KZ has been surfing the peak of fame as your bang-for-buck earphone brand.
Their cheap line of IEM products gained them a dedicated following for providing above-par quality.
However, 2022 hasn’t been kind to the earphone brand so far. A number of accusations against the brand have stirred up controversies surrounding their products.
That makes us question, are KZ IEMs good?
Yes, KZ IEMs are really great earphones. There is no other brand providing quality IEMs at a cheaper rate than KZ. In fact, most of their IEMs are below $50 and provide mainstream quality. Even in 2022, KZ launched several well-received models. Recent backlashes have put the company under scrutiny.
More insight is required to unveil more information regarding the KZ earphone quality. Tag along with us to learn more about this topic.
Let’s cut to the chase.
KZ as a Brand
There was a time when you had to splash out hundreds of bucks to enjoy dynamic music. IEMs were pricey, and not everyone could afford quality sets.
But that was about to change in the mid-2010s when Chinese brands started pulling the strings. One notable name among them was KZ.
Thanks to their crafty automation and ingenious engineering, KZ delivered quality products at exceptionally low prices.
For the first time, everyone could afford and experience good audio within their limited budget.
Founded in 2008, KZ started selling earphones and soon reached millions in sales by 2015. In fact, they were one of the biggest players of the chi-fi phenomenon.
Some of their earliest earphones left good impressions on customers, skyrocketing their fame.
They launched a good number of best-selling earphones over the years and gathered significant clouts.
KZ earphones were priced under $50, something that was unthinkable a few years back. They also provided all the additional features you would usually expect from a $100 earphone.
Some of the most popular KZ models are all below $50. They provide unrivaled quality and durability for such criminally low prices.
You can try out these best KZ earphones from the list below-
|KZ ZS10 Pro||Check Current Price|
|KZ ZSR||Check Current Price|
|KZ Yinyoo ZST||Check Current Price|
At first, people were wary about the quality of KZ earphones. People were wondering:
Are KZ earbuds good?
For only $20, you could get quality earbuds like Mrice E300 back in 2015. Surprisingly, that wasn’t their cheapest product in the market! KZ was showered with praise by critics as the brand gradually gained momentum.
Some of the KZ earbuds can compete with higher end earbuds like Shure SE215.
But that was just the beginning for KZ.
Transitioning to Something Big
While Moondrop chu was getting a lot of attention, KZ was also doing pretty good with their cheap earphone launches and single DD IEMs.
However, to break the technical restrictions of modern wireless earphones, they needed a bigger leap.
In 2017, KZ started independently manufacturing earphones. They were looking to break past the Chi-Fi standards and transition into a modern mainstream brand.
The battle between IEM vs earbuds for market dominance was heating up back then.
Seeing this as an opportunity, KZ made the most out of it. They started pumping out the best budget IEMs, stirring up massive waves of excitement.
By then, the brand had launched a number of successful earphone series. ATE, ZS, and ED being some of the notable names.
The earphones provided a longer lifespan, good sound quality, added with great aesthetics.
KZ also kept up with the ever-growing market demands and came up with newer models.
KZ soon dived into the IEM market and launched a few great IEM models.
KZ was quick to dig into influencer marketing by collaborating with some big names. Two of the most notable of them are Crinacle and Hawaii Bad Boy.
Crinacle(Corin Ako) is an audio reviewer who makes comparative analysis on IEM frequencies.
He’s famous in the audiophile community and posts regularly on In-Ear -Fidelity. Crinacle has also been active on Youtube recently, creating insightful contents.
Hawaii Bad Boy, on the other hand, is another YouTuber also known as Bad-Guy-Good-Audio-Reviews. Together, he and KZ launched the HBB x KZ series.
KZ also uses other brand names to launch its IEMs. Clear Concept Audio and Tripowin, two sister brands of KZ released IEMs possessing similar traits.
Critics and enthusiasts were optimistic about the future of KZ IEMs. The brand established itself as one of the leading earphone brands in the world.
At this point, KZ couldn’t put a single step in the wrong direction.
Or so they thought.
The Ongoing KZ Driver Fiasco
In a surprising turn of events, KZ saw their latest IEM releases being teared up online. Word of mouth is that the brand has been guilty of falsely advertising its product.
