Two viable Airpod competitors, both priced similarly. But how do they compete against each other? Time for another no-holds-barred cage match at Major Hifi Headquarters. Let’s get it on.
RHA Trueconnect vs Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW Solid Bass: Wireless Shootout
As far as first impressions go, RHA leaves a better one. The brushed metal and rubber matte case makes Audio-Technicas plastic one look that much cheaper. The RHA case is also smaller and more efficient. Instead of hinging open like a treasure-chest, it slides open with a satisfying click. The Audio-Technica case isn’t much larger, but the RHAs open mechanism makes it more functionally compact.
Although they both use BlueTooth Version 5.0, the Audio-Technicas paired quicker and more painlessly than the RHAs. They began searching for my phone as soon as they came out of the case, whereas the RHAs required some coaxing. I also experienced more dropouts with the RHAs. Nothing serious, but occasionally only one earpiece would pair, or both would require a few tries before pairing.
As far as battery life is concerned, Audio-Technica smokes the competition. They boast 15 hours, and that’s without the charging case, which bumps you up to 45. The RHAs have only 5 hours, 20 with the case. So if you want earbuds you can literally use all day, the Audio-Technica’s have a significant edge.
For controls, our two contenders are about even. It comes down to a matter of preference. The buttons on the RHAs are much larger, but pressing them usually requires you push the earbuds further into your ears. While the Audio-Technicas have buttons that don’t encourage this discomfort, they’re much smaller and encourage much fumbling about. Neither have ideal control setups, so you’ll have to pick your poison.
The RHAs come with significantly more eartips than the Audio-Technicas, including ones made of foam. So if your ear canals are picky, RHA probably has you covered.
RHA also opted for an earbud design that is closer to Airpods in style. They slip right into your ears and sit close against the opening of the ear canal. The Audio-Technicas meanwhile have a silicone wing that braces the earpiece against the earlobe. This means that the Audio-Technicas are more stable, and give your ears more breathing room than the RHAs. For a run I’d wear the Audio-Technicas, but to block out outside noise I’d go for the RHAs.
However it’s worth mentioning that the Audio-Technicas only have an IPX2 water-resistance rating. The RHAs have an IPX5 rating. So if you fancy yourself sweatier than average, or like running in the rain, go with RHA. Now on to the sound.
The Audio-Technicas, being part of the “Solid Bass” lineup, definitely throws more bass around than RHA Trueconnect. Audio-Technica hits much harder in the low end, and the amount of punch is impressive for wireless buds under $200. RHA just doesn’t provide the same impact. Listening to the RHAs on their own, I didn’t notice a lack of bass. But side-by-side with Audio-Technica, the difference is clear.
The midrange is where the tables turn. The RHA Trueconnect sounds incredibly rich in this range. Instrument separation, left-to-right soundstage, and sheer detail is very impressive. The high-mids are slightly favored over the low-mids, but with the amount of fidelity these buds provide, I felt no imbalance as I listened.
The Audio-Technicas by comparison just don’t bring the same detail as RHA. The bass emphasis extends into the low-mids for a punchier experience than the RHAs, but the upper-mids have a very soft and relaxed feel.
The high-end in the Audio-Technicas is also more relaxed and rolled-off than the RHAs. The RHAs keep the details coming into the high-end. There’s plenty of ultra-high snap and sizzle, especially in cymbal sounds. The downside is that these frequencies can very occasionally draw a bit more attention than they deserve, especially with instruments already heavy on the high-end.
Pros: Solid bass, 3x longer battery life, better bluetooth functionality
Cons: Less detailed mids and highs, cheap plastic style
Pros: Rich midrange, detailed highs, compact metal case
Cons: Shorter battery life, spotty Bluetooth, lack of bass punch
If overall sound quality is your main concern, I’d go with the RHA Trueconnect. I was very impressed by the sonic detail. But Audio-Technica will probably be more satisfying to the bass-heads among us, and also those who want more practical functionality like all-day battery life and smoother Bluetooth connection.
Trueconnect at Audio46
Trueconnect on Amazon
ATH-CKS5TW at Audio46
ATH-CKS5TW on Amazon
RHA Trueconnect vs Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW
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