Fresh on the market, the Audio Technica ATH-SR5BT is a svelte on-ear wireless headphone at the cool price of $149. Coasting on a wave of success brought about by Audio Technica’s foray into wireless headphones earlier this year, the question remains: is it any good?
These headphones come with the usual pleather pouch, a charging cable, a 4 ft (1.2 m) audio cable with a mic and remote, and some literature on the product. Build-wise, it feels about as solid as the MSR7 or the WS99BT, albeit a tad bit spindlier. When it comes to comfort, it’s pretty decent. Although the on-ear design doesn’t sit all that comfortably on my ears, my ears are kind of big, so this is to be expected. There’s very little clamp, but thanks to a the deep, soft pleather padding on the earcups and headband, it still does a good job of isolating sound while also feeling unobtrusive.
|Driver Diameter||45 mm|
|Frequency Response||5-40,000 Hz|
|Maximum Input Power||1,500 mW (for wired connection)|
|Battery||DC 3.7V lithium polymer battery|
|Battery Life||38 hours continuous use (1000 hours standby)
Charging Time: Approx. 4 hours (for 0-100% charge)
|Weight||185 g (6.5 oz), without cable|
|Cable||Detachable 1.2 m (3.9′) with in-line control/microphone|
|Connector||3.5 mm (⅛”) stereo mini-plug, L-shaped|
|Accessories Included||1.0 m (3.3′) USB charging cable, pouch|
|Sensitivity (Microphone)||-40 dB (1V/Pa at 1 kHz)|
|Frequency Response (Microphone)||50 – 4,000 Hz|
|Polar Pattern (Microphone)||Omnidirectional|
From the specs we see a pretty wide frequency range, and an understandably low impedance, as well as a sensitivity that’s a little low for a headphone in this price range, so it won’t be as loud as other options. For a wireless headphone, 38 hours continuous use is amazing, so there’s that.
Lows are okay. Nothing special. There’s detail, but not enough of it for a headphone at this price, wireless or not. Bass suffers from the on-ear design – where that 45mm driver should give it a more natural “oomph”, the bass instead feels soft and still somewhat strained.
Overall, the low end isn’t terrible – there’s no distortion or bleeding into the low mids. But there’s not a ton of detail, either, or a natural bass.
Mids are good – better than I expected. The slightly-v-shaped sound signature gives them a somewhat relaxed feel, but they still shine through even though they aren’t taking center stage. Based on this characteristic, it’s easy to recommend them for a wide array of music tastes, unless bass is your thing.
Pretty much the opposite of the lows on this headphone, the highs are great. There’s plenty of detail in spades, and while they might just get the littlest bit screechy or piercing on violin-heavy tracks, they also handle general higher frequency sounds (like female vocals) with ease. Like classical music? Female pop songs? These might be a shoe-in, folks.
Soundstage. It’s there. It’s not terrible overwhelming or engrossing. The headphones in general might have a fairly forward sound. While songs can seem to lean out of the headphones at you, you can still get a sense that there is space and placement among the different instruments. Slightly. While most things came off sounding compressed and canned (bassy stuff), other tracks really breathed (violin stuff by Vivaldi, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors). So, this could be very hit-or-miss depending on the kind of music you’re listening to.
The fact that this headphone is wireless shouldn’t escape this review, folks. For a wireless headphone, it’s not bad. Compared to other wireless headphones, you would be hard-pressed to find another headphone with as-good or better mids and highs – especially one that feels as good as the SR5BT. The battery life, too, is worthy of high praise. 38 hours is a lot of music, folks.
Audio Technica is one of those headphone companies that will always have some great stuff. But there’s always going to be some duds in there too. With this headphone, I’m leaning more toward “great stuff.” Sure, it’s not totally comfortable on my huge ears, and sure, the bass could be more accurate/lifelike. But the detail in the midrs and high-end of the frequency range demand a certain respect. Especially when paired with the battery life, the slim design, and the competitive price point.
If you’re a basshead, there are better headphones with greater amounts of detail out there. Hell, you could spend another $50 and get the WS99BT – a Solid Bass model that does things right (and that is also wireless). Or you could opt for the less expensive and wired M50x.
Of course, there is still a demographic for this headphone. Anyone seeking detail on the go would do well to consider it, and those who crave a longer battery life and swanky design won’t be disappointed either.
If you have any questions, let us know in the comments below or call us during the store hours to talk to one of our headphone experts.