Hey gang, Valkor here. On my day to day commute or even my airline travels, I tend to throw on a pair of headphones, let the music block out my surroundings and allow the tunes to mentally whisk me away until I get to where I am headed. And being with TOV I get the chance to try out some of the best and the worst that the audio companies have to offer in terms of quality headphones. Audio-Technica, a three-peater in the Val-Cave is back again with the ATH-CKX9iS SonicFuel In-Ear Headphones, and they’re not only going to do a number on my commute but yours as well, because you’d be crazy to want to pass these babies up.
The Sonic Fuel headphones were made with the active user in mind, i.e. those who are constantly on the go or in workout mode. These headphones offer up a unique two part locking system that uses silicone rubber for comfort; the first locks just above the ear canal and the second is the actual earplug that goes into your ear. It all hooks to a pivot system that moves when the cable moves, insuring that a little tug won’t pop the headphones out of your ears. It took some time getting used to this set up but eventually I made it work and discovered how well the buds hold.
Continuing down the line, the SonicFuel incorporates a plastic flat cable with an attached volume/microphone remote control, which worked without fail on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 as well as my Google Nexus 7 during a Skype chat. So already the SonicFuel is scoring well, but how does it compare to other headphones in the Val-Cave repertoire?
Vs. The V-Moda Vibrato – I didn’t think anything would come close to the power of the Vibrato and the SonicFuel headphones come pretty close, however the bass with the Vibrato puts it over the top – now that’s rich!
Vs. MultiSonus EarBombz EB Pro Series – While the SonicFuel is a slight step down from the Vibrato, it’s definitely a step up from the EB Pro Series. I love the bass in the EB Pros, but the SonicFuel is a step above them with a richer, clearer sound.
Vs. Skullcandy FIX – The only reason why I’m pitting the SonicFuel against the FIX, it’s because they have one thing in common – how the stay put in your ear. The FIX holds well, but with the pivot system and how it locks in the ear, makes the SonicFuel the better choice in my book.
After testing out the SonicFuel headphones against the competition, the big question is how well do they stand on their own. And that’s where the TOV Breakdown comes to play.
First up, sound quality of the SonicFuel headphones is easily some of the finest to ever grace these ears. Audio is crisp and clean with a nice treble and a rich bass that doesn’t distort at higher volumes. Plus you get a decent level of noise cancellation, which blocks out most background noises; it’s definitely appreciated when someone starts a loud conversation on a train or bus. Look I’m OK with a person having to take a call, especially when it's important, but there’s no reason to be so… vocal about it. I hate talking on the phone during my commute; I equate that time travelling to sitting on the bowl. That’s Val’s time and no one disrupts that moment. Ahem, back to business, the SonicFuel also does well with call quality; voices are bold and clear and I didn’t have any issues hearing my other party and vice-versa. Design-wise, the headphones look kind of awkward, but once you’re used to the system, they’ll fit well in your ear and stay locked in place. Of course an extreme tug will pop them out, but if there’s a slight pull they’ll stay in place. They’re also quite comfortable and if the standard plugs aren’t comfy enough, the headphones come with foam tips called “Comply” for comfort and to truly immerse you in your own soundtrack. Overall, the SonicFuel has made my commute that much more enjoyable and even when I need some quiet time at home (when not on the bowl), the SonicFuel gets the job.
The awkward design “might” turn some people off; I was confused at first just how these things fit in my ear. But that’s just a minor gripe and once you get past the design, you’ll begin to appreciate what these headsets have to offer.
Chalk up another TOV victory to the gang over at Audio-Technica as the SonicFuel headphones are nothing but win in my book. They may look weird, but damn do they provide amazing sound quality and comfort. I definitely reccomend them to anyone and everyone looking for quality headphones. And out of TOV 5 stars, I give the SonicFuel headphones a 4.5 and they have been Valkor tested and TOV Approved.