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Audio-Technica ATH CKR9 LTD

  1. AzimAkbar
    Perfect sound, hail the new king!
    Written by AzimAkbar
    Published May 26, 2016
    Pros - Highly details and balanced sound, came with original AT case, very good looking, good and flexible dual channel cable, loud and easy to drive
    Cons - Original narrow bore tip unusable for me, no chin/neck slider, difficult to fit in need double flange tip
    I bought this ckr9ltd from AliExpress for 47USD, less than the usual 120USD RRP. Few fellow buyer with original ckr9ltd claimed that this is a real deal. I have no problem whatsoever to believe that despite the extremely "low" price. Actually it can't even be considered as cheap as this is my second highest price earphone after the BNIB Audio-technica IM50 which I bought for 60USD.
    Beautiful in red and gold. This is the most striking and beautiful earphone that I ever have.
    Double flange tip, nothing less. From 2 different earphone one is from MEElectronics S6P.
    Difficult to fit in as the front part is hinging on the tragus. Longer tip like double and triple flange is recommended. Or over the ear if you prefer.

    Out of the box{ or package in my case} it has already produce excellent sound. Bright and details sound but bass is not that fast and tight. So after 80 hours of burn in period the sound change significantly. The bass become tighter and faster, but amout rated at 6/10 just above average. What make this earphone different and special among my other earphones is the amount of details. I can hear much more new sound from the song that I already heard over and over again. The instruments can be heard playing separately but harmoniously. The background vocal can be heard vividly accompanying the main vocal not just a distance sound like I heard previously. There are permanent background colouration which is more welcoming and less distracting than the like of Audio-technica ckx9.
    The treble amount rated 8/10 but the quality of it is better than most of my current earphones except FXT90 and Sony EX650 . It has managed to sound brighly without any additional splashing or "splattering" effect. Just nice. The soundstage and airiness of sound is above average but lower than my 2 earphone with bigger soundstage ; Audio-technica CKX9 and Cks990. On summary this Ckr9ltd sounds extremely details, and bright treble that blends well with fast and tight bass. The coloration is nice and smooth.

    Comparison with FXT90;
    Was my best earphone before Ckr9ltd. The main difference is on the details. While FXT90 sound phenomenally excellent, the vocal is not as clear as ckr9ltd and the details is not that great. In return FXT90 is more comfortable to wear and lighter.

    Comparison with CKX9;
    This earphone has a very J-shaped kind of sound with sparklingly bright treble and very strong coloration. Obviously not as good ckr9ltd but very fun and pleasing to ear indeed. Bass is just adequate and it has wide soundstage just slightly lower than Audio-technica Cks990 but better than ckr9ltd.

    The best of the best among my earphones. Not having the biggest or best in every range. The treble, bass and soundstage champion belong to FXT90, and Cks990. But it truly excell at vocal and details. You can buy it full price at 120USD or if you are more adventurous and willing to buy the earphone without box, Aliexpress is your best source so far. But the price is really fluctuating. The lowest that I encounter was on 11 November 2015 sale where it was down to 44USD. Some Aliexpress store has it for USD90. I believe they are all genuine OEM Audio-technica product. Your ear will tell you whether they are fake or not. And I really regret missed the 11 November sale.
      H T T and Ted Presley like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. AzimAkbar
      I am not claiming this Aliexpress ckr9ltd as a true original BNIB Audio-technica. Only people with original BNIB ckr9ltd can claim that. All that matter that it sound better than my own BNIB Audio-technica IM50 which came with original package. Are you saying that the 85USD GR07 is also a fake?
      AzimAkbar, Jul 16, 2016
    3. AzimAkbar
      And my BNIB Audio-technica IM50 is also a fake? 85USD is fairly big money for me. And I am not willing to just settle with just one expensive excellent earphone. I rather have some adventure or misadventure and buy few good to excellent earphone. All my earphones are priced 60USD and lower, some priced at 6.5USD. Good for you if you can afford 80USD earphones and beyond.
      AzimAkbar, Jul 16, 2016
    4. qckat
      I will try to refresh this thread a bit with question - Im looking for a the step further afetr ckr-9. I really like the way ckr9 does it in general, maybe lacking a bit width in soundstage. Price max 200-250USD. Thanks!
      qckat, Jun 1, 2018
  2. FUYU
    Fireworks of Red and Gold? The Audio-Technica CKR9-LTD.
