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Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 SonicSport Inner Ear Headphones Review

by August 20, 2013
Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 SonicSport Inner Ear Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 SonicSport Inner Ear Headphones

  • Product Name: ATH-CP700
  • Manufacturer: Audio-Technica
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStar
  • Review Date: August 20, 2013 11:00
  • MSRP: $ 99.95
  • Type:  Dynamic
  • Driver Diameter:  13.5 mm
  • Frequency Response:  20 - 22,000 Hz
  • Maximum Input Power:  100 mW
  • Sensitivity:  105 dB
  • Impedance:  16 ohms
  • Weight:  12 g
  • Cable:  0.6 m (2')
  • Connector:  3.5 mm (1/8") mini-stereo
  • Accessories Included:  Pouch, 0.6 m (2') extension cord, 0.6 m (2') extension cord with remote and mic for Smartphones, conversion cord, cord clip
  • Type (Microphone):  Condenser
  • Sensitivity (Microphone):  -44dB (0dB = 1V/Pa, 1kHz)
  • Frequency Response (Microphone):  50 - 15,000 Hz Polar Pattern (Microphone)    Omnidirectional


  • Modular cable very flexible
  • Water resistant
  • Back head band keeps in place well
  • Mic works great
  • Allows in outside noise to keep you safe


  • Bass light
  • Fatiguing high end
  • Some low-end bass distortion
  • Disappointing travel bag
  • Modular cable puts controls in odd spot


I've been a huge fan of Audio-Technica for a lot of years. The first "high end" purchase of headphones I did was basically standing in a music shop (remember those?) and buying the most expensive ones they had. They were Sennheisers and, while they were okay, I never really felt like I got my money's worth. Later on, I did some real research and I ended up buying the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 headphones. I've been using them for my podcast (AV Rant), for casual listening, and just about everything in-between ever since. I've never regretted my purchase.

When Audio-Technica announced a new line of sport-themed headphones, I was intrigued. One of the problems I've had with "sport" headphones is that, generally, they don't stay in. My main exercise is climbing which, while not the most vigorous (such as running which keeps you in constant motion), it does require occasional spurts of violent movement (we call those dynos not that you care) and a lot of head movement. Looking up, down, and to the sides, often quickly, routinely sends other headphones flying out of my ears or, at the least, dislodging so that I feel the need to stop and reinsert or adjust them.


The SonicSport line of headphones has three different models. Two of them (the ATH-CKP200 and the ATH-CKP500) are in-ear models. The ATH-CP700 under review are what Audio-Technica calls "Inner Ear" headphones. That's odd since they sit in your outer ear like an earbud. I would describe them as "earbuds that won't fall out and are designed to be as comfortable as possible". So don't go trying to jam them in your ear. They won't fit.


There are a few key design elements to the ATH-CP700 that need to be covered. First, the cord is attached to the left earbud. This makes identifying the proper way to put them on a cinch. The right earbud is connected by a semi-rigid band that is meant to be worn behind the head. The cable, of course, is snaked through the band and Audio-Technica warns that the band is not to be overly bent for fear of breaking the internal cable or reducing the band's ability to hold the earphones into your ears. The cable is modular (more on that later) and there is a clip for holding it to your shirt. Audio-Technica has included an adapter for use with specific phones and a vinyl travel pouch. The travel pouch is a bit of a disappointment as it looks a feels very cheap.


I remember when the behind-the-head earphones first showed on the scene. They certainly were novel and got a lot of attention. But they were often paired with headphones that really didn't benefit from the design. One of the flaws of the behind-the-head band is that it makes them impossible (or uncomfortable) to use while sitting. In my office chair, when I lean back my head hits a headrest. The same in my car or most other chairs. With behind-the-head bands, the band is disturbed which dislodges the headphones. This means you'll either have to sit forward, or figure out some way of sitting where the band isn't disturbed.

The ATH-CP700 are the same. But since these are called "SonicSport" headphones and not "SonicSit-Around-and-Listen-to-Music-in-your-Office-Chair" headphones, you should be prepared for that.


Most earbuds are essentially hard plastic speakers that you shove in your ears. Many, including me, find this to be a purgatorial experience. I'd rather listen to nothing than to use the stock earbuds that come with most MP3 players. Audio-Technica has attempted to mitigate this painful experience by shaping their earbuds more like the shape of your outer ear and by wrapping the edge in rubber. While it isn't a soft, cushy rubber - it isn't meant to be. The rubber not only makes the earbuds a bit more comfortable, but helps grab your ear to keep the earbud in place. Both the outside and inside faces of the earbud are hard plastic though there is a sort of port that aims the sound down your ear canal. The port is constructed out of formed rubber to ensure comfort.

Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 Fit and Use

There are two types of people on the planet (in my opinion); those with ears that will grab earbuds and keep them in place no matter what happens like some sort of third (and fourth) hand, and me. My ears just don't do well with earbuds and most in-ear monitors. That's why I was excited about the Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 behind-the-head band. This band really helps keep the earphones in place regardless of use. Usually, when I'm wearing eadbuds or in-ear monitors, I'm constantly having to fiddle with them. They either feel like they are falling out or they do just that.

I'm not talking about when doing vigorous exercise either, just walking across a room.


There are really two parts of the fit system of the Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 headphones - the band and the rubber surround on the earbuds. The second part is for comfort and to grip your ears - and, for the most part, it works. Hard earbuds are pretty much universally uncomfortable for me. But the Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 earbuds are wearable for much longer before I notice any discomfort. Usually it is when I remove the earbuds and I realize the pressure that was being put on my ear that the pain comes. A quick rub and a few moments wait and the pain recedes.

