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Old 01-12-2005, 02:20 AM   #4
afbug1
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Wink Audio Technica ATH-CK7, first Impressions and some other bonus stuff!

Audio Technica ATH-CK7 titanium | Overall Rating: 5 stars - More photos
MSRP: $160. Pre-ordered at $144 from Bluetin.
Package includes: ATH-CK7 earphone, 3 pairs of ear tips in small, medium and large sizes and a not so nice pouch!
Status: Replaces my ER6i which I had sold.



Design/cord: 4.5 stars
The CK7 is a single 1.2m long ĎYí cord earphone with a ĎLí shape gold plated plug. The cord is sheathed in high elastic elastomer, it eliminates cord entwining according to Audio Technica and has an adjustable plastic tube slider to adjust the length of the split. It is designed to be worn with the cords over the ear, down your back, just like professional musiciansí monitors. This is to reduce micro phonics and coupled with light weight cords, it actually works very well. The plus point is; it can be worn the traditional way; ĎYí cord in front. The earpieces are made of forged titanium; looks and feels classy but is a tad heavy. At this price range, itís going head to head against the HJE70 and the entry level IEMs and all are supplied with nice and classy cases except the CK7. AT got to do better in this aspect; a nicer case/pouch will suit its premium class status.

Sound Quality: 5 stars
The SQ is very impressive. I am glad Iíve sold my ER6i and took the plunge into uncharted waters for this. It is more balanced than most IEMs. Bass levels are a little lesser than HJE50ís and slightly more than Cresynís. Not quite as deep as ER6i's but more bass. Doesn't sound as tight as ER6i's (A little less) but it is not flabby either. I will not say that the CK7 have strong bass but it will satisfy most people. They seem to have bass stored somewhere in reserve. They donít respond as well as other earphones when the bass boost on the discman is switched on. Can tell the difference but the jump is not as great as other earphones. Why in reserve then? Because when the song demands strong bass, (eg rap/hip-hop) it delivers.

Midrange slightly recessed compared to E888/Cresyn, not much but noticeable. This makes it a colder sounding earphone; more like a ER6i. The CK7 have a very clean and crisp sound but it is not as sterile as the ER6i. Clarity is probably as good as a ER6i and its details are as prominent. Instrument separation is very good as well. The good thing about the CK7 is that its bass, midrange and treble compliments each other quite well.

Out if the box, its treble is enhanced at the extreme ends, which make them sounded harsh. After about 5 hours of playing time, the extreme treble settles down. Not as bad as the first hour. Itís no longer enhanced, toned down to a pleasant sparkling level with no sibilance. It has some treble extension; I heard more treble and details in the upper end than the ER6i.



Built Quality: 4 stars
The ATH-CK7ís built quality is very impressive. The forged titanium earpieces are solidly built, yes, solid is the word! They sure look and feel sturdy. Seeing is not believing! You got to touch and feel it to know its class. You can use it as a miniature hammer if you want! The cord; sheathed in high elastic elastomer might wear out in time due to often use of the plastic slider. Only time will tell if any of its components degrades. The rubbery cords have quite a lot of grip, thus making use of the slider quite difficult. To make it easier, Iíll carefully snip off part of the slider, making them shorter and have less surface area for the cords to grip it. The CK7 is MADE IN JAPAN!

Comfort/Ear Tips: 4 stars
Without CK5ís loop support, it is easier and more comfortable to wear. But it is a bit heavy compared to other in-ears. Once worn with the cords over the ear and behind the back, you will hardly feel that its there. With the cord in front, you can feel the weight of the cord due to its short stem but it is not an issue as the cord is light enough. The ear tips are a disaster! Its rubber has a lot of grip. It will be an excellent ear wax remover! Ultimate gross out when you remove them. The rubber tips will lose its stickiness after a few times of use. The soft ear tips and the smallish design of the CK7 make it very comfortable to wear, even to sleep.

