It has been a while since we last tested Audio Technica headphones. The ones we got this time around belong to a completely new segment called the S-series or Street Monitoring series targetted specifically at smartphone users who want a better audio experience. Since it is being marketed as a smartphone headphone, the pricing for most headphones in this series is also under the Rs 5,000 mark.
Build and Features
The Audio Technica ATH-S300 come in as many as four different colours. Apart from the black coloured headphones, the others comes with a two-tone design. The one we got has a navy blue - red colour scheme. The ATH-S300 are the on-ear/supra-aural type headphones and are dominated by a plastic build. In terms of look, the ATH-S300 looks more functional than fancy.
While the build around the cans is sturdy with the tilt and swivel mechanism, on the arms of the headphone, being smooth; the same cannot be said of the head band. As you go from the cans to the top, the plastic keeps getting progressively thinner and prone to easy bending. There is no foam padding on the head band. You need to be extremely careful when putting it in your bag. The ATH S300 comes with a 1.2m round cable, which has 3.5mm audio jack angled at 90 degrees.
The cans are surrounded by foam packed in a faux leather material. Once you snap the headphones on your ears, on the first couple of tries it will seem like the cans are pressing onto your ears - a fact which is more defined if you wear glasses. But as you spend more time with the S300, the fit gets more comfortable. Noise isolation is quite good thanks to the snug fit of the headphones. Issues such as warming of the ears and perspiration is prominent if you are listening to the headphones for long duration while commuting.
As mentioned above, the snug fit ensures that the ambient noise isolation is good. This is great when you are commuting. Of course, it isn’t active noise cancellation, so if you are travelling in the Mumbai trains for instance, the railway track noise can be overpowering at times. While on the road, you can hear horns of cars close to you, which is good as you need to be aware of the traffic situation around you while you're listening to your music on the road.
We tested the ATH S300 on our Intel test rig, low end smartphones (Xolo Q700, Karbonn Sparkle V) as well as on high end smartphones (Sony Xperia Z3, Moto X (Gen 2)). It is driven by two 40mm drivers. The audio quality is impressive for daily commute. It is most responsive in the mid-frequency range. For those looking at a booming bass, this is not the pair of headphones for you. Vocals and instruments were discernible and we did not notice any distortion at higher volumes. However, the volume levels on the low end smartphones is comparatively lower than on the higher end ones.
We did a preliminary soundcheck on Audiocheck.net. In the Frequency Response test, the frequencies from 20Hz to 17kHz were audible. Although the ATH S300 web-page lists the reponse from 10Hz to 24kHz, the higher and lower end of the spectrum were clearly clipped with the S300. In the Dynamic Range we could hear the test voice at 36db below full scale.
We listened to everything from Mozart classics to Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree’s progressive rock to Eminem’s hip-hop to Bollywood music. With the lower end phones, we had to tweak the equaliser settings in instances when the sound was muffled. With the higher end phones and our test rig, we kept the equaliser at normal. Instruments in Mozart’s classical fare sounded rich. In some of Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree live concerts, when there were a lot of instruments playing at a time with vocals, the sound separation wasn’t up to the mark. However majority of the songs we heard were not as dense and the output was impressive. The vocal in Eminem’s raps was clearly distinguishable from the the beat. Bass was tight in most rap and hip hop numbers. There were no issues at all with most of the Bollywood songs we tested.
Verdict and Price in India
On the whole, the ATH-S300 makes for a great pair of headphone if you are commuting a lot. The noise isolation provided is ample. While the higher and lower ends of the frequency spectrum are clipped, the output in the mid-frequency range is quite impressive. There is no inline microphone if you are looking for one. At Rs 3,199 the ATH S300 delivers the performance expected out of it. We would have liked to see a flat cable instead of the round one which tends to tangle.
The Great Diwali Discount!
Unlock 75% more savings this festive season. Get Moneycontrol Pro for a year for Rs 289 only.
Coupon code: DIWALI. Offer valid till 10th November, 2019 .