Review: Sleek Audio CT7 Custom Earphones
Final review of Sleek Audio CT7 is up on the front page.
If you are a long-toothed TMA reader, you'll know that our first custom earphone to be reviewed in our home turf was the CT6, Sleek Audio's budget custom champ. It is a great earphone with a few big plusses:
- unparalleled customisation of looks/sound
- strongest connection system
- good, balanced sound
- good construction quality
Its major con was the cable itself, a rather cheap, easily-broken affair that has now been changed. The new one looks cheaper, but actually fends off the nasties of sweat and skin grease better. But dear me, it is a cheap one. If you buy a CT6 or 7 today, it will come with this cable. Compared with Westone, Jerry Harvey, Earsonics, FitEar, Sennsaphonics, ACS - or any other custom earphone, it is behind a step, or two.
The CT7 follows the good points of the CT6, but betters each. It keeps its incredible customisation potential, good construction quality, etc., but adds: phenomenal sound.
It is brighter than the CT6, and firmer in the bass region. Forget bloom, the CT7 is tight, fast, controlled, quite balanced, favouring the entire audible spectrum with clean, highly resolved music quality rather than focusing quite perfectly on the midrange.
Balance, speed, space are its fortes. It isn't as smooth as the JH13Pro, but then again, it costs much less. Its guts are two drivers per side, neither as large as Earsonics, FitEar or Jerry Harvey use. No matter, each set sounds lively and detailed, while keeping very very good dynamics and bass speed.
Think of this: Audio Technica CK10, but with a bit more bottom end thump. When I say bit, I mean it. The CT7 is more balanced than the CT6, following the machined linearity of the CK10 quite well, but coming away better because, well, the housing is custom. Universals, as good as they are, rely finally, on the silicon, foam, or acrylic flange ear piece that holds the earphone in the ear. The CK10 is a fiddly one, one I hate to use simply because it is so fiddly.
CT7, all the goodness (and a bit more), but without the fuss.
It is pretty sensitive too, and blocks a LOT of outside noise, meaning that I keep the volume quite low. On my iPod touch 4G, the volume is never higher than 4 steps for modern music, and never higher than 6 for music from 20 years ago.
I'll get pictures and a proper review up in the next couple of weeks. My arm, still quite broken, is not able to hold camera or set up tripod. I hope it will be ready in a few weeks as these deserve a very fine review.
#1 tasman 2011-04-18 19:15
i have been looking at the westone es7, the ue, and the jh in ear monitors. i know they are all different... but if you were only going to get one set of iem's, would you get the ct7's... ?
are you still happy with the wireless system for the ct7 ?
most of these sets are within a few hundred dollars in price. are the ct7's still your best bang for the buck ?
thank you very much .... tim ....
Sorry for being very late in reply. My honest opinion on the CT7 is very very high. But, it must be put into context. Firstly, on comfort, Westone have it nailed. The semi-soft ear-canal portion is simply amazing, practically melting in your ear. The ones from JH, UE, Sleek and a number of other companies are comfortable, but not as much. And, if you are a musician, or use the earphones whilst moving, you'll find the earphones moving around. Westone's don't.
So, comfort-wise, the CT7 as well as UE and JH, are behind Westone. I've heard that the UE Reference monitor has a soft Westone-like tip, but I've not tried it so I cannot comment. It is also damn expensive.
Now, to sound. The CT7 is like a rawer JH13Pro in many ways. It doesn't have the same amount of v-curve in the signal, but it is almost there. It is also easier to drive than the 13, exibiting less impedance sway back and forth. If you have a new iPod or iPhone, I reckon you don't need an amp. It does hiss more than the JH, though, so if you are bothered by even the slightest of hisses, you'll probably be put off the CT7. It is minimal, of course, but not bad.
The sound is great: crisp, wide, and powerful, if slightly dry. It is very much like a good combination of the JH13Pro and the ACS T1, both favourite earphones of mine. Bang for the buck, I've not heard better. Just keep in mind the above caveats.
Final review coming out in a few days. Sorry for the delay!
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