Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT review: affordable headphones with studio sound

The Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT are inexpensive but still have superb sound quality, multipoint pairing and a low latency mode

Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT review: woman writing on a notepd with headphones on
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

If you're on a budget but you don't want to sacrifice sound quality, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT will be a good choice. Not only do they sound great but they also boast a huge 60-hour battery life. You will miss out on features like noise-cancelling and a manual equaliser, though.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    60-hour battery life

  • +

    Superb studio sound

  • +

    Low latency mode

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    No noise cancellation

  • -

    Some problems with call quality

  • -

    Lack manual equaliser settings

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To sum up this Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT review - if you don’t care too much about looks and you want some of the best cheap headphones with a battery that will last a very long time, then these are a terrific choice. 

Audio-Technica is an audio brand favoured by DJs and music professionals. Their products focus on what matters most, the sound quality. The Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT make that accessible to more people because they’re significantly cheaper than other Audio-Technica wireless over-ear headphones but the audio quality is still out to impress. 

If you’re set on buying some of the best noise-cancelling headphones then these won’t be the right fit because that’s a feature Audio Technica has missed out here to keep the price so low - for affordable ANC, check out the JBL Tune 660NC instead. 

Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT review: price and what’s new 

You can buy the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT now for about $80 in the US, £80 in the UK and AU$194. Take a look at the widgets on this page to see the best deals on them from across the web right now. 

Their M series headphones inspired the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT, and in particular, the ATH-M20X. The BT version just adds the extra benefit of wireless connectivity. 

Another popular pair are the Audio Technica M50xBT2 which will set you back $200 in the US, £180 in the UK and AU$310 in Australia so they don’t come cheap. You can’t expect the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT to sound as good or look as good as those because they're a lot more affordable, but they do also have more battery life. If you’re looking for something a lot cheaper and you don’t mind making a few sacrifices then the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT are a great alternative. 

Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT review: design and fit

Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT review: headphones from the side on a desk with trees in the background

(Image credit: Future)

Echoing their pricier siblings, the Audio Technica M50xBT2 over-ear headphones have a stripped-back and functional design with a matte black plastic build. In comparison to some other pairs of headphones, the design is very simple, so if you want a pair that stands out then you won’t get that here. 

The padded ear cups surround your ears and can be smoothly extended from the padded headband to help you find the right fit. There aren't ready-made settings but I still found these very comfortable, they also only weigh 216g so it’s easy to forget they’re there. I mostly used these for journeying because of that because they’re not waterproof and they do move around a little so I wouldn’t recommend them for working out. 

You can control the music using the buttons on the left earcup. There’s a multifunction button which lets you pause or play the music as well as power on the headphones and you can use it to call your voice assistant, the buttons on either side of that allow you to adjust the volume without having to reach for your phone, it lets you skip backwards and forwards through tracks as well. 

While it may be basic, I liked the fact that these have physical buttons because they work more effectively and more consistently than the touch panels on some other cheaper headphones. 

One of the very best things about the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT headphones is their battery life. You get 60 hours of listening time per charge, and if you plug them in for just 10 minutes, you’ll get about 3 hours of use. Naturally, those times will vary on usage and volume.

If you did get caught short then the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT come with a 1.2m audio cable included in the box so you can listen through a wired connection instead. 

The battery life is undeniably impressive and makes these incredibly convincing. The only downside is that for a full charge you’ll have to hook them up to a power source for about 4 hours which is longer than a lot of other over-ear cans. 

Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT review: performance and features 

Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT review: headphones from above on a white table

(Image credit: Future)

These closed-back dynamic headphones have 40mm drivers that deliver fantastic audio, especially when you take the price tag into consideration, you won't find many other pairs below £100 / £100 that sound this good.

You can see the influence of the M series headphones on the audio quality. Audio Technica says that they have ‘studio sound’ and while there's definitely room for improvement, I’d be inclined to agree with that. It's worth knowing that they aren't quite as accurate as pricier options like the M50xBT2. 

Crystal clear with rich bass, natural mids and a crisp treble, their tuning feels very unoffensive and versatile. Some people might be looking for a more powerful punch but for those who want a pair of headphones to listen to all sorts of music, podcasts and videos I thought the balance was just right. 

If you're after lots of control over the sound, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT don't have any manual or preset equaliser settings. That could be off-putting to some but given the clarity of the tuning straight out the box, I wouldn’t say that’s a dealbreaker. 

You do also get a low latency mode which is made for gamers and for streaming video because it helps to reduce delay. Activating it is really easy, you just press the MFB three times. You'll be able to see the difference more in mobile gaming than anything else.

While these may not include noise cancelling, I did find that the secure fit meant the sound isolation was pretty good. I didn’t find myself getting too annoyed at the outside noise penetrating through the headphones but I was still able to hear what was going on around me.

Multipoint pairing is a really handy feature to have, especially if you plan to use these for switching between work and play because it means you can be hooked up to two devices at once. For instance, I made a video call on my laptop and then when I came off it I pressed play on Spotify through my phone without needing to faff around disconnecting and reconnecting. 

Google Fast Pair meant that I didn't have to go through any sort of process to get them connected, my phone automatically picked up that they were switched on. Once they were connected I didn't have any problems with interruptions either. Audio Technica claims their range is a very respectable 10m, it meant I could wander into another room and still be connected. 

Taking calls through the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT was perfectly fine. I was told I sounded a little on the quiet side and the recipient could also hear a fair amount of background noise, but they could still hear and understand what I said. 

Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT review: verdict 

Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT review: headphones floating on a white background

(Image credit: Audio-Technica)

If I were to pick one reason to buy the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT, it’d be the audio quality. Accurate and versatile, they sound superb no matter what you listen to. But that’s not all they have going for them though, boasting 60 hours of battery life, you can listen for hours on end without needing to worry about packing a charger in your bag. 

At this price, to make them sound so good and last so long, there are some sacrifices to be made. You won’t get any noise cancellation built-in nor will you get an adjoining smartphone app with manual equaliser settings, and the build could be made to feel more durable. All of those downsides could well put you off buying them. 

But in saying that, I personally was able to look past them. The sound isolation was good enough to make me not yearn after ANC and I enjoyed the default tuning, so I still think they’re worth considering. I just maybe wouldn’t use these on an aeroplane and I'd be careful not to be too clumsy with them. 

Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT review: also consider  

If you’re undecided between over-ear and in-ear headphones, a cheap pair of wireless earbuds to take a look at are the Sony WF-C500. They’re even cheaper than this but they’re fantastic, so good in fact, that they picked up a coveted 5-star rating in the T3 review. 

Another budget pair of cans that do have active noise cancellation are Skullcandy Hesh - they’re not the best-looking pair in the world but they do give you a lot for your money including plenty of battery life and Tile tracking technology built in. 

Yasmine Crossland
Freelance Tech Expert

Yasmine is the former Reviews Writer for T3, so she's been knee-deep in the latest tech products for reviewing and curating into the best buying guides since she started in 2019. She keeps a finger on the pulse when it comes to the most exciting and innovative tech and is happy to tell you exactly what she thinks about it too. In her free time, you'll catch her travelling the globe – the perks of being a freelance tech expert – tending to her plants when at home and, but of course, planning her next big trip.