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Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TWBL Solid Bass True Wireless Headphones Review

By Christopher Coke on December 05, 2019 | Hardware Reviews | 0

If you’re into audio, you already know the name Audio-Technica. They’ve been making high-end headphones and microphones for decades, including many we’ve looked at here at MMORPG. Today, we’re looking at the ATH-CKS5TWBL, the company’s latest true wireless earbud from their Solid Bass line. They feature a massive 45-hour battery life, a wide frequency response range, and a stylish aesthetic. At $149, how do they compare against the competition? Let’s take a closer look and find out.

Specifications

  • Current Price: $149.99 (Amazon,Official Store
  • Type: Dynamic
  • Driver Diameter: 10 mm
  • Frequency Response: 5 – 40,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 110 dB/mW
  • Impedance: 16 ohms
  • Battery: Headphones: DC 3.7V lithium-ion battery
  • Charging case: DC 3.7V lithium polymer battery
  • Battery Life: Max. approx. 15 hours* (headphones); max. approx. 45 hours* (with charging case)
  • Charging time: approx. 2 hours* (headphones); approx. 3.5 hours* (charging case)
  • Weight: Headphones: Approx. 8 g (0.28 oz) (L side), approx. 8 g (0.28 oz) (R side)
  • Charging case: Approx. 60 g (2.1 oz)
  • Communication system: Bluetooth version 5.0
  • Maximum communication range: Line of sight - approx. 10 m (33')
  • Support codec: Qualcomm® aptXTM audio, AAC, SBC
  • Type (Microphone): MEMS
  • Sensitivity (Microphone): -40 dB (1 V/Pa, at 1 kHz)
  • Frequency Response (Microphone): 50 – 4,000 Hz
  • Polar Pattern (Microphone): Omnidirectional
  • Accessories Included: 30 cm (12") USB-A/USB-C charging cable, eartips (XS, S, M, L), 3D loop supports, silicone rings

On the surface, the CKS5TWBLs look similar to many pairs of true wireless earbuds. They arrive fully charged in their own portable charging case, have the familiar conical shape, and include an assortment of small, medium, and large ear tips, and silicone rings to keep them locked into your ear. There’s more going on here that meets the surface, however; a lot good but some not so much.

The first thing that stood out to me is their size. The CKS5TWBLs are large, much closer to the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless than the Jaybird Vistas. This is still common among wireless earbuds that target bass, but it definitely stands out when companies across the board are shrinking the size of their earbuds. I wouldn’t call it a con per se because what you sacrifice in size you gain in sound quality and massive 15-hour battery life, but it’s definitely something to be aware of and for Audio-Technica to target in a future revision.

That also means that the charging case needs to be larger. It still fits easily into my pocket but I found myself taking it out when I arrived at work or home or leaving it in my coat pocket. That said, the trade-off here is completely worthwhile. The charging case can completely recharge the buds twice, bringing total battery life to 45 hours. That’s absolutely incredible, so if you’re someone who doesn’t want to charge their earbuds very often or worry about them dying in the middle of your day, this is definitely the set for you.

When it comes to fit and finish, Audio-Technica has done the expectedly good job they’ve become known for. I’ve yet to encounter an Audio-Technica product that was less than excellent in its construction and long-term reliability and these appear to be no different. The buds are lightweight but solid. The buttons are tactile yet easy to press. Even the ear gels and rings are tights and don’t flex or rotate during activity.

I also love the design. The mix of gloss and matte on the back looks great. The logo is some prominent that I wondered at first if they were touch-sensitive like the Momentums but no such luck. That feature would sure have driven the price up, so I don’t mind its absence.

Inside the housings, the ATH-CKS5TWBLs use large 10mm dual-layer drivers. These are big compared to the average 6mm TWS driver and definitely help to deliver that extra bass response. They’re also quite clear, however, and keep that bass in its own lane. That’s important because the frequency response on these headphones is some of the highest I’ve ever seen on a true wireless headset coming in at 5 - 40,000 Hz. The kind of expansive range aims to keep distortion well outside the range of human hearing and keep all of the frequencies within pristine.

To that end, it’s time to get into sound. I was very impressed with the bass response here. Shocking, I know, from a “solid bass” headphone. But still, it wasn’t long ago that achieving “solid bass” on this design took a good amount of EQ balancing and even then you would be lucky to avoid distortion after the boost. These headphones deliver a powerful low end which is great for metal, hip hop, and even electronica like Chillstep. I also appreciated that the highs sparkled. I loved listening to acoustic guitar on songs like Consider the Ravens by Dustin Kensrue and hearing the rake and ring of the upper register his chords. Vocals were less forward than I prefer but still perfectly audible. In a word, they felt “relaxed.”

This also makes these headphones quite good for gaming. They’re much more cinematic than your average pair of true wireless earbuds. Big explosions and epic sound effects come through loud and clear with these headphones, much closer to an actual gaming headset. At the same time, their tuning allows fine details like callouts, footsteps, tinkling bullet shells, and the direction of gunshots to come through crystal clear and accurate.

Final Thoughts

Apart from being larger than I would like, the Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TWBL Solid Bass True Wireless headphones are a great option that I really enjoyed. The bass is indeed solid but the detail isn’t lost in the process. With a massive 45 hour total battery life, they definitely make themselves stand out from the pack.

The product described in this review was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight