Pro Audio

Audio-Technica ATH-CKS50TW: musicality and convenience in a pint-sized package

Audio-Technica’s ATH-CKS50TW True Wireless earbuds seek to replicate its studio-ready headphone sound in miniature. We took a closer look.

You’re probably quite used to seeing Audio-Technica headphones in the studio or DJ booth, where they’re revered for their sturdiness and consistency of tone. With the brand new ATH-CKS50TW earbuds, Audio-Technica is hoping to replicate its DNA in miniature form.

It’s easier said than done. But with some innovative engineering, the company claims to have squeezed the full-range capabilities (notably enhanced bass) of their circumaural headphones into ATH-CKS50TW. Let’s have a listen.

Audio-Technica ATH-CKS50TW

First look and operation

Earbuds are swiftly becoming one of those ‘don’t leave home without it’ types of accessories, so it stands to reason that Audio-Technica needed to enter a strong competitor in this field. And on first impression, the ATH-CKS50TW is a solid offering.

A sleek case houses the earbuds and works as a dock for charging (with 20 hours of continuous playback available). The earbuds themselves look stealthy and resemble a teardrop, which makes it easy to position in your ears. Naturally, there is a range of silicone eartips to fit the size of your ear (spending the time to get this right is important, as an airtight seal is necessary for optimum audio performance).

Simply pair it up via Bluetooth to whatever device you’re playing audio from and you’re ready to rock. You should definitely have the included Quick Guide at the ready — the earbuds have one tiny button on each for almost all the operations, including volume, playback controls, taking calls, hear-through (which allows you to momentarily tune into the outside world), and active noise-cancellation — so it pays dividends to do your homework. You can also pair the ATH-CKS50TW up with multiple devices simultaneously, so you can tune into a conference call and switch back to your favourite playlist with ease.

The free Audio-Technica CONNECT app is also on hand for customising the above controls, as well as engaging low-latency mode for gaming, performing EQ tweaks (great news for all you audio nerds), and locating missing earbuds (trust me, this comes in handy!).

Audio Technica ATH-CKS50TW

Sonic pedigree

Audio-Technica’s headphone range is known for its flavoursome EQ profile — they’re not afraid of clubby bass, as well as a sprinkle of sugar on the top end. This lends them a somewhat addictive quality: listening to music with Audio-Technica headphones is thoroughly enjoyable.

It’s great to see (and hear) that the ATH-CKS50TW slots in comfortably among this famous family. I put on my favourite reference mixes — neo-soul and trap for bottom end, vocal-heavy retro-rock and pop for mid-range details, modern electronica for adventurous sound design and ambience — and heartened by the balance it presented across the spectrum.

Nobody can fault earbuds for their lightweight convenience, but listening to music is always a compromise, chiefly for the lack of bottom-end. But this is one area that even casual listeners of the ATH-CKS50TW will pick up on: these 9 mm drivers can groove! As such, it adds greatly to the value proposition: yes, podcasts and taking calls at work is all fine and well, but these earbuds also offer up a genuinely enjoyable musical experience.

For more details, head over to the Audio-Technica website.