    Written by FUYU
    Published Nov 11, 2015
    Pros - Clean and balanced sound, great bass + details; beautiful finish; solid fit.
    Cons - No detachable cables; lackluster accessories.
    Note: The Audio-Technica CKR9-LTD were purchased on eBay for 119$.
             The overall value is based on current streetprices (250-300$)
    About myself:
    First of all, welcome to my first review on Head-Fi and first proper review ever.
    My name is Noel aka. FUYU, I'm 18 years old and a avid lover for everything technical.
    While everything subjective, I like to explain in more rational enclosure with graphs and technical prowess. (No graphs available this time, however)
    I care about facts and only facts, meaning no fancy 300$ cables and value by price-to perfomance. 
    Ironicly, today's review surrounds a more butique Earphone, a collectors item. Reminissent of Fireworks, this japanese gem engulfs itself in a shining coat of red and golden colour.
    But is it just a nice shell, or can it deliver a sparking performance, worthy of a real japanese hanabi?
    Let's find out...
    Type:                                Dynamic
    Driver Diameter:                13 mm x2 (Push-Pull configuration)
    Frequency Response:        5-40000Hz       
    Maximum Input Power:      200 mW
    Sensitivity:                       110 dB/mW  
    Impedance:                      12 Ohms 
    Weight:                            12 g  
    Cable:                              1.2 m, Y-type
    Connector:                       3.5 mm gold-plated stereo mini plug, L-shaped
    Accessories:                    silicone eartips (XS/S/M/L) and protective carrying case
    Wearing style:                  Usually down the ear; Over-ear by inverting L/R
    The Box is rather uninspiring, but pratical in it's own right,
    Backside with the spec sheet and some explanation of the Dual-Push-Pull system.
    Build and Accessories:
    Taking off the Earphone for the first time, invokes a sense of good craftsmanship. The earpieces look quite remarkable, a bright and vivid red colour featuring a gold Audio-Technica logo look fantastic.
    While some prefer the more industrial look of the regular CKR9 and CKR10, no one can deny the beauty of such state of the art products.
    The build is almost as equally sophisticated. There are no visible inperfections and the aluminum housing is joint properly.
    Even though the earphones have no detachable cables, overall build spawn no future worries about possible degration. (Thanks to a big cable-relief)
    The Cable itself terminates into a 3.5mm (1/8 Inch) L-Jack. Solid at first glance, however prone to tangle and with no chin slider can get messy.
    Accessories are the weakest part. Provided tips come in 4 sizes (XS, S, M, L), though no other variety (like widebore/double-flange, etc) are included.
    As a matter of fact, the included tips themselves are of cheapest grade and utterly unsatasfactory.
    In addition a little carrying case is found but equally lackluster in quality.
    With all-due respect to Audio-Technica, provided Accessories are sub-par at best. (considering the MSRP)
    Looking good, huh?
    I heard you like L-Plugs? Me too.
    Isolation + Fit:
    Isolation is quite ok, obviously nothing compared to offerings in the likes of SHURE or even CIEMs. For everyday commuting some may have to adjust their volume level.
    Luckily aforementioned tips are average in isolation. But using good tips will most likely inprove in that area. As always YMMV.
    Fit is quite interesting. Compared to the regular CKR9/10 the nozzle has been slightly angled, which in my case results in a good fit. In addition, the pieces only weight 12g each
    and with a comfortable shallow insertion wearing-fatigue is almost non-existant. However doing sports is not recommended, unless you invert L/R and wear them over-ear. Again YMMV.
    Pop'em in and enjoy the magical musical fireworks.
    As the spec-sheet indicates the ATH CKR9-LTD are quite easy to drive, wheter you use a dedicated amp or your average smartphone of choice.
    However there is a quite audible hiss with my Samsung Galaxy S3 (WM1811), due to it's high sensitivity. A clean source is highly advised.
    After pairing it to my Schiit Stack (Modi 2 Uber, Magni 2 Uber) the hiss was gone, though no noticeable improvement in SQ was noted.
    Well, here we are. The moment of truth. After reading a lot of hype and being someone who prefers a lean/balanced sound, I was....irretated...and relieved.
    While the (spoiler) overall sound is very balanced, bass is the suprise of the show. Extention is very good with only a minor lift (like 2dB max.) in sub-bass.
