Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT full review

Looking for affordable on-ear headphones with modern features like aptX and NFC? Well you’ve come to the right place. Here’s our Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT review. See also: Best headphones 2016.

Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT review: Price and rivals

The ATH-SR5BT are neither budget nor blow out expensive with a price of £149 sitting them in the mid-range of the general consumer market. You can buy them from Audio-Technica, Amazon and John Lewis. However, you can save a few quid by heading over to Juno Records where they are £118. 

Other pairs of wireless headphones we've reviewed recently have been more expensive like the Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless and Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless and although you can find cheaper options, these should be affordable unless you're on a tight budget.

The Onkyo H500M headphones are also on-ear and priced at £129 but don't offer wireless with Bluetooth.

Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT review: Design and build quality

Available in black or white (we almost always prefer the former when it comes to headphones but you may not), the ATH-SR5BT headphones are very much an on-ear version of the over-ear ATH-MSR7 cans we reviewed recently. The naming system could be made easier to understand.

They have the very similar stylings, just in a smaller and lighter frame. Those looking for slimline headphones will be happy with these at just 185g, more than 100g lighter than Audio-Technica's over-ear counterparts.

Although they are light, we didn’t find them the most comfortable for long periods of time. This will vary for different users but in general we find designs with a cushion across the entire cup more comfortable, as apposed to the ‘O’ shaped cushion on offer here. 

Build quality is reasonable with nice faux-leather on the ear-cups and headband, which is easy to adjust but still stays in position most of the time. There is a lot of plastic in use here but that's partly what makes them nice and light.

It's important to note that these headphones don't use a folding design so are a little tricker to transport than some rivals. You do get a carry pouch included in the box, though, and the ear cups swivel which helps.

Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT review: Sound quality and features 

With modern wireless headphone we expect them to come with features such as Bluetooth 4.1 (with atpX support) and NFC and that’s exactly what the ATH-SR5BT headphones come with. The latter means you can tap and pair devices easily, although not with iPhones despite having the tiny chip inside.

The Bluetooth can remember up to eight different devices and the headphones offer up to a whopping 38 hours battery life. They charge over Micro-USB and haven’t run out during numerous days of testing for us.

Of course, you can pair any Bluetooth device with the traditional method or you can use the headphones with the supplied cable, which has an in-line control. You’ll get better sound quality with the cable but the trade off having it in the way.

You don’t need the cable’s control to, erm, control your music as the left-side cup has sprung-loaded slider/button. Flick it up and down for volume, hold it up or down for skipping track etc and push the button in for play/pause. You also don’t need it for hands-free calls as the cup has one built-in.

The close back design creates good sound isolation so you don’t necessarily need something like noise-cancelling to be in your own world. These headphones are good at cutting out the noise around you impressively well for on-ear cans. The design also stops sound leaking so you don’t get on the nerves of others around you.

Inside are 45mm drivers, an impressive size for slime and light on-ear headphones (the same size as the firm’s over ear headphones). Overall, we’re pretty pleased with the sound quality of the ATH-SR5BT headphone but it’s not all rosy.

Most notable when looking at sound quality is the bass which we’ve found tight, responsive and rich no matter what kind of music we put through the headphones. Those large drivers lend themselves well to delivering some of the best bass we’ve hear in the on-ear category.

The frequency is fairly well-balanced, although we have some issues. Bass tends to take over a little which may suit some ears but for others the more distant top-end won’t be as pleasant. The mids are strong but can get somewhat harsh at the upper end meaning vocals can be a bit edgy and in your face. Again, it depends what you listen to so as usual, try and test a pair of headphone out before you buy them or check you can return them if you’re not satisfied. 

Despite a couple of caveats, we are pleased with the sound quality here. It’s impressive for on-ear headphones which are affordable. Remember that you can get these in a non-Bluetooth version for under £100 if the wireless element isn’t important.


Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT: Specs

  • Driver Diameter 45mm
  • Maximum Input Power 1500 mW
  • Frequency Response 5 - 40,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity 102 dB
  • Impedance 50 ohms
  • Weight 185g
  • Bluetooth with aptX
  • NFC
  • Micro-USB
  • Connector 3.5 mm gold-plated stereo mini plug
  • Cable 1.2m with mic for smartphones
  • Accessories Included Pouch

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