The world's first wooden wireless headphones have a world-first hi-fi feature

The world's first wooden wireless headphones have a world-first hi-fi feature
(Image credit: Audio Technica)

Audio Technica's 60th anniversary celebrations continue. The firm has already reissued its classic Sound Burger portable turntable and launched a transparent deck into the bargain. And now it's launched the world's first pair of wireless headphones made from wood, and they boast a hi-fi feature not seen on any other wireless pair. Now that's how to celebrate a birthday!

This feature is called balanced stereo. This delivers a completely separate signal path to each earcup, meaning each audio channel is completely isolated from the other with no interference or crosstalk. That separation results in a purer listening experience.

Wired hi-fi cans have had this feature for decades, but it's never been found in a wireless model before. Usually, wireless models process incoming digital stereo signals using one amp and digital-to-analogue converter (DAC). But the ATH-WB2022 feature not one but two ESS DAC ES9038Q2M digital-to-analogue converters – one for the left channel, and one for the right.

That's not the only audio wizardry these cans are capable of. They support Sony's LDAC high-resolution codec, as well as AAC and SBC, too. And Multipoint comes as standard, letting you connect to multiple devices wirelessly over Bluetooth so you can seamlessly switch from listening to tracks on your laptop to taking a call on your phone without having to re-connect.

Battery life is nine hours – that's much less than the 30 hours industry standard offered by the likes of the Sony WH-1000XM5 (and way below the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless' staggering 60 hours), but all this audio processing takes its toll.

Battery run died on you? You can continue listening wired using the supplied USB cable – that's not the case with a lot of wireless headphones, which require juice even for wired listening.

And if you're not using them, the battery will shut down after five minutes of inactivity to preserve life.

The wooden earcups aren't just for show. The housings – made from a combination of solid flame maple, walnut, and mahogany woods – absorb acoustic vibrations, minimising distortion. They use the sustainable alcantara synthetic material for some elements too, giving them a soft, tactile feel.

As you have probably guessed, this combination of technology and materials doesn't come cheap. The ATH-WB2022 will set you back £2599.99 / $2700 (about AU$4200) when they launch next year.


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Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.