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4W Headphone Review: Audio-Technica Sonic Sport (ATH-CKP500)

What is it?

The Audio-Technica ATH-CKP500 a/k/a the Sonic Sport are in-ear sports headphones designed for the rigors of the weight room as well as the pavement.

What do they do?

The Sonic Sport headphones proved a comfortable secure fit while also being waterproof, which truly sets them apart from most affordable in-ear sports headphone offerings. Now when you hear waterproof, I am sure you are wondering how much water exactly are we talking? The answer is a low pressure spray – meaning that you can rinse them after wear but swimming with them is definitely out of the question. The waterproof design also makes these sweat-proof which definitely was a plus for me on the scorching days outside this summer. The inclusion of various ear tips not only ensures a secure and comfortable fit, but with the addition of ridged tips also allows runners and cyclists to not be totally restricted from ambient noise. You will appreciate this when listening to music on public transportation as well since you can hear instructions for route stops rather clearly even at decently high volumes.

What’s wrong with them?

The first glaring flaw – there are no inline audio controls or microphone. Considering how most phones now serve as our music players, this is a very poor design flaw. The designers at least should have included some inline controls either on the primary cable or the extension.

I know some may take issue with the extremely short cord, but if you use an armband it probably will not affect you as much. The two foot extension that was included (while a nice compromise) did occasionally get disconnected or was prone to getting caught on gym equipment, but at least it allowed me to keep my Samsung Note 3 in my pocket since finding a armband for a large phone is a different challenge.

I was bummed to see that no case was included with these headphones for a few reasons:

  1. The ear tips will probably be swapped out at some point between workouts or commutes depending on your activity so why not have the tips with you at all times?
  2. A case would allow you to keep the extension cable close by.
  3. The overall protection of the headphones.

For those of you that like your music on the more base-heavy side, I will say that you will lose a bit of it with the ridged eartips, but it’s a small compromise to make for safety.

Why do you/don’t you need them?

If you are looking for a competitively priced set of in-ear buds with solid comfort and clean well-balanced sound I do recommend giving them a shot. The waterproof capabilities are nice perk and you will find yourself rinsing them off and cringing as you think that you messed them up. Rest easy as that apprehension will pass.

My Take:

As someone who uses a variety of Audio-Technica products, I did feel a bit let down by these in-ear headphones because Audio-Technica rarely skimps on certain features. The lack of an inline mic was something that really baffled me considering that even most low-end headphones out there include inline mics. The extension cable was an issue as well since without a case it is prone to get lost.

It’s not all negative though, as the sound was clean and ambient enough to make training sessions a breeze. I did use the ear hooks more since I have a smaller ear canal and they did a solid job shutting out the blaring Katy Perry music at the gym. The ridged eartips did allow me to hear traffic pretty well while walking as well as my coworkers at the office when they had questions. A small yet noticeable design aspect l personally liked was the angled housing which is designed to keep the cords behind your neck. This small design mod was a welcome surprise and kept me from having to run the headphone cable under my shirt.

The price tag is competitive versus most offerings but honestly getting a pair of waterproof headphones with a decent array of fits for less than the $59.99 MSRP makes these worth checking out, unless of course you want to answer calls or change tracks without pulling your device out of your pocket.

Product Photos