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Audio-Technica supports push for high resolution mobile music with new earphones

Audio-Technica supports push f...
The ATH-CKR10 earphones carry the Hi-Res Audio logo, a new industry standard launched back in June which defines high resolution audio
The ATH-CKR10 earphones carry the Hi-Res Audio logo, a new industry standard launched back in June which defines high resolution audio
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The ATH-CKR10 earphones carry the Hi-Res Audio logo, a new industry standard launched back in June which defines high resolution audio
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The ATH-CKR10 earphones carry the Hi-Res Audio logo, a new industry standard launched back in June which defines high resolution audio
The ATH-CKR10 and ATH-CKR9 in-ear headphones feature out of phase drivers that face each other for reduced harmonic distortion and improved response time
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The ATH-CKR10 and ATH-CKR9 in-ear headphones feature out of phase drivers that face each other for reduced harmonic distortion and improved response time

Audio-Technica has launched a new range of SonicPro in-ear headphones. Designed to get the most from high resolution audio sources, the range includes the ATH-CKR10 and ATH-CKR9 earphones which feature proprietary push-pull driver technology that's said to rival larger headphones for clarity and accuracy, particularly in the mids and highs.

The ATH-CKR10 models feature a metal-coated titanium housing, which should keep things nice and rigid to help cut down unwanted vibration. Each casing contains two 13 mm dynamic drivers offering a wide frequency response of 5 Hz - 40 kHz, 110 dB per mW sensitivity and impedance of 12 ohms. These out of phase drivers face each other for reduced harmonic distortion and improved response time.

The ATH-CKR10 and ATH-CKR9 in-ear headphones feature out of phase drivers that face each other for reduced harmonic distortion and improved response time
The ATH-CKR10 and ATH-CKR9 in-ear headphones feature out of phase drivers that face each other for reduced harmonic distortion and improved response time

Audio Technica says that the push-pull arrangement of the ATH-CKR10 in-ear headphones is similar to a design mainly used for subwoofers, where both drivers are mounted inside a ported enclosure and within internal baffles.

"The difference is that this design incorporates two full frequency response drivers rather than two low frequency response speakers," company engineers told Gizmag. "The HP drivers are wired out of phase while each driver is mounted in an internal baffle facing each other. The advantages of this design are lower harmonic distortion, increased output and power handing, improved bass frequency control and damping. The added benefit is even level transition through the mid and high frequencies with minimal increase in volume due to the smaller driver size and direct coupling to the ear canal. In more simple terms, the audio output signal from each driver is phase-aligned and mixed together to compensate for each driver inefficiencies while providing an equal and tailored response without artificial coloration."

According to the company, the listener should be treated to tight, controlled bass, clear and even mid-range vocal frequencies and pure, accurate high frequency response. You'll notice from the lead photo that the ATH-CKR10 earphones also carry the Hi-Res Audio logo, a new industry standard launched back in June which defines high resolution audio as "lossless audio that is capable of reproducing the full range of sound from recordings that have been mastered from better than CD quality music sources."

Music from a high resolution audio source is fed to the earphones via a 3.5 mm gold-plated stereo jack at the end of a 1.2 m (4 ft) star-quad cable, designed to eliminate noise and offer superior audio signal transfer.

The ATH-CKR9 models benefit from the same driver technology as the CKR10s, but have machined aluminum housing instead of metal-coated titanium.

The ATH-CKR10 earphones are priced at US$389.95, while the ATH-CKR9 models come in a little cheaper at $269.95.

Product pages: ATH-CKR10, ATH-CKR9

2 comments
sk8dad
I love the language of marketing especially in consumer electronics. Unfortunately, many consumers are swayed by the typical overly complicated and meaningless babble printed on the back of each box. Here's my rant...and I do enjoy a good rant.
They wield the phrase "drivers are wired out of phase" like it's some kind of epiphany. When you flip one of the drivers you have wire it in reverse so it doesn't cancel out the other driver. That's just basic physics. It would equally be uninformative if an automotive manufacture says, "we made the left door a mirror image of the right door".
"The advantages of this design are lower harmonic distortion." That a load of cr@p. The biggest reason to use push-pull drivers is higher power output. Assuming the headphone output of your portable device can handle the added current, a push-pull would essentially be two drivers doing the work instead of one--not twice the loudness mind you. As far as the distortion goes, the more moving parts you have the more likelihood of introducing distortion. One can argue that in a two driver setup, each of the speakers is only working half as hard thereby reducing the distortion. Well, same can be done with one better engineered driver, but that usually runs into either exotic materials (implying more engineering costs) or bigger drivers (implying larger form factor). They clearly cannot say "We didn't want design a whole new driver using only bleeding edge materials, and we need to fit it into an earbud).
"direct coupling to the ear canal"...really? We're still talking about an ear bud as opposed to a free standing speaker right? Name one ear bud that isn't designed to directly couple to the ear canal.
"output signal from each driver is phase-aligned". Wait I thought you said they were out of phase? Oh you were just bullsh*tting earlier? Okay then. The signals better be phase aligned or you get notable distortion to no sound at all. BTW, noise-cancelling headphones use exactly this concept to purposely "distort" the signal to cancel out ambient noise.
"and mixed together to compensate for each driver inefficiencies"...so having two identical drivers doesn't magnify the inefficiencies of each?
"while providing an equal and tailored response"...equal to what? Tailored to what? My ear canals? Do I send a cast of my ear canals or will you send an engineer out to me if I buy these very expensive ear buds?
"star-quad cable, designed to eliminate noise and offer superior audio signal transfer". Most cables are designed to not introduce more noise, so that goes without saying. Let's just say for argument's sake, these cables are constructed of some super duper unobtainium by virgin elves, the amount of distortion you could "eliminate" would be orders of magnitude smaller than ambient noise which we all know from trying to talk to someone with ear buds on, you cannot reliably detect. If you want to design a cable, design one that doesn't break after two years of usage...oh that will hurt your sales forecast...nevermind.
"machined aluminum housing instead of metal-coated titanium"...what difference does that make, and what the heck is " models feature a metal-coated titanium"? Last I checked, titanium was a metal on the periodic table. I suppose one can argue that since these metals are relatively stiffer than plastic, they vibrate less, and hence resulting in less distortion. Heck why not go full out and use ceramic or glass as the housing material. Oh don't want to retool? Nevermind. Again, you won't be able tell any of the so-implied reduction in distortion.
"Titanium". I'm just sick and tired of the mention of this element as some kind of miracle material. If it's good enough for the space shuttle, it's good enough for my ear bud. It's just a metal. While it's use as speaker diaphragm might be appropriate, everywhere else is mostly to hype the bling factor. ...but it's stronger than plastic. Well, all my ear buds break either in the cord or at the plug. I suppose if a situation where my life depended on the use an incredibly strong pebble sized object, I'd be glad my ear buds were made of titanium...oopse I left that one in the car.
wolfshades
Oh my stars and garters. What a great comment, sk8dad! It's a thing of beauty - and especially so, as I am one of the neophytes who get easily taken in by such marketing rhetoric, probably all too often.
I suppose if they're going to sell people these $400.00 earbuds, they'd better wield a million-dollar vocabulary.
Thanks so much for dissecting it.