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Audio Technica CKS70 Appreciation and Impression Thread

post #1 of 176
Thread Starter 
OK, I have never started one of these threads before so if I do this wrong please be kind .

I have owned my pair of CKS70's for about a week and a half now and feel impressed enough that I thought they deserved an appreciation thread. I honestly feel that bang for the buck you can not get a better IEM for their specific qualities which are:
  1. Deep bass with nuances and detail I generally have only heard in the midrange and treble areas of headphones.
  2. A soundstage that rivals many full sized headphones.
  3. A slightly forward warm sounding detailed midrange.

This IEM actually reminds me of the classic Sennheiser sound with the exception of a more forward non-veiled midrange. In fact it is actually causing me to reconsider buying the HD600 or HD650 fullsize headphones. I thought I was fully on the bass light sparkly headphone side of the HP universe until these came along.

If you look at my list of positive qualities above you will notice I did not list the treble in the list. This is because this is the one area I think the phones are lacking (for those who like alot of treble sparkle and energy). The treble is solid but slightly recessed. This is mainly noticeable with instruments like cymbals. The upside to this is a headphone that is never fatiguing. So if you don't like sibilance you will probably list the treble as another positive aspect of the IEM, if you prefer to hear cymbals and instruments like them in all their glory you may find this area lacking.

So how do these stack up to my IEM and headphone collection of AD900, AD700, AT ES7, Monster Turbines, Klipsch S4i?

Bass presence and quantity - CKS70 > ES7 > AD900 > Monster Turbines > S4i > AD700
The CKS70 simply slays the field in this area have huge almost crushing bass at times. Note that my AD900 are 3rd in this scale but these are Phat Pad and dynamat modded headphones. In their original factory state they would be second last just ahead of my AD700.

Bass quality and detail - CKS70 > Monster Turbines > AD900 > ES7 > S4i > AD700
Once again the CKS70 simply outclass the field. They are the first headphones I have owned that actually make me listen to the bass critically and are the first headphone that makes me feel the bass. The MTB's are second because they have nice bass that never colors the rest of the music, an area the CKS70 does not succeed at as the bass does color the lower mids making them very warm sounding. The AD900 in it's modified state is a good 3rd place as it has pretty analytical and tight which is good for certain genre's.

Midrange presence and quantity - AD900 > AD700 > CKS70 > ES7/S4i > Monster Turbines
The AD900/700 headphones win this area hands down since this really is their wheelhouse. The AD900 have a very forward midrange that is quite neutral and very detailed. The AD700 are actually slightly recessed but this plays so well into their soundstage they deserve to be in second place. The CKS70 is third because it's has a nice slightly forward midrange thats stands out due to it's warmness. The ES7 and S4i are actually pretty even in presence and somewhat similar in signature as well. The Monster Turbines while decent are slightly behind the others due to a recessed sound and lack of detail.

Midrange detail and quality - AD900 > AD700 > CKS70/S4i/ES7 > Monster Turbines
Again this area is dominated by my AD series of cans as should be expected due to their fullsize and speciality in this area. Interestingly enough though I can't really pick a clear winner out of the CKS70, ES7, S4i as they all have some nice features and all have weaknesses that I don't like. The CKS70 is a touch to dark at times, whereas the ES7 and S4i both have a bit of a metalic sound to them in the midrange. All three are also less detailed than my AD headphones. But all three also have nice enough detail and quality to make them very enjoyable. The Monster Turbine again are not really bad in this area, they just don't do anything that really stands out.

Update: The midrange actually became more neutral after 80hrs of burnin. They are still warm but are no longer dark at times like they were during my initial impression write up.

Treble presence and quantity - AD900 > AD700 > S4i > CKS70/ES7/Monster Turbines
So once again my AD900 win this area as they are very bright and sparkly (so bright I did the dynamat mod to tone them down a notch, otherwise they would have been tied with the S4i due to sibilance issues). The CKS70 come tied for last for me in this area simply because I come from brighter sounding headphones and miss the treble at times. Having said that I have never had a headphone I could wear without getting ear fatigue like the CKS70 which is why I placed them in a tie with the ES7 and MTB's. I also think this area shows the inherent limitation of dyanmic driver headphones and their inability to be good at all areas equally.

