The Head-Fi revolution is over a decade old, and some of us are old enough to remember when a number of the biggest speaker manufacturers threw their hats into the ring pretty early on. Some of them, like Bowers & Wilkins, stayed the course and eventually found success with products like the PX8 and Pi7 S2, but that level of success took a lot of time and money. Many others failed because they did not understand that the two markets are very different.
Fast forward to 2023 and we’ll be in the abyss that is the wireless headphones and earphones market. both are dominated by Apple, Bose, Sony and a number of high-end manufacturers such as Sennheiser, Bowers & Wilkins, Klipsch, Yamaha, Grado Labs, 1More, Jabra, HiFiMAN and Focal.
The latest to join the royal rumble are good people Atlantic Technology; The New England-based speaker manufacturer has been in the game since 1989 and has done quite well in the home theater category, but their foray into the headphone category only started in 2020.
That first wave consisted of the HR280 wired headphones, the HAL1 wired IEMs, and the BT210 wireless headphones. In early 2022, Atlantic Technology introduced the FS-BTWS582 wireless headphones to complete the lineup.
The new Atlantic Technology TWS1 (not to be confused with the Edifier TWS1) wireless earbuds are their first pair of wireless earbuds, and their marketing materials were understated about their capabilities.
The TWS1 is being marketed by Atlantic as “the ultimate active lifestyle headphone,” which is a bold statement for any wireless headphone, but even more so when you consider the $189 asking price.
My immediate thought was that they were tempting fate if TWS1 didn’t deliver on that promise. Having reviewed several “sports” headphones that were waterproof and managed to stay in place during fairly vigorous physical activity, but were less than ideal sonically, I began the review process wondering which way the Atlantic wireless headphones would go.
The earcups are medium-sized and have a series of sleeves that are attached with a rubber band around the outside of the earcup, which also helps with stability, as it grips the ear better than the polymer shell, and the sleeve fits well into the fold. the ear
The earcups have a distinct advancement that allows the earcup body to sit behind the ear canal for a better fit and comfort, although this means the TWS1 have to rely more on ANC performance as the passive isolation is only moderately effective. :
Another positive design feature is that the TWS1 are lighter than average for the category, making them more comfortable during longer listening sessions.
The oval case is made of black polymer and features a single LED on the front and a USB Type-C charging port on the back just after the hinge. A large golden Atlantic Technology logo adorns the lid. matching the gold accents on the headphones giving the overall package a nice cohesive feel.
With an IP67 rating, the TWS1 is resistant to submersion and can also withstand a lot of dust. unless you intend to wear them in a sandblasting chamber that may exceed their rating.
The charging case is not waterproof, however, and is unlikely to survive a dip in a pool or prolonged exposure to the elements.
TWS1 uses a Bluetooth 5.2 receiver and provides support for aptX Adaptive and is backwards compatible with aptX; Android users should be happy about it. Apple users are also well served by AAC support; we had no problems connecting the iPhone 14 and iPad Air, but there is no mention of AAC support in the documentation.
The drivers are 7mm dynamic units with 100dB/mW sensitivity in a titanium coated cone. Each earcup has a pair of MEMS microphones for calls and ANC use.
Battery life was approx 8.5 hours per charge; we test the test at least three times with each review sample to obtain a reliable average score. The charging case provides almost four full charges before it needs to be recharged, and it’s a very solid performer.
Charging times will vary, but the headphones support fast charging; we were able to log 60 minutes of listening time on a 15-minute charge. The case is also Qi compatible for wireless charging if you prefer, but we found it to be quite a bit slower than USB performance when charging the case.
The earphones took about 2 hours to fully charge, while the case took about 3 hours to fully charge.
The Atlantic Technology app is available for both Android and Apple by searching for the appropriate Atlantic Technology stores. The app offers a pretty strong set of features, but the layout was somewhat confusing.
To view the battery status, you need to open the app and click on the ellipsis in the upper left corner, which then displays the option to reselect devices, the user manual, and the option to update the firmware, along with an image of the TWS1 and battery status. both for the headphones and the case.
Back in the main menu, the user is presented with a large image of the TWS1 earphones at the top (seemingly the ideal place for battery status), then options for equalizer, noise cancellation and ambient mode adjustment, workout timer and burn. in the instrument.
