Audio-Technica SR6BT Wireless Headphones Review: Like The SR5BTs, but Bigger and more Comfy
Well here’s a weird thing.
Audio-Technica signed a deal recently with Best Buy, a large retailer you might have heard of.
Best Buy now carries a couple models of Audio-Technica headphones in their retail locations and on their web site…including the brand new, exclusive-to-them, $199 SR6BT.
They’re pretty good?
If you need me to explain that question mark, read on.
The SR6BT is a wireless bluetooth pair of headphones. They’re technically over-ear closed back headphones…but they’re pretty darn small and portable. They support the SBC, AAC, and AptX codecs, and have NFC pairing if your device supports it. You get a nice little bag in the box, a cable with included mic and remote, and a USB charging cable.
The battery is rated for 30 hours of audio playback. It supports hi-res audio playback over the cable, thanks to its 45mm Sound Reality series drivers.
Here’s Audio-Technica’s product page. It’s available exclusively at Best Buy, for the moment, for $199.
These sound just like other Audio-Technica “SR” headphones. Not surprising, since they’re using the same 45mm driver from other great headphones like the MSR7/MSR7NC.
Mids and Highs are the stars of the show here. If you like detail, you’ll love the sound of these headphones. If you like thumping, thundering bass…uh you might want to buy something else. Bass is present and perfectly accurate in tone and texture…but definitely sits a bit back in the mix. If you’re used to warmer, darker headphones, you might find these startlingly sharp-sounding at first.
That was my experience the first time I heard the MSR7’s, but now I consider this brighter signature a real joy. It’ll expose every flaw in your music, and every little tiny detail. At moderate levels they won’t be fatiguing, but if you’re a high-volume listener…again, these might not be for you.
If you’ve never heard an Audio-Technica SR headphone, the amount of high-end energy here will either be horrifying or revelatory. If you have heard one before, this is another good one of those. Audio-Technica says they redesigned the cover over the driver to improve high frequency response, but I don’t do measurements and I can’t hear a huge difference.
I love the accurate, bright signature these have. There’s still plenty of bass, but it’s not punched up at all. If you want to pour over every little pluck of a guitar string, welcome home. If you love female vocals, these render them exceptionally well. If you like fun, movie-theater like bass sounds…run away.
It’s hard to describe the sound of the SR series to someone that hasn’t heard it, because you probably aren’t prepared for the level of push that the detail regions have here. They’re not sibilant or annoying… they’re just tuned very differently than the average consumer headphone. It took me a day or so of brain adjustment the first time I heard one, but now it’s a signature I can’t ever forget. In a good way.
Soundstage is good for a small closed-back headphone. You’ll hear nice separation and imaging, and the edges of the sound field push gently out past the ears. It’s not as spacious as a DT770….but few closed-backs can touch those things when it comes to soundstage. I’d put the SR6BTs squarely in the middle of the field, soundstage-wise.
My first impressions of the design were good, and my first impressions of the build were…okay.
I like the look of these headphones quite a bit. The black and gray color is the only option, and it has some nice light chrome accents. They don’t stick out at all on your head, and just look simple and classy.
The build is a little more plasticky than I’d expect for a $199 product. It doesn’t feel cheap…but it feels cheaper than I expected it to. The adjustment arms are made of metal, and the headband has some metal reinforcement…but everything else is plastic. My pair has some very mild creaking, and the adjustment clicks are not as tight as I’d like them to be.
I don’t think it’s going to fall apart or anything, and I guess it’s okay for the price. The original MSR7 is priced comparably now, and I think it feels a little more sturdy. The SR5BT has a similar build…but it’s also cheaper.
On first taking these out of the box, I said “Oh no these are soooo small!”
They’re not really big enough to be called over-ear headphones. At least, I wouldn’t call them that. The pads are a hybrid design, a la the MDR-7506.
I’ve often wondered why more headphones don’t use this sort of pad…but I also realize that the fit is the definition of not-for-everyone.
The center of the pad sits gently on your ear, and the rest of the pad tucks around the edges, providing isolation and additional comfort.
In spite of looking and feeling like they’d be annoying…they’re quite comfy! The padding used is some type of memory foam. The holes are just big enough to fit around my whole ear…but I can constantly feel that they’re being touched. If you don’t like headphones touching your ears, you’re going to hate these.
The smaller SR5BTs had a pretty good fit for an on-ear headphone. These are much better, and totally suited to long wearing sessions…if you can get used to the unorthodox feel. I haven’t had a single amount of discomfort or pain, beyond occasionally thinking “There’s totally things touching my ears.”
I have to wear the headphones almost fully extended, but I have a larger head. It was pretty easy to get a good fit, without much tinkering of position once on the head.
Isolation is good as a result of the hybrid pad design, and they work just fine in louder environments.
If you’re looking for a wireless headphone with this same driver with a proper over-ear fit, you’re going to have to step up to the $299 DSR7BT.
The Bluetooth connection works great. It’s quick to pair, and I had no issues with either the AAC or AptX codecs. You’ll have to use your device to manually disconnect if you want to connect to something else, which is a little annoying in a world of other models that automatically change devices or use an app to manage pairing. If you have NFC, you can just touch the chip of the device you want to change to without manually disconnecting.
This won’t be a problem for users consistently listening from one device.
Sound quality is quite good for a wireless pair, and only the most ardent of audiophiles will notice the bluetooth compression.
If you want, you can use the included standard 3.5mm cord instead for analog playback. It’s got an okay mic and a pause button built into it, so you don’t lose the ability to take phone calls if you decide to go wired.
The included USB cord is totally a USB cord. The included bag is tiny and cute, and the headphones only fit into it when folded down. They fold up into the headband, but they don’t fold “football” style. They also don’t fold flat for desk/neck storage, though they do adjust horizontally enough for you to find a comfy fit.
Button controls are sparse. There’s a power switch that also turns on Bluetooth, and a multi-function rocker that controls play/pause, volume, and track skipping. No fancy touch controls or ANC functions here.
These are headphone-ass bluetooth headphones.
I like these…but I don’t know if I $199 like them. The small size and comfy fit make me feel like these should have replaced the SR5BT. But that product still exists, and it usually sells for less than this pair.
It’s about $149 as of the time of this writing.
$149 would have been a perfect, unbeatable price for the SR6BTs. I would heartily recommend them at $149. At $199…they’re okay. But they’re hard to root for in the face of stiff competition at the same price that Best Buy also sells…like the Skullcandy Crusher Wireless and the new Sennheiser 4.50 BT. The Skullcandys are going to have a sound that more general consumers will probably like, and the Sennheisers pair that company’s signature design and sound signature with active noise-cancelling.
I mean heck, the original MSR7’s are now slightly cheaper than these. They’re wired, sure, but the pads are bigger and the build is a little more solid.
I love the Audio-Technica “SR” hi-res sound, and these headphones have a great execution of that…but you might hate how bright and detailed they are.
The SR6BTs have detailed sound, nice comfort, a small portable design, an okay build, and Bluetooth. If you prioritize sound quality above all other things and you need a solid, basic pair of wireless headphones, then go for it!
If you don’t fit into that specific bucket…I’d shop around a little more. You can get more fun features at this same price point, and for many people, that’s probably more valuable than the crisp signature SR-series sound.