Audio-Technica's stylish 60th anniversary celebrations continue apace, with the Japanese brand unveiling what it claims to be the world's first wooden wireless headphones that also feature the world's first hi-fi capability.

The company resurrected its iconic Sound Burger portable turntable and also unveiled a set of premium clear turntables last week as part of its anniversary festivities, but these revolutionary new ATH-WB2022 tins might be the most interesting of the three introductions.

The limited-edition headphones have built-in balanced stereo, a feature loved by audiophiles and until now only available on high-end wired boxes that must also be used in conjunction with balanced headphones in the same way.

Having balanced stereo means the boxes have a totally separate signal path to each earphone, resulting in limited interference and no crosstalk.

The ATH-WB2022 achieves this by integrating two ESS DAC ES9038Q2M digital-to-analog converters, one dedicated to the left channel and one to the right channel.

The headphones also support Sony's high-resolution LDAC codec, as well as support for AAC and SBC, while built-in multipoint support lets you connect the ATH-WB2022 to multiple devices via Bluetooth and seamlessly switch between them.

The striking wooden ear cups don't just look good, with the solid material of flame maple, walnut and mahogany used for the cabinets all combining to absorb acoustic vibrations while minimizing distortion.

Unsurprisingly, this feature set is somewhat expensive, with the ATH-WB2022 commanding a hefty price tag of €2,700 / £2,599 (around AU$4,200) when it launches next year.

Review: ATH-WB2022 presents a breakthrough for wireless headphones... at a hefty price

Audio-Technica ATH-WB2022 above product image

(Image credit: Audio-Technica)

Anyone who has listened to music through headphones through a balanced audio setup will know how the eye-opening added clarity makes it hard to go back to a normal set of cans afterwards.

A set of wireless headphones capable of this functionality has long been the holy grail for audiophiles looking to go wire-free, but the closest we've gotten so far have been boxes incorporating a better-quality single DAC.

Make no mistake, Audio-Technica pulled off quite a feat here, but there's a significant gain in that sound quality - we could see some of the best over-ear headphones available, but we'll have to test them out to be sure. naturally.

Unsurprisingly, powering the dual DACs requires a lot of juice, and despite having separate rechargeable batteries for each channel, the ATH-WB2022 can only offer nine hours of playback when fully charged, a massive drop from the 60+ hours. that the Sennhesier Momentum 4 Wireless works for.

It's probably a compromise, however, that many audio purists will be happy to consider for that sonic nirvana along with that exorbitant price tag.

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