Test music: I'm using two of eke's music tunes, one called
Djobi Djoba from the Gipsy kings
GIPSY KINGS – Djobi, Djoba
Overall (yet unchronological) sound signature impressions + soundstage imagery
The bass is exceptionally tight, textured, and bold. I can hear it to the right to the vocalist who is directed in the center of the song. The instruments used are pretty nice acoustic guitars, both are placed on the right and left of the stage, and they are brilliant sounding too! The brilliance come from the nice detailed strumming you hear from the guitar players, you almost think you’re with them when you hear the xba-h3s. The Bass speed can keep up with the song, but it might sound a bit sloppy after the faster paced areas of the song. The guitars, however, have no problem keeping up, nor do the singers. The height of the singers are pretty good, you can hear them around the tip of your forehead if you wear the xba-h3s. There is enough separation between the singer and the bass, in fact, I’d say that the bas is in front of the singer if they were intertwined in the song. The quantity of bass is quite above average, it actually has a good amount of bass boost, but not like the kef m200s. The smooth yet quite sharp detailing from the vocalists are pretty good, as you can hear the breath of the main singer when he enunciates his words. The highs are pronounced enough to help flesh out the details of vocalists and the guitar strings.
Audio Technica - Ckr9s
Overall (yet unchronological) sound signature impressions + soundstage imagery
The guitar strings, though not as detailed or have enough bite to the strumming, are actually pretty adequate, more than adequate really. The bass quantity a good 4 db lower than the sony xba-h3s, but are great in presence and in quality, a bit more detailed (sharper), tighter, and a bit smaller than the xba-h3s.
The vocals are similar in smoothness to the xba-h3s, but they do lack the clarity and some brightness of the vocals like the xba-h3s. However, the voices are still tantalizing and I’d dare say that addicting. The addiction is to another whole level of the xba-h3s, but the xba-h3s also are addicting, except there’s a huge difference to addictions here.
The xba-h3s have the perfect bite to instruments and vocals, while also providing a smooth signature for both to be mesmerizing. However, the audio technicas have adopted the ckm500’s syrupy signature while incorporating a pretty strong bite in comparison.
That’s what makes it addicting, though it sounds smooth and possibly a bit muddy because there does lack at least a small bite to vocalists (just the vocalists mind you), that you think they’re not detailed enough, but trust me, these ckr9s provide more than enough detail to atisfy your needs. Not the detail of a ba, but a detail of a dynamic driver for sure.
Since imaging is similar to the xba-h3s, I cannot actually provide a good comparison to them other than saying that the ckr9s takes advantage in providing more space, or depth between the height and width than the xba-h3s.
It’s just a slight amount though, it’s not enough for me to forbid purchasing the xba-h3s.
Floret silva nobilis
Soundstage: The height of the soundstage begins from the center of your ear, to the top of your forehead.
I hear singers everywhere, on the top left center are the females, the top center have more female singers, the top right center have the male singers, and I hear violin strings being played a bit below the singers. The cymbals place themselves above the singers as well, at least the male singers that are depicted on the top right center.
Lows: The drums are definitely quite low in the soundstage, I’d dare say at the tip of your nose.
The bass impact in this song isn’t prominent enough to distract you from the presentation of the choir, which I enjoy.
The light bass playing at the bottom right corner is pretty controlled, I’d dare say that it sounds pretty soft yet detailed.
Mids: The micro detailing of those vocals are similar to the ckr9s, which is odd since I expected the xba-h3s to exhibit better detailing of the micro-detailing. This means that they are on par with microdetailing in certain songs. However, that doesn’t prevent the sonys to sound awesome with violins and the cymbal playing as well. The strings being slid by the bow actually sounds very relaxing, tonally correct too. I do not know how to further explain myself in this song.
Highs: GOSH, the cymbals are pretty awesome, they have a nice crispy yet unfatiguing sound, and it isn’t heavily detailed enough to scare you either. The cymbal clashing is the most natural I’ve ever heard, this liquid crystal technology that sony adopted is awesome to say the least! I can definitely hear the minute details of the clashing, the reverberation of the cymbals, and the clarity despite it being smoothed out in this recording. The cymbals are thick enough to sound natural, especially when the stick makes contact.