    Quality is absolutly phenomenal, with the most detail I've heard in the 5-400$ price bracket.
    There is absolutly no bleed into the lower mids and thus remains very clean.
    Bassheads may be left wanting, but I find the bass to be close to perfect in quantity, being very realistic and impactful when the track calls for it.
    Mids are in typical Audio-Technica fashion. Ahm, not really. But they are great nontheless!
    With no prominent lift in either Male-Vocals nor Female-Vocals mids are non-fatiguing and throughout balanced.
    Micro-details are plenty. Excellent.
    The Treble was quite interesting in a more positive way. As for someone with sensitive hearing, I expected a seemingly bright and overly accentuated lift in the upper-treble.
    (Comparable to something like the older CK TOTL, that **** hurt my ears...)
    First impressions, phew, no silblence here!
    Suprise, Suprise the treble is well extended and quite well at that (to no suprise with the 40kHz bragging rights), but somehow it felt a bit more polite or rather slightly smoothed over. (Imagine IM-02)
    Details are good, but not the greatest I've heard. Overall relaxed and enjoyable. Great.
    Soundstage width is above average, it lacks the vastness of let's say, Fidue A83. However it compensates with a good sense of depth creating a more "circular" shaped stage.
    Instrument seperation is also very capable, top-notch in this price-bracket
    Comparision: CKR9LTD vs. Fidue A83
    Bass: The CKR9 wins over the Fidue in quality, while the Fidue trumps it in the quantity thanks to it's slight V-shape.
    Mids: This one is quite unfair at first glance, but even though the Fidue has slightly recessed mids, both are similar quality wise.
    Treble: Winner A83, but not by much. The CKR9 are less energetic, though slightly metallic sounding. Although the Fidue's are too hard on my ears.
    Stage: Width is better on the A83. Depth is better on the CKR9's. Instrument seperation is slightly better on the CKR9's.
    It is to be noted that the comparision to the Fidue's is just off the top of my head. (I sold them ~1 month ago)
    So, is the Fidue superior? Not to my ears, it is a matter of preference and sound signature. Want a fun, slightly V-Shaped signature? Go Fidue. Want a balanced, lean signature? Go CKR9.
    At the end of the day, have we a earphone capable of running rampage with it's vivid colours and crazy atmosphere? Not really. What we got here is a earphone drawing you near it's great
    balance and detail, letting you observe a vast number of things within the music.
    Interesting technology and a unique design may not be without it's flaws, but attracting nontheless.
    It is no firework in the traditional sense, but rather like the emotion to look for it endlessly. A well-rounded piece of technology, in both asthetic and performance.
  3. peter123
    Best of both worlds? CKR9LTD review and three-way comparison
    Written by peter123
    Published Sep 1, 2015
    Pros - Sound, looks and ergonomics
    Cons - Non-detachable cable, low on accessories
    The ATH-CK9LTD’s were purchased by me and I’m not in any way affiliated with Audio-Technica.
    I’ve reviewed the ATH-CKR9 and ATH-CKR10 earlier, those reviews are available here:
    And here:
    I’ve got quite a few PM’s lately asking about the difference between the three and since they’re identical in accessories, very similar in ergonomics and do share quiet a lot of their sound signature I thought that I’d make this review more of a comparison between them than just a review on the CKR9LTD’s.
    I’ve owned these for eight months, six months and five weeks and I've used them a lot so I think it’s fair to say that I’m very familiar with them.
    About me:
    I’m a 43 year old music and sound lover that changed my focus from speakers to headphones and IEM’s about five years ago. At that time I realized that it wasn’t realistic for me to have all the different setups that I wanted and still house a family of four children and a wife so my interest turned first to full sized headphones and later also IEM’s.
    My preferences are towards full sized open headphones and I believe that also says something about what kind of sound signature I prefer (large soundstage in all directions, balanced and organic sound).
    My music preferences are pretty much all over the place (only excluding classical music, jazz and really heavy metal). My all-time favorite band is Depeche Mode although I also listen to a lot of grunge/indie, singer/songwriter/acoustical stuff as well as the typical top 40 music.
    I do not use EQ, ever.
    I’m a sucker for value for money on most things in life, Head-Fi related stuff is no exception.
    Built and accessories:
    The ATH-CKR9LTD is a dual dynamic IEM featuring two 13mm drivers. The drivers are mounted to face each other and are wired out of phase, Audio-Technica calls this “dual phase push-pull driver system”.
