The classic Audio-Technica 60th anniversary celebrations are still going fast, with the Japanese brand wearing what it considers to be the world’s first wooden wireless headphones that also boast the world’s first hi-fi feature.
The company resurrected its iconic Sound Burger portable turntable and also unveiled a high-end transparent turntable set last week as part of its birthday celebration, but these groundbreaking new ATH-WB2022 cans may be the most interesting of the three installments.
The limited-edition headphones have built-in balanced stereo, a feature that audiophiles love and that until now has only been available in high-end wired cans, which would also have to be used in conjunction with similarly balanced headphones.
Balanced stereo means the cans have a completely separate signal path for each ear cup, resulting in reduced interference and no crosstalk.
The ATH-WB2022 achieves this thanks to the built-in two ESS DAC ES9038Q2M DACs, one for the left channel and the other for the right channel.
The headphones also support Sony’s high-definition LDAC codec as well as AAC and SBC compatibility, and the integrated multipoint support allows the ATH-WB2022 to be connected to multiple devices via Bluetooth and seamlessly switch between them.
Meanwhile, the striking wooden earcups are not only aesthetically pleasing, the solid flamed maple, walnut and mahogany used to make the housings that absorb acoustic vibrations and thus minimize distortion.
It’s no surprise that this feature set has something of a premium, and the ATH-WB2022 has a hefty price tag of $ 2,700 / £ 2,599 (around AU $ 4,200) when launched next year.
Analysis: The ATH-WB2022 is a great breakthrough for wireless headphones… at a great price
Anyone who has listened to music on headphones via a balanced audio setup will know how the sensational added clarity makes it difficult to return to the regular can set later on.
Wireless headphones that are capable of doing this have long been the holy grail for audiophiles looking to go wireless, but the closest we’ve got so far has been cans with a single higher quality DAC.
Make no mistake, Audio-Technica has accomplished a big feat here, but it’s a significant pay-off for that sonic goodness – we may be looking at some of the best over-ear headphones available, but we’ll have to test them to make sure, naturally.
Powering the dual DACs requires a lot of juice as you’d expect, and despite having separate batteries for each channel, the ATH-WB2022 is only able to offer nine hours of playtime on a full charge – a huge drop from over 60 hours. which Sennhesier Momentum 4 Wireless works.
This is probably a trade-off that many audio purists will be happy to consider for this sonic nirvana along with this staggering price tag.