What followed was a serious backlash that hugely scarred the reputation of the brand.
Soon after, many more negative stories about KZ IEM earphones began to surface. Things went south when a new movement named #ExposeKZ started.
KZ Fake Drivers: What Went Wrong?
Delta Fyre, an audiophile, was quick to notice some oddities with KZ products. It all started with a Facebook post on KZ ZEX ‘EST’ drivers. From his findings, disconnecting the ‘EST’ driver barely impacts the sound quality. What’s more surprising is that the action somewhat increases the treble response!
KZ ZEX before and after removing EST driver
Unfortunately, this is just the beginning of a series of accusations that’s about to follow.
Are There Any Other Controversial KZ Models?
Another test on HBB x KZ DQ6S triple drivers unveiled some more information.
Apparently, only one of the drivers actually works, leaving the rest two almost useless.
Yet again, unsoldering the connections still proved to have no effect on the performance.
From the sound of it, KZ was using decorative drivers to jack up the price.
By then, the story started to gain traction among audiophile communities. More and more people started to look into the matter.
Turns out, KZ has used decorative drivers in other models as well!
The CCA CA24, another model with useless drivers, provided the same sound as CCA CA10. Funny enough, the CA10 didn’t have the surplus drivers.
It can’t get any worse, can it?
Wait, there’s more!
With the Crinacle CRN(Zex Pro), KZ claimed to have tribrid drivers. As you can expect, they were not useful at all. KZ seemed to jam the drivers in an attempt to call them tribrid drivers.
Comparison between CRN with EST vs CRN with No EST vs with No BA
Adding insult to the injury, even the BA were detected to be fake!
Minus the BA(Balanced armature), the sound quality remained exactly the same. Delta Fyre claims that the CRN Zex Pro is actually a single DD earphone.
What Was KZ’s Immediate Reaction
By now, the community outrage was snowballing, and things were going for worse.
Turns out, the final nail in the coffin was hammered by KZ themselves. How?
In a fragile attempt to downplay the issue, KZ used bot accounts to counter the backlash. Even we can tell that it wasn’t the brightest of PR moves!
The community didn’t take this attempt lightly and countered it with further backlash. And KZ became an online laughing stock of the Chi-Fi community.
Unfortunately for Crinacle, their collaboration with KZ got them caught in the heat as well.
The Crinacle CRN was the joint product of KZ x Crinacle that was the latest to get exposed.
HBB also felt the heat due to their KZ x HBB DQ6s being another exposed earphone. All this accusation led people to doubt:
Is KZ a good brand?
Why Did it Happen?
You can blame KZ’s inclination to provide cheap IEMs for this.
Earphone enthusiasts have been demanding a cheap line of IEM products for a while. While it does sound reasonable on pen and paper, the math doesn’t add up.
IEMs use dynamic drivers that are really costly. Using such high-quality drivers can easily take the price to over a hundred bucks.
So when KZ pulled out this feat and priced CRN around 36$, it stormed the internet. It was too good to be true.
Enthusiasts were stumbling head over heels to get a piece of this hyped product. But it proved too complicated for KZ to execute at such a cheap price.
As expected, when something is too good to be true, it usually is.
Is KZ IEMs Any Good in 2022?
Speaking from a neutral POV, KZ is still one of the leading earphone brands. They have a strong foothold in the IEM market and produced brilliant earphones. And yes, they still make quality earbuds and single DD IEMs.
However, the problem seems to surface when KZ pushes for further innovation. That is, moving from single DD IEMs to promising multi-driver IEMs.
Pulling out such a feat is by no means easy. And it gets especially harder when you’re trying to sell it for cheap.
The initial impression was that the smaller drivers were fake. But questions were raised about the dismantling process of the IEMs.
Other enthusiasts were quick to jump into the issue. They claimed that the small drivers are real but make minimal impact on the audio performance.
According to them, the additional drivers are dampened in volume via resistors. So much so, that the sounds are almost inaudible to notice.
Whichever it is, KZ IEMs are still good enough with their single dynamic driver. For such low prices, there’s no other brand in the market that can offer such quality.
Some of the latest KZ earphones of 2022 are:
|KZ ZSN||Check Current Price|
|KZ ES4||Check Current Price|
|KZ ZST||Check Current Price|
They are lighter than quality V-shaped headphones and provide almost similar sound quality.
