Published on April 7th, 2015 | by Greg0
Push/Pull With The Audio-Technica ATH-CKR10 Earbuds
The world’s music in the palm of your hand- that’s what the modern world has brought. And with the portability of our smart devices and the ability to store a vast collection of songs on a small disk, we’ve been simultaneously shrinking the way we listen. Many people will remember their first pair of headphones, perhaps a free set that came with a Walkman, uncomfortable and awkward. But things have gotten smaller, with earbuds now able to fit into a pocket and produce some pretty solid sound.
Your stock earbuds, though, have nothing on the Audio-Technica ATH-CKR10. Titanium housing provide a rigidity that dampens any vibrations, meaning bass purrs instead of shakes. Four separate sizes of silicone tips help ensure a good fit and isolate any outside noises, and a protective carrying case is included as well. These are definitely bigger and bulkier than many, but there’s a good reason which we will get to in a moment, and it doesn’t keep them from nonetheless being easy to use on the go. We probably wouldn’t run or jog with these, but they’re ideal for travel, and we’ve burned them in over a few weeks of trips in subways, buses, and planes.
Burn-in is recommended, as we did notice a change in sound between them straight out of the box and after some solid use. As with most in-ear monitors, their goal is a fairly neutral tone, but these are pretty unique little guys- they’re certified to meet Hi-Res Audio standards, generally considered to be 96 kHz/24-bit. Even more unusually, they’ve got what they call the world’s first dual phase push-pull driver system, with each earbud including two 13mm drivers. The idea is to offer a similar experience to other dual-driver options but reduce distortion as they are synchronised out of phase, and it’s been used in larger speakers before. The results were immediately apparent: tons of detail, and probably the best bass response we’ve heard from a unit in this class. The accurate low-frequency response is definitely stellar- their listed range is from 5-40,000 Hz, and even if you can’t always hear it, you can feel it. We didn’t, however, feel a need to use an amp with these, but you should definitely consider using a good DAC.
We’d also suggest trying out alternate tips- flanges help, and we prefer memory foam for longer-term listening. If you are looking for something wireless, or with full controls and a microphone for calls, or something sexy, then you should look elsewhere. Likewise if you need something noise cancelling- perhaps the excellent Audio-Technica QuietPoint line. We’ve checked out plenty of their gear, and their over-ears are truly classy. But their aren’t many other earbuds that can compete to pull off a balanced, piercing, and plenty powerful performance of opera arias or hip-hop. Try out ‘Empire State of Mind’ and prepare to be wowed. At $260 or so, they aren’t for everyone, but the Audio-Technica ATH-CKR10s are worthy of their price.