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Universal Fit item created by , May 5, 2010
Pros - Very small, light, and comfortable
Cons - Poor isolation, awful cable, no cable cinch, non-standard nozzle shape, very mediocre sound
Accessories – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes), detachable ear inserts (3 styles), and soft carrying pouch
Build Quality – Housings are made of metal with oval-shaped plastic nozzles and paper filters. Though strain reliefs are excellent all-around, the cabling itself is hugely disappointing (especially compared to the excellent cables on Audio-Technica's higher-end models) – thin, rubberized, and extremely prone to kinking and tangling
Isolation – Poor due to shallow insertion and vented design
Microphonics – Cable is too energetic and tends to bounce around a lot. Lack of cord cinch and shirt clip means these have to be worn over-the-ear to be usable
Comfort – Small, light housings make them very easy to wear. The rubber ear inserts can be used to further stabilize them but aren’t necessary
Sound – Unfortunately the ATH-CK6 is decidedly underwhelming when it comes to sound quality. The bass lacks extension, is boomy, and becomes somewhat muddy on dense tracks. There is no definite moment of impact, which results in drums sounding too soft and at times hollow. The midrange is veiled and vocals lack both presence and smoothness. Treble is harsh and tiring. The entire signature lacks clarity and resolution. On the upside, they don’t sound closed and soundstaging is better than average. A small consolation but it made listening to them for a few days bearable.
Value – I wanted to like Audio-Technica’s mid-range offering, I really did. But like the oh-so-popular Sennheiser CX300, the ATH-CK6 is an old model, and it shows. Compared to the dozens of other IEMs I've heard in the price range, the CK6 suffers from mediocrity on all fronts, from isolation to sound to build quality. All things considered it just isn't a very strong competitor in an increasingly crowded field. The line is due for a refresh anyway and hopefully Audio-Technica will apply at least some of the design principles of their top-tier entries to the mid-range earphones
To see how the CK6 compares to the other earphones in my collection, see here .
Pros - Compact and light, great range, good isolation
Cons - A touch too forward in the upper mid range
I just bought these earphones to replace a set of Bang & Olufsen A8's that I'd had for 6-7 years. I'm an educated music-lover rather than an audiophile so my focus is on practical, quality sound that's portable and effective with MP3 sources such as iPod. My music is all ripped towards 300kbps using VBR ripping.
I loved the A8's because they stayed in my ears regardless of what I was doing. Although the bass is a bit thinner than canalphones, I found they were up to the task for most of my tracks (rock, blues, soul, funk with minimal hip hop and rap). I like earbuds because they don't cut you off from the world and I find the staging is better (more open and expansive). That said, I've just bought these Audio Technica CK6 canalphones...
The CK6's attracted my attention because I've read good things about Audio Technica and I'm certainly not disappointed. Eventually, I will probably invest in some HiFiMan (Head Direct) Re0's and some Audio Technica ATH-EC700's for use in different situations, but I was on a pretty tight budget so the CK6's are my interim.
Now for the details:
In Australia, the CK6's come with S, M & L rubber tips and 3 different sets of loop supports. These are little rubber levers that attach to the outside end of the phones and I think are supposed to help you to hold the phones during placement and also to keep them in place once fitted. I don't know that they make much difference, but more on that later.
The packaging is well-presented, but basic. As well as the tips and loop supports, the CK6's come with a very cheap, coarse fabric (or plastic?) pouch, but at least they come with a pouch. That's it.
Comfort & Isolation
I think I have small ears because canalphones are usually uncomfortable for me and require a lot of wedging into place. The CK6's have an eliptical opening rather than circular and I found the combination of this and the smallest rubber tips give me an easy and perfect fit. It appears that thee tips are varied enough in size to suit most people. All three are single flange tips.
The isolation is hard for me to judge because I don't have a comparison, but without comparison I would definitely describe isolation as good. I can't go as far as excellent because I am really only comparing with earbuds which are a no-contest.
Design & Build Quality
Overall, the build quality seems good. The bodies are aluminium so they feel solid, but light as a feather. The plastics are good quality and soft to touch and the plug and splitter both seem to be good quality.
The CK6 comes in 3 colours in Australia, anodised aluminium in bright blue, pink or a dull olive green. I noticed that overseas adverts seem to focus on women which might explain the colour choices, but the blue or green are fine if you don't go for pink. I chose the green because it's a lot more subtle than the other two choices.
My first impression is that these have excellent frequency range. According to the specs, the range is 15 to 28,000Hz and you can hear it. the top end detail is clean and sharp, but never too bright and the bass goes deep.
Detail is excellent and the high end is crisp, but not too sharp or harsh. The bass is solid and punchy - really "present". I think my only criticism is that the upper mid-range is possibly a tiny bit forward. At times there's a slightly uncomfortable edge to the sound. It's not in the range of hissing consonants, but just below that at the very top end of vocals. It's not major and certainly doesn't prevent these from sounding excellent for the dollar.
My other slight criticism of the CK6's is most likely because they're a canalphone, but I'm new to canalphones so maybe I'll be proved wrong on this point. I find the sound from the CK6's is all staged in a small space in the middle of my head. In the past I've found good earbuds (like the B&O A8's) that have created an expansive stage. The CK6's can't do this so the sound is beautifully clear and detailed with good solid bass, but it lacks the expansive magic that a wide, well-localised stage provides.
A nicely presented earphone that's comfortable and easy to fit. For the price they seem to me to be excellent value and perform really well with nearly every style of music (perhaps except hip hop/rap). If there are weak points it would be the slight over-emphasis on the upper limits of the midrange and the limited width and depth of staging. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a better phone for the dollars.