Tapping on the gear in the top-right corner will bring up options for Side Beep, Gesture Control, Ear Detection, and Multi-Connect.
The equalizer menu has a seven-band EQ for those who want to manually adjust the sound signature, but also features AI-tune, which adjusts the TWS1 based on the listeners’ hearing profile and ambient noise level in the immediate listening area.
While wearing the headphones, the listener undergoes a hearing test and the sound signature is adjusted based on the test result.
For those less inclined to use an app, the music control functions, ANC and countdown timer can be controlled via the earcups’ touch sensors.
The inclusion of the AptX Adaptive codec allows the TWS1 to deliver approx CD-quality audio over Bluetooth, which most other protocols struggle with; aptX Adaptive can be adjusted in real-time by changing the bitrate and adjusting the quality. The codec can be measured from 279 kbps to 420 kbps for CD and high quality music.
It may seem inferior to aptX or AptX HD, but the reality is that aptX Adaptive is a more efficient codec and is much more effective at minimizing dropouts when listening to music.
It was also the first Bluetooth codec capable of transmitting 24-bit/96kHz files wirelessly.
The decision to support AptX Adaptive gives the TWS1 an advantage over Apple’s AirPods if your source device supports the codec.
Unfortunately, the biggest phone providers have been slow to adopt aptX Adaptive, so many are likely using source devices that force the TWS1 to fall back to aptX or aptX HD, denying it the ability to handle CD-quality audio.
That’s why I did some of my testing using Sony and OnePlus phones with aptX Adaptive support, and some of my testing with Samsung and Apple phones that didn’t. The S20 supports aptX HD, while the iPhone 14 only supports AAC.
There is an increase in detail that is evident when using aptX Adaptive, but the other signature characteristics of the TWS1 remained consistent across all phones when using the same source material.
The low end has some emphasis around 65Hz, gradually diminishing as you move from mid-bass to upper bass. Bass depth and definition is quite good, with no noticeable roll-off until around 25Hz, where it transitions into a less defined impact and loss of clarity.
This gives the TWS1 sufficient impact and overall definition, with the mid-bass sharing the height of the sub-bass throughout most of its range. The mid-bass has more texture than expected and is quite tight, big enough not to match the boom, although my personal taste would be to smooth back the 300Hz to 600Hz range a bit as it’s a bit cleaner. is sounded with a gentle adjustment.
The lower midrange rises slightly but remains generally flat between 600 Hz and 2 kHz; at this point there is a decline before another rise as we enter the lower triple. Clarity and resolution are above average in the range.
The 2kHz dip prevents female vocals from pushing their male counterparts, and it’s hard not to notice that male vocalists sound much fuller as a result.
The guitar notes have enough edge and growl and great tempo; rock and pop are quite well served by these headphones.
The transition to the lower treble and the aforementioned tapping and upper lines convey notes of some violin energy and tonal precision; One can definitely use the EQ to add some emphasis to this range if you feel you need it.
The initial emphasis on the lower treble quickly falls back and creates a slight distortion between 4 – 7 kHz, giving the TWS1 a very polite sound. There is energy above 7kHz, but it never reaches the mid-bass level and peaks in the 13kHz range before hitting my 14kHz cutoff.
This adds a bit of unevenness to the treble, and the result is that most songs sound good, if perhaps a little treble, while occasionally I’d hit a track that was quite lost to the notch and sounded oddly dull as a result.
This may be due to poorly recorded or mastered tracks rather than the tuning of the TWS1 itself, but be aware that it can be a little forgiving.
The soundstage is well-proportioned but not overly large in any dimension, causing orchestral pieces to sound crowded at times, but instrument separation is quite good and helps define placements well. Imaging is good with easy movement tracking and well-defined positions in space.
Except for the unevenness in the treble range, the Atlantic Technology TWS1 offers quite pleasant listening in most genres of music. Bass response won’t please bass heads, but it’s firm and well defined above 25Hz overall.
The build quality is pretty solid and it stands up to the elements admirably.
The most important feature is the introduction of aptX Adaptive and the ability to adjust CD quality streaming as more manufacturers integrate aptX Adaptive into their devices. Take that Apple.
Where to buy? $189 at shop.atlantictechnology.com | Amazon:
Related reading: The Atlantic Technology 8600e home theater speaker system is massive
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