Audio-Technica ATH-SPORT90BT Review

Is that an iPhone in your running shorts, or are you just a perv? There are some sports activities that make carrying a phone a drag. For this reason, Audio-Technica has designed a pair of sports wireless earbuds that also have a built-in music player. What can you expect from the SPORT90BT in terms of sound and design? Let’s find out in this Audio-Technica ATH-SPORT90BT Review. 

Audio-Technica ATH-SPORT90BT Review

IN the BOX

FIT

Snug. Very snug. Almost too snug if your main priority is comfort. But if you’re looking for the most secure fit for your sports activities, the SPORT90BT is hard to beat. Backflips, bungee jumping, you name it. The effective seal also means that the SPORT90BT eliminates a lot of outside noise. In fact, in terms of sound isolation, it may be more effective than some of the leading noise-cancelling earphones on the market.

DESIGN

Controls and Functionality

In addition to the standard functions – play/pause, track skipping and call answering – the SPORT90BT also comes with a transparent hearing mode. This invites in the sound of your surroundings, which is a handy feature given that the sound isolation is so effective. And the SPORT90BT’s transparent hearing mode is one of the reasons this model is more expensive than the SPORT60BT.

Music Player

Another feature that separates the SPORT90BT from the more affordable SPORT60BT is the music player. And it doesn’t just play MP3s. If you want to go hi-res, you can add files such as FLAC and WAV. But you’ll have to be picky about what you download because the SPORT90BT only hold up to 4GB. This is plenty of space for compressed files, but you won’t have too much hi-res space. 

Call Clarity

A little muffled, but enough clarity to convey your thoughts about your growing pecs. 

Battery Life

The battery life is nothing to write home about. You’ll only get 5 hours of continuous use from these buds. (Using the music player alone, you’ll get about 8 hours of juice). Not too impressive when you compare it to even cheaper models from other major brands like JBL and Sennheiser. 

The SPORT90BT takes 3 hours to fully charge, which is also disappointing given the short battery life. But hey, given the series of disappointments I’ve experienced over my lifetime, I’m not surprised. 

Water Resistance

These buds offer an IPX5 water resistance rating. So, they should be able to withstand a sweaty workout and some rain. 

SOUND

Low Frequencies

Audio-Technica decided not to go too crazy with the bass on this model. The low-end is not incredibly deep and reverberating like it is on some of their other in-ear models. You’ll probably still get the punch you’re looking for when listening to pop tracks. But you shouldn’t expect much of a sub bass response on your hip-hop tracks. Still, the low-end does lend a little warmth and richness to rock tracks.

Middle Frequencies

You can expect a full midrange. Because the low-mids get a good amount of attention, rock and pop-rock tracks have plenty of body. You won’t get any unpleasant harshness in the upper mids either. So, two boxes – checked. 

In terms of clarity, the SPORT90BT does a solid job as well. String instruments reveal texture and substance, offering a relatively realistic performance. And the level of separation isn’t bad for a wireless earphone either. Guitar strums, for example, have clean definition. And overall, the sound avoids any muddiness in the lower-midrange.

Highs

The highs don’t get too sparkly or crispy either. So, this is an easy listening experience. At the same time, there’s no obvious roll off, so the treble doesn’t feel blunted or dull. 

Soundstage

Don’t expect too much dimension in terms of depth. But instrument placement on the horizontal axis is discernible. So, you will get some sense of imaging. Listen, let’s give these things a break. Wireless sports earphones for 160 bucks aren’t going to be high fidelity.

PROS and CONS

PROS: Very Secure fit with great sound isolation; inoffensive sound signature.
CONS: Not so comfortable that you’ll forget you’re wearing them. 

SUMMARY

These buds do two things very well. A super secure fit and great sound isolation. The music quality isn’t bad either. And if you’re engaging in sports activities that don’t allow you to carry your iPhone, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better pair of wireless earbuds with a music player. That being said, if you don’t download music, then there are more affordable wireless sports models out there.  

You can find these earbuds for the best price here:

Audio-Technica ATH-SPORT90BT at Audio 46