While there is no denying that the headphone market is dominated by somewhat masculine designs, Audio Technica has strayed a little from the conventional with its current CKF300 (Bloom) series. One of the few products under its Ladies' series, these in-ear headphones has been exquisitely designed to be fashionable and accessible for females.
Looks-wise, the CKF300 stays true to its namesake; the in-ears are shaped like small and cutesy round flower buds that will certainly appeal to the fairer sex. They are available in a wide selection of pastel colors and come with equally saccharinely designed boxes.
The entire concept (of spring and flowers) is conveyed admirably through the packaging: it definitely looks very presentable and pretty enough to be given as a gift.
While the selling point of the Bloom series is undoubtedly the unique shape and size of the ear-buds, it falls flat on a functional level. Oddly, the buds aren't attached to 'grips', and as a result, we found ourselves pulling out the buds gingerly so as not to break the thin cable. The product itself feels fragile and flimsy, so do exercise a little caution when you are tugging at them.
They also don't fit as well. Often, the ear-buds felt looser when put on compared to others that we have tested. In fact, we weren't confident of them staying put, and had to check on them periodically.
On the plus side, the product weighs little and is small, which makes it easy to store. You can fit them in a tiny pouch, or with the given carrying case. However, instead of going with white for the cord and earpieces due to aesthetic reasons, it might have been more practical to provide an option for black, seeing that the set we tested got slightly dirty after two days of use.
Noise-cancellation wise, the CKF300 performed reasonably well despite its fluffy exterior; we could barely hear any ambient noise even at mid-volume. However, the bass and vocals were weak and lacked punch, resulting in flat audio delivery. If you aren't fussy, the CKF300 should suffice as a spare set.
Apart from its mediocre performance and some functional hiccups, the Audio Technica CKF300 is a relatively cool product to invest in. At $38, it is a choice selection if you are looking for something pretty and easy on the wallet as a gift (it likely will not sit very well with the guys). Those who are looking for sturdiness and better performance can consider other alternatives like the iFrogz Noise Pollution Timbre Series, which at $39.90 is just slightly more expensive.