Audio-Technica’s latest earbuds are armed with Anti-Bacterial UV lights

Remember the Galaxy Gear earbuds from 2013? Later we had Apple’s AirPods, released in 2016. Well, Audio-Technica’s foray into the true wireless earbuds market was quite later, with it happening only recently, in 2020.

It may seem ridiculous to some, but that is because the brand is known for high-fidelity and professional-grade audio equipment, and as such, they likely took the time to ensure that they deliver the expected quality with absolute certainty.

Two years later, it’s time for an upgrade with the ATH-TWX9, which have a unique selling point: the earbuds’ case comes equipped with UV lights for deep-UV sterilization. And good thing that they do – that name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue!

But is this actually unique?

While this may sound innovative, the truth is that LG has been doing this for years, as their series of Tone Free earbuds have had UV sterilization for several iterations now. The process is concentrated only in the speaker grills of the buds and it requires 10 minutes of charging time to achieve the desired effect.

But why charging time? Well, you see, the UV sterilization process on the LG buds is active only when the case is plugged in via USB and charging. This makes having a case with a large battery capacity counter-productive, as that means sterilization will happen less often.

This is where Audio-Technica improves on the concept by utilizing mirrors to increase the sterilized area beyond the speaker grills. The time it takes is also substantially reduced to only 70 seconds. And there’s no mention of a USB connection requirement in sight.

The prolific brand’s masterstroke in engineering is highly likely to produce buds that sound impressive, and furthermore, features such as 360 Reality Audio and Snapdragon Sound are also here to push quality even further.

Their design not only looks stylish but is also IPX-4 resistant (not ingress-proof, but will resist splashes of water), making them a good fit for workouts or rainy days. Even longer ones too, with a battery expectancy of up to 6 hours of continuous playback. The case ensures two full recharges, giving you a total of 18.5 hours of use time as per AT’s stats. This is shorter than competing products, but it’s probably the UV light eating away some of the charge.

Nowadays active noise cancellation is expected to be on any good pair of earbuds, but the spin here is that Audio-Technica has given some control back to its users with the ability to fine-tune the feature for better results depending on the environment.

UV-lit earbud cases: useful addition or useless gimmick?

While the idea may sound like simple trend participation, the truth is that the improvements made by Audio-Technica make the technology much more practical. It may not sound like a must-have, but there’s value to be found here.ENT specialists will often warn against the dangers of in-ear buds — not only due to the dangers of carelessly boosting the volumes but also because foreign bodies inside the ear could cause an infection. So, for some users with more sensitive ears, and ones that like to keep their accessories crispy clean — an auto-sterilizing earphone case is a no-brainer.

As of now, there is no word on when the earbuds will be available in the US, but if you can’t wait to increase the cleanliness of your audio habits, they are available in other markets. Fair warning though: it’s not just the look and sound that’s premium here.

The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 earbuds are already available at Audio-Technica’s store, priced at RRP £279.99 (€319). The model is available in one color, called Japanese black, incorporating dark bronze accents.

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