Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review by Jess Hines: High Fidelity Headphones

I’m not exactly an audiophile but I do consider myself perhaps more aware of headphone quality than the average person using the default earbuds that came with their iPod.

There are three main things that I consider when looking for a pair of headphones: nice design; good comfort and fit; and of course high-fidelity sounds, which means they’ll have clear and accurate sound with any kind of audio from talk to classical music to action movies, and at a wide range of volumes.

Currently, my favorite set of headphones Phillips over the ear earbud style which have really good frequency response and they're nice and comfortable I can wear them all day, which is really important for me as I listen to music for the better part of every workday. So I figured these Audio-Technica headphones had a lot to live up to, and I was particularly excited about this review because judging by the specs on the web page, these were high-quality earbuds.

The ATH-CK6As come with three sets of loop supports and three different sizes of earpieces so you can get just the fit you want. A drawstring bag is also included to keep the ‘phones in. One thing that drew me to these was the advertised wide frequency range of 15-28,000 Hz and the rare-earth speaker drivers, rare for any set of headphones, much less small earbuds like these. Basically it means that since the average human hearing range is around 20-20,000 Hz, these headphones will let you hear everything recorded that you’re physically capable of hearing. In simple language, this means you’ll be able to really hear both the deep notes as well as the mid and high ranges without distortion.

The headphones themselves are very lightweight. The ear loop pieces that were already installed were just right for me, but I switched the ear covers to the smaller sizes to make it fit right for me, so I appreciate having the options available to me.

Once I had the attachments to my liking, the earphones fit nice and tight inside my ears, which makes for good clarity of sound as well as blocking outside noise.

For this review I tested three different genres of music in order to exploit the full potential of these headphones.

First up was Josh Groban’s Si Volvieras a Mi. The vocals in the mid-range were nice and clear, and the instruments were full and rich. I felt like I was really getting the whole experience of the music. Also, important for earbuds is that it doesn't sound like any music is leaking out, and with the right fit, the Audio-Technica’s seemed to direct everything right down my ear canal, which made the music sound great.

For rock music, it's hard to beat Breathe Into Me by RED. The guitars came through nice and full, vocals were clear, and the bass was spot on. Tweaking the equalizer settings on the audio device (I used an iPad for this review), I was able to experience let the advertised high fidelity of the ATH-CK6As shine through.

Moving on to hip-hop to see how good the low bass response was, I chose Get It In by PRo. I love a song with good bass, and, having installed subwoofers in all the vehicles I've had, I know what full deep bass sounds like and how it can really enable you to feel the music rather than simply hearing it. Therefore, I only consider a set of ‘phones "good" if it can sound like I have small subs in my ears. Once again, these phones came through in spades, with the super-low frequency response capability a treat for my ears. Moreover, the Audio-Technica earbuds stayed firmly planted in my ears, something that my Philips ‘phones only do as long as I don’t move or yawn or swallow. I’m looking forward to using these new earbuds for my next trip to the gym.

And speaking of having a good sound seal, I found that these do a good job of blocking outside noise as my wife just came up and asked me why I haven't been listening to her for the past few minutes. I couldn't even hear her!

With each music selection, all frequencies came through clearly, and even turned up to the point that it almost hurt my ears (something you need to be careful about with earbuds), I couldn't detect any distortion on either end of the range, which made me smile since it's nice to be surprised with a such high-fidelity sound in such a small package. I was dubious at first that these small light earpieces would have drivers that could handle the music I like to listen to, but the Audio-Technica ATH-CK6A headphones are winners in my book, especially considering the mid-range price.

In fact, my only real complaint is the alphanumeric naming system of these headphones, which will make it hard to remember when you want to tell your friends how awesome your new headphones are!

To wrap up, if you're looking for a high-quality pair of earbuds that don’t break the bank, these are a great choice. Sure, you can buy earbuds for $10, or use the ones that came with your mp3 player, but if you appreciate great sound at a decent price, these are for you. You could also spend at least three as much for other brands of headphones, but you’d be hard pressed to justify the price when these sound so good.

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***Please note that I received no form of monetary compensation for this post. I did receive a sample of the product to try in order to write a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and were not influenced in any way.  ***


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