Music lovers in India have never had it this good. There is so much choice across price ranges and audio preferences. One of the new brands trying to woo Indian ears is Audio Technica. The company has over 500 SKUs globally, out of which over 120 are being brought to India in a bid to offer users the perfect fit for their listening pleasure. Bluetooth headphones are now becoming more popular, especially with top-end smartphones deciding to drop the 3.5-mm jack in favour of the USB-C, which is still not that popular with accessory makers. Audio Technica too has a wide range of wireless headphones out of which the company thinks the ATH-AR3BT will be among the more popular in India. The ATH-AR3BT is an over-the-ear Bluetooth headphone that has a stylish look with leather finish ear cups and headband. I found the headband a bit tight when it comes to adjusting, which also means you don’t have to keep adjusting it to fit your head. It usually stays at the spot you left it last. The ear cups can fold in making it easier to stow away inside a bag.
The headband keeps the ear cups firmly on your ears and this helps keep out a lot of external noise—this is handy since the headphone does not have noise cancellation. But this means there is a bit of pressure on your earlobes over a period of time. Using the headphones on a two-hour flight, I found that with the leg of my spectacles coming in the way, I had to give my ears some rest from the pressure after an hour or so. The little aches and pains of the design are soothed by the superb audio quality of this headphone. Initially, I was not sure why the experience was a bit muted even though my phone was on full volume. But the headphones come with volume controls which are not limited by the source’s output. The volume controls, a toggle button under the left earcup offer precision control and help you listen to your music at the perfect level for you. The toggle can also be used to skip songs as well as to take and end calls.
I found the audio quality of the ATH-AR3BT perfect for my kind of vocal heavy music. The bass on this one is just right and not overpowering like a lot of the headphones we end up with in India these days. It offers a full bodied range of sound which means that experience is more natural. So I could enjoy everything I heard, from the heavy voltage music of A R Rahman’s Mersal to the soul stirring notes from Piya Bavari. At no point do you think the music is underwhelming because it lacks wires connecting it to the source. Wireless has truly come on its own. The Audio Technica ATH-AR3BT is one of the best sounding Bluetooth headphones, certainly in this price range. This is perfect for those who listen to a wide range of music and want a balance, more natural experience and not something that is amped up. The only complaint is that the design can get a bit stressful on the ears, especially for those wearing spectacles. Otherwise, just go for it.
Estimated street price: Rs 13,990