I love reviewing products that offer great features to the consumer at an affordable price. The Audio-Technica ATH-S220BT retails in Singapore at only S$88 with one-year warranty. If you are wondering if the S220BT has got the quality given such a low price, then read on as I go hands-on review on this wireless headphones.
As I dive into the features of the S220BT, I start to realise that it has so many valuable features that puts some brands to shame.
- Bluetooth 5.0
- SBC codec
- 60 hours battery life, with 10-min fast charging for 3.5 hours listening time
- Wired direct audio with in-line mic without battery power
- Multipoint pairing up to 2 devices simultaneously
- Support low-latency mode
- Support Google’s Android Fast Pair
- Compatible with Google Assistant and Apple Siri
- 180 grams
Design and Operations
The interesting thing about the unboxing is that the packaging is designed to be opened in a different way which integrates the shelf display holder without using additional plastic attachment. Inside, the headphones and accessories are packed without cable tie nor adhesives, and that is totally environmentally friendly. Before you buy, I highly recommend you to watch the unboxing video below so you do not end up ripping the packaging:
The S220BT design takes after the expensive models like the ANC900BT, appearing polished and premium, with leather-like coverings and glossy accents on the headband. The rest of the body uses matt plastic finish, none of the silicone coating that corrodes and turn sticky over time. The earcup cushion is smooth and on-ear, applying light pressure on your ears to achieve a snug seal which can effectively remove ambient noise and keep the music tight. On the whole, well-built, despite feeling plasticky and lightweight.
The headphones is operated with 3 multi-function buttons – a power button that works as a Bluetooth pairing when press-hold, the volume buttons that changes track when press-hold. To switch to low-latency mode, triple-click the power button. An LED light strip pulses to indicate operation mode. The S220BT supports Fast Pair where Android devices will pop up a display to automatically initiate pairing when you start pairing mode from the headphones. There is no need to go to the Bluetooth menu on the phone to start pairing. You can also trigger “Find Device” to broadcast the notification sound to locate the headphones, provided your Android phone supports.
The battery life of 60 hours is quite mind-blowing, though I never really measured if it did last that long. However, Audio-Technica seems so confident that the S220BT does not auto-power off even though no device are connected. From the Bluetooth menu, you can see the battery level in percentage (some Android devices with heavily-skinned UI might not have this function). In the unlikely event of a flat battery, you can still enjoy music using direct cable connection and carry out voice calls through the in-line mic. During charging, the headphones cannot be powered up to use at the same time.
Though the S220BT is not expensive, Audio-Technica has dedicated attention to deliver respectable sound quality within the budget. The driver quality and the level of musical attention are not critical to target consumers, yet the S220BT offers tight bass and balanced treble clarity. What makes the S220BT signature a little different is the elevated midrange which accentuates the vocal and instruments “ring”. This audio characteristic brings prominence to main instruments, while the brightness is slightly suppressed. Good thing that the bass does not sound too muddy, but the intensity may not be felt if the ear cups are not sealed against the ears. Generally-speaking, the S220BT achieves a neutral sound with emphasis on midrange without excessively obscuring the bass or treble.
In the wired mode, the overall mix is less dynamic, the bass is less impactful, since the built-in amplifier is not driving the audio. Once the cable is plugged into the headphones port, the power will be turned off automatically.
- Bass – 7/10. Tight sounding when ear cups maintain good seal
- Midrange – 7.5/10. Prominent mix but balanced
- Treble – 7/10. Crisp highs overshadowed by midrange
When making calls, the mic located on the left ear cup picks the voice at the lower frequency, making it sound warm and a tad muffled. Background noises are processed to be eliminated unless the volume hits above a certain loudness. On the whole, the loudness is better than true wireless earbuds.
The low-latency mode is activated by clicking the power button 3 times. The latency is reduced though it still does not achieve the responsiveness compared to direct cable. Nevertheless, this option is there to improve the latency when consuming content and gaming, and if you still cannot stand the latency, just plug in the 3.5mm cable directly. At least there are options on the S220BT.
The Audio-Technica ATH-S220BT puts more attention on the midrange for a fuller sound presentation on the vocals and instruments. The bass and highs offer good balance in punch and clarity though not excessively exciting. I enjoy listening to them as it brings out the vocals fullness without losing the kick and clarity. Most importantly, they are affordable, with long battery life, supports connecting to 2 devices at the same time, and operates with wires even without battery.