    Housing is made of aluminum and overall build quality feels very good. The design looks as if it was made for detachable cables but unfortunately that’s not the case. The housings are fairly large but the design with a pretty shallow fit still makes them very comfortable to wear. I’ve got small ear canals but these stay well in my ears and I also use them in bed while going to sleep without any problem. The angle of  the stem on the CKR9LTD’s is slightly dofferent from the regular CKR9’s and it helps for an even better fit for my ears.
    The cable doesn’t look or feel like anything special but in use I find it to be excellent with very little tangling, low on microphonics, soft and flexible. The plug is L-shaped and feels very solid
    The accessories are not much to write home about featuring four different silicon tips and a carrying/storage pouch. I’d have liked to see a lot more tip options included at this price point. 
    The CKR9LTD’s are very easy to drive and works great out of every source I’ve tried them with.
    The specs for all three for easy comparison:
     CKR9                 CKR9LTD            CKR10
     Dynamic               Dynamic            Dynamic
    Driver Diameter
     13 mm x2             13 mm x2         13 mm x2
    Frequency Response
     5-35 KHz              5-40KHz          5-40 KHz             
    Maximum Input Power
      200 mW              200mW               200mW
     109 dB/mW      110 dB/mW        110 dB/mW
       12Ohms              12Ohms            12Ohms
         12 g                     12 g                    16 g
                            1.2 m, Y-type
    3.5 mm gold-plated stereo mini plug, L-shaped
    Accessories Included
    silicone eartips (XS/S/M/L) and protective carrying case

    *All specifications was found on the official Audio-Technica website
    Demo list:
    Mark Knopfler – Sailing to Philadelphia
    Røyksopp (Feat.Susanne Sundfør) – Save Me
    Ane Brun – These Days
    Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana
    Metallica – Die Die My Darling
    The Peter Malick Group – Immigrant
    Eva Cassidy – Songbird
    Thomas Dybdahl – A Lovestory
    Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why
    Celldweller – Unshakeable
    Jack Johnson – Better Together
    Seinabo Sey – Younger (Kygo remix)
    Dire Straits- So Far Away
    Passenger – Let Her Go
    Lupe Fiasco - Deliver
    Morrissey – Earth Is the Loneliest Planet
    As mentioned initially I’m not going to spend a lot of time describing the sound of the CKR9LTD’s but rather focus on the comparison between the LTD’s, the regular 9’s and the CKR10’s.
    To make a very short list of the main differences it would be:
    1. The color (big surprise)
    2. The slightly different angle on the stem for the LTD’s compared with the other two
    3. The LTD’s have the most balanced sound out of the three due to the lift  in the lower midrange on the 10’s and a similar lift in the higher mids on the regular 9’s while the LTD’s are more even across the whole midrange.
    Please note that the comments in the comparison section are not in absolute terms but in comparison between subject A and B. This means (as an example) that if subject A is found to be brighter than subject B it does not necessarily mean that subject B is bright sounding in absolute terms. I hope this makes sense.
    CKR9LTD vs CKR10:
    Compared to the CKR9LTD the CKR10 has an even warmer, thicker sound with more intimate presentation. The CKR10's has a lift in the lower midrange that makes mid-bass more prominent. They both share the non-fatiguing treble and excellent bass layering. The LTD’s are a bit more airy in overall presentation and better balanced.
    CKR9LTD vs CKR9:
    Compared to the CKR9LTD the CKR9 has an overall slightly brighter presentation that gives a feeling of more air in the overall sound. Bass impact is very good on both and the LTD’s feel more balanced through the spectrum and better balanced.
    CKR9LTD vs CKR9 vs CKR10 breakdown:
    Weight: CKR10>CKR9LTD=CKR9: The 10’s are quite a bit heavier than the others.
    Fit: CKR9LTD>CKR9=CKR10: The slightly different angle on the LTD’s makes them a better fit for me.
    Isolation: CKR10=CKR9LTD=CKR9: Isolation is about average with silicon tips and slightly below average with foam tips.
    Microphinics: CKR10=CKR9LTD=CKR9: The cable is pretty low on microphonics and behaves a lot better than it looks.
    Sub-bass impact: CKR10=CKR9LTD=CKR9: I find the sub depth and impact to be similar with them all.
    Mid-bass impact: CKR10>CKR9LTD=CKR9: The 10’s has the most amount of mid-bass.
