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Trying to pick between the DB2 and CK10, need some advice

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I am trying to find a good IEM to replace my incredibly old Sennheiser CX300.  Tonight is the first night I've done any serious research on IEMs, but I've spent a couple hours looking over the forum and chasing links across the internet.


I've pretty much settled on one of these two IEMs.  Considering I am a neophyte I really would like to get something that people consider a reference point, and these two IEMs are near the top of that list for my budget.


These will be used with an iPhone.  They will never be amped.


Here is specifically what I'm trying to figure out:


1.  How is the DB2 build quality?  I carry my current IEMs in my pocket all day, usually wrapped around my phone, with my wallet and keys.  They take an inordinate amount of abuse, and I don't see myself changing this habit.  If the CX300 has handled it for years, it sounds like the CX10 can, but can the DB2?


2.  Can AccessoryJack be trusted?  They seem to be the last site left that has the CX10 anywhere near $250, and there have been threads suggesting they are legit, but I am wondering if anyone has specifically bought from them and can comment.


3.  Can anyone describe the sound signature in comparison to headphones, and not other IEMs?  The headphone I keep coming back to over and over again is the Senn HD600 (even over the HD650), and am wondering if maybe there is something else I should be considering based on sound signature alone.

post #2 of 9

I assume you mean the dba-02's.


1. The dba-02's build quality is fairly good they don't feel like they will break it is more that they don't feel quite as well finished as other high end iem's.

Also if your cx300's handled it for years the dba-02's will definitely handle it.


2. AccessoryJack can be trusted as many head-fiers have ordered from there before.


3. The hd600 is fairly similar to the dba-02's, but the dba-02's  have a slightly more forward mids and a slightly more aggressive treble,

but all in all the dba-02 is closer to the hd600 as the ck 10 has less bass and a large treble spike.


Basically the ck10 has better build quality, a treble spike, less bass and slightly more detail compared to the dba-02.

Edited by jackmccabe - 4/23/11 at 4:26am
post #3 of 9
oh, so ck10 has more detail than dba-02? now thats interesting.
post #4 of 9
post #5 of 9
I have auditioned the CK10 briefly before in one of my local audio shops, before having the chance to own the DBA-02 as my main IEM for the past 5 months, which I had just recently sold it off to someone else, not because I did not enjoyed or liked the DBA-02, but because I don't actually spend that many hours outside commuting to and forth between destinations, so I didn't see any reason to keep the DBA-02 when I'm already satisfied with my current CK100s. (I'm currently using the CK100 as my main portable pair of IEM, while relying on my ESW9 cans occasionally as an alternative backup in terms for my portable listening gears)

I can probably elaborate abit on both the CK10 and DBA-02. Both of them do share quite similar sound signature traits, but I won't say if they are similar enough to be considered twins separated at birth though. In my own words, CK10 probably has a more subtle/revealing nature and able to reveal more micro-details than DBA-02, having more of that neutral or balanced frequency response across the spectrum range (in respect, I would say the CK10 is much more similar in genes when compare to phones like CK9/ER-4 if you would like a direct comparison from me) while the DBA-02 is a much more balanced phone that allows you to enjoy your music more, with more quantity of the lower-end response in regards to bass (the quantity amount is still no-where near top-tier dynamic-based IEMs like IE8/FX700 though) but definitely sufficient in my books, that makes it a much more pleasant IEM to enjoy if your music do showcase them such as R&B/rap/hip hop genres, compared to the CK10 which has quite lean bass (but still tight and controlled with decent extension) and to some people, a rather lackluster quantity of the bass impact in order to be able to enjoy these genres.

In terms of midrange qualities, both CK10 and DBA-02 have rather neutral and flat mids, terms of frequency response. They have this aggressive, Grado-ish signature with an upfront/mid-forward presentation, so if you hate this kind of forward-sounding signature, with an energetic crisp-sounding highs with treble spike around the upper-mids then both phones are probably not your kind of IEM. In terms of upper-mids and highs, the CK10 was able to demonstrate a much more airy, clean and articulate in terms of the sound texture compared to DBA-02, but that's only according to my own pair of ears, so your mileage may vary. Both phones have quite an impressive degree of transparency, instrumental separation and precision speed, probably only second next to phones like Etymotic Research's ER-4, which still gets mentioned in some of the many well-known reviews written by the regular contributors on this forum these days.

