Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT Wireless Headphones Review: An Old Favorite, Now Wireless

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Before Bluetooth and wireless headphones became a big thing, Audio-Technica was a popular name in the wired consumer headphone business. That’s not to say the Japanese brand has lost its relevance, but some of its new products seem to lean heavily on nostalgia and the proven credentials of some of its most popular models from the past decade, like the monitor-grade M-series. Studio headphones. The product I’m reviewing here is exactly that — a refreshed, Bluetooth-powered version of an old favorite.

The Audio-Technica ATH-M20x has been around for years, and was once a very popular choice for its then-novel studio monitor sound at a reasonable price. The company’s latest product is its wireless version. Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT is priced at Rs. 13,500 in India, offers nostalgic buyers an opportunity to experience a unique sonic signature, but with the convenience of wireless connectivity. With a promise of 60 hours of battery life, multi-point connectivity and optional wired connectivity, this is the best wireless over-ear headset you can buy for around Rs. 15,000 right now? Find out in this review.

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The Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT features Bluetooth 5 for connectivity, but can also be used as a wired headset.

Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT Design and Features

The Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT is, literally, a wireless version of the classic (and wired) Audio-Technica ATH-M20x. For the most part, it looks and feels the same, with a comfortable on-ear fit, comfortable padding around the ears and on the headband, and a metal frame connecting the two ear cups. Design similarities include ‘ATH-M20x’ engraved on the sides, a gentle swivel for fit adjustment, a telescopically adjusting headband and exposed audio wires near the headband.

Available in a single black color (for now), the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT benefits from the incredibly familiar design and fit of its predecessor. At 216g, the headphones don’t weigh as much as you’d expect given the size, and the padding around the ear cups feels light and comfortable to wear, fully covering the ears.

I wasn’t too impressed with the quality of the passive noise isolation, the padding didn’t do enough to block out outside noise. The upside to this was that I didn’t have to take the headphones off to vent as often, allowing a reasonable amount of air to flow into my ears.

Of course, there are small differences in the design to accommodate the controls and buttons. These include a stereo socket for wired listening, a USB Type-C port for charging, and three buttons for controlling playback and volume, all placed on the left side. The sales package includes a USB Type-A to Type-C charging cable and a stereo cable for wired connectivity, but unfortunately no carry case for the headphones.

The Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT uses Bluetooth 5 for primary connectivity, with support for SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs. The headphones feature 40mm dynamic drivers, a frequency response range of 5 to 32,000Hz, a rated sensitivity of 100dB and an impedance of 36Ohms. The M20xBT has a microphone, so you can use it as a hands-free headset.

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On-device buttons control power, volume and playback on the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT

Helpfully, there’s multi-point connectivity, so you can pair and connect two devices simultaneously, playing content in both headphones or intelligently switching based on incoming calls. There’s no active noise cancellation or app support on the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT, nor wear-detection sensors, making it somewhat under-equipped compared to competing options from brands like Sony, JBL and Sennheiser.

Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT performance and battery life

While the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT is definitely a little short on features, it promises a lot when it comes to the most important aspect – sound quality. Pitched as a wireless version of the ATH-M20x, Audio-Technica claims to offer similar acoustic tuning, but with the convenience of wireless connectivity. I wouldn’t say the M20xBT sounds as good as the M20x for the obvious reason that wired connectivity will always sound better than Bluetooth, but the M20xBT comes pretty close.

Where the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT definitely delivers a familiar listening experience is in the sonic signature. It has the same neutral, studio-friendly sound that made the M-Series so popular, giving the frequencies plenty of room to shine. This resulted in a decent amount of audible detail in the sound and the ability to discern subtle elements in the track that matched the perception of studio monitors.

This was the case across all genres and tracks, but the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT’s sonic signature and tonality are particularly suited to slower, more detail-oriented tracks. Listening to Kamasi Washington’s finest, the ATH-M20xBT headphones were revelatory and intuitive beyond what most wireless headsets in this price range can achieve.

With headphones for wireless headsets, saxophone riffs and occasional piano elements with every gentle hit of the drums, the slow progression of this jazz track was captivating. This is combined with impressive timbre and growl in the lows, a clear mid-range for orchestral vocals, and sharp highs that occasionally sound a bit too sharp.

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Although the sound is similar to the original ATH-M20x in terms of sonic signature, the M20xBT is expensive and less equipped for the price.

With the AstroPilot’s Arambol, I noticed a change in the stereo separation of the headphones, as well as listening more attentively to specific elements in the frequency range. Bass didn’t sound as naturally calculated and tight as the more impressive (and expensive) Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT, which focuses more on delivering a neutral, flat sound rather than polish and refinement. More expensive wireless headphones.

The distinctly different tuning of the M20xBT shows a crackle when things get too busy in a track and too much going on, and this is probably where the advanced codec support would have helped the overall sound. With support for only SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT felt a bit overwhelmed at times.

Overall, however, Bluetooth itself seems to be the problem here; The Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT stays true to its roots as a wired headset, and isn’t tuned for Bluetooth’s poor wireless input signal. Indeed, plugging in a cable and good old fashioned listening seemed to make up for some of the sound shortfalls, but it’s not something you can expect for Rs. 13,500 for

Call quality was good indoors, with loud noise making a difference in my ability to hear the person on the other end of the call. Connectivity was also stable, with the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT working well up to 4m away from the source device. Battery life on the headphones is excellent, with the headset lasting around 48 hours on a single charge and playing music continuously at moderate volume.


Audio-Technica is a notable name in the consumer headphones and earphones space, and the ATH-M20xBT is itself an iconic product lineup. However, it doesn’t help much here. Although it has the same monitor-grade sound as its wired version, is fairly revealing and insightful, and has excellent battery life, it’s held back by a few issues. These include lack of support for advanced Bluetooth codecs and high cost.

Fans of the Audio-Technica M-series lineup will want the benefit of wireless connectivity, but the ATH-M20xBT feels a bit under-equipped for the price, with no active noise cancellation, app support or anything beyond that. Bluetooth connectivity for that. Objectively, it’s a good pair of headphones on its own, but priced at Rs. should be much less than 13,500.


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