Audio Technica's Latest Push-Pull Adopted Earphone - The Ath-Ckr9s - First Impressions
Alright, these earphones have perpetually amazed me with its euphonic signature during the first two hours of listening.
While I did not make comparisons to the other earphones, I can confidently state that the ckr9s have won my heart and listening time from all the earphones combined.
However, from memory (and a quick comparo), I can state that the ckr9s are both analytical and musical.
I prove it with two sound devices in my arsenal.
The mikros 90 and its analytical + musical nature
and the audio technica dual ba, the im-02s. These are pretty analytical, but can sound musical on certain sources like the mikros 90.
Music sources: Sting - Seven days, Goldie - The Tide is High, The beatles' past masters album, but more importantly, the revolver album - Elanor Rigby
Aerosmith - Janie's got a gun.
Let us commence with the build quality.
The earphones are pretty durable when I held the plastic piece of the ckr9s. The aluminum itself feels phenomenal, I expected to feel that rough texture that most cut aluminum contains (I.e. KEF M200s).
These also have a beautiful appearance for aluminum, imo anyways.
The cable quality is good enough, but I do wish it had the nice rubber cable that audio technica's old flagship model, the ck10s, had. The microphonics on these are good, you don't hear too much cable noise as you'd expect for a cheap plastic cable. I would have to infer the cable's cheap quality derives from the entanglement I've encountered with this iem. It doesn't get too tangled, but it is potent to have an unruly behavior with itself.
To be honest, I wish I didn't include this section because the only thing I can state about the extras audio technica gives is the usual for their other iems. The same ckm55 tips with a small clasp bag.
FIT + Comfortable Issues
Well, the fit is actually pretty phenomenal, I don't feel a lack of seal nor am I compelled to dig the earphones deep within my ear. Wearing these are like wearing the audio technica's old ckm series.
However, after two hours, the most inner part of the ears experience pain...
So that's the only caveat of these earphones regarding practicality.
With moderate volume, these earphones isolate well, but it is still lackluster compared to iems like the ck10s or other ba earphones that fit snuggly in your ear.
Yet, this also fixes another problem with the ostrys, so this is a good thing.
TBW - to be written
It has spectacular imaging to help you perform well in games, but at the moment, its status is TBW.
Now this is what you've been waiting for, correct?
Well...to put it simply, I would have to imagine the SQ of these ckr9s to mimic the ostrys based on the impressions I've read.
Before I provide useless claims, please continue reading, because dang it, these sound characteristics will have you gasping for oxygen after listening to these beauts!
Let's begin with the low frequency!
Edited by vlenbo - 5/2/14 at 1:27pm
Now, imagine the bass of the cks77s. While the bass of the ckr9s do not have the same thickness or quantity of the cks77s, these ckr9s do adopt part of the cks77's thickness and quality! However, after long sessions with the cks77s, most would conclude that the cks77s actually have some bloat to its bass. This iem, does not falter in that area! In fact, I'd go as far to say that it has the thickness of the cks77s bass, but the quality of the mikros 90. It's pretty tight, articulate, textured, and has decent impact on some songs, but great impact depending on the song of your choice, not to forget the source you use! Now, the tightness of the bass actually helps the ckr9s separate the bass and drums from the rest of the spectrum. You can discern the difference between bass guitars, drums, and acoustic/electric guitars when they present themselves in the recording.
How about the texture? Well, you can definitely hear the bass' variation of character, or tone, whenever you listen to classical rock, pop, and even trance/EDM! You can discern the different pitches and notes of the bass without struggling to discern differences. In addition, the speed of the bass is actually satisfying. Sure, it isn't as fast as a BA's bass, but it can definitely keep up with other competitors that do well in this regard, like the m200 for instance. The bass thickness is definitely behind the m200s and sony xba-h3s, but it does have a clean sound compared to the m200s' meaty bass, and the xba-h3's euphoric and addicting soft bass! I'd say it has a fine balance of thickness, a bit behind the sony xba-h3s, and pretty far from the m200s.
You want firm sounding bass? These iems can provide that.
Why not mention the mids while we're at it?
