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Audio-Technica ATH-CK10 Portable In-Ear Headphones

Posted

Pros: Resolving in spades, Airy Treble without peakiness, great imaging and separation, very good build quality

Cons: Not traditionally "musical", lacks body and note weight, requires deep insertion and tip picky, timbre + texture may be offputting

Background:

The Audio-Technica CK10 is a dual BA IEM that was released in 2008, back then in those simpler times, CIEMs were a highly niche market, three BA drivers per ear was considered a lot, and $500 on a pair of IEMs would be considered preposterous. The market that the CK10 faced then is a completely different world from IEMs today, and given the last review for these here was done nearly 5 years ago, how have they held up?

 

Gear Used:

HM650 Balanced Card - Source

Sony MDR-EX1000

Campfire Audio Orion

Campfire Audio Jupiter

 

Build and Fit:

The overriding impression one initially gets with these is that they are a very high quality product, the housings are absolutely tiny, with a polished metal faceplate and tough rubber otherwise, the cable is thick, made up of rubbery material, with a straight jack 3.5mm connector on the other side that has plenty of strain relief, unfortunately, the cables are non-removable, and the strain relief on the earpiece side is not stuck to the cable itself, which is a lingering concern.

 

In terms of fit, these are intended to insert very deeply into your ears, almost ety-style deep, with very small tips, large tips + shallow fit lead to severe loss of nearly all bass, personally I find the deep insertion very comfortable, but YMMV.

 

 

 

IMG_20160828_144724.jpg 339k .jpg file

 

Sound:

So how do these sound? In a few words, unique, clear, and unlike anything else on the market today.

 

Starting on the low end, the most striking thing that the CK10s convey is their bass, these are bass-light even with very deep insertion, with very little body and mediocre extension, a fact which is highly apparent next to the EX1000 and the Jupiter. In return for that, the CK10s low end has extremely quick decay, punchy, and is blazing fast, able to separate individual notes in a way that very little IEMs are able to do. While I personally prefer the bass in the EX1000 which exchanges some of the speed for oodles of note weight, texture, extension and slam, I could see some prefering the opposite. Also, macro-dynamics in general are significantly behind the Jupiter and EX1000.

 

In the midrange, these are characterised by clarity and detail, which is brought on by the fantastic imaging and separation the CK10s provide, the stage is large for a IEM, a bit smaller than the EX1000 and easily beating the Campfire IEMs in that regard, individual notes are very well defined in their own space allowing one to focus on individual instruments in recordings. It's very easy to pick up micro-detail in the CK10s, beating the Orion, matching (maybe slightly beating) the EX1000, and only slightly behind the Jupiter. Conversely though, this can make the presentation seem distant and somewhat unnatural, as if the dual BAs struggle to fill up the soundstage, the EX1000 are much better in this regard with filling up it's larger soundstage, making for a more coherent presentation. Another point that detracts from the CK10's musicality is the rather unusual texture/timbre they present, somewhat as if the notes are smoothed over, even if detail is still present. This is problematic for rock/metal, where having some more "grit" is desirable, again, something that the CK10 loses out significantly to the EX1000 (with it's natural texture) on.

 

The CK10s pick up emphasis in the treble, being brighter than both the Campfires while presenting an interesting comparison with the EX1000, which also has a treble emphasis. Generally, the CK10 will appear brighter than the EX1000, with more treble air present in MOST recordings, however, due to the EX1000s peakiness at the 5k and 7k marks, cymbals will be "hotter" on the EX1000, that is not to say the CK10s are completely problem free in the treble/presence region, they pick up sibilance rather easily, but the unusual texture/timbre, which presents problems in the midrange for some instruments, helps to mitigate how painful the sibilance can be, compared to EX1000.

 

A thing to add about these IEMs, if you love Trance/EDM in general, GET THESE. The timbre/texture issues become much less of a problem, while the fantastic imaging, separation and speed of the CK10s become highly useful tools to enjoy the music.

 

Conclusion:

Are the CK10s all-rounders? Not really. But they are a highly capable IEM with unique qualities that make them ace for certain genres, even many, many years after their discontinuation, the CK10s still deliver aspects that are very, very hard to overcome by modern, much more expensive competition.

Posted

Pros: watery mids, airy highs, revealing, detailed, exceptional for trance and similiar music, excellent for background listening or sleeping in.

Cons: unnatural and flat sounding, not suitable for rock.

These are most likely the best IEM's you will ever find for trance, let me explain, firstly it is as if they are fine-tuned and sonically crafted for Trance and similiar genres, all the vices you heard in these IEM's in other genres suddenly become virtues and they simply come alive and you are swept away.

Secondly, there is something about the sound signature in these IEM's that is trance inducing, I believe it lies in the very flat and true to life frequency response and satin smooth mids, it's like listening to water, like a band playing on a misty lake, this quality is very fine and quite relaxing, unlike other IEM's I can listen to these for hours and I even fell asleep in them listening at low volumes.

 

Likewise I find them quite suitable for classical thanks to the very high detail retreival and true to life frequency response especially somewhere up around 6kHz-10kHz.

 

Next genre, I listened to the album Homogenic by Björk, I found this album remarkable on these IEM's.

_______

 

Next genre, rock, vocals..... hm?  what's this?  Not so good here, every texture I'm used to is smoothed over, sand turns into silk, frost turns into water, marble into milk.... you get the idea, they lack livliness and aren't acoustically involving.