HJE50's tips are of the same design and size. Difference is it is harder/stiffer. I prefer a HJE50 tip to CK7's originals. You can fit other brands like Sony's to the CK7 (Sound nozzle is the same size) but Sony's design is slightly different and they don't sound as good as a CK7/HJE50 tip on the CK7.

Isolation levels: 5
Compared to a EX71, the isolation offered is as good. The soft rubber tips worked very well but unfortunately, it is a bit soft and might tear easily.

Suitable for:
Suitable for people who want an upgrade from their budget in-ears but without the hassle, discomfort and isolation (Which can be too much) of a true IEM. The CK7 will go head to head against the HJE70 and the entry level IEMs and it will give them a run for their money. I like the sound and comfort so much that I listened to it for 6 hours and then feel asleep with it. Total 14 hours in my ears at one go. My iPod was dead. The cord and ear tips will lose some of its grip after a few uses.
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First impressions:

Panasonic RP-HJE70:
MSRP: $199 at most stores. W cube selling cheaper. Yahoo auctions at $178.
Package includes: HJE70 earphone, 3 pairs of ear tips in small, medium and large sizes and a nice classy metal case with cord storage.
Status: Demo only. No money for one!

I demo the HJE70 for 10min at Sitex last weekend. It sounds a bit weird to me. Very rich sound, like rich creamy coffee. Good quality and quantity bass but its midrange is a bit recess and have treble roll off....a bit funny because HJE50's treble is a bit harsh to me. Built quality is very good but I find the extension cord not right! Its cord is thinner than HJE50's and the plug have a colour mismatch? Maybe itís a demo set. I like the bass and fact that the 2 earpiece can be joined together. Because its a neck chain design, you can hang it on your neck and join the earpieces together, creating a necklace. Something which Sony/Philips tried to do with the provided plastic holder.

Audio Technica ATH-CK5:
MSRP: $49.90 at most stores. Saw it going for $98 for 3 pairs (Red, black and white) at Challenger Funan, if you're a member, its $88!
Package includes: ATH-CK5 earphone, 3 pairs of ear tips in small, medium and large sizes and a nice little carrying pouch.
Status: Demo only. Did not interest me at all.

Briefly heard my friendís CK5. Donít look or sound interesting to me, so I only listen to it for few minutes. So cannot really give an accurate review about it. Bass levels are a little too low for my liking. Sounds as flat as a pancake. Its cord design concept is the same as HJE50/EX71ís. 0.5m plus 1m extension. That is about it!

Bonus stuff:
So here comes the big question. How does the Cresyn LMX-E630 stack up to a Etymotic ER6isolator? The LMX-E630 has better treble extension. Yes, ER6iís treble loses! Its treble roll off did not help. Clarity is ER6iís forte and not surprisingly, the LMX-E630 loses out. But its clarity is dangerously approaching Er6i levels. About 80% of the ER6i, ok maybe I am generous, but I am impressed. What about the bass? Cresyn has more bass but the ER6i has better bass extension. It goes deeper. The Cresyn loses out big time on isolation. It only offers about 20% of what an ER6i can give you. What is an ER6isolator if it offers inferior isolation?

Bonus Pic: My old MDR-EX70
So you think white coloured earphones are cool heh? This is how it will look 6 years later! If you're wondering how long it takes to change colour, it should start to turn yellowish in a year or so depending on usage. If you use daily, it will turn greyish/blackish first before morphing into the dirty yellow you've seen on my 6 year old EX70.




Summary:
That is about it. Hope it can provide a clearer view of these earphones that are available in Singapore. But remember, these are my opinions and my tastes. It might differ from some. One man's meat is another's poison. What sounds good to me might not please you. I personally prefer the CK7/LMX-E630 for its sound quality, for comfort, nothing beats a EX71, the CK7 comes very close though!

In the future, for new models, I will add it in if I manage to get hold of one.

Last edited by afbug1; 27-03-2006 at 07:40 AM.. Reason: Update text & photos!
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