First off, I’d like to thank the folks at Audio-Technica once again for providing a review sample of the CKS77.
Having reviewed the Solid Bass line of portable headphones, naturally, my next stop would be the Solid Bass line of earphones. This time, I’m starting with the CKS77 in ears, not the cheapest or lowest end Solid Bass earphones but on the lower end compared to the CKS99 and CKS1000. So, does the CKS77 measure up? Read on to find out.
Accessories: The CKS77 comes with four pairs of silicone eartips, a set of manuals and a drawstring carrying pouch.
Design and Build Quality: The CKS77 is one of the funkiest designs I’ve come across in an IEM. Similar to the Thermaltake Isurus, the housings feature a large driver which sits in the outer ear and a nozzle that extends into the ear. Interestingly enough, the CKS77 includes what Audio-Technica calls a “2 post” system which allows the user to position the eartips in two different places according to preference. Overall, the earphones seem nicely built with sturdy cables and black plastic housings with a soft touch feel to them around the edges where the housings come into contact with your outer ear.
Comfort: This could possibly be a point of contention for some but I was very pleased with the fit of the CKS77 and it was very comfortable for me over long periods. The driver sat in my outer ear nicely without exerting any unpleasant pressure.
Isolation: These isolate very well for a vented dynamic IEM.
Microphonics: A tad unpleasant at times but nothing excessive.
Burn in: The CKS77 was given 50+ hours of burn in prior to evaluation and no significant changes were noticed during that time.
The CKS77 is capable of the strongest bass I’ve ever heard with a strong punch and rumble that keeps up with some of the best in my collection. Though the CKS77 is capable of fairly deep bass, most of the emphasis is on the mid bass, with a very, very strong mid bass presence that can occasionally overwhelm when prodded and make its presence and sizeable bloat known. That’s not to say it’s especially unpleasant but it’s impossible to ignore on particularly mid bass heavy songs.
The mids are recessed, as is the case for many heavy bass earphones and can sometimes be slightly overwhelmed by the bass but rarely to the point where I’d call it annoying. Instead, the midrange is capable of surprising detail and clarity despite its inherent warmth and sounds a bit dry in the upper regions which can result in some mild sibilance, not unlike the VSD1. The treble is prominent but rarely to the point of excessive harshness and sounds nicely airy.
The best way I can think of to describe the type of sound on offer here is to liken their presentation to a dance club. The sound is spacious but strangely enclosed in the sense that you understand that the space is larger than it seems, but you still can’t move far in any direction without bumping into someone.
Listening to EDM is especially good and the unique sort of claustrophobic spaciousness (an oxymoron, I know) the CKS77 presents is especially apparent and has a very “live” sort of feel. Listening to Deadmau5’s I Remember with its thumping bass, if I closed my eyes, I could almost trick myself into thinking I was listening to it live in the middle of a crowded dance hall.
The Audio-Technica CKS77 is available from various online retailers including Amazon for around $99 or so. That’s a pretty good price but these aren’t the easiest recommendation for everyone as I’d imagine their sound signature can be quite polarizing. But again, these are from the “Solid Bass” line and that’s exactly what you get. So as long as big bass is what you want, these are a pretty good choice, especially if you prefer to listen to Hip-Hop and EDM.