One thing to note about the Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 is that they are designed to allow in outside noise. This is a safety feature allowing runners and others to hear things like cars before they become a threat. The physics of earphones dictate that allowing in outside noise kills bass. Audio-Technica combats that by giving the ATH-CP700s prodigious amounts of bass. Press the earbuds into your ears and you'll hear bass that you won't believe could come from such small earbuds. The "aiming" port is situated in a way to direct the bass down your ear canal.



I exercised with the Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 headphones (climbing) and found that they held in place just as I expected. But they are really designed for people that exercise outside. Like runners. Probably specifically runners.

I'll do a lot of things for a review. Running isn't one of them. Unless there are zombies involved.

But I do have friends that are runners. One of them agreed to take them out on her run. This wasn't any morning, however, it was the morning that Tropical Storm Andrea hit the Tampa Bay area. It wasn't at the height of the storm but there were moments of sideways rain. Because this is Florida, we don't put much stock in Tropical Storms. I mean, we might buckle down during the worst of it but we'll still make a beer run if we have to.

It's only a Tropical Storm

That means that not only was it raining, and raining hard, but there was traffic. My friend was very impressed with the performance of the Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 headphones. She normally uses the stock earbuds (sacrilege!) and found that the Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 stayed in place much better. She also found them to be much more comfortable. As the Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 are meant to be used in the wet (just don't run water directly into the driver hole according to the manual), their performance didn't waver during the rain. The stock earbuds will start to crackle (her words) if they get wet.


I asked her about outside noise. At the time, she didn't really notice outside noise but she did note that she wasn't startled by passing cars as she often was with the stock earbuds. To me, this indicated that Audio-Technica succeeded. Whether she knew it or not, the Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 earphones had kept her safer during her run.

Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 Sound and Cable

The Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 seek to find a balance between quality sonics and letting in outside noise to keep you safe when you are exercising outside. This is a tall order as physics is working against this whole concept. Audio-Technica has given the ATH-CP700s a ton of bass to counteract the lack of a sealed connection to your ear to balance out the bass drain that happens when you open up a headphone to the outside world.

In short, it doesn't work very well. Or enough. Depending on how you look at it.

The Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 just don't have enough bass when they are naturally sitting in your ear. My runner friend confirmed that she thought the same. This gives them a slightly tinny sound where the high end sounds overly emphasized because of the lack of bass. It is possible that the shape of both of our ears were such that they didn't allow the bass to be directed down the ear canal properly. Audio-Technica has even included a pivot on the ATH-CP700 earbud to help it move with you to keep the earbuds in place. I found the pivot is too tight and it didn't seem to make that much difference.


When I press the Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 into my ears more, the sound is pretty remarkable. If Audio-Technica knows anything, it is how to make a good sounding set of earphones. And the ATH-CP700 are a good set of earbuds. But the design choice to let in external noise has made it nearly impossible for them to sound as good as they could or, more accurately, do. The only issue I had with the bass (other than the lack thereof) was that very bass heavy tracks (this showed up in listening tests with tracks off Yello's the eye album) the drivers would distort. It was a very rare occurrence though I felt it should be mentioned.


One thing that occurred to me over the course of this review is that the Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 headphones aren't just combating outside noise, but the noise you make when you move. Having an earbud that has more high-end energy may be fatiguing when you are sitting in your office chair, but it may be just what you need when you are out exercising to cut through all the other noises.

Cable and Controls

The Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 have a unique, modular, cable. It hangs off the left earbud making it very easy to know which side is which. But it is only 0.6 meters long. Most all headphones come with a 1.2 meter cable making this one exactly half as long as you'd want. It's an odd choice for lengths unless you are using an armband holster for your iPhone or MP3 player. If you use one of these, it is the perfect length. My runner friend uses a fanny pack for her iPhone and the attached cable was just a bit too short and kept pulling as she was running.


Audio-Technica has included with the ATH-CP700 two extension cables that are each 0.6 meters long (giving you the normal 1.2 meter length). One is a standard cable with a right angle 3.5mm input and the other has a straight input and a one-button in-line control and microphone. This is, again, an odd design choice as it means that if you use the included clip to put microphone where Audio-Technica, suggests (hanging near your sternum), you barely have enough cable to get the phone to your belt. Since I wear a lot of cargo shorts and pants, and like to put my phone in the side pockets, the in-line controls were way too low for me to use the mic. When I did have it clipped near my sternum, people said my voice was as clear as using the phone alone, which is impressive.

The upside of having two extension cables is that you can daisy chain them up to 1.8 meters. But then you have nearly six feet of cable to contend with. I wish that Audio-Technica had made the cable detachable from the actual earbud so that you could put the control near your jaw like normal headphones. While the single button control worked perfectly, it is situated very near the modular cable connection so that you often grab the connection before the control. This is obviously something that you'll get used to with prolonged use but I found it a very non-ergonomic first experience.

Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 Conclusion

Aside from the funky cable and throwaway travel pouch, the Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 do exactly what they promise. They are the perfect headphone for those that exercise outside and want to stay safe with the best audio possible. It's hard to judge the Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 compared to other headphones in the sonic department because they've hamstringed themselves by allowing in outside noise to keep you safe when on the roads. According to my runner friend, they really work in that regard. If you've been afraid of using headphones when exercising outside, the Audio-Technica ATH-CP700 may be just what you've been waiting for. If you are looking for sonic excellence from an in-ear monitor, Audio-Technica has lots of other headphones for you.

Audio-Technica ATH-CP700




The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
Ergonomics & UsabilityStarStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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