I will fondly remember 2019 as the year of truly wireless earbuds. Never I have tested so many as I have this year and it’s been mostly good.
I’ve been testing the Audio Technica’s ATH-CKS5TW over the last couple of months and have been impressed by the sound quality and battery life in particular.
Honestly, right from the first listen, the ATH-CKS5TW blew me away. The audio quality is superb and the fit, for my ears is comfortable. That being said, everyone has a different ear shape and size, so thankfully, you get three different rubber inserts, plus an extra ring that goes around the earbud to ensure the best fit possible.
The earbuds have a unique design and shape that fits securely and comfortably in my ears. It forms an excellent seal which provides a decent amount of passive noise isolation.
However, they’re not the most discreet and stick out from my ears just a little more than I’d like.
One of the headline features is the incredible battery performance, which lives up to the claim of 15 hours from a single charge on the earbuds, but when you include the charging capacity of the case, this means up to an incredible 45 hours.
The case doesn’t support wireless charging. Instead, it has to be charged via USB-C (cable supplied). The case is a little larger than most and has three tiny LED lights to indicate the battery’s state of charge. I love that the case has a flat top and bottom, which makes it easy to place on a flat surface.
For those who like to jog and work out while wearing earbuds, the ATH-CKS5TWs shouldn’t be a problem thanks to an IPX2 water resistance rating.
The set-up process is as expected with most Bluetooth 5.0 devices and I found no issues with connectivity in hours of listening. This included listening to high-res audio streams, which some headphones struggle to do well. After the initial pairing, the earbuds seamlessly turn on and off automatically as soon as you remove them from the case and put them back.
Although not perfect, I found audio synced well with video. It was spot on while watching Netflix, but I did notice a slight delay with some YouTube videos.
ATH-CKS5TW make watching movies a real experience, with a large sound stage and big dynamic rage with thumping bass. Music, especially high-res audio, is also fantastic. They support Qualcomm aptX, although not aptX HD.
The newly designed 10mm solid bass HD driver really delivers, with exceptional bass response without muddying the rest of the range — perhaps more than I personally like, but a lot of people love this, especially with certain genres of music. Mids are mellow and listening to vocals is clear and distinct. I found highs a little less distinctive, but that’s not too surprising and less distracting for most listeners other than audiophiles.
The earbuds have a single button on each earbud. By default, the right side is one click for play/pause/answer/hang up, two clicks forward skip and three for going back a track. The left earbud button is one click for volume up and two for volume down. Using the free Audio Technica Connect, you can swap the left and right earbud controls. You can also use the app to perform firmware updates, change audio codecs and enable voice prompt.
It’s also worth mentioning that call quality is excellent in both directions and I was able to hear myself during a call, unlike some headphones that sound weird, because you can’t hear what you’re saying.
Audio-Technica’s ATH-CKS5TW is one of my favourite earbuds of 2019 and come highly recommended. You get incredible battery life, excellent audio quality and the convenience of truly wireless earbuds with good controls.
Available form amazon.co.uk