Audio Technica  - Audio Technica ATH-S200BT

Audio Technica

Audio Technica ATH-S200BT: an overly ambitious wireless headset

Aprox. 69€ - see price -

Presented last January by Audio Technica, the ATH-S200BT is the new entry-level Bluetooth headset from the Japanese brand. Very simple and offered at low prices (€ 69 at launch), it is intended according to its manufacturer to consumers taking their first steps in the world of wireless audio. A positioning that does not, however, excuse far too many shortcomings.

Our review


The first defect of the ATH-S200BT is to display very visibly, all too visibly, its product status "budget". A very elementary thermoformed plastic packaging reveals a helmet whose construction is in the same vein: if we make an exception of a thin strip of steel ensuring the rigidity of the arch, its external envelope is exclusively made of a very cheap plastic - which includes the imitation leather covering the pads and the headband -, the visible screws are legion, the hinges and slides offer movements marred by very unpleasant friction and squeaks.

Unfortunately, things do not improve in terms of comfort. The S200BT may well be an over-ear headset, its ear cups only have fine and fairly hard foams, which totally fail to evenly distribute the pressure of the ear cup over the entire ear canal.

For most of the people we were able to give the helmet a try, the discomfort was immediate, and turned into pain after just a few minutes - especially among people who wear glasses. Note however that the helmet has at least the merit of being very light, not even reaching 200 g on the scale. It's always taken.

Compatible with Bluetooth 4.1, the S200BT has almost complete controls, distributed over 3 buttons located on the left atrium (navigation between tracks is done by long press on the volume control buttons). We regret, however, the inability of the headphones to unify its volume control with that of the source device.

More so, we especially regret the impossibility of forcing the passage of the headset in Bluetooth pairing mode. To go from one source to another, you must first go to the first source, disconnect the headphones, then finally associate it with the second source; annoying. Needless to say, the multipoint connection to several sources simultaneously is obviously not possible.

This frustration, however, is not much compared to the fact that the headset has absolutely no possibility of wired connection. You read that right: no mini-jack, not even a USB connection to a computer, the S200BT speaks Bluetooth and no other language. Which means of course in particular that if you run out of battery, the headset becomes unusable ... Fortunately, this case occurs quite rarely, thanks to the excellent autonomy, which reaches forty hours.

Used as a hands-free kit, the headset still brings little satisfaction. In a calm environment, the microphone manages to pick up an overall intelligible voice, failing to be clear and natural. In a noisy environment, however, your interlocutor will have a hard time understanding your words.

Finally, the latency in Bluetooth remains below 140 ms, which places the S200BT among the best students on this metric. It is quite possible to watch a video without suffering from the sound / image lag; the latter remains clearly perceptible, but the brain has no trouble getting used to it after a few minutes of viewing.



The ATH-S200BT delivers very astonishing sound performances, unfortunately not really in the good sense of the term. It starts with its frequency response, extremely colorful, but whose signature is not completely unknown to us ...

While fans of transparency and neutrality probably uttered a terrible cry of dread at seeing this spectacularly rugged curve, our most assiduous readers may have been won over by a feeling of deja-vu. The measurement is indeed surprisingly similar to that of the ATH-DSR9BT, headphones acting as the spearhead of Pure Digital Drive speaker technology from Audio Technica ... and sold for almost 10 times the price of the S200BT!

Does this mean that the two helmets share common technologies? This is obviously very unlikely, and it is difficult to imagine what can cause this similarity. It can in any case be said that, in accordance with the logic of things, the S200BT has only a few qualities of its illustrious big brother. The latter compensated for its lack of neutrality with an extraordinarily incisive, dynamic and detailed rendering; the newborn is satisfied with the union minimum on these measures.

On the treble side, the precision is correct, but does not prevent the appearance of a small sibilance at the top of the spectrum. Whistling and hissing cymbals and consonants sometimes take on a slightly acidic taste. Conversely, the bass is noticed by a certain lack of responsiveness. The timbres lack definition, the transients lack energy, the feeling of dynamics is slightly at half mast. A strong dichotomy is created in fact between these slightly soft bass on the one hand and excessively nervous treble on the other - dichotomy reinforced of course by the enormous hollow of the frequency response at 320 Hz. The link between the bass and treble mids can not be done, as if we were listening to the sound of a home cinema in the wrongly configured box.

There is still a relatively clean and clear sound, which also benefits from excellent quality stereophony, and even quite rare for closed on-ear headphones. Despite the low transparency of the rendering, the sound scene still manages to establish itself with satisfactory realism. It therefore remains possible, after a little time to adapt, to bypass the many small faults of the headphones, and still appreciate his music. The essential is safe.



It is commendable on the part of Audio Technica to have wanted to offer an affordable wireless headset, but the manufacturer has allowed too many compromises for this purpose. If its sound performance is suitable - despite a real lack of neutrality -, the ATH-S200BT is weighed down by too many ergonomic shortcomings - poor comfort and the strict impossibility of using wired headphones being the most painful of all. The Jabra Move Wireless will remain our benchmark Bluetooth headset for some time to come.