Midtown is awash with a nor’easter while the Audio Technica ATH-DSR5BT sits on my desk, waiting for a review. Fresh from the good folks at Audio Technica, this neckband-style Bluetooth earphone boasts the same technology found in the manufacturer’s wireless over-ear headphones. But at $399, how does this earphone stack up to its competition?
Audio Technica ATH-DSR5BT Review
The DSR5BT comes in your standard Audio Technica packaging: nothing too fancy, but nothing too plain, either. Inside the box, you’ll find the headphones, a USB charging cable, four pairs of eartips, and a carrying pouch.
As a neckband-style in-ear headphone, the DSR5BT sits at the base of your neck. Buttons on the inside “arms” allow for playback control and powering the Bluetooth connection on or off. A micro-USB port on the right side of the unit allows for charging.
Battery life weighs in at a fairly standard 8 hours, with over 500 hours in standby mode. The DSR5BT utilizes Bluetooth 4.2 protocols and supports Qualcomm aptX, aptX HD, AAC, and SBC codecs.
In terms of comfort, the DSR5BT feels light on my neck with a well-appointed design. Stylish yet functional, this Audio Technica earphone looks as good as it sounds. Or does it?
Frequency Range: 5-45,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 10 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 102 dB
The specifications reveal a wide frequency range that may host a little extra detail in the lows and highs. A low nominal impedance of just 10 ohms will work flawlessly with smartphones and tablets. Sound pressure level lands at a fairly standard 102 decibels. However, pairing this SPL with the low impedance, most users should be able to achieve adequate volume.
Contrasting and articulate, the DSR5BT’s low end features a natural, driving energy. Detail remains good, but the real show-stealer here is bass. Punchy and full, the bass lands with plenty of gusto, lending weight to the lows. The result is a consummate low end that delivers good resolution while keeping things emotive and fun-sounding.
In the midrange, the DSR5BT opens up further, revealing strong details, a clean profile, and impressive tonal accuracy. These meaty, substantial mids provide a surprisingly clean listening experience, with equal attention paid to instrumentation or vocals. All in all, this part of the frequency range, though less exciting than the highs or lows, features solid sound and does much to recommend the DSR5BT.
Where the high end is concerned, the DSR5BT offers plenty of nuanced resolution, with ample clarity and fidelity. Never too bright or piercing, this headphone offers a quality high-end with no compression or distortion, and no clipping or rolled highs. Overall, this is just a fantastic high end with tons of detail that works great for pop or classical or any other genre.
Some minor semblance of soundstage appears in the ATH-DSR5BT. Despite the minor sense of space, there’s a world of depth to this sound, adding some realism to most of my test tracks. While it will never compete with an open-back headphone or the most premium earphones, it still does a good job of making the sound more immersive.
Sound quality is good, and much better than I was expecting. Despite my love for Audio Technica, I was a bit skeptical that their neckband-style DSR5BT would do it for me. Yet, here I sit – berries firmly razzed as I put this earphone through the paces. And it holds up surprisingly well no matter what I throw at it.
But it doesn’t just sound good. It looks good, too – low key enough to be a working man’s working earphone, but stylish enough to keep on your person and say “this old thing?” But in all seriousness, huge props to whoever designed this neckband earphone for Audio Technica. Definitely a thing of beauty.
If you need the best dang neckband Bluetooth earphone, it will come down to this Audio Technica and the Klipsch X12i. While the Klipsch offers a much more premium appearance (what with a leather neckband and all), the DSR5BT delivers better soundstage and a slimmer, more low-key profile.
Of course, if you need lower battery life and inferior sound quality, you could check out offerings from LG, Sony, or even Sennheiser. However, in this price range, the DSR5BT is the horse to bet on.
At $399, the Audio Technica ATH-DSR5BT provides an intense, articulate sound brimming with detail and perfect for any genre I throw at it. Despite the slightly high price, it’s still worth considering for consumers who want an in-ear headphone that will last them for years to come.
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