headphones
Expert Score
8.9

Audio-Technica SonicFuel ATH-CKX9iS Headphones Review

Pump up the jam: headphones for the active, bass-loving listener

June 30, 2014
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The Insides That Count

It's time for a closer look at performance, this time with charts. We run every set of headphones through a gamut of audio tests, and then score each pair based on the results.

The Audio-Technica ATH-CKX9iS put up solid marks on most every test, but a discrepancy in the frequency response held this pair back just a little.

Frequency Response

Time to have a look at what these headphones are actually doing, in terms of emphasis. Whether they blast bass notes, muddle mids, or harp on highs, this test will tell.

Based on the frequency response chart, you can tell that bass notes are quite prominent, and so are very high notes of around 7-10kHz. Low kicks and rumbling tubas will really blare, cymbal crashes will thunder, but note the drop in the upper midrange: Details around 3-6kHz live at about 64dB, while low, middle, and very high notes are as much as a whopping 20dB louder. That means that the upper notes of percussion, brass, and even certain stringed instruments become quite obscured at times.

Audio-Technica-ATH-CKX9iS-frequency-response.jpg
Upper mids fall in volume, obscuring details like high notes on guitar.

Still, these work well enough for general mobile use. If you're a casual listener and you don't mind a bit of a bassy sound quality, you may not mind the discrepancies here.

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Distortion

The CKX9iS does a pretty good job preventing too much added junk noise and snipped harmonics from hampering your tunes. The only measures that leap above the 3% THD (total harmonic distortion) mark occur in the sub-bass range—and human ears are not very sensitive to those deep, low notes.

Audio-Technica-ATH-CKX9iS-distortion.jpg
For the most part, total harmonic distortion remains below the 2% mark.

Should you unwisely crank the volume upwards of 123dB, the distortion will certainly rise above 3%, however.

Other tests...

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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