Listening to my Rock music as I'm writing this I had "Broder Daniel - Work" playing, and then halfway through the track I switched my ck10's with my stripped MDR-E888's, I can instantly hear everything I was missing, the vocals, percussion and electric guitars all sound more raw, acoustic and real now, much better for this kind of music.  So, I will give the ck10's a 7/10 for rock, and 10/10 for Trance.  I can live with this vice, they have a very high sound quality, so they will sound OK with any genre, for sure, and you can't expect 10/10 sound in portable audio.

_____

 

The accessories is nothing to write home about, and the cable looks pretty normal to me, I've seen better cables.

 

Design is top notch, it feels so intuitive and simple to hook them over your ear, I achieved a perfect fit immediately.  They are so small, and the dark-teal coloured metal covers almost make them look like jewelery in your ears.

 

Comfort and isolation is very good, I fell asleep in them.

 

Build-quality seems superior, I feel like I could go jogging with these in the rain, take them to the beach, the snow, or a concert, I feel like they'll hold up.

 

 

________

 

Verdict:

 

For the price, I'd only recommend these to someone that listens to trance everyday, or someone that wants to make a long-term investment in a pair of high sound-quality IEM's that will not fail them.

 

If you want raw, edgy, lifelike, acoustic sound or open-window transparency, don't look here, my $75 stripped MDR-E888's I used in this review outperform them here.

 

If you want overall high sound-quality, mids so watery it feels like you could drink them, and highs so airy and detailed they're like... air... you should look here.

_________

 

curiosa:

 

- I listen to music at high volumes, these seem to have tamed my high volume listening habits, so I think these IEM's are healthy for me, the flat FR and high detail at low volumes makes the listening experience fine.

 

- Deep insertion results in better sound.

_____________________

 

Most Exceptional Tracks

 

Tiesto - Adagio For Strings

Paul Oakenfold - Gamemaster (original mix)

ap-aqua.line.spirit

Dj Murasame - Scripted Connection -original extended-

Hilary Hahn - Paganini Caprice No. 24*

Björk - bachelorette*

 

 

Least Exceptional Tracks

 

my entire rock collection.

 

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lh3D_ujMjtM&fmt=18

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-cQ3N-Ok7U&fmt=18

 

 

 

Posted

Pros: Soundstage, clarity, detail

Cons: bit pricey now, bass quantity if that is your thing

Well what do I really need to say that the title doesn't? These IEM's are the best universals I have ever owned or listened to. They are the complete package for me, they fit great, isolate well, have a build quality higher than anything else I have ever owned and have sound to die for. They are the most enjoyable universals I have owned and I know from the minute I listened to the loaner pair I got from ljokerl last June that someday I would own them. I remember putting them in, playing a song and knowing that they were special, something that one day I would own, didn't know when or how but I would get them eventually.

 

I now own a pair of JH5's and those are more natural sounding and "fun" with a more cohesive sound as well as a custom fit. In these regards they do surpass the CK10's and overall I feel the JH5's are better however the CK10's are by no means slaughtered. They hold up quite respectably and I still pop them in every now and then just to experience that almost holographic soundstage again. 

Posted

Pros: Extreme technical capabilities

Cons: Timbre and character

I won't write too much about this because there's much that has already been said about it. I've had this for a long time so the new toy syndrome has worn off, and boredom has set in. However recently I've been appreciating its sound more, and decided to share some thoughts.

If you like detail, speed, sparkle and great microphonics, then this is your iem. It is a specialised tool that enables you to comb through any track for deficiencies if you want. This comes with a downside though, and it may bother some people. The timbre is not suitable for every genre, sounding unnatural and sometimes clinical.

 

This is perhaps the best earphone for trance and other forms of electronic music. The speed and detail both complement the artificial perfection of the genre, and the isolation truly allows the listener to float off into another world. The sound signature is very well suited, with quick bass that never fatigues or congests. The highs are magically sparkly, giving the feeling of space, and the soundstage is quite good as well.

 

Most other genres are certainly performed to a high degree of technical ability, but whether you will enjoy it as your only earphone is up to you. I find it enough, but there are just some moments where I want something different.

 

Build quality, comfort and isolation are all near perfect. The plug could be right angled, and the other two are arguably enough for 99% of people 99% of the time.

Audio-Technica ATH-CK10 Portable In-Ear Headphones
Description:

Equipped with a dual balanced armature driver and a compact design that fits perfectly and comfortably in the ears, the ATH-CK10 is one of the top-quality in-ear headphones on the market. With its high-impedance design, the ATH-CK10 can also provide truly impactful bass. The cord fits comfortably and securely around the ears. Ideal for use with all audio sources, including MP3 and other portable players, they are supplied with small, medium and large interchangeable earpieces for a comfortable, custom fit.

Details:
DetailValue
BrandAudio-Technica
EAN4961310100070
FeatureIncludes hard case and S/M/L earpieces
Height0.5 inches
Length0.29 inches
Weight0.2 pounds
Width1.96 inches
Labelaudio-technica
List Price$399.95
Manufactureraudio-technica
ModelATH-CK10
MPNATHCK10
Package Quantity1
Product GroupCE
Product Type NameCONSUMER_ELECTRONICS
Publisheraudio-technica
Studioaudio-technica
TitleAudio-Technica ATH-CK10 Portable In-Ear Headphones
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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