Audio-Technica has far, far too many models of in-ear earphones to count. I mean, literally — I tried counting them and gave up due to exhaustion and severe dehydration (I stopped at about 20, which makes me a wimp and means I should probably drink more water).
So why are they adding six more models (which the company is calling their “SonicFuel” series) to the mix? And why do they bear an uncanny resemblance to Monster’s iSport earphones, right down to the swiveling ports and massive flange? Whatever the answers to these questions might be, the new sets, at $50-$100, are in just about the right price-range for holiday gifts; and if the fit really is identical to what we experienced with the iSPorts, they’re probably really comfy.
While the models technically number six, half those are really iS-version siblings with added controls and a microphone. At the most expensive end there’s the $95 ATH-CKX9, with 13.5mm drivers and supplied Comply eatips; this is the only model that doesn’t have swiveling ports. The remaining two are the ATH-CKX7 at $75 and the ATH-CKX5 at $45. The CKX7 gets a flat ribbon-cable and slightly better performance specs.
Those are the versions without controls. For $5 more, each of those can be swapped out for the control-equipped iS versions with integrated microphones. Why anyone would opt for the non-iS versions is puzzling, since only the volume controls wouldn’t work on an Android device — track controls and microphone should still easily be worth the upgrade.