Audio-Technica's ATH-CKS5TW Wireless Headphones are midway between the ATH-CKR7TW and the ATH-CKS3TW in terms of price. They offer 15 hours of play time on their own and 45 hours with the charging case. They sport Audio Technica's 10mm SOLID BASS HD Driver, a Bluetooth 5.0 connection, and an IPX2 water-resistance rating. But you know the drill... how do they feel and how the heck do they sound?
In the Box
Sliding off the packaging reveals the headphones, manual, USB charger, charging case and four different pairs of silicone eartips. As long as you're not too far outside of the normal size range, you're probably covered. They also include one extra pair of silicone rings if you don't like the piece that loops behind your ear. The case is compact and light, although deeper than I expected. Still, an easy fit into your pocket.
I do wish the case and headphones were a different material... they're both just so obviously plastic. This mostly an aesthetic complaint, as I'm sure they're durable. But the plastic can't help impart a certain air of cheapness.
They're a bit on the bulky side, and take some getting used to. But they're also very light (thanks to plastic) and hardly noticeable once you get the fit right. I liked using the silicone loops; they hook behind behind my earlobes and made the fit more secure.
The ambient noise reduction was also better than I anticipated, even with no music playing. Nothing crazy, but considering that noise reduction isn't even mentioned as a feature on these bad boys, it's a nice bonus.
All the Bluetooth controls fit within two buttons; one on each earpiece. The buttons give a tactile snap when pressed, and I loved how my phone responds quickly and silently to the commands. No annoying chime sound effects here!
My only gripe with the buttons is how tiny they are. My fingers slipped off easily, and considering how some commands require 2 or 3 taps, it was enough of a problem to disrupt my listening experience. The headphones also sit very lightly in the ear, and while fumbling with the buttons, it was fairly easy to knock them loose. If the buttons were placed where the Audio-Technica logo is instead of on the 'ring' of the earpiece, this probably could've been remedied. Alas!
But overall the headphones work great. The Bluetooth 5.0 connection was speedy and pairing was a breeze. And the auto power on/off when taking them in and out of the case was a nice touch.
These headphones have a relaxed yet focused sound. Nothing is boosted in a way that gets out of hand, but there are still plenty of details. Very balanced, and a touch laid-back.
SOLID BASS is in the name, and the bass is just that... solid. The low end is round, clear, but still gives room to breathe. And while true bass-heads will probably have to crank the volume dangerously to feel any sub vibrations, most listeners should be satisfied. The bass is strong, but clearly ushered into its own corner of sound. It doesn't punch very hard, but instead sits pleasantly with its hands folded, acting as an even-headed foundation for the rest of the spectrum.
The mids are scooped, but only enough to contribute to the relaxed. breathy nature of the sound. The result is an even-keeled midrange that reveals detail, but doesn't direct your attention to any one in particular. These headphones deal emphasis equally between midrange instruments, which do a great job of maintaining separation from each other.
The highs feel rolled-off at the very top, but only slightly. Any frequency modifications across the board are done with a light touch. All the space in the midrange puts a slight emphasis on the high end that feels focused, but not too sharp. Similar qualities to the midrange here; at once relaxed and focused, present but serene.
Overall, these are a strong pair of headphones for $149. They are lightweight, charge fast and last long. The ambient noise reduction is decent, and the call quality isn't bad either.
And the sound quality is a huge step up from whatever default earbuds you're still using with your phone (no judgement... okay maybe a little). The bass is indeed solid, and the mids and highs are relaxed and full of detail.
Pick up a pair here at Audio 46!