Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW Review
The CKS5TW fit me right away, and it surprised me with its full, powerful sound. Reason enough to take a closer look – and of course – to hear it …
The Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW was loaned to me by Audio-Technica for this test. Thanks very much!
- Good build quality
- Balanced sound
- Stable wireless connection
- Difficult to find the optimal fit
- Slim bass
When I had the Audio-Technica ATH-CKR7TW in the headbox test almost half a year ago, I liked the sound of it quite a lot. But, unfortunately, it didn’t work out for me at all with the fit. I only got a permanent seal if I held the in-ears permanently in position.
It wasn’t just me because the new True Wireless InEars ATH-CKS5TW from Audio-Technica finally fit perfectly. So there has been a real advancement here in terms of comfort. With Bluetooth 5.0, you are still compatible with aptX and AAC, and you can still use mechanical buttons instead of a touch function.
In terms of price, audio-Technica is positioning itself much more moderately with the CKS5 and is in an attack position against Sennheiser and Co.
Scope of delivery and packaging
The small outer box is as big as the box of current smartphones and, with its simple design, is sure to go very well with displays in shops and airports. The front of the white cardboard box is printed with a photo of the True Wireless InEars, a few feature symbols, and the model name and company logo. On the sides, there are notes on the scope of delivery and functions. The technical data can be found on the back.
There is a manageable scope of delivery in the box: Of course, the charging case and the True Wireless InEars. Then a USB-C charging cable and a few silicone tips in different sizes.
For the sake of completeness, here are the technical data for those who are interested. The runtime is particularly interesting. A lot has changed here compared to last year. A full 15 hours are now promised – and that with a smaller case.
Design and quality
The True Wireless InEars
The inears are made of plastic but make a robust and durable impression. They feel pleasant to the touch, and there are no edges or sharp corners that could cause pressure points.
case The case is made of hard plastic. At first, it doesn’t feel as nice as a soft-touch surface, but the surface will probably not get “sticky” even after a long time. The flap is easy to open and close, and the in-ears are held in position magnetically. There is a charge level indicator (only works when charging) at the bottom left, and the USB-C port is on the back of the case.
Carrying comfort & handling
Fortunately, I can give the all-clear right away: In contrast to the ATH-CKR7TW, the true wireless flagship from audio-Technica, the CKS5TW fits me very well. Once inserted properly in the ear, they rarely need to be readjusted. A silicone hook is attached to the InEar at the factory to ensure a better fit in the ear. With me, they sit well even without the part and have a decent seal with the middle tips. If you remove the ear hooks, you can pull on the two supplied “rubber rings” in their place and thus increase the grip in the ear.
Functions and operation
The InEars are operated via buttons on the side, which I always prefer to touch elements. Haptic feedback signals more clearly when a function is triggered. Play/pause, volume +/-, telephony function – everything can be selected at the touch of a button and works well.
If you take the InEars out of the charging case, they switch on automatically. When you replace them, they are switched off again. So sport or a rain shower should be avoided. The Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW is only IPX2 – protected against dripping water.
Firmware updates are made via the app. The process is a bit cumbersome as it has to be carried out separately for each InEar. However, the app guides you through the process step by step.
According to the manufacturer, the runtime is up to 15 hours compared to the previous generation. The exact running time is always difficult to measure (volume, usage profile, etc.), but it feels like it works. The CKS5 feel like they last forever. And when they are empty, the charging case provides music enjoyment for up to another 30 hours – so theoretically, you can enjoy a full 45 hours of music with a full charge.
In the absence of an Android smartphone, I only tested the iOS app. The associated app “AT Connect” can be found in the app store and offers some useful functions. In addition to the battery status of the InEars and the audio codec used, various operating profiles (key assignments and combinations) can be set, and the voice guidance can be switched on and off. In addition to a quick guide that explains the various key functions, there is also information on the model and firmware version. Also on board: Q&A about the product with the most frequently asked questions and solutions – this saves you from going online via your browser.
The new Audio-Technica True Wireless surprised me quite a bit at the ifa 2019: Fits immediately seals well – and sounds great! Well, a few weeks later and in peace at home, this first impression has to prove itself. And he does!
In terms of sound, the Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW is clearly on the more consumer-oriented and fun side – with heavy bass and treble emphasis, it has pronounced bathtub coordination and sounds modern, powerful, and fresh. There is nothing wrong with that, especially with headphones for mobile use. Bass and treble emphasis are important. The special feature is that the bathtub becomes flattered as the volume rises – and the bass is tighter and more defined. As if the frequency curve would smooth out with increasing levels. But be careful: never hear too loud!
The bass is well emphasized, the dynamic driver creates good punch and pressure. The bass quality is better, but the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless (test) or the RHA True Connect (test) still lacks texture, selectivity, and attack. Both competitors do better. But it would help if you didn’t forget that audio-Technica is the cheapest of the three in terms of price. And according to the motto: “The better is the enemy of the good” sounds more negative than it is because the bass is by no means spongy or imprecise.
The mids are present and not lowered – which is what rock and metal play in the cards. As a result, especially in the upper mids area, the overtones of bass drums or deep guitar riffs sound a little softer. However, this feeling of well-being again suits genres such as jazz, singer-songwriter, and acoustic music. Here the True Wireless can score with soft and natural mids.
The treble is clear and detailed, never annoying or shrill. Cymbals should sound a bit more aggressive to me, but that’s always a fine line that only a few in-ears can manage perfectly for metal. When in doubt, the CKS5 takes the safe route here and does not overdo it. That makes it universal and versatile.
Typical for true wireless or in-ear headphones, in general, is a stage presence that is not too large and wide. But completely okay for on the go. I don’t expect a pompous panorama here.
If the seal fits, the isolation is great. I already mentioned it above: The fit is better this time. I don’t have problems with the fit and the associated sealing problems.
Audio-Technica is launching the new True Wireless InEar for a more than fair price. The ATH-CKS5TW convinces: Great, clear, and powerful sound, solid quality, and good wearing comfort in a package with great battery life and a small charging case make the True Wireless a loyal companion.