Audio Technica S220BT: one-minute review
The Audio Technica S220BT wireless headphones have a ludicrously long battery life. Sure, they’re not quite at the endurance level of wireless keyboards and mice, but with 60 hours of audio on offer, they’re sure to at least reduce the probability of that sinking feeling when you grab your headphones on the way out the door only to discover they’ve run out of juice. Plus, the rapid charge option means that if you’ve got 10 minutes of access to a USB port before your train or plane, you’ll be able to get three and a half hours of listening time.
But the biggest question for our Audio Technica S220BT review is whether they’re headphones you actually want audio from? The answer is a resoundingly balanced yes. As you would expect from Audio Technica, the soundscape here is excellent for the price, with a surprising depth, even with obvious bass limitations compared to more audiophile offerings. Even without noise cancelling, commuters should be happy with their favourite tracks on the way to work and the S220BT make for perfect audiobook and podcast partners without worrying about throwing a pair of expensive cans into your bag. At the cheaper end of the best on-ear headphones, they’re hard to beat.
It’s not all sweetness and light, though. We don’t recommend them if you take a lot of calls on the go, thanks to exceptionally poor pick-up from the mic on the earcup. You also might not like the gently creaky but perfectly serviceable and reliable plastic build if you’re used to the luxuries of more premium priced headphones.
But for the price, the S220BT are a no-brainer for headphones when you’re out and about – they’re some of the best cheap headphones around. Bluetooth is a breeze to set up and you can even set up multipoint connectivity between your phone and tablet or PC. It’s an especially nice addition to an already feature rich set of cans at this low price point.
Audio Technica S220BT review: Price & release date
- Release in late 2021
- $59 / £60 / AU$99
The Audio Technica S220BT were released towards the end of 2021 and are still holding their budget launch price point. In the US you’ll find them for $60, in the UK they’re sitting at £60, and AU$90 in Australia. Given the scope of the wireless headphone market, Audio Technica has priced these cans exceptionally competitively, and while you’ll find similarly impressive audio performance from the excellent Sony WH-CH510 – our favourite budget option in our list of the best wireless headphones – Sony’s battery life of 35 hours suddenly seems paltry compared to these 60 hour behemoths.
If you want to upgrade from the plastic feel of the S220BT’s, the $79 / £69/ AU$99 Jabra Elite 45h are another viable alternative with some nice faux leather stylings. There’s also less of a chasm in terms of battery with the Jabra Elite’s boasting 50 hours of music.
Audio Technica S220BT review: Features
- 60 hours of battery life
- USB-C charging port
- Bluetooth can connect to two devices at once
The Audio Technica S220BT wireless headphones are surprisingly rich in features. First off, the almost ludicrous battery life of 60 hours is, reassuringly, not an empty promise. It’s clearly dependent on volume levels but with no active noise cancelling to worry about, it took around 50 hours for us to reach a low battery announcement. Every time you turn them on, you get a handy spoken battery level which is useful to at least tell yourself to remember to plug them in, even if you don’t end up doing it.
They also hold charge remarkably well. Even after a few months of the headphones not being used, turning them on we found that the battery level was still sitting at medium. Even if they are low, the rapid charge USB-C port means you’ll get three-and-a-half hours of audio from just 10 minutes plugged in, which is handy in a pinch.
In the box is a short USB-C to USB cable, as well as a longer 3.5mm audio jack with an inline remote and microphone. The mic itself is unfortunately muffled-sounding when connected wirelessly, so while you’ll hear the person on the other end of the phone perfectly clearly, they’ll have serious trouble hearing you. Plug in the cable and it’s a different story, and the S220BT performed well plugged into an Xbox Series X controller for chat and Destiny 2.
Helpfully, you can connect to more than one device at once thanks to multipoint Bluetooth functionality. Again it’s not ideal for calls but switching between music on smartphone to videos on PC or tablet is easy, and the Bluetooth connectivity is stable and reliable after an easy pairing process.
