Audio-Technica CK3TW full review

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Finally, a pair of wireless earbuds have come along from a reputable audio company for an affordable price. The Audio-Technica CK3TW earbuds have a lot to offer including a feature rarely found on far more expensive rivals.

However, they do have some downsides which may put some users off. Then there’s the spanner in the works where by the excellent Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s are now the same price.

Price

The asking price of the Audio-Technica CK3TW wireless earbuds is one of the stand out things when looking at the wider market.

They come in at £99/US$99 meaning that many pairs from big brands cost over twice the amount, including the Sony WF-1000XM3 and Apple AirPods Pro.

However, some pairs have come down in price so you can pick up the Cambridge Melomania 1 for the same price.

You can, of course, find even more budget friendly wireless earbuds if these are stil beyond your budget. Also check out our chart of the best wireless earbuds, regardless of price.

Design & Features

Once you’ve seen a few pairs of wireless earbuds, you’ve pretty much seen them all. There are only really a few different styles around.

In contrast to the toothbrush head style of the AirPods, Audio-Technica has gone for more of an all-in-one earbud. It’s perhaps a little more chunky than some but each bud remains lightweight at under 5g each.

We think they look pretty stylish and the slightly oval shape in the middle has a tiny gap around the edge making it, fittingly, look like a speaker driver. That gap, however, might end up filling with dirt over time.

Audio-Technica CK3TW design

As usual, a range of ear tip sizes are supplied so hopefully you can get a decent fit. We needed somewhere between small and medium which caused a few issues while using them. As we said, they’re not heavy, but a loose fit means they will slide out - especially if you’re walking quickly or eating.

They’re not pitched as being for sports, but we’d avoid them if you are thinking about getting these for running or similar. Not just due to the fit either, but that they only have a low IPX2 drip-proof rating.

Pushing them back in is an option of course, but you don’t want to be doing it all the time and it’s quite easy to accidentally press the touch sensitive buttons on the outside of each earbud.

It can also interfere with the auto pause/play feature called Ear Detection, which is otherwise really handy. It’s off by default so might not know it’s there but switch it on with a six second press on the left bud (with nothing playing).

Then the earbuds can detect when they are removed to pause music or resume once you put them back. Overall, this feature worked very well with only occasional false positives.

When you’re not tapping them by accident to adjust the earbud, the touch buttons work well. You’ll just need to learn the system as the left side handles volume while the right side operates playback and phone calls.

Audio-Technica CK3TW charging case

Like other wireless earbuds, Audio-Technica supplies a charging case to store and, well, charge the earbuds in. It’s a compact pebble shape and the earbuds are easy to put in or remove thanks to magnets.

The earbuds do come out a bit if you grip the lid too tightly while opening the case and we’d prefer more than one LED to provide more charge information. They claim to last six hours on a single charge and we’ve found this to be true in testing.

You then get a further 24 hours of usage from the case so these will last you a long time before you need to top up the case from the mains. However, the Melomia 1s can go for up to 45 hours total.

If you don’t fancy the plain black colour we tested, you can also get the CK3TW in white, red or blue.

Sound Quality

Just like the Melomania 1s, the CK3T wireless earbuds have 5.8mm drivers, a 20-20,000Hz frequency range (which matches theoretical human hearing) and use Bluetooth 5.0.

You can also make use of the Qualcomm aptX codec if you have a device with it, too - ie most Android phones but not iPhone. There’s no AAC support for Apple products so you’re best off getting these if you’re going to hook them up to another brand.

Audio-Technica CK3TW wireless earbuds

Those 5.8mm dynamic drivers do a good job of producing a detailed and rich sound for a wide range of music or other content like audio books.

Audio-Technica has done a good, and expected, job of an accessible tuning where the bass, mids and treble work together rather than fighting each other for space.

They present a spacious sound that makes you feel immersed and while there’s a decent level of bass, it’s a little loose and boomy for our liking.

Verdict

There’s a lot to like about the Audio-Technica ATH-CK3TW, which on the whole, are decent wireless earbuds at a reasonable price.

They sound pretty good, have an attractive lightweight design, offer long battery life and have a feature that typically only far more expensive rivals have and is even then still pretty rare - and that’s automatic play/pause when you remove or replace the buds from your ears.

It works well but they are limited to a low IPX2 waterproof rating and don’t fit amazingly (in our experience anyway).

Now the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s are reduced to the same price, you might as well get them unless the ear detection feature is a must have.

Specs

Audio-Technica CK3TW: Specs

  • Drivers: 5.8mm Dynamic
  • Frequency Response: 20 - 20,000Hz
  • Sensitivity: 98dB/mW
  • Impedance: 16ohms
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
  • Codecs: Qualcomm aptX
  • Ports: USB-C
  • Microphone: Yes
  • Battery: 6 hours music playback (24 hours with charging case)
  • Weight: 4.7g per earbud, 50g charging case
  • Colours: Black, White, Red, Blue

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