Treble detail and quality - AD900 > S4i > AD700 > CKS70/ES7/Monster Turbines
This area is pretty much a carbon copy of the treble presence and quantity in terms of ratings. The thing to note is that the AD900 really outclass the other phones in this area. If this was a race the AD900 would finish a lap ahead of the rest of the field, followed by the S4i, the AD700 would be a good 20 paces behind, and the rest of the pack would be 10 paces behind the AD700.

Update: After extensive burnin I have to say that while the CKS70 is still tied for last, they did improve in this area at around the 80hr mark of burnin. The detail is not great but is better. Also these phones seem to respond exceptionally well to EQ'ing.

Soundstage - AD900/AD700 > CKS70 > ES7/S4i > Monster Turbines
This is the area that gets interesting. The AD900/700 are tied as they both have huge soundstages. If I were to use different venues to describe soundstage I would say thye AD series are a grand concert hall, the CKS70 are in a regular concert hall, the ES7/S4i are in a midsized bar geared towards music, and the Monster Turbines are in someone's basement. I LIKE CONCERT HALLS!

Build Quality - CKS70 > Monster Turbines > S4i
In terms of build quality I have only rated the IEM's. I would say the CKS70 is the most solidly built IEM, it has better strain points and a thicker more durable and less tangly cable. The Monster Turbines come in second due to the indestructable feel of the casing. The S4i is third but is well built as well.

Comfort - CKS70 > S4i > AD900 > AD700 > Monster Turbines > ES7
I actually put the CKS70 ahead of my fullsize cans simply because you forget they are there after putting them in and they stay put, plus they are designed in such a way you can't really over insert them in your ear so they don't ever have a sense of plugging the ear. The S4i's oval shaped tips make it a close runner up to the CKS70 as they also are pretty easy to forget once inserted, their only issue is the backwards design (thats how it feels to me anyway) and ability to be over inserted in the ear. The AD900 is third as it is a very comfortable full size headphone especially when stationary. The AD700 is close to the AD900 but a bit looser on the head making it prone to shifting aroound to much and almost falling off. The Monster Turbines are very comfortable but their weight is a bit more noticeable in comparison to the CKS70 and S4i. The ES7 is the only clear LOSER in this area as they are painfull on the ears in their factory state and even with the velour pads and headband bend mod are not comfortable for more than 1 hour of use.

Isolation - S4i > Monster Turbines > CKS70 > ES7 > AD900/700
The S4i provide the most isolation followed closely by the MTB's, with the CKS70 coming in third. Something to be noted is that the CKS70 and ES7 both don't handle windy conditions well. As should be expected the AD series phones have almost no isolation since they are open headphones.

Microphonics - AD900/700 > ES7 > Monster Turbines > CKS70/S4i
As should be expected the fullsized open phones don't really have this issue and the ES7 only suffer from it very lightly. The IEM's in this round up all suffer from this problem about the same but in slightly different ways. The CKS70 suffers the most from cloth rubbing and the least from footsteps when walking around, the S4i and MTB are pretty much the reverse of the CKS70. All three are helped by looping the cables over your ear but this is only easily done with the MTB's as the other two have design points that make it harder to do the ear loop trick which is why the MTB's are placed above the other two.

Accessories - S4i > Monster Turbines > CKS70
This is one area the other IEM's are better than the CKS70. The S4i has a small cleaner, a good set of tips, a neck slider, and clip along with a nice snap purse to hold everything (the S4i does not have the fancy metal case the S4 comes with), everything is VERY FUNCTIONAL. The MTB's have the neck slider and a somewhat bulkier but still servicable case. The CKS70 do not have a neck slider but have a clip and the little string drawn case is clumsy to use and not nearly as nice as the other IEM's.

So are there better IEM's with the best of qualities of these phones? Oh I am sure there are but they also cost 2-5 times as much as these and from what DTKZ, who actually was able to test these phones against the bigger bass IEM's (Bass ahoy thread) said they never placed worse than second in any one area that the bigger boys exceled. This makes them a clear winner in my books and worthy of this thread. BTW I would like to put a special thanks to DTKZ and his review, if it wasn't for his efforts I probably would have never heard or bought these beauties.
post #2 of 176
Glad to see this thread, and great work. I know I'm going to have to try a pair at some point! But my monthly spending has been totally out of control lately, and I have a pair of Ortofon e-Q7's on the way, not exactly cheap. So these will have to wait for a while!

