Audio Technica ATH-CKS55i review

Big bass is what they promise, and big bass is what you get Tested at £45

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Shrinking violets these are not. Big bass is what they promise, and big bass is what you get – with a pleasingly detailed midrange


  • +

    Good build quality

  • +


  • +

    huge bass

  • +

    detailed presentation


  • -

    Don’t have the finesse of the best

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

One criticism often levelled at in-ear headphones is that they don't deliver the weighty, punchy bass of their over-the-head cousins.

Audio-Technica aims to change that with its ATH-CKS55is, on whose packaging the words 'SOLID BASS' appear even bigger than the company logo...

The designers haven't mucked about, either. Replace the word 'solid' with 'seismic' and you have some idea about the kind of whump that these buds offer.

Noah And The Whale's acoustic-led L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. yields a performance packed with warm, rounded low frequencies and a lovely open way with vocals.

There's plenty of detail on offer in the midrange and treble, too.

Dynamic shifts, decent finesse
A switch to Van Halen's Mean Street showed the CKS55is more than capable of handling more complex rock, with the dynamic shifts dispatched with decent finesse.

Our only gripe is that this monolithic bass could sound a little tighter; some of the leading edges of notes are a bit sanded-off for our taste.

If you're after an analytical listen, these Audio-Technicas aren't really for you. But if you crave excitement, nice design and a decent fit – not to mention, of course, a great big delivery from the downstairs bass department – they're well worth a try.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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