Audio-Technica has been in the personal audio game for 60 years, but that doesn’t mean it can’t learn a thing or two from newer competitors. The company’s newest wireless earbuds — the $299 ATH-TWX9 — borrow a feature that LG first debuted on its own line of earbuds: sterilization of bacteria and viruses using UV light. They’re and other retailers.
When you pop the ATH-TWX9 back in their charging case, a UV light system engages, and with a little help from something called “mirror processing,” the company says bacteria and viruses will be eliminated from the surface of the earbuds. It’s not entirely clear whether that means just the eartips, or the whole earbud, but the fine print is careful to point out that while the system is more than 99% effective against E. coli and bacteriophage viruses, and more than 90% effective against Staphylococcus aureus, it won’t kill all bacteria and viruses, and Audio-Technica doesn’t know how well it protects against the virus that causes COVID-19.
The UV system might be the headliner for these earbuds, but the ATH-TWX9 look like they’re pretty impressive when it comes to their other features too. You can choose from five preset noise-canceling modes, or use an optimized mode that automatically adapts to your current environment. Transparency mode is available, as is a sidetone setting so you can hear your own voice clearly when on calls.
The case offers wireless charging compatibility and the earbuds are rated IPX4 for water resistance. As Snapdragon Sound-certified earbuds, they can connect with aptX Adaptive to any Snapdragon Sound phone, which means they support improved call quality, hi-res audio up to 24-bit/96kHz, and low-latency for gaming, plus they should have a very good wireless connection. They also support AAC for use with Apple devices.
As is the case with an increasing number of new wireless earbuds, the TWX9 support Bluetooth multipoint so you can connect two devices simultaneously and switch between them seamlessly.
About the only area that looks like it might disappoint is battery life. Audio-Technica gives a claimed six-hour rating for continuous use between charges, but the charging case can only replenish them twice, for a total time of just 18 hours. That’s considerably less than what you can expect from the company’s other wireless earbuds like the ATH-CKS50TW, which can go an astonishing 50 hours if you turn off ANC.