Audio Technica ATH-SR5BT Hi-Res Bluetooth Headphones

General Information

The ATH-SR5BT Wireless On-Ear Headphones give you phenomenal Hi-Res Audio with the convenience of Bluetooth® wireless technology operation. Up to eight devices (smartphones, tablets, music players, etc.) can be stored in the memory of the ATH-SR5BT for quick connection to your chosen devices. And adding or replacing devices is made even easier with the headphones’ NFC (Near Field Communication) functionality: just touch any NFC-compatible device with Bluetooth wireless technology to the N-Mark on the headphones and the device and headphones are automatically paired and connected.

The ATH-SR5BT features powerful 45 mm drivers and comes equipped with a mic and volume/control switch built into the left earcup, making it easy to answer calls, adjust volume and handle playback (play, pause, fast-forward, reverse, next/previous track) of music and video on compatible smartphones and other portable devices. A 1.2 m (3.9') smartphone cable with mic and controls is also included to provide a standard wired connection in areas where use of Bluetooth wireless technology is prohibited, for when battery power is low, or when Hi-Res Audio (5 – 40,000 Hz frequency response) is desired.

The internal lithium polymer battery provides 38 hours of continuous use (up to 1000 hours in standby mode) and can be recharged using the included 1.0 m (3.3') USB charging cable.

Available in black (ATH-SR5BTBK) and white (ATH-SR5BTWH).

About High-Resolution Audio:

In Brief: The Move to Hi-Res Audio
While many listeners may believe that high-resolution audio came along with the introduction of the Compact Disc in 1982, constraints on the disc’s storage space always prevented CD audio (standardized at 44.1 kHz/16-bit) from fully and completely reproducing the original recorded sound. The advent and subsequent popularity of MP3s only made this problem more pronounced – the necessary compression of these files causes audio information to be lost, thus greatly reducing the audio quality. But with lossless audio file formats, faster Internet speeds, and storage space increasingly easy to come by (and in ever-smaller packages), the push is on to create audio equipment capable of capturing and reproducing true Hi-Res Audio, generally considered to be 96 kHz/24-bit or better. The Hi-Res Audio logo certifies that a product meets the Hi-Res Audio standards. Per these standards, headphones must have transducer frequency performance to at least 40 kHz. As a producer of these types of audiophile headphones since 1972, Audio-Technica is well-positioned to provide audio solutions that meet the demands of Hi-Res Audio media formats, allowing for the full reproduction of their extended sonic characteristics.


Type Closed-back Dynamic
Driver Diameter 45 mm
Frequency Response 5-40,000 Hz wired, or 25-17,000 Hz wireless
Maximum Input Power 1,500 mW (for wired connection)
Sensitivity 100 dB/mW
Impedance 35 ohms
Battery DC 3.7V lithium polymer battery
Battery Life 38 hours continuous use (1000 hours standby)
Charging Time: Approx. 4 hours (for 0-100% charge)
Weight 185 g (6.5 oz), without cable
Cable Detachable 1.2 m (3.9') with in-line control/microphone
Connector 3.5 mm (⅛") stereo mini-plug, L-shaped
Accessories Included 1.0 m (3.3') USB charging cable, pouch
Type (Microphone) Condenser
Sensitivity (Microphone) -40 dB (1V/Pa at 1 kHz)
Frequency Response (Microphone) 50 - 4,000 Hz
Polar Pattern (Microphone) Omnidirectional
Type (Microphone in earcup): Condenser
Sensitivity (Microphone in earcup): -44 dB (1V/Pa at 1 kHz)
Frequency Response (Microphone in earcup): 50 – 4,000 Hz
Polar Pattern (Microphone in earcup): Omnidirectional
Communication System: Bluetooth Version 4.1
Output: Bluetooth Specification Power Class 2
Maximum Communication Range: Line of sight - approx. 10 m (33')
Compatible Bluetooth Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
Supported Codecs: SBC, aptX, AAC