    Mid forwardness: CKR9LTD=CLKR9>CKR10: This is a hard one since the 9’s got a lift in the higher mids and the 10’s in the lower while the LTD’s is more even but this is how I hear it. There’s not a big difference though and the kind of music one listen to can be enough to get a different result. The difference between the 10’s and the regular 9’s are much more prominent than the one between the LTD’s and the other two.
    Treble extension: CKR10=CKR9LTD=CKR9: I find the all to extend equally well in the treble.
    Sibliance: CKR10=CKR9LTD=CLKR9: I don’t detect any sibilance with either of them.
    Soundstage width: CKR9>CKR9LTD>CKR10: Not a big difference but this is how I hear them. None of them has a huge soundstage width.
    Soundstage depth: CKR10=CKR9LTD=CKR9 Equally good on all and REALLY good on all to my ears.
    Airiness: CKR9>CKR9LTD>CKR10
    Thickness: CKR10>CKR9LTD>CKR9
    Intimacy: CKR10>CKR9LTD>CKR9
    Energy: CKR9>CKR9LTD>CKR10
    Warmth: CKR10>CKR9LTD>CKR9
    Details: CKR10=CKR9LTD=CLKR9
    Separation: CKR10=CKR9LTD=CLKR9
    Layering: CKR10=CKR9LTD=CLKR9
    I don’t feel that the last eight parameters need any further description so I just leave it at this.
    Please note that this is the way I hear it and not necessary the way everyone else will hear it. After all these belong to the same family and they're certainly more siblings than cousins so different music genres and differnt gear may give other results. 
    I think it’s safe to say that Audio-Technica has hit the sweetspot for me with the top offerings of their CKR line.
    I began my journey (after a LOT of back and forward on which one to get (between the 9 and 10) with the CKR10’s. I found the higher bass/ lower midrange to balance on the verge of what I enjoy in impact but they still do what they do so good that I appreciate them a lot.
    I enjoyed the CKR10’s a lot and they fit my ears really well but I still wasn’t 100% satisfied with them (are we ever) so I decided to jump on the CKR9’s as well as the price started to come down on them. This was homerun for me, perfect bass amount and quality that I haven’t heard even in full sized cans combined with a more airy presentation.
    Being very happy with the 9’s and 10’s I finally decided to go for the CKR9LTD’s as well partly due to the inconsistent reports from people where some find them to sound like the regular 9’s and others like the 10’s. Yet others claimed that the LTD’s was an upgrade from both. So curiosity got the best of me and I ended up with the LTD’s as well.
    So who was right and who were wrong in their description of the LTD’s? To me everybody was right, let me explain: The CKR9LTD’s does really sound like a lovechild between the regular 9’s and the 10’s. To put things in an easy way I’d say that they’ve got the lower part of the frequency spectra from the 9’s and the higher part from the 10’s. This resulting in them sounding like the 9’s with some music and the 10’s with other. They’re fuller sounding than the 9’s but has less mid bass impact than the 10’s.  I’ve got no idea if the slightly different angle on the stem is what causes the difference or if they use different drivers or just different tuning but it works and there’s definitely a sonic difference between the three to my ears.
    Some people would certainly prefer the more balanced sound from the LTD’s over the lifted lower mids on the 10’s or the  similar lifted higher mids on the regular 9’s but to me this is more about personal preference than one being technically superior to the other. As for me I love all three of them and consider myself very lucky to be able to alternate between them depending on the kind of music I listen to or what mood I’m in.
      jant71, mebaali, Carlsan and 10 others like this.
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    2. slowpickr
      It's in the ergonomics section.  Anyway, there is a weight discussion going on regarding the ALI-CKR9LTDs vs ATH-CKR9LTDs so his comments made me curious.
      slowpickr, Sep 25, 2015
    3. peter123
      @slowpickr  Sorry for the late reply, had other obligations yesterday :wink:
      I've mixed up the weight of the CKR10's and the LTD's, fixed now. I just got the weight from the A-T website but I put them on the weight last night and both of the 9 siblings weigh between 11-12 grams. 
      Hope this helps :)
      peter123, Sep 26, 2015
    4. mgunin
      Great review, Peter! May I ask which of the three you'd recommend for jazz, classical, soul and funk? I'm choosing some model for outdoor use with iBasso DX50.
      mgunin, Mar 24, 2016