How do you take your audio? Straight or with a double shot of bass? It really is a two-camp scenario: you either love a big dump of low end in the ear canal, or you don’t.
If you love bass, as most of us here at STACK do, it’s one of the first features you’ll look for when taking a new pair of earbuds or headphones for a test run. And the Audio-Technica ATH-CKS50TWs are all about the bass.
Positioned in the mid-range price bracket, straight out of the box you get the earbuds, a USB-C charging cable, chargeable case, and a handy selection of four different silicone ear tips to cater to all sizes.
The earbuds are on the larger side but fit like a glove when the right ear tip size is applied. They are comfortable for wearing around the house for long periods, and won’t budge if you’re partial to a bit of physical exertion. Talking of which, sweat won’t impact the vitals here thanks to a splashproof IPX4 rating.
You want bass, you’ve got bass!
Forget whimsical touch controls, we’re back to basic buttons here – and we like that. A physical button on each earbud can be customisable to different settings depending on your preference. Having a tangible control configuration allays the frequent frustration of remembering what each touch control does, or even finding them during a frantic workout.
Built-in multipoint connectivity means you can link a laptop computer or a smartphone and seamlessly take calls without the hassle of having to pair the devices again. A neat touch is the ability to use just one earbud to make a phone call – the mic automatically switches over to the one in your ear. The call quality is good both indoors and out.
Back to the bass. Well, it’s in abundance here, as you would expect, but it’s certainly not overpowering. We tested these across rock, metal, jazz, dance and pop tracks, and the results were excellent; the sound on these is precise. But if bass isn’t your bag, the adjustable EQ through the app offers plenty of audio tinkering opportunities.
If you subscribe to the relevant music streaming apps, 360 Reality Audio is also supported.
Active-noise cancellation is becoming more and more popular in earbuds around this price. Here, the ANC is largely effective against traffic noise and household sounds such as the kids (handy for working from home adherents). And a hear-through feature lets in enough ambient noise when you’re looking for a little environmental awareness without killing the playlist.
The final bonus is the battery life. There’s a whopping 20 hours in the earbuds themselves and a further 30 hours in the case, making them the ideal companion for long-distance travelling or for those of us who forget to put their earbuds on a regular charge. A fast charge option sticks 90 minutes of play in the buds from a ten-minute burst at the power point.
There’s a lot packed into the ATH-CKS50TWs for the price point: excellent battery life, solid ANC, and customisation are matched with a comfortable fit. And if your audio disposition leans towards the lower end, you might just have found the perfect partner in rhyme.
At a glance:
Battery life – 50 hours total