Latest reviews


Bluetooth Guru
Pros: Excellent Sound Quality, comfortable, small, attractive yet simple design, very long battery life, Hi-Res, cable with Mic, very reasonable price.
Cons: Some people may wish some extra loudness and extra bass.
This is my Review of the new ATH-SR5BT, of which I have received a pre-release unit directly from Audio-Technica U.S.
The unit I have received is anyway fully functional and it is the same exact one which you would receive.
I have received them two weeks ago and I am in the mid of the tests of more or less 90 Bluetooth Headphones, preparing the biggest side-by-side comparison of BT Headphones ever made.
So I did not have time for very in-depth tests of one single headphone, but given that they were just launched and many of you are asking "what about them?", I have decided to publish this Review now, which will be updated with new info and graphics later.
First of all let me say, given my love for the ATH-WS99BT, which are still my favourite BT Headphones, I was very excited when I've read that a new On Ear Audio-Technica BT model would be launched soon.
So I slightly stalked A-T to receive a Pre-Release unit.
My expectations were very high. Basically I was expecting a smaller WS99BT, as good if not better than the predecessor.
And considering that I was asking a lot, I am satisfied with the SR5BT.
Actually I think they can possibly be one of the very best On Ear BT Headphones on the market in this moment. Although I personally do not like to use the term "best", because there is no "best". Different headphones are tuned for and aimed to different people, period.
So, which people are the aim of this new exciting collaboration between the Japanese engineers and the American marketing experts of Audio-Technica?
People who look for a small headphone to use on the go with their Smartphone, so light and comfortable that they forget to have them on the head.
People who don't like to charge their devices all the time.
People who look for a natural and balanced Sound Signature, which is slightly fresh, with a neutral gentle not boosted bass, and a clean detailed and transparent sound.
Those looking for Hi-Res capable Headphones, of course.
And, yeah, people who like bargains too, because at the suggested price of USD 199 the ATH-SR5BT are introduced as mid-budget BT Headphones, but sound more High End than some High End.
And which people are possibly not the aim of these headphones?
People who look for something with the greatest wireless range possible, to use it at home while walking far away from the source.
Bassheads looking for a deep powerful and shaking bass.
People who love to listen to their music at a dangerously high volume.
Those looking for ANC, Multipoint and all the extras of other headphones.
Apart for that, I cannot imagine anybody who may not love this little gem.
Well, ok, there is of course the "matter of tastes", so for example people looking for a warm signature may prefer something else, or would have to apply some EQ on the low-mids.
Now Let me introduce them to you, the new Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT:
In a body of high impact quality polymers, conveniently light, and comfortably padded on the head zone, the SR5BT host two high tech 45mm drivers able to reproduce (when in wired mode) a remarkable Frequency Range of 5-40000Hz.
In wireless mode their Frequency Range changes depending on which Codec is active.
They support Aptx (for Android, Mac OSX and following, and PC equipped with an Aptx adapter) and AAC (for iPhone), and of course the old good SBC too.
With SBC their Frequency Range is 25-17000Hz, with Aptx it is 25-22000Hz.
I am still waiting for the data about AAC, but I suspect it must be something around 20000.
Between you and the drivers is the soft Memory Foam of the earpads, covered in a resistant Faux-Leather which feels very nice on the skin.
Actually the ATH-SR5BT felt to me among the most comfortable On Ear which I have tried. Also the clamping force was a perfect fit on my average sized head.
The design is closed-back, and the cups are of a very convincing metallic silver colour which combined with the white and the light grey results elegant and simple, and can please a wide audience.
And there is a black version too, which you can see on the Audio-Technica Website.
IMAG0556.jpg You have few effective and easy to use controls.
On the left cup (which on the picture is on the right, because of how the headphones fold flat) you find a lever. One click will pause/resume music, or answer a call. A pressure and release upward will increase the volume, and yes you guessed right, a pressure downward decreases the volume. If you press and hold, you skip track.
You also have the 3.5 jack connector which will be handy when you run out of battery (yes, but WHEN? With 38 hours of battery life, you must really be a lazy guy to forget to charge them!).
There also are situations where the use of Bluetooth is not allowed. And if you have a soft spot for the new Hi-Res format of some new music, and you own a Hi-Res capable music player, you may want to give the SR5BT a try in wired mode, where as said they can support the 5-40000Hz Frequency Range you supposedly need to enjoy that music.
And there is the mini USB port, which is used to charge the battery, from time to time :)
On the right cup (left on the picture) you find the On/Off switch, which is very nice to use, imo more practical than the digital buttons of most BT Headphones, which you never know how long you must press them.
Contrarily to many other headphones you do not have to do anything special to enter the SR5BT in pairing mode.
When they turn on they look for previously paired devices in the proximity. If they don't find any, they automatically enter in Pairing Mode, which you see from the LED flashing alternately red and blue.
Talking of the LED, I am happy to say that the SR5BT do not have one of those huge annoying blinding LED which would make you look like an U.F.O. in the night. Their LED is very little, and although it does flash, it is placed on the bottom of the left cup, and it is not very bright, so that people near you on a Plane would not hate you.
Back on the Pairing, if you like it the fast way you have a NFC chip on the bottom left of the headband, which would pair the Headphones with your Smartphone just by placing their NFC chips in contact:
