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  • Cheryl Tan

Audio Technica ATH-CKS30TW Review: GREAT Value For $100!

These are some of the most un-Audio Technica-looking earbuds in the company’s lineup, but I’m all for this new look. We have the Audio Technica ATH-CKS30TW with us today, and if I could give the company one suggestion… It’d be to change up the naming scheme of its products, because sheesh, that was a mouthful.


So, let’s talk design first. We got the blue model and it’s a metallic-looking part on top with a matte part on the bottom. The whole case is made with plastic though, but relatively well constructed with no wobble in the lid. The USB-C port on the rear is snug as well. There’s a single LED in the front that serves as an indicator for charging. No wireless charging here, but seeing how tiny the case is, I think I’ll cut it some slack. It’s certainly a different look from Audio Technica’s older models where the case and earbuds were all very big and bulky. The case for the CKS30TW is thin and lightweight enough to slip into the coin pocket of your jeans, which is a big departure from the other models.

Flip open the lid and you get the earbuds inside. They really are a big departure from older Audio Technica earbuds, and while it’s still on the bigger side, they’re not as bulky anymore. That being said, I did notice a bit of wearing fatigue after about 2 hours of having them in, so people with smaller ears do need to be a bit wary and take regular breaks to keep your ears from hurting.

The earbuds are really quite simple due to the need to keep costs low. There’s no in-ear detection sensor either, so you’ll have to manually pause your music when you take the earbuds out. There’s a glossy touch control circle with the Audio Technica logo and it’s pretty nice as it doesn’t hold onto fingerprints. Another nice touch is that the left earbud has a raised dot for easy identification of which earbud goes in which ear. There’s a pretty nice curve to the earbuds that helps with keeping them snug in the ear.

As for touch controls, it’s pretty simple. Starting from the right side, a single tap controls play/pause, a double tap skips tracks forwards and a triple tap skips tracks backwards. A long tap and hold activates talk-through, which basically lowers the volume of your music and pipes in environmental noise. There’s also hear-through, which keeps your music playing at the same volume while piping in environmental noise. On the left side, a single tap increases the volume, a double tap lowers the volume while a long tap and hold activates or deactivates the EQ. But enough about the touch controls. Let’s talk about the EQ, because it’s pretty interesting.

So it comes with five presets, Bass Boost - Deep, Bass Boost - Beat, Dynamic, Vocal and Clear. When you select each one, there’s a short writeup that talks about how the sound is adjusted, then when you pull this upwards, it opens up into a triangle visualisation of how the sound is changed, and you can select from mild, default or strong intensities even. Bass Boost - Deep focuses more on the low bass frequencies, while Bass Boost - Beat has a bit of a bump in the treble compared to the other Bass Boost EQ. Dynamic is a more standard V-shaped EQ with a dip in the mids, while Vocal bumps the mids and highs up and Clear gives the most boost to the treble. I gave all of them a try and I actually liked the Vocal and Clear EQs the most, which will come as no surprise to those of you who know I prefer more forward vocals and brighter treble.

Regardless, it’s very interesting how Audio Technica is tackling EQ with this product and I actually do like how they’ve done it here. It’s clear, understandable and easy to customise with the different intensity settings.

And of course, this is accessible in the AT Connect app, which has a bunch of functionality. It shows you the battery levels of the earbuds, the current codec in use, offers some touch control customisation, but also stuff like touch sensor sensitivity, volume adjustment steps and even a low latency mode for videos and games. That being said, I didn’t really notice much audio delay when watching videos, so you might not even need to turn it on.

There is no ANC on these earbuds, and even though you’d expect the passive noise isolation to be decent, I can still quite easily hear stuff around me when there’s no music playing.


Connectivity-wise, these are running on Bluetooth 5.1 with support for SBC and AAC so no high-res audio here, although I’d be shocked if they did offer it on this since I’d consider it a rather entry-level pair of earbuds.

Battery life is decent, 7.5 hours in the earbuds and a total of 20 hours with the case. Not amazing, but seeing as the case is small and light, I’ll give it a pass.

The earbuds themselves do have IP55 dust and water resistance, so they are a decent option for bringing to the gym or out and about for exercise.

Mic quality is… alright. You won’t want to use these for important work calls, but for general use, they’re passable.

Sound Quality

And when it comes to sound quality, it’s not too bad. The overarching signature is on the warmer side, with a bit more emphasis on the low end. There’s plenty of thump and heft to the bass, while the mids are a little recessed with a typical V-shaped signature, although vocals are still relatively present. The treble with the EQ turned off is decent, but not as energetic or as bright as I like. And that’s fine, I think the sound out of the box with the EQ off works pretty well for most people. And if you don’t quite like it, well, there are technically five EQ presets with three intensity settings each for a total of 15 options. It’s pretty good.

Soundstage is alright, it’s a bit cramped depth-wise, but it is wide enough and there’s a decent amount of layering and separation.

Pricing & Conclusion

At S$138 or approximately US$100, it’s quite value for money I’d say. Not the best pair of true wireless earbuds you can get, and lacking some features like ANC, but they sound pretty good and they’re affordable.

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