It was in May of this year that we first talked about Audio Technica's £250 ATH-CK10 earphones. The same month, in fact, in which Boris 'Let's make it so people can walk between Tube carriages' Johnson was elected to run the largest city in Western Europe.
These sound-isolating dual-armature 'phones are going up against the likes of Shure's SE530s, the Klipsch Custom-3s, and considering their small size and dual-armature status, perhaps even the Jays q-Jays.
Audio Technica has done the admirable job of sending us a pair, and we've been giving them the ears-on treatment for the last few days. We've got some early impressions to share, but first let's take a look at their specs.
The balanced dual armatures offer a frequency response of 20Hz to 15kHz, an impedance of 55 ohms, a sensitivity of 107dB/mW, and a maximum power input of 3mW. Within the armature housing are two drivers: one that handles the low end, one the high end. 15kHz may seem low in comparison to most earphones, which typically hover around the 20kHz mark, but this isn't an issue to be worried about, as we'll see shortly.
These small earphones are extremely compact, with low-profile enclosures and a range of sound-isolating silicone tips to ensure a decent, snug fit in the ear canal. We've found the CK10s to be far more comfortable to wear than the fairly large SE530s and Custom-3s, but they still won't touch the q-Jays in terms of size -- the Jays offerings are still unthinkably tiny.
Our first reaction to hearing these 'phones were that they're quite bright -- the high end is very pronounced, and can at times be a little harsh. But they're also very detailed, with a decent mid-range backing them up, and just enough bass.
Bass is probably the area most lacking. In fact we'd trade in some of the upper high-end for some extra warmth; the CK10s feel a little too cool at times, but other ears may prefer this.
We're enjoying the CK10s thus far, but they're clearly going to be best for certain types of music, and completely inappropriate for others. Listening to metal, for example, with heaps of loud cymbals and screeching guitars, becomes fatiguing after a while. This is something not suffered as a result of the Custom-3's fairly subtle high end, or the powerful Shure SE530s.
We'll have a full review for you very soon. For now, click through for some close-ups and feel free to leave thoughts below. You can always pop into our forums if you want these earphones compared to other models -- we can only fit so many comparisons in our final review! -Nate Lanxon
Just look at how small that enclosure is. It's like a badger, only instead of being small and vicious, it's small and useful.
This would be the native 3.5mm gold-plated plug.
Like Tara Palmer-Tompkinson's face, the CK10's cabling appears to be sheathed in rubber. Unlike Britain's most dislikable 'it girl', however, the rubberised cabling of the CK10 actually serves a purpose.
Comparison time. On the left, the CK10s; the right, Jays q-Jays.
The CK10s with the Shure SE530s.
The CK10s with the Klipsch Custom-3s.
The CK10s with the Klipsch Images. We didn't mention these in the article, but someone out there will moan that we didn't compare the two.