Audio Technica ATH-SQ1TW review: Huge value in a huge case

Quick verdict: When it comes to style, sound and ease of use Audio Technica’s budget true wireless earbuds punch well above their weight.

Pros

  • Great battery life
  • Good audio quality
  • Stylish design with six great colour options
Cons

  • Chunky case
  • No settings or options

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Audio Technica's ATH-SQ1TW look, sound and feel like a much more expensive pair of true wireless earbuds and at only $129 these could be all that you need.


Design

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Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

Coming in 6 different colours these plastic, square-ish earbuds don't look as cheap as they are. I'd almost go so far as to say they're quite stylish. I was given the black version to review but I could see myself owning any combination of colours and being pretty happy with it.

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Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

The USB C powered case that holds them carries on that sleek design and closes with a very satisfying snap. The earbuds slip into the case just as satisfactorily with strong magnets and very deep grooves for the buds to rest in.

Those deep grooves do mean the case is a pretty thick unit compared to other earbud cases. It's almost shaped like a cube so there's no ideal way to store it flat. It might be worth avoiding if you've got smaller pockets or not a lot of bag space to go around.

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Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

While they don't have digital noise cancelling these earbuds do sit quite deep inside your ears when worn properly so they're effectively noise cancelling anyway. Even with nothing playing they do a pretty great job of dampening outside sound.

It also means they sit very firmly in your head. I found the fit pretty comfortable once I got used to the deep in ear design but they take you by surprise when you first put them in.

The flat side of both earbuds are your control panel. This makes accessing and finding the controls by touch super quick and easy. If your finger is touching the flat part, you know it's going to do something. The controls are all fairly straightforward but I did keep the instructions for reference because there are a lot of double taps and long presses that may take a while to remember.

There is no app or settings menu anywhere so you are stuck with how these controls are laid out. If you do want to listen in just 1 ear, you kind of have to go with the right earbud because that's where all of the main controls like play pause and skip are. It would have been nice to have the option to switch up some controls or have the main controls available on either side.

No app or settings also means you also can't turn off the little voice that lives inside these earbuds.
It makes sense 90% of the time. When you put them in it tells you the battery charge of each ear and whether the bluetooth is connected. I can appreciate that. This is useful info.

It also calmly proclaims "play" every time I hit play and "pause" every time I press pause. This is not useful info.

I know my music is playing or paused. I can hear it.

Perhaps you have more patience than I and appreciate the company but this little robot voice made me unreasonably mad.


Performance

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Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

The battery will not let you down. Audio Technica's supplied specs say the buds average around 6.5 hour batteries of use and the case extends that to 19.5. That's roughly what I experienced as well. After a couple of months with these with moderate use, I've only had to charge them a few times.

They connect to your android device's bluetooth via fast pair so all you need to do is put them near your phone and they'll pair almost instantly. This works best on Android but I did find pairing them to a PC and an iPad through the standard bluetooth menu is just as easy.

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Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

There's no intelligent switching so if you do want to switch between devices you have to manually disconnect them on the previous device. As far as bluetooth connection quality goes I've had no issues in the 2 months I've used these. They pair well and stay paired.

Audio performance

For a relatively cheap pair of earbuds, I'm really impressed with the sound out of these and unless you're an audio geek, I think you will be too.

Music sounds great. The bass is noticeably punchy, and you hear a surprising amount of detail present across most tracks even when there's a lot going on.

I personally found youtube videos, audiobooks and podcasts to be the most enjoyable thing to listen to on these. It clearly does a good job on humans and the mid ranges our voices tend to occupy. Overall the whole sonic experience is a little flatter compared to higher-end earbuds, but at $129 bucks I don't think you'll find much better.

The microphone is pretty standard for true wireless earbuds: serviceable for phone calls but not much else. I did find when I was in windy areas or noisy roads during phone calls the person on the other end would complain they couldn't hear me so it's not so great in those situations but again, that's generally true of most wireless earbuds. You can watch the embedded video above to hear a sample.


Should you buy the Audio Technica ATH-SQ1TW earbuds?

  • Buy it if you're looking for a pair of reliable and cheap earbuds that don't skimp on audio quality.
  • Don't buy it if your pockets don't have a whole lot of space.

If you're looking for a cheapish pair of true wireless earbuds these could very well be what you're looking for. There are colour options for everyone, they sound good, are a breeze to connect to other devices, and have a great battery. For 129 bucks you can't go wrong.

So long as you don't wear tight pants and you don't get annoyed by a robot telling you what you already know, these are well worth picking up.

product review

Image: Tobias Venus/Finder


Pricing and availability


Specifications

Audio Technica ATH-SQ1TW

Build

Category
In-ear
Impedance
16 ohms

Connectivity

Wired/Wireless
Wireless
Bluetooth
Yes
Bluetooth Version
5

Features

Battery Life
Up to 6.5 hours
Battery Type
DC 3.7V lithium-ion battery

How we tested

I tested the ATH-SQ1TW every day over 2 months. I used them as my every-day earbuds, which includes general media consumption, listening to music and watching video.

Audio Technica provided the earbuds for the purposes of this review.


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