- Features Score: 3.5/5
Audio Technica S220BT review: Design
- Comfortable on-ear cups
- Intuitive buttons on the left earcup
- Cups fold flat but there’s no headband fold
When it comes to budget headphones, it’s always noticeable what needs to be sacrificed for the sake of audio, but thankfully, despite budget materials, Audio Technica has squeezed comfort into the S220BTs. The on-ear cups are pleasantly squidgy, and the top of the headband has a faux leather chunk to prevent any discomfort at the top of your head.
They’re obviously not Bose or Sony levels of head massaging goodness, but there’s no vice-like grip here, and the fact that the earcups swivel means you can get a comfortable listening position easily by lengthening the headband. The spin also means that it’s easy enough to pop the S220BTs into a bag without worrying too much.
Aesthetically, the S220BTs in both black and white are enjoyably minimalist. The Audio Technica logo is on each earcup and the buttons are snugly tucked under the left cup alongside the charging and 3.5mm ports. There are only three solid plastic buttons that quickly become intuitive. The central button acts as play/pause and you’ll get vocal feedback as well to make sure you’ve got the right option.
The volume buttons on either side are easy to access and a double press of the central button will bring up Siri or your choice of digital assistant. The mic quality might not be great for calls, but speak clearly and we didn’t have any problems checking the weather.
- Design score: 4/5
Audio Technica S220BT review: Sound quality
- Surprisingly layered for the price
- Clarity at mid volumes
- Not for audiophiles
What would be the point in 60 hours of charge if you don’t want to listen to a single minute? Thankfully, the sound here is a delightful surprise for the price. There’s a real layered clarity to music at mid volumes, and an unexpected depth. Whether you’re listening to synthwave or more classical pieces, nothing feels like it’s being horribly squeezed or compressed to fit the budget.
It’s important to say that these are not audiophile headphones – dial up the volume and you’ll hear the limitations of the soundstage – but they still have a lively dynamic sound that means you should be happy with your favorite playlists on the train or plane.
They also work well for TV shows and movies on streaming services on the go, and a perfect partner for podcasts and audiobooks in particular. The spoken word sounds pleasantly rich here.
No active noise cancellation might be enough for some to say no altogether, but a walk down the high street with these blocks out a fair chunk of ambient noise regardless.
- Sound quality score: 4/5
Audio Technica S220BT review: Value
- Brilliant battery
- Impressive sound
- Competitive price point
As you’ve hopefully realised by this point in this Audio Technica S220BT review, we’re impressed. This is an incredibly strong collection of features in a set of budget cans, with a battery that suggests that we shouldn’t have to settle for less.
The minimalist design neatly dodges cheap headphone looks, and the rapid charge and USB-C connectivity is much appreciated at this price point too. Add in a genuinely surprising depth of audio and the S220BTs pretty much have it all. Regardless of a subpar wireless call microphone, these are an exceptionally worthwhile investment for day-to-day listening.
- Value score: 4.5/5
Should you buy Audio Technica S220BT headphones?
|Features||Amazing battery, but poor wireless call quality||3.5/5|
|Design||Not exactly luxe, but well made and with good controls.||4/5|
|Sound quality||Surprisingly expansive and dynamic. Above what the price suggests.||4/5|
|Value||Fantastic value, considering the battery life and sound quality.||4.5/5|
Buy them if…
Don’t buy them if…
Sony undercuts the competition with these bargain-priced cans that still offer a surprisingly happy making sound with a battery of 35 hours. There are no frills here but the WH-C510s are incredibly affordable and ideal for travel.
Jabra Elite 45h
There’s still an impressive 50-hour battery life with Jabra’s offering and a slightly higher price point will get you faux leather materials. There’s also a 50-hour battery and a weighty audio profile.
Final Audio UX3000
You’ll have to spend a bit more but if you want active noise cancelling, these have a brilliant sound without the audiophile investment. They fold up nicely and there are 25 hours of ANC audio from one charge.