Japanese headphone and earphone brand Audio-Technica is a popular name among enthusiasts and audiophiles, primarily for its professional monitor range of headphones. However, the company also has an impressive range of affordable consumer-focused audio products, and its recent launch has made Audio-Technica more accessible to budget buyers. The company’s most affordable wireless product till date is Rs. 2,499 Audio-Technica ATH-CLR100BT.
There are plenty of affordable wireless earphones and headphones available in this price range, but not many can claim the same legacy and prestige as Audio-Technica. Can this otherwise high-end brand bring its expertise to an affordable space? Find out in our review of the Audio-Technica ATH-CLR100BT.
Audio-Technica ATH-CLR100BT Design and Specifications
The model number suggests that the Audio-Technica ATH-CLR100BT is the wireless version of the affordable ATH-CLR100 wired earphones, but there are some minor differences that go beyond the method of connectivity. The ATH-CLR100BT has a slightly larger 8.7 mm driver than the wired version (which has 8.5 mm drivers), and a frequency response range of 20–20,000 Hz (compared to 20–25,000 Hz on the wired version). There is Bluetooth 5 for connectivity, with support for the SBC Bluetooth codec only.
The earphones have a neckband-style design without the actual neckband; Only a thin cable with two weighted modules connects the two earphones instead of the proper flexible band. Considering that more affordable earphones such as the Realme Buds Wireless and Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones have proper, well-designed neckbands, we found the ATH-CLR100BT’s design a bit inadequate.
The in-line modules are made of plastic and will hang over your shoulders when you wear this headset. The earphones are also plastic, and look and feel quite normal. The earbuds are comfortable, however, and offer a secure, noise-isolating fit. The right module houses the controls – a multi-tasking button for power and playback and two buttons for volume – along with a microphone and a micro-USB charging port. The sales package includes three pairs of silicone ear tips and a micro-USB cable for charging the Audio-Technica ATH-CLR100BT.
The weight of the module is reduced on the earphones. The lack of a stable neckband means the modules move around even with a basic activity like walking. The length of wire from the module to the earbuds was a bit long, and they constantly and annoyedly brushed our faces, creating a fair bit of cable noise. The earphones work best when you’re sitting down, and can be a little uncomfortable if used while walking.
We were able to get about seven hours of use per charge from the Audio-Technica ATH-CLR100BT, matching the company’s claim. Charging is via micro-USB – still the standard for affordable wireless earphones – and it takes about two hours to fully charge the earphones from an empty battery.
Audio-Technica ATH-CLR100BT Performance
While most pairs of headphones and earphones in the affordable segment stick to a particular sonic signature that favors today’s popular music, Audio-Technica has a more balanced approach to sound. The ATH-CLR100BT earphones have an uncharacteristically neutral sound signature, priced at Rs. Unlike most wireless options that cost less than Rs. 3,000 that we’ve reviewed in recent months. We tested the earphones with the OnePlus 7T Pro (Review) as the source device, listening to Spotify, YouTube Music, and our collection of high-resolution audio tracks.
Listening to Magenta Redeem by DJ Snake, we quickly noticed that the signature sound of the sound was unlike what we’re used to hearing on budget wireless earphones. This electronic dance track starts off with a generous helping of thump using most other pairs of earphones in this price segment, but the Audio-Technica ATH-CLR100BT provided this track with a more detailed approach. While we could hear hints of thunder in the lows, equal attention was paid to the middle and high.
We sometimes found the mids and highs to be a little too loud for our liking, but they were never high enough to fatigue any listener. Listening to Sam Smith’s How Do You Sleep, vocals were crisp and centered correctly in the track. That said, some exciting parts of the track lose all their bite due to the soft low-end.
While we appreciated the unusual sound signature, the rest of the sound is just what you’d expect from a budget wireless headset. The Audio-Technica ATH-CLR100BT isn’t special or technically impressive, but it’s not necessarily what most people expect from an inexpensive pair of wireless earphones. What you get is an unflattering, neutral sound signature that will appeal to anyone on a budget looking beyond the typical bass-and-treble heavy sound that most wireless earphones cost under Rs. 3,000 offers.
The Audio-Technica ATH-CLR100BT is good enough for calls and voice communication; We were able to hear the other side and could be heard clearly on most of the calls we made. Although there was a fair amount of background sound in the outdoors, the position of the microphone ensured that our voice was relayed effectively.
The budget wireless earphones segment was not filled with small, very well known brands until recently; Things have changed in the last few months with brands like Realme and Xiaomi coming in at lower prices. 2,000 vol. Although the Audio-Technica ATH-CLR100BT is a bit more expensive at Rs. 2,499, it’s still an affordable headset that may be worth considering for the value and legacy of the brand.
If you listen to a lot of popular genres and want a little punch in the bass, the Audio-Technica ATH-CLR100BT may not be the best choice for you. We also had some problems with the design of the cable and neckband module. However, this is the most balanced-sounding pair of wireless earphones you can buy for less than Rs. 2,500. If that’s what you’re looking for, this is a worthwhile pick.
worth: Rupee. 2,499
- balanced sound signature
- clean sound
- decent to call
- good value for money
- looks simple
- Weird cable and neckband module design
- bass is a bit soft
Rating (out of 5)
- Design / Comfort: 2.5
- Audio Quality: 3
- Battery Life: 3.5
- Value for money: 4
- Overall: 3