Another day, another Audio-Technica Bluetooth earphone – at least, that’s how it feels sometimes. So here I am, fresh off the tail of Gabby’s ATH-CKR300BT review, reviewing the Audio-Technica ATH-CKR35BT. Same low price (about $60), similar looks (but with a bit less contrast here) – but how does this one perform? Not having heard the CKR300BT, I can’t compare, but I find the CKR35BT’s sound pretty familiar as a longtime Audio-Technica enthusiast. Read on to find out more.
IN the BOX
- USB-A to microUSB charging cord
- 3 replacement eartips of various sizes
- little carrying bag
- user manual, etc.
BUILD, LOOKS and COMFORT
The CKR35BT’s capsule is small, black, shiny and kind of tapered towards the outside – all in all, a fairly convenient package with a nice shape to it. These look and feel like $60 Bluetooth earphones – no more, no less.
I’ve found Audio-Technica’s earphones to be, on average, more comfortable than the competition, and the CKR35BT is no exception to this rule. They keep a nice balance between comfort and stability. I never experienced any irritation, even after a lengthy listening session, nor any risk of the earphones falling out.
In addition, the Bluetooth receiver comes with a little clip to attach to your shirt – one of those “duh” features that I’m surprised aren’t included with every earphone.
The Audio-Technica ATH-CKR35BT does what’s asked of it, with a few slight nuisances. First, there’s a significant hiss that I couldn’t help but notice just as songs were starting up. It’s not a big deal, especially if you’ll be using them outside, but I suppose it is a slight annoyance to me as an “AUDIOPHILE” when there’s the possibility of something like this intruding on my listening experience.
Secondly, I noticed a slight tendency for the earphones to cut in and out when there was something blocking my phone. At that point, my phone was sitting in my lap, and my laptop was sitting on top of it. So if you, like me, like to keep a bunch of things in your lap, keep that in mind.
The cable is slightly microphonic – as it rubs against your clothes, it’ll transmit some of that noise to the earphones, so I wouldn’t recommend it for the more active among us. But on the plus side, isolation is pretty good, so this may work quite well for your bus commute, but I wouldn’t take it on an airplane. Overall, the CKR35BT is a product that works.
But how does it sound, though? Audio-Technica has a reputation as a company for people who just love vocals, and the CKR35BT seems to fit pretty nicely into that little niche, with a midrange that’s tuned to bring vocals forward just a bit. While the overall resolution is not audiophile-quality, I can’t complain too much – I’ve listened to quite a few $60 Bluetooth earphones, and I still haven’t found one with “audiophile resolution.” But the CKR35BT gives a pretty good overall impression of the musical experience.
When first listening to the CKR35BT, I didn’t find it super bassy. Yes, the low end is there, lending body to the mix and hitting hard when you need it to, but it’s never exaggerated, so listeners who want bass you can feel might walk away disappointed here. Don’t get me wrong, though – for me, the bass is perfectly good, if occasionally slightly chilly.
Audio-Technica have always been known for their flavorful, unique midrange, and the CKR35BT delivers on that promise yet again. With a forward upper midrange, they can sound lacking in body and warmth, and in extreme cases they can get a little shouty. But what they lose in warmth they make up for in “sweetness” and presence. I’m being careful with my claims here because these are actually fairly well-balanced, but they do retain a bit of the Audio-Technica house sound.
While I like the mids and bass of these earphones, I’m not such a big fan of the treble. To me, it sounds muted in the lower treble, and it has some issues with graininess or ringing in the upper treble. Again, for a $60 earphone, I wouldn’t consider these issues to be a dealbreaker, but they are there.
Audio-Technica brings forward another well-performing earphone to the market. Despite some minor issues with the connection and slightly disappointing treble performance, I think the Audio-Technica ATH-CKR35BT is a well-balanced product, and if you just love your vocals, you might want to check it out yourself.
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