Ds, I'm already on it. Been using the Sony Hybrids with my CKN70s and the sound is definitely better. Now get ready for a long post guys. It's time to compare my CKN70s with my Sonys.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Now I know why I thought the CKN70s could be my new favorite IEMs. They sound a lot like my current fave XBA-30s. Both have a similar balanced presentation and complement each other well. The Sonys show their armature side and sound like a relaxed, cleaner, and smoother version of the ATs.
The bass on the XBA-30s is flawless. It is as complete a bass I could ever ask for. Body, texture, impact, fullness, they have it all and excel at every aspect of bass. However, the CKN70s have managed to blow my mind with the same level of bass. If the CKN70s are dynamics with armature-like speed and control to the bass, the XBA-30 are armatures with dynamic-like fullness and decay. Both have bass that reminds me of moving armatures like the e-Q5, which combines the best qualities of dynamics and BA in its tech and sounds effortless. Ultimately though, neither the Sonys or ATs stray too far from their tech roots, and only edge each other out in the areas they should. The bass on the ATs has slightly better punch and decay, while the Sonys bass is more surgically precise and clean.
The mids on the XBA-30s are sweet and full like the CKN70s with a touch more clarity and liquid smoothness. Vocals are isolated nice and clear and sound sublime. I feel like I'm in the same room with the singer. The Sonys are just absolutely perfect with music that focuses on the mids. In comparison, the CKN70s mids are slightly drier and more intimate. I do enjoy rock with the AT's a little more. Their extra punch and decay beefs up the drums, and guitars have more presence, with more crunch and better reverb.
The biggest difference between the two is in the highs. The XBA-30s have a lighter note and are more delicate sounding. Their highs will never draw your focus from the mids or bass, and just perfectly complements them in the music. Sibilance and fatigue is nonexistent. Don't think for a second that the Sonys are recessed or laid back, though. The highs are in line with the rest of the music, they just exhibit incredible control and smoothness. The extension and detail is all there and easily seen, if you bother looking. On the other hand, the highs on the CKN70s are forward with great energy and crispness, and will not be ignored. Cymbals sound amazing with an effortless airy shimmer and crash. The ATs are more in your face and exciting, a nice contrast to the Sonys. They can be a little sibilant and overwhelming if the recording is bad, though.
The stage on the CKN70s is quite a bit larger than the XBA-30s, it is wider and deeper. The ATs have the edge in live music as the larger stage gives them a more airy outdoor sound. Both have pinpoint imaging that gives a holographic effect to the sound. The XBA-30s have a darker background and are a bit clearer and more precise.
Both of these IEMs are incredible and I can't say which one is better than the other. My general preference is more in line with the Sonys, but the ATs sound impeccable and I like them better for some genres.
I'm just glad and lucky to have both of these as my final IEMs.
Thanks for the comparison/review. We'll see how long that final sentence lasts