The ATH-SR5BT are quite small, although not as small as the AKG Y45BT and the Bose Soundlink On Ear, which can both also fold toward the inside of the headband, where the SR5BT would just fold flat.
They are also very light, weighting around 180 grams.
IMAG0637.jpg   And they come equipped with the most essential tools: a USB cable, and an Audio Cable which is conveniently provided with a Mic for calls in wired mode. There is a slider to change volume, and a button to play/pause and answer calls, which is also used to change track (press twice to forward, thrice to go back).
Talking of volume, they can get louder in wired mode, which may be of interest to some people.
The sound itself is absolutely identical in wired and wireless mode.
 Last but not least, a soft carrying bag of a nice synthetic leather.
Ok, so, now you know how they look and how you get them paired and so on.
What about the sound?
Well, a more detailed description of the sound, with examples of some tracks to give you an idea, will come later.
For now let me tell you that I have compared them with all the other High End BT Headphones on the Market, also models which cost much more. And I find the SR5BT to have the cleanest, most transparent and balanced sound of them all, apart for the XTZ Headphones Divine (when used with Dirac. See my Review). The Divine are just, well, Divine...
But the SR5BT are the closest which I have found till now, just a bit less engaging than the Divine.
I sincerely did not find any music which would not sound good with them.
I must admit that Dubstep does not really sound very engaging with the SR5BT, but for most music their bass is potentially enough for most people, and although out of the box it is quite neutral, with some EQ it can also be satisfying with EDM and Techno, IF you are not a hardcore basshead.
But hardcore bassheads should keep searching, or wait a little more, just a few weeks, for my Ultimate Comparison.
The highs are very nice too, more present in the mid-high region, and never harsh or sibilant. They give a pleasant gentle freshness to the sound, accentuated by the slightly recessed low-mids which help avoiding the dark muddiness of so many other headphones.
The rest of the mids is quite balanced, and all voices sound indeed very good, female and male. Although for low male voices you may want to use some EQ to level back some low-mids.
And to give you a better idea of what I am talking about, I have a present for you, in exclusive for Head-Fi, the EQ Curve of the ATH-SR5BT, received from A-T:
This graphic represents the Avg (average) of many measurements taken by Audio Technica with the B&K 4153 Artificial Ear, with a simulated distance between ears of 16cm.
With it you can see more or less exactly where you may want to apply some EQ to give the SR5BT an even more flat response, or to tune them to your personal tastes.
I personally increase a bit the sub-bass with a Low Shelf, to give more base to the sound.
And I bring some low-mids up too. Which is actually a nice thing, having the opportunity to increase the low-mids. I generally must decrease them because so many headphones have an excess of them, sounding a bit (or a lot) dark and muddy.
In this case I have seen that by increasing a bit the Low-Mids on the SR5BT I can get some more warmth and body on the male voices, without having any added muddiness, and without losing the their pleasant natural freshness.
Now, if you (like me) were wondering if the SR5BT would be a small version of the WS99BT, no, they are not. They belong indeed to two different series.
What do they have in common?
Clean sound, detail, transparency, presence, spaciousness, and a certain WOW effect.
Where do they differ?
The WS99BT have more bass out of the box and also more potential to EQ this bass till remarkable levels. No wonder, they are in the Solid Bass series.
They also are a tad warmer, and can get quite louder (they also have bigger drivers), so basically they are a more aggressive and engaging headphone, though they can be gentle and relaxing too.
And they have a wider Wireless Range, as to be expected by an Over Ear model which people may want to use while walking around in their house, far from the source.
The SR5BT are what some people (not me) wish that the WS99BT were out of the box: neutral. But they miss the aggressive potential which the WS99BT can reach after some EQ and at max vol.
On the one hand this results in them not being super engaging with some genres (like Dubstep for example), but on the other hand it may be a wise choice for a portable headphone: we do not want people sitting on the bus near us, listening to aggressive music at explosive volume and feeling fully engaged, do we?
Another thing worth mentioning is that if you use Replay Gain (which makes all music sound at the same perceived loudness, but also quieter. Google it or search for it in the Wiki of Hydrogen Audio) AND if you like to listen to music at a rather loud volume, you may find these headphones a bit quiet at times, at least with engaging energetic music.
This is not uncommon, I must say. Other headphones in my Comparison Panel share this. Replay Gain decreases the volume quite a bit, and one needs really loud headphones to reach a very loud volume while using Replay Gain.
It will not be a problem for most people anyway, and I would definitely not classify these headphones as "not loud enough".
So, a last note for today, the call quality: I have skyped with the Product Manager for consumer products at ATUS (Audio-Technica U.S.), and I was using the SR5BT. I did not tell him that I was using those, and when I asked him how he was hearing me, he said very well.
I will try them in real phone calls as soon as I can and I will update the info here.
You are welcome to leave a comment, and if you have questions a good place for them will be the Discussion Thread.
Thanks for your detailed review! The more time I spend with them, the more I'm in love.
Thanks for another great review Giogio! You're doing great work, your reviews are the best source I have found!
Hi Giogio! 
I plan on using these headphones outdoors quite a lot  (bus, train, road, etc..) Would they do a decent job of blocking out the noise or should I search else where? 


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