Today we are going to be looking at a discontinued product from Audio Technica’s ‘Players Line’ of sports earphones, the ATH-CPK300.
Why I am reviewing something that has been discontinued? There are a couple reasons. The first is that despite being out for at least four or five years, they have received next to no coverage in the form of formal reviews. There are lots of previews, but not much beyond that. The second is that these are my first legitimate Audio Technica product and I happen to really like them.
I purchased the ATH-CKP300 through a local discount store, Factory Direct, and am not affiliated with them or Audio Technica. This review contains my personal opinions, feelings, and experiences with this product. I hope you find it helpful should you be in process of purchasing a new pair of earphones and come across them.
A little about me:
Over the last couple years I decided to dive head first into the world of portable audio. After reading pretty much the entirety of IjokerI’s multi-earphone review thread and being greatly inspired, I took a chance and started writing my own reviews. Fast forward a couple years and I’ve had the opportunity to write about some great products for wonderful companies like RHA, Havi, FiiO, NarMoo, Brainwavz, and Meze. I don’t do it for money or free stuff, but because I enjoy it. If I can help guide someone to an earphone that makes them happy, I’ll consider that a job well done.
The gear used for testing is pretty basic composing of an XDuoo X3, HTC One M8 cellphone, the Topping NX1 portable amplifier, and my aging Asus G73 gaming laptop paired with the Plantronics Rig USB amp. I mostly listen to liquid drum and bass, followed up with classic rock, hop hop, metal, occasionally dipping my toes into other genres. I usually prefer very aggressive and energetic earphones, but lately have been finding myself branching out and enjoying a wider variety of signatures.
Packaging, Accessories, and Features:
The ATH-CKP300 came in what I initially thought was going to be your typically horrible, plastic blister package. To my delight, that was not the case.
Flipping over the package revealed a setup similar to that used on the Sony AS800AP and Sony MDR-XB50 where the cover is held shut by two tabs tucked into small slits cut into the rear. I really appreciate this design because it means you do not have to hack the package to pieces, potentially damaging your earphone if being a bit reckless. Inside the earphones and accessories are wrapped in a separate plastic encasement, further wrapped in a cardboard sleeve containing information about the earphone. There is also a simple instruction manual.
The ATH-CKP300 comes with few accessories consisting of xs/s/m/l olive-shaped eartips and a 0.6m extension cord. That extension cord is absolutely necessary as the CKP300’s cable is only 0.6m in length. That’s fine if you are using them with a music player strapped to your arm, but for anything else is less than adequate.
A good feature to have in an earphone is water resistance, or better yet, being water-proof. The CKP300 is the former, IPX2 to be precise, which is better than nothing. This should offer them limited protection from sweat and light rain, but that’s about it. Newer earphones like Sony’s AS800AP give you way more protection with an IPX7 rating, making them fully waterproof in up to three feet of water.
Build, Design, Isolation and Comfort:
The CKP300 is made of good quality plastic. They show absolutely no wear of any kind after months of frequent use, and no travel protection in the form of a case. The cable is well-relieved both at the earphone’s stalk and at the straight-jack, but is uncomfortably thin and tangles fairly easily. At least cable noise is kept to a minimum. While there is no relief at the y-split, Audio Technica was kind enough to include a well-disguised chin slider. The extension cord is terminated at a 90 degree angled jack and is well relieved at both ends.
In the black/silver configuration, I think the CKP300 looks mature and refined. The design is surprisingly slim and restrained for a sports earphone. They could also be had in blue, red, white and yellow, most of which are a little more flashy than I would like and cheapen the design in my opinion.
Isolation on the CKP300 is below average. The rear of the housing actually has three fairly large vents smarty disguised within the Audio Technica logo. For a sports earphone, I consider this a plus since you can hear what is going on around you, especially nice if you are exercising in a public environment.
When it comes to comfort, the CKP300 is excellent. While the housing is round it features an oval rubber ring that runs around the edge keeping them securely in place. As a result, ergonomics for me are nearly perfect with weight being evenly distributed throughout my outer ear, or pinna. This is a very good thing because they are absolutely designed for cable-down wear only. You can technically wear them over-ear but that results in the cable being bent at an awkward, lifespan-shortening angle. It is also very easy to dislodge them with very little effort when worn that way. Over-ear wear is not recommended.
As a side note, adding ear-hooks from the VE Monk + expansion package makes these one heck of a secure earphone. They are perfect for running or vigorous exercise in this configuration.
What good is an earphone if they sound mediocre? I’m sure I could think of a valid answer, but the one I’m going to use for the purposes of this review is “None at all.” Luckily, depending on your preferred signature the CKP300 sounds pretty nice.
When I posted my first impressions at the start of the month of June, 2016, I said;
“Smooth and refined, good detail and clarity without being strident, delicious mids (so far their greatest strength I’d say), and surprisingly restrained bass for a sports iem. A touch boosted, but nowhere near as bassy as the AS800AP.”
The only thing that has changed between then and now is that I swapped the stock large silicone tips with a pair of exactly the same size and dimensions, but with softer silicone offering greater comfort. I recall comparing the two and they sounded identical. Now that I’ve had plenty of ear time with the CKP300, I’ve become adjusted to their signature.
Relaxed, mellow, smooth, comforting, familiar. These are all adjectives I would use to describe the CKP300. Treble is inoffensive with good extension, picking up enough detail in most recordings to satisfy during a workout. It’s not exaggerated and is balanced nicely with the rest of the signature so as not to stand out. Even at volumes I would not normally listen at, it remains smooth.
Mids are warm and as a result work especially well with female vocals. Male vocals do not fall far behind, but they do seem a touch less forward. Guitars, acoustic especially, sound very natural making me wish the mids were slightly more forward.
Bass lacks texture, but is well controlled and not overly boosted., though a little slow. There is more focus on mid and sub-bass, but with such as warm, smooth signature it works. Bass still digs fairly deep and can provide a satisfying rumble, but I think it is more tailored towards that like their bass slightly boosted instead of thundering.
Soundstage and imaging are above average for an earphone in this pricerange giving you a good sense of space, but separation can fail to impress when your music starts to get overly complicated. These failed to entertain with metal in particular.
Overall the CKP300 brings to the table a warm and relaxed signature with a well-thought out mid-bass bump. They’re not overly impressive technically, but they really don’t fail in any particular area. This signature combined with outstanding comfort means I can listen to them for hours and hours without fatigue.
The CKP300 was a spur of the moment purchase that ended up being much wiser that I suspected. The lack of reviews and coverage of this earphone led me to believe it wouldn’t be worth spending much time with, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. A comfortable housing combined with a warm, smooth, non-fatiguing sound has made them one of my favorite daily drivers, good enough to overlook the inconveniences caused by the short cable and necessary extension cord.
If you’re out and about and happen upon a CKP300 for sale, they’re worth checking out even a midst the flurry of excellent Chinese earphones flooding the market at the moment.
Thanks for reading!