I'll prepare the comparisons in a few minutes.
My music: Gotye - Someone I used to know
Kings of Leon - Knocked up
Trombone Shorty - Do To Me with Jeff Beck
3D Sound- Binaural Recording
KINGS OF LEON
Audio technical ckr9s
Overall sound signature
Soundstage : Start with the drum kicks in the center. Hear the bass string under the kicks. You hear the electric guitar on the bottom right corner of where the iem sits. The normal guitar (acoustic I believe or electric) is to the far left of the stage. The vocalist is located on the center, while having instruments like the bass guitar behind him, probably a bit below him. The cymbals are 2 steps above him, while the kick drums are a bit below the cymbal strikes.
When the music gets a bit more complicated, the cymbals elevate themselves one step, while having the bass guitar being played underrr it.
The soundstage width is almost an out of head experience, but this recording prevents that from happening, but the height is pretty great to be honest. The bottom right corner of the guitar playing sounds pretty low enough to help you discern the different layers of height in the ckr9s.
Lows: Pretty tight, punchy, texturized to the max, and also has its own character in this song while you can easily discern this bass guitar from the electric and acoustic guitars. Also, the bass is actually thick in this song, it takes up the same amount of space as the singer’s voice.
Mids: You can definitely hear the angelic voices of the lead singer, Caleb Followill. The smooth and somewhat thick signature helps you enjoy his powerful message behind the song (at least I understood it as a powerful message concerning the true love). While the sound is smooth and syrupy, or to explain it in better words, where the voices goes through your ear without you realizing its presence is exactly how the ckr9s portray the vocals. They have enough clarity for you to denote the lyrics, but the sound of the mids just make you forget about hearing the lyrics and focus on the smooth presentation.
Highs: The cymbals are pretty thin and small actually, I should have expected it from kings of leon since some songs do not have that nice thick and meaty cymbal playing that I enjoy. However, I’m not stating that you’d never hear the treble, because you do, but since it is a softer sound compared to the H3s, you would know that the H3s make their treble more prominent and sharper, which to me is a bit more lifelike than the ckr9s. However, I’d say that the timbre between both is similar enough that you shouldn’t become disheartened by whatever purchase you make.
Soundstage : okay, the guitar on the left, the vocalist in the center, and the bass are around the same spots like the ckr9s. The only difference is that the bass is definitely covering the singer, but it doesn’t block his voice at all, which is a great thing.
The electric guitar is definitely not at the very bottom right corner like the ckr9s, it’s a bit near the center like the left acoustic guitar. So in a sense, I was correct that the ckr9s have a taller soundstage, which helps me enjoy the technical abilities of the ckr9s.
Lows: The bass definitely presents itself better with the xba-h3s, and does have that nice euphonic sound due to its soft bass, just like the audio technicas have that same euphoric sound with its mids. However, the bass of the ckr9s have a more rough, sharp, defined bass, of course that includes its quantity being diminished compared to these as well.
It isn’t hard to hear the bass strings being pulled, It’s quite pleasing actually
Mids: The vocals definitely have a more prominent and detailed signature on these sonys. However, these are also still as addicting as the ckr9s, especially because the vocals do indeed have at least a light slipperiness like the ckr9s. The bass however, takes the spotlight, but I do have to say, the ckr9s and these sonys do make Calab Followill sound amazing, though I have to give the ckr9s the medal for portraying his voice in a more addicting relaxing way. These still relax me mind you, but since the price performance ratio between the two is around $100 (that’s if you purchase both new), but if cost was of no value, the h3s would win again for keeping the detail and smoothness equal, while the ckr9s becomes biased to the smooth signature and loses a bit in detail.
Highs : The highs are definitely sparklier and detailed with the h-3s, these just go a bit sibilant since I’m pretty fragile to them thanks to the ckr9s. I already accustomed myself to the sony’s treble, and after hearing the ckr9s, I feel the sting of the highs a bit, but just a bit. I hear that the treble is actually quite fast paced, and does indeed still have a bit more detail in the middle region of the treble. The stick making contact on the cymbal’s body is actually easier to hear with these xba-h3s than the ckr9s.