Does that make either one a better choice over the other? Not really in my books, both IEMs are actually very enjoyable choices according to my own ears, but the reason I went for Fischer Audio DBA-02 instead of the CK10, was because I was already using the CK9, and was surprised at how similar the CK9 and CK10 were in terms of sound signature upon listening, except for the difference in that CK10 has a much better ability in showcasing better imaging, instrumental separation and those refined highs in terms of treble, some of these features which the CK9 was quite lacking of when compared to its newer dual-driver BA successor. Also for the fact the DBA-02 was much cheaper to acquire in my country when I was looking at new phones to upgrade over my CK9 back last year, so the modest street price really helps when I was making my choice over the CK10. (even though I'm a self-professed Audio-technica fan myself)

In terms of build quality/comfort fit, the CK10 definitely gets my vote though over the DBA-02, as I'm not really fond of that braided cable on the DBA-02, and if you search around you would realised that in terms of cable build quality, the CK10/CK100 gets mentioned alot on the forums by many reviewers for being the standard benchmark when it comes to excellent cable build, and currently being an owner of the ATH-CK100, I can't agree more with them.

Edited by Haonan - 12/11/11 at 9:24am
post #6 of 9
That`s an excellent write up! Cleared a lot of things for me!

Thank you!
post #7 of 9

The CK10 is a bit better in several areas.  The CK10 has more dynamic rannge, more texturing, and a more filled out note over the lower half of the audio spectrum.  The CK10 has better transparency and sounds more real due to having a more fleshed out and articulated note.  You will hear more with the CK10.  The presentation of sound is more balanced, more natural with the CK10.  The CK10 has a better sound stage as well.  The frequency response of the CK10 is flatter with the only caveat that narrow but significant treble spike at 10kHz.  If you can tame it, the CK10 is a lot better.  Comply foam tips can do the job too.  The build quality is superior on the CK10 as the materials are simply a little better.


When I owned the DBA-02, I did not own them long.  There were certain things that grated against me that lessened what the earphone could have been.  The compressed sound stage is an issue.  It's the same reason I didn't keep my RE252.  It's great for bringing forward subtle sounds in the track, but it's still compression and shouldn't be there.  It's better to have more dynamic range and articulate it better to bring forth the details.  The high frequency driver in the DBA-02 is nice.  It's fast, aggressive, nearly ruler flat in response, and extended.  The low frequency driver is the issue.  It is very BA like.  By that I mean decay is very short and does lean out the sound a bit, enough so where even the midrange sounds lean.  There is very little decay and very little texturing.  You get a fast, peaky, aggressive note but little else.  When it comes to fleshing out sound, this level of "cleanliness" hinders the level of information that can be presented as well as it sucks out some sense of realism for a more ghostly sense.  The SE530 suffered from this too.  For most people, the level of speed, and the shear amount of detail pulled forward due to the compressed dynamics is impressive enough to go "wow!" and like the earphone.  For some, that's enough.  For me, I've had more and look for it.  Another big issues is at the time I had the RE-Zero.  A/B listening didn't have me picking the DBA-02 over the RE-Zero.  If I couldn't justify the $160 DBA-02 over the RE-Zero, I simply couldn't keep it.


Between the CK10 and DBA-02, my point of view is simple.  The CK10 is significantly superior.  When I listen to the CK10, I see very few faults.  If I were to pick out things, it would be that treble peak, just a slightly lean bottom end (like more heft and decay), and wish the sound stage was a little better.  With the DBA-02 I saw a lot more issues like the lack of texture/articulation due to the very short decay which made for a lean and somewhat ghostly presentation, the compressed dynamic range that made quiet information medium which creates a "noisy" environment, and the significant lack of sound stage both due to the lack of dynamics and texturing.  I did like the speed of the DBA-02 and the aggressiveness of the note is good if you want it.

post #8 of 9
Another excellent write up! eek.gif
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies.  Haonan's and mvw2's responses are pulling me in completely opposite directions, but more information is always a good thing.  The CK10 sounds like it is more my style, also because I noticed that the bass response on headphones isn't as big a deal on commutes where I use these because the train itself provides a lot of the "physical" base that headphones lack. As much as I like agressive, attack-heavy headphones like Grado's for rock, I tend to listen to my CX300 a little louder than I should, and considering I tend to crank up my Grado's compared to my other headphones I fear for my ears if I start doing the same with my IEMs.














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