Mids- vocals + instruments
Let's go with the vocals and instruments! - Vocals: These....actually have a mixture of an analytical signature present in the im02s, but a musical presentation of the Mikros 90s! In fact, it has more detail than the 90s, and I am not joking here! Vocals sound pretty smooth with articulate clarity on their lyrics and emotions. In fact, they have more emotion than the Mikros 90 and im02s! I swear, you can tell how passionate some singers are when you use these iems. The Beatles sounded pretty serious when they were singing Elanor Rigby. Sting's seven days sounded angelic and pretty mesmerized with his love letter when he sang the seven days of the week.
He sang it so delicately, majestically, and even celestially....
Seriously, vocals are done well for both males and females. The thickness of the vocals is present with this earphone too, jant71 has deduced correctly based from the scarce impressions of these iems. These still require a bit more detail to sound just as analytical as the im02s, but I enjoy the current details as it is.
How about strings? Those guitar strings, they have such bite to them to be honest! You definitely hear the plucks, pulls, scratches, and fret board sliding from the guitars... These earphones actually have around the same, if not more, string bite as the Mikros 90 and the im02s. I just cannot believe how euphonic guitars and vocals sound on this earphone, you have got to try it sometime!
Highs- natural highs, or possibly intoxicating drug highs!
Alright, this section should have been worded better, but I digress.
Highs- Now this is where I tend to overreact. The highs on this earphone are actually similar to the xba-h3s, except I feel like the h3s have a bit more detail than these earphones, and are possibly a bit more forwarded. While I continue evaluating these earphones, I'll A/B compare the two in order to help people like lachlan decide whether the audio technica ckr series are worth the purchase. The highs, however, do have the delicacy of the mids, and in fact, are the most natural sounding highs I've heard next to the xba-h3s. The cymbals have that nice crispy sound, but you already hear that with other iems. What makes this different is that the smoothing effect from the highs actually make cymbal clashing and tapping sound so natural that it in fact, sounds UNREAL! The earphones have enough brightness in most songs that you would never hear the sibilance unless you listen to bad recordings. The highs are an improvement from the m200s in regards to detail and speed, but the xba-h3s are a bit of a personal worry for me. I wonder if these lose to them
And that's it for the sound signature.
My goodness, I expected to hear a 3d stage with beautiful imagery before I received these....
I DID HEAR THAT!
Based from the cymbal height test that I linked in my earlier post, I can immediately discern the positioning of the cymbals without having to view the video. I can hear the different layers of sounds deriving from the cymbals, and most importantly, I can establish the height of the soundstage because of it. The height, if I had to estimate it, would be from where your nose begins to form to where it ends. I swear, there were moments where a song clearly establishes its minimum height to its maximum height of soundstaging.
A good song example would be Blondie's introduction to her song, The tide is high.
You hear insane drumming speed in the intro, and the positioning of the drums are...you guessed it, at the bottom tip of your nose!!! You hear the soundstage right from the center of your face!!!!!
Then, when you hear the cymbals, you hear it between the forehead and the foundation of the nose!!!!
That's how frigging high it is for me! I could never hear that with other earphones to be honest. The separation between the different height levels are apparent too, because the instrument separation assist it in that regard.
the instrument separation is almost as good as a BA, if you hear the doppios or Im02s, then I can safely say that it is as good as those. In fact, this earphone separates all instruments in layers.
The drums go from the lowest point of your earlobe.
Then the bass goes a bit above the drums, but it doesn't precede or recede the drums themselves.
Then the vocals go above the bass or under it depending on the recording.
The highs definitely soar...high! You hear the singer in the foreground, while hearing the cymbals playing above their head in the background.
Also, the width of the soundstage depends on recordings.
x-x Islands actually had a small soundstage, which shocked me as most iems of mine had a wide soundstage for this song.
However, when I play Aerosmith's song, Janie's got a gun, I hear the widest soundstage I could ever imagine! It's an out of head experience, almost similar to a 50mm headphone like audio technica's a900x. It still retains that amazing height of a soundstage that the ostrys lack! (if I read those impressions correctly).
I can even state that the staging sometimes revolves around you, but not completely of course. The maximum degree of the soundstage goes up to 110 degrees, which is pretty amazing to be honest.
I seriously wish you would buy these, but I actually recommend you to wait until they drop to $140.
IT HAS TO BE $140. Don't let those audio technica managers fool you! These are worth at least $300 from my purchase, but they truly have to be priced at $150 at least, so they can garner attention of course.
And that's a wrap!
Also, for those worrying about the minute details, aka micro-details, these earphones do a wonderful job in reproducing the most minute details that may be amiss with other earphones.