Audio Technica ATH-CK200BT review: it’s all about the sound

“Our take on Audio Technica’s latest budget Bluetooth earphones — the ATH-CK200BT”

If you ask me to jot down a list of all the things I love that come from Japan, Pokémon would unquestionably be at the top of the list. But, headphone manufacturer Audio Technica would come in at a close second. You see, for as long as I can remember, the company has been making professional, studio-grade headphones which have won the hearts of millions.

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Now, the company is looking to make a name for itself in the consumer electronics space and it hopes to do so with the recently unveiled ATH-CK200BT Bluetooth earbuds. Priced south of Rs 5K, do the pair have what it takes to be the king of the hill? Read on to find out.

Design and Comfort

If you browse through Audio Technica’s catalogue, you’ll notice a distinctive pattern — the company seldom designs its product to look flashy. Most, if not all the company’s offering prioritise function over style and the CK200BT is no different. The pair of Bluetooth earbuds have been constructed in entirety using plastic and simply put, look like a run-of-the-mill headset. That said, while the unit’s plastic finish doesn’t do its aesthetics any favour, it does help keep the weight of the earphones down. So much so, I almost forgot that I had the unit strapped around my neck on numerous occasions.

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Suffice it to say, Audio Technica’s CK200BT are exceptionally comfortable to wear over long hours. The only caveat is that you’ll want to keep your head as still as possible, as the cable which connects the earpieces together is quite short. So, you can all but forget about using the earphones in a gym. Speaking of which, the CK200BT miss out in any sort of IP rating too, so you’ll want to keep the pair as dry as possible and away from sweat and moisture too.

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As for I/O, the pair ships with two plastic modules, one of which has the controls for the in-line remote, whereas the other houses the battery pack. You can use the buttons on the in-line remote to take calls and browse through your music library without having to take your phone out. Lastly, there’s an LED indicator positioned on the remote control, along with a micro-USB port for charging.

Sound quality, battery life and connectivity

The Audio Technica ATH-CK200BT is backed by a pair of 9mm dynamic drivers positioned inside each earpiece which can operate across a frequency of 20Hz to 24KHz. The pair relies on Bluetooth v4.1 to connect to compatible devices and comes with support for SBC codec only. The last bit had me worried for a moment, but after testing the earphones for a solid week, I am quite happy with the results.

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Much like the brand’s studio headphones, the CK200BT offers a balanced sound output, meaning you’ll not hear more of any frequency. While this is great for audio purists, you might find the earbuds lacking in other areas. For instance, while the unit packs a solid punch in the low end, the beats don’t feel as satisfying as they would come out of the OnePlus Bullets Wireless v2 (review) or the Jays A-six Wireless (review). Don’t get me wrong, you will hear the bass in a song and the beats even have a nice attack to them but they will leave EDM-heads wanting for more.

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That said, the ATH-CK200BT’s mid-range is extremely articulate, which is a rarity in this price range. Correspondingly, listening to acoustic blues and vocal-heavy songs on the earphones is an absolute treat. The highs on the other hand, while just as detailed were a bit too bright for my liking. I noticed that I had to decrease the volume whenever I was listening to a rock ballad, as the strums from the electric guitar sounded a little bit fatiguing. But, so long as you keep the volume in check, you will revel listening to your favourite rock bands on the earphones — the notes are sharp and detailed, and thanks to the unit’s excellent imaging, you’ll be able to decipher all the instruments playing in the background coherently.

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As for battery life, the Audio Technica ATH-CK200BT ships with a 3.7V lithium polymer battery which lasted me a little over six hours off a single charge. While the battery life is on par with most other Bluetooth earbuds in the segment, the charging time is quite high. In fact, you’ll have to sit on your hands for a minimum of three hours for the unit to reach 100 percent battery levels, which is a bummer.

On the flip side, the ATH-CK200BT offer rock-solid Bluetooth connectivity and maintain a reliable connection to paired devices. The call quality from the built-in mic was per my expectations too, so no complaints here either.

Verdict

The Audio Technica ATH-CK200BT has been priced at Rs 4,890, however, the earphones usually retail between Rs 3,500 – Rs 4,000 on e-commerce portals like Amazon. For the price, the earphones offer a balanced sound output, good battery life, solid connectivity and a comfortable design, making them an enticing proposition.

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That said, if your music taste sways towards EDM, then you might want to look at Bluetooth earphones from Sony’s stables. You can even pick up the first-gen OnePlus Bullets Wireless (review), which retail for Rs 4K online and offer better sound along with fast charging to boot. Regardless, the Audio Technica ATH-CK200BT is among the handful of budget Bluetooth earphones which don’t compromise on the sound quality and for that reason alone, I believe that while it may not be the best option out there, it still remains a worthy buy.

Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5

Pros

  • Lightweight design
  • Clean, balanced sound
  • Ship with an in-line remote control

Cons

  • Battery takes a long time to charge
  • Design could’ve been better
  • Cable is too short
Photos by Raj Rout
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