Audio-Technica brings active noise cancellation to its wireless earbuds

Short battery life may limit the true wireless buds’ appeal, though.

Audio-Technica is esteemed for its high-quality equipment in pro audio -- you're likely to find the company's ATH-M50x headphone monitors in most recording studios. And while the brand may not be well known for its consumer-level headphones, the company's recent efforts in the wireless earbuds market have ranged from decent to impressive. Audio-Technica's latest true wireless model, the QuietPoint ATH-ANC300TW, will add active noise cancellation (ANC) -- but at the cost of battery life.

Audio-Technica says it designed new ANC technology specifically for wireless earbuds. Noise cancelling works by analyzing ambient noise with built-in microphones, creating inverse soundwaves of those noises and mixing them with the audio signal from your device. The ATH-ANC300TWs position one of the mics at a unique horizontal orientation within the sound chamber. The company says that this configuration allows for "an ideal balance of ambient noise reduction and audio performance." Going by the preview images, it looks like this may have called for an oblong design, as opposed to the circular design of the Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW wireless earbuds Engadget reviewed last month.

One of the best aspects of the ATH-CKS5TWs is their 15-hour battery life. The QuietPoint ATH-ANC300TWs will last just 4.5 hours on a single charge. That's not just short compared to Audio-Technica's own products -- recently earbuds have creeped closer towards 10 hours of battery life. Taking the $249 price into consideration, these might be a hard sell unless they have impressive audio quality.

Of course, it's hard to assess the sound quality of earbuds without listening to them. Audio-Technica is well-versed in studio headphones and wired in-ear monitors, but it's pretty new to the wireless earbuds market, so the quality may not be as consistent as the company's typical offerings. The QuietPoint ATH-ANC300TW will be available in the spring, but we should get a close-up look at the new earbuds at CES.