But it's still great to keep up with these. I'll keep an eye on your thread.
post #3 of 176
Yes, now you have me curious. Will it never end? I like the S4s, but the CKS70s sound like they could be a very nice, relatively inexpensive option. Where is the best place to buy them? Just curious. I have the Cyclone PR1s and the Sleek SA1s arriving today. Ahhhhh!
post #4 of 176
Thread Starter 
I bought mine from Accessoryjack.com and they arrived in less than 7 business days. Excellent service from them and they were VERY REASONABLE price wise.
post #5 of 176
Thanks for the order info. At that price I couldn't help but put one in, and give them a try. I'll post what I find here.

Again, nice thread.

*so much for waiting a while*
post #6 of 176
Thread Starter 
I hope you enjoy them as much I am CN11. I look forward to your impressions especially since you own an IE8. I look forward to seeing if your findings are like DTKZ.
post #7 of 176
Thanks, I really have high hopes for them, with the reported smooth sound, and laid-back style (although I'm a bit paranoid I'll find treble which is too recessed, even for me). I do like a mellow treble sound, and therefore am prone to sensitivity to treble harshness it seems. The descriptions of the bass weight, impact, and texture/detail, as well as the nice open soundstage, all are positive though...And then there's the price.
post #8 of 176
Thread Starter 
The treble is continuing to improve on these as I listen to them so I suspect a solid burnin will be in order much like other IEM's.

I did forget to mention in my review, these phones really take advantage of a headphone AMP. I like them straight out of my Ipod but they really shine when I hook them up to my amp (keep in mind my Amp is a bit on the bright side). They also sound better out of my Auzentech Forte which has a headphone quality amp in it.
post #9 of 176
That's great news about the amp benefit, because I just recently got an ALO Rx, which does detail very very nicely! They also greatly deepen bass from any phone I throw at it, like the CKS70 will need any help in that regard.....
post #10 of 176
Thread Starter 
Not that I'm a fan of using an EQ but I have played around with one with these due to my withdrawal from sparkly high headphones and I have to say these phones respond very well to EQing. Also if anyone noticed my response in the Bass Ahoy thread where I mentioned that the 16KHz did not seem to to affect these phones, that has now changed, they are now responding to this EQ setting very well. This seems to point to the need for extended burnin as that was only a few days ago I posted that finding and it has now changed.

BTW CN11, I think your going to have alot of fun next week . Your amp sounds similar to mine in regards to detail. BTW mine also makes the bass better (way tighter and when it slams it SLAMS). If I can find the name of the ambient track I was listening to a couple days ago I'll post it here. The track simply shook me whenever a heartbeat in the track beat. The same heartbeat with my AD900 and S4i was noticeable but simply did not have the same effect emotionally or physically.
post #11 of 176
Thread Starter 
OK I have clearly not let these burnin enough yet. I left them run over night and there has been a marked change in the sound signature, They have started to shift a bit in the midrange going from a very warm IEM to one that is a bit more neutral, still warm but not as much. The treble has also started to gain more prominance but with zero sibilance. The bass is also continuing to settle down just a bit more. I will let these burnin every night until I notice no more changes sonically and then I will update my review to reflect the final sound signature. But as these sit right now, they are nicer than every phone I own including my AD900. They don't have quite the detail of the AD900 but musically they are just nicer to listen to.

Oh one other thing to note. I am using the sony hybrid tips on these with the tip pulled pulled to the IEM's second position which give them the larger hole opening possible, the stock tips are OK as well but the sony tips just add that extra something and they also seem to seal just a bit better.
post #12 of 176
So I take it you are enjoying them much more than the Klipsch Image S4's?
post #13 of 176
Thread Starter 
By a large margin. They are just nicer to listen to, they a fuller sound thats has no shrillness at all (I guess I am willing to sacrifice a little detail in the treble in exchange for comfort) and the soundstage is just so much bigger. Right now the only issue I have is that these isolate to much for at home which is frustrating my family because I don't hear them.

I am seriously starting to think I need a pair of HD600 for home use or at the least I need to give them a serious listen if I can to make a decision. As I like the sound of these IEM's so much I am wanting this for my open headphones.
post #14 of 176
That "large margin" mention forced me to order them as well. Now, I have to sell something to pay for them, but I have some ideas, as always.
post #15 of 176
I'm just realizing this will be my first bit of Audio Technica gear... nice. I've been tempted by the ATH-CK10, and ATH-M50/ESW9/ES10 closed headphones.
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