My purchase of the CKM-99 came during a visit to Bic Camera in Nagoya, where I was intending to pick up the CK90Pro's. With a great demo area, I was able to try out a bunch of different brands, and stumbled across the CKM99. I was first drawn to their aesthetics. Their finely polished titanium shells look great and reminded me of the triple BA CK100.
To be honest, I hadn't remembered reading much about the CKM-99, although there was a helpful flier claiming they had just been released in February (although looking it up later I believe they were originally released last October). Well anyways, despite my goal to get the CK90Pro's, the CKM99 drew me in with their very smooth sound. They also happened to be selling for 15,900yen, about $50 less than the CK90Pro's.
So I went ahead and made the impulse purchase. I was planning to post my immediate impressions, but decided to wait a couple weeks to make sure I could give a comprehensive opinion.
One thing is for sure, my impression of these haven't changed in the 2 weeks I've had them, which is to say they sound fantastic!
From what little information I have been able to read online, it seems the CKM line isn't the best regarded, as it is considered more "consumer" oriented. Well, I'm not sure about the rest of the line, but as Audio Technica's most expensive dynamic, they compare quite favorably to my 2 best dynamic earphones, my Miles Davis Tributes and IE8s.
They come in a nice enough cardboard box which contains a nice (though thick) leatherette pouch with 3 sets of eartips, a cleaning cloth, and an extension cable with L-jack. The cable on the phones itself is wonderful, with excellent strain reliefs, and best of all, SHORT! (.6m) If you like putting your ipod in your shirt pocket, you will really appreciate this! And even if you don't, the extension gives you the best of both worlds.
The finish of the CKM-99 is also excellent, with solid titanium shells that look and feel great, and are very light. Isolation and fit is also excellent, the best of any dynamic phone I have ever owned. The earbud-like shells contain small vents that tuck neatly into the ear and isolate surprisingly well on my subway commute. The lack of a chin-slider is unfortunate though.
As for the sound? Contrary to the "consumer" label, the CKM-99 are NOT bass monsters, being more balanced then either the Tributes or IE8. The mids are slightly-recessed, but the signature is overall pretty straight across the spectrum. Bass is fantastic, possibly the most suitable to my listening preferences of any earphones. Bass is present when necessary, but not overbearing. More importantly, they lack the thick sub-bass of the Tributes, which I find quite distracting.
While not a mid-dominant earphone, mids are present and the curve is definitely not v-shaped. Mids are liquid-smooth, but laid back, reminding me a lot of the IE8s in this regard.
Highs show a little bit of typical Audio Technica brightness, but by comparison to the CK90Pro or CK10 are way, way, way smoother and less fatiguing. Extension is good for a dynamic but lacks a bit of extension and sparkle.
Overall, I find the CKM-99 an exceeding smooth and pleasurable earphone. They are an excellent counterpart to my SE425s, which have a similar smoothness and more clarity, but lack the warmth and bass presence.
SMOOTH signature with no major flaws.
Clean and detailed sound for a dynamic earphone.
Fantastic build quality.
Excellent fit and isolation for a dynamic.
Slight brightness and sibiliance.
No chin slider.
|Newly developed hybrid metal structure and acoustic damper design deliver pure & clear audio|
|High-quality canal earphones in a titanium and stainless housing|
|Comfortable, ideal-fit earpieces provide maximum noise isolation and prevent sound leakage|
|Gold-plated mini-plug for exceptional corrosion resistance, superb conductivity and low noise|
|Driver Diameter||14 mm|
|Frequency Response||5 - 28,000 Hz|
|Maximum Input Power||200 mW|
|Cable||0.6 m Y-type|
|Connector||3.5 mm (1/8") mini-stereo, gold-plated|
|Weight||10 g / 0.35 oz|
Edited by takoyaki7 - 4/23/11 at 3:56pm