Audio-Technica ATH-CKS30TW Review: Easy EQ Presets For All Genres

The Audio-Technica ATH-CKS30TW is a new true-wireless earbuds from this audio company that just celebrated its 60th anniversary. Admittedly, while the A-T headphones like the ATH-M50xBT2 have been widely popular, its true wireless product line did not manage to establish the same kind of iconic popularity, despite producing rather good products with clear market segmentation. One of my biggest dislike for the A-T earbuds is their size: both the charging case and the earbuds are bulkier than competitors.

The yellow sticker protects the charging points from coming in contact with the charging case and prevents over-charging.

While going through the smartphone app that connects to the earbuds, I uncover these interesting features that are worth mentioning.

5 Preset EQs with 3 Intensity Levels

The earbuds come with five preset equalizer settings and all of them has good characteristics that matches quite well with the music genres. The “Bass Boost – Deep” emphasises on the lower bass frequencies for a darker mix, the “Bass Boost – Beat” makes the kick bass more prominent with a little more emphasis on treble. The “Dynamic” is more like V-shaped tuning with slightly recessed midrange compared to no-EQ setting, the “Vocal” makes vocals sound more spatial and open with the bass less intense. Finally, the “Clear” EQ elevates the treble sparkle and best for acoustics and jazz tracks. This will be the default for listeners who love clarity.

Assign Touch Key Controls

The CKS30TW support customisation of some touch pre-defined controls, one of which is the ability to switch on the equalizer setting, which is press-hold the right earbud by default. Only the press-hold control can be customisable, compared to the CKS50TW, which allows all the controls to be customisable (toggled via the top right corner option).

You can also adjust the sensitivity of the touch sensor, disable the sensor, or to lock the sensor after startup.

Talk-Through and Hear-Through

Talk-Through is a new feature that turns on environmental sound at higher sensitivity. It functions similarly to Hear-Through but the application is meant to be slightly different. With Hear-Through, you can listen to music at the same time so that you can be aware of the surroundings. The amount of sound can also be adjusted from the app.

Low Latency, Side Tone, L/R Balance Adjustment

The ATH-CKS30TW has other under-rated functions that improve the usability. Low latency reduces the sync issues between video and audio, Side Tone lets you listen to the ambient sounds (with 2 adjustable levels) while having a conversation so that you can hear yourself and not talk too loud. L/R balance adjustment allows you to rebalance the audio level for both earbuds, which is very helpful if you have a hearing deficiency with one of your ears. You can also select your preferred volume adjustment steps – the more steps, the more granular your

The CKS30TW also supports multipoint pairing, which allows you to connect to two devices at the same time and switch to either device when the earbuds detect audio activity.

Audio Quality

With 15 different EQ presets and intensity settings, the CKS30TW can easily fit the listening preferences of any consumers. Let’s start with describing the sound with the equalizer disabled. The sound is quite neutral-warm, the treble is not glaringly bright but enough to present good clarity and not sounding muffled nor dark. Vocals have a bit of weight, bass offers good resonance and intensity. Overall, the tuning is skewed a bit towards the lower frequency, slightly obscuring the upper frequency.

Here is where the EQ comes into play. Personally, I like the “Clear” EQ preset with Mild intensity, which elevates the treble. While this setting takes away a bit of the bass punch, I find this works well for me when listening at quiet locations. If you wear them outdoors, then you might want the bass to be more pompous. In any case, you have 15 presets-intensity options to choose from.

Call Quality

The call quality is average, even in a quiet environment, the voice sounded distant and echoey. It seems the mic is picking up the reflections of my voice instead of direct pickup. The side tone is of a lower intensity than Hear-Through even when I have selected “High” level.

Verdict

The Audio-Technica ATH-CKS30TW is a surprising well-rounded earbuds, offering an excellent balance of features, clean detailed sound quality, and an enticing price. The earbuds case is compact, battery life is long, and the ability to apply one of the 5×3 preset EQ makes it suitable for all types of listeners and for all genres. The festive launch price of S$108 will end on Dec 2022.

Summary