Audio technica CKR9s
Soundstage size: The cymbals once again beat the male singers in height by a good two steps. The microdetailing mentioned before with the sonys are similar, which is shocking! The female singers are at the top left center, center, and the males are on the top right center. Now, sometimes the male singers on the right can actually sound like they’re below the female singers in height from their position.
Height in the ckr9s are now a bit lower than the sony xba-h3s, which is weird hearing that. The drums that I mentioned are now played below the tip of the nose, while having the singers near the tip of the forehead gain, probably a bit lower than the xba-h3
Lows: Quite textured like the sony xba-h3s, and I can definitely hear the strings a bit better on the ckr9s because of its clear and defined nature.
Mids: The vocalists are more ethereal like in the ckr9’s sound signature compared to the xba-h3s. The sound quality is a notch behind the xba-h3s, but still can keep up with it.
Highs: The cymbal striking is a bit less sparkly, but it is actually similar in details, though obviously because of the detailed nature of the xba-h3s, these will take a seat behind the sony xba-h3s.
Sony Xba-h3 + ckr9s
Soundstage width – both the h3s and the ckr9s provide an out of head experience, but even the depth in this song is even for both that I cannot decide who the winner is soundstage wise.
All you have to know is that both ckr9s and h3s can easily separate the instruments to the left from the male singer when they pan the camera to the right. There’s enough black space between them that it provides a euphonic experience.
Mids – The mids of this earphone are pretty smooth, but also very VERY detailed. I hear control of their voices as well, the presence of the vocals make themselves known. The guitar plucking is pretty good; I can hear each individual strings being pulled. Their voices are also thick enough to make their presence better known, while the ckr9s are a bit leaner and a bit forgettable.
While each instrument is being played, I can definitely discern the different strings of the violins, guitars, and strumming. I say that the instruments being played on the sonys are more realistic than the ckr9s, which isn’t surprising since this is a hybrid ba with dynamic as the bass.
It is surprising that the ckr9s are still detailed though, and even better, they have syrupy mids that I don’t usually hear on earphones, not even on these xba-h3s. That’s why the xba-h3s are more detailed, a good notch above in detail. Now, if audio technical didn’t market the headphones as resolution, than I’d enjoy the ckr9s to bits, but I know that the sonys will still prevail in the overall detail of the string plucking, the micro vocals, and the violins especially, I could hear the violinists delicately play each string while the ckr9s made it a bit harder to tell. However, the ckr9s do great in this recording as well.
Main points: 1. The xba-h3s provide a more realistic experience and timbre in regards to string instruments.
2. The xba-h3s does micro-detailing a bit better, but the ckr9s are only a quarter step behind.
3. The soundstage width is similar on both, thus ending in a tie.
4. The ckr9s smoothens their voices to the point where you become intoxicated by them. They have enough detail to hold their own, even the guitar strumming, but sometimes you wish there was more bite to them. For reference, it has almost the same amount of bite as the mikros90s do in strings, so it isn’t that bad, but the sonys do it better than both mirkos and ckr9.
Also, the pianist on the right is easier to hear with these xba-h3s than the ckr9s. I do have to admit though, the soundstage width is the same on
ATH-CKR9 Additional comments
Alright, I forgot to mention this important aspect of the ckr9s.
The overall frequency is balanced, the highs and lows are definitely equal in terms of quantity and quality, but the mids are a bit of a mixed impression.
Sometimes, it is a bit recessed, and sometimes it is a bit forward.
I think it's the drivers settling in, but I know for sure, that this earphone is definitely THE balanced earphone. The sony xba-h3s come close, but sometimes the bass does become overbearing, but not enough to dismiss them from being purchased.
Otherwise, it's a great earphone to purchase only when they're at $140-170 in price.
Buy them after purchasing the budget earphones that compete with higher end dynamics like this earphone!
Edited by vlenbo - 5/4/14 at 8:49pm