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Audio-Technica makes heads spin with new turntable, and bass-heavy earbuds

Audio-Technica has announced a brand new high performance turntable with a price that belies its features, and two pairs of wireless headphones to increase its presence in this competitive space. Digital Trends had the chance to listen to them ahead of the launch, and we’ve included some comments on the performance here, along with all the details you need to know.

Audio-Technica AT-LP5x Turntable

This is Audio Technica’s solution for vinyl fans who want more than a cheap turntable, but can’t justify the massive price tags attached to range topping players. The AT-LP5X delivers the features you want, at a price that’s sensible, with plenty of scope to upgrade in the future. The sequel to the AT-LP5, the LP5x comes with the AT-VM95E cartridge in the box for 33 and 45RPM records, but if you swap it out for a compatible cartridge, the LP5x will play old 78RPM records too.

What makes the AT-LP5x special is the built-in phono/line pre-amp, so you can hook it up to a set of powered speakers, your existing stereo setup, or a computer and listen to records straight away, yet still having the option to buy a separate amp later on. I listened to the AT-LP5x both with and without an amp. The warm vocals paired with a sweet and punchy bass line made it a joy, especially with a pair of  the company’s own ATH-W1000Z headphones running through an amp.

The sleek, minimalist player is heavy enough that it stays planted on a flat surface, and the feet have suction cups to keep it in place. The J-shaped arm is a nod to Audio-Technica players from the 60s and 70s, looks suitably cool and retro, while the design helps to avoid tracking errors along with an adjustable anti-skate setting. The direct drive motor is connected to an aluminum platter, complete with a thick damping matt, while a transparent dust cover (which can be removed entirely if you don’t like the retro look) keeps everything in pristine condition.

Versatile thanks to the swappable cartridges — but the included AT-VM95E will be enough for most people — and simple to use with the manual controls, the AT-LP5x will suit keen vinyl lovers and beginners alike. After listening for a short time, I was already planning how to buy the turntable and a headphone amp so I could start a vinyl collection. The versatility continues with a USB connection for your computer, so vinyl can be easily ripped.

Vinyl is certainly niche, but it’s one with a passionate and growing fanbase. The AT-LP5x feeds into this. It’s a reasonably priced, minimalist turntable from a brand with heritage and an understanding of great sound. The AT-LP5x will be released in September and while we’re waiting for a U.S. price, we know it will be 350 British pounds, or about $420, in the U.K..

Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW

Audio-Technica has tuned the new CKS5TW true wireless earbuds to provide more bass punch than its previous true wireless models, and after a short listen, I can confidently say they deliver. However, more interesting is the extended battery life — 15 hours from a charged set, with 45 hours total use after recharging with the case. That’s enough to challenge recent stars like the Cambridge Audio Melomania’s and the Sony WF-1000XM3.

Sound is delivered by a 10mm driver inside redesigned buds, with a specially shaped ear-tip made to better isolate you from the outside world. Unlike some more expensive true wireless earbuds, the CKS5TW have physical hardware buttons on the body, rather than touch controls. Theres are for playback control and volume, are easy to press, but do take a little while to locate with your fingers.

The earbuds use the AptX codec, plus Audio-Technica has an app to alter sound settings and locate a bud if it goes missing. In the ear, the CKS5TW were very comfortable during my short listening session, and there was no doubt they had more bass than I’m used to hearing from Audio-Technica headphones. It was actually a little too much — a solid, hefty kick in the ear — with a less subtle sound than I usually prefer. It stripped away some of the vocal detail I wanted from the couple of test tracks.

They were connected to an Astell & Kern music player, and I did not alter the sound profile on the device, and did not listen to tracks with which I’m that familiar. For this reason, it’s unfair to judge the CKS5TW’s just yet, but if you like plenty of strong bass then I doubt you’re going to be disappointed with these. Connection woes are supposedly removed with the new wireless earbuds too, with an auto pairing feature in place that links them to your device after opening the case and removing the buds.

The CKS5TW’s are joined by the CKS3TWs, a cheaper set of true wireless earbuds with 5.8mm drivers, and six hours battery life per change with an extra 24 hours available from the case. These will cost $100 or 100 British pounds in October, while the CKS5TW models will cost $150 or 150 British pounds upon release in September.

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