it seems too powerful for some, we really liked how the volume of these headphones is too low, mainly because they are so loud that they are not even set to the maximum volume.
Mermaid of Salinas from Basement Jaxx gave us a good impression of the neutral sound quality. While the bass continued to assert itself, it was interesting to hear the highs and mids ring through equally. We could hear every single element of the track clearly, giving the impression of a much more open stage than we are used to from headphones in this price segment.
We then played the electro-jazz classic Strange Love by Koop and found that the middle class of the Audio-Technica ATH-S200BT is particularly well tuned. The vocals were sharp, clear, incredibly detailed and were never overshadowed by the instruments. These headphones produced a similarly detailed sound with various other vocal-centered tracks, and we liked the difference this signature made.
Using the Audio-Technica ATH-S200BT as a hands-free headset for calls was a decent experience for us. The strong midrange and volume of the sound made for clear calls, and the microphone also made a decent contribution to our voice perception.
We are usually impressed with Audio-Technica headphones, but the ATH-S200BT is a mixed bag for us. The sound quality is impressive for the price and offers an experience that not too many other products with this range of functions and in this price range can offer. However, the design and comfort are simply not up to date – these headphones are not comfortable to wear, lick the sound and do not contribute significantly to noise isolation.
If you think the interesting sound and the exceptional battery life for deal clincher, that's reason enough to choose the Audio-Technica ATH-S200BT. Although these headphones are far from perfect, we enjoyed our time with them, and so did you if you prefer a neutral acoustic signature and want to pick up on the little details in your music.
Price: Rs. 3,990
- Robust, well padded
- Outstanding battery life
- Interesting sound signature, detailed sound
- Strong reactions across the board
- Good for speakerphone
- Poor noise isolation
- Too much sound loss
- No cable connection
Reviews (of 5)
- Design / comfort: 3
- Audio quality: 3.5
- Battery life: 4.5
- Value for money: 4
- Overall: 3.5