New earphone users often ask:
Are KZ earphones good?
Yes, even in 2022, KZ is one of the top earphone brands. KZ manufactures the best IEM earphones in such criminally low price range. Their past products have mostly been well received and still used by many.
KZ has built its reputation over the years by manufacturing IEMs at bargain prices.
There are so many KZ models that it’s really difficult to trace their hierarchy.
And their identical sounds make many believe that KZ uses the same drives in most models.
It does get difficult to clean braided cables of KZ IEMs at times, but other than that, it’s all good.
Despite the controversies surrounding inflated driver count and jacked-up prices, they are still quality IEMs. When questioned about quality, KZ IEMs actually came out as great products. One of the strongest suits of KZ IEMs is their balanced tuning.
Such cheap prices for decent earphones meant that their products were always in high demand.
KZ products are available in almost all online marketplaces and their sales are always growing.
Apart from that, KZ has also been active in the wireless IEM market. In fact, they have nailed the sound quality in their first attempt at manufacturing wireless IEMs.
KZ wireless IEMs have since seen consistent innovation and overall improvements.
The models launched under collaboration performed well on sales too.
As it stands, the models were tuned up according to their respective collaborator’s preferences. Making them distinguished from the other KZ earphones.
This makes the KZ CRN and KZ HBB DQ6s even better. Although, you might need to spend $10-12 extra bucks for the collaborator brand.
Okay, the promise of multi-drivers didn’t seem to work for KZ. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying relentless high-quality music on multi-driver IEMs.
Take a peek at this quality multi-driver Moondrop IEMs:
|Moondrop Aria||Check Current Price|
|Moondrop Starfield||Check Current Price|
|Moondrop SSP||Check Current Price|
Unlike KZ, Moondrop IEMs don’t have any dirt on their brand name. They also manufacture genuine products for the customers in exchange for a few more bucks.
Compared to higher-ranged competitors, the KZ IEMs sound bland and dampened.
If you compare Moodrop KXXS or Starfield, they are superior to KZ IEMs.But that’s understandable, considering the use of cheap earphone components.
So there you go. Is KZ any good?
From what we found out from our test runs, KZ earphones are good for your average day-to-day listening.
However, for gaming purposes, our tests gave out different results. The higher end KZ models did a decent job for gaming.
On the other hand, the cheaper models came out short-handed for meeting the gaming needs.
Here;s what we know:
|Is KZ ZSN Pro good?||Yes||Is KZ ZSN good for gaming?||Mediocre|
|Is KZ ZSN Pro X good?||Yes||Is KZ ZSN Pro X good for gaming?||Yes|
|Is KZ ZS10 good?||Yes||Is KZ ZS10 Pro good for gaming?||Yes|
|Is KZ ZS3 good? ||Yes||Is KZ ZS3 good for gaming?||Yes|
Keep in mind that we have made our judgments based on the price of the models.
We took the sound quality, comfort, functionality etc. into consideration during the testing.
KZ still has a great line of IEMs even in 2022. Breaking the $50 margin can even get you KZ IEM earphones for gaming.
You can also try out Fiio IEMs as they provide great performance for gaming.
The Fiio fh3 is a great pick for gamers all over the world as they provide a peak gaming experience.
What Aftermath Awaits KZ?
Clearly, the entire fiasco has left a huge dent in KZ’s reputation. Public sentiment has been heavily shaken and many have turned their back on the brand.
Recovering from such a huge public backlash will take high effort for KZ. The entire incident might see a drop in the sales of KZ IEMs and similar products.
The parties responsible for this debacle have come up with their response to the situation.
Corin Ako was quick to come up with a response about the situation on March 7th.
On his website, In-Ear-Fidelity, he described his part in the making of KZ CRN earphones.
He cleared out that he had no part in the technical manufacturing of the IEMs.
According to him, he only served in a “consultative and advisory role”. That means that in no way was it possible for him to QC the products.
Crinacle also stated that they are not looking for any future cooperation with KZ.
Crinacle’s response on future collaboration
Bad Guy Good Audio Reviews’ Response(March 7)
It didn’t take long for Bad-Guy-Good-Audio-Review to state his thoughts on the entire KZ situation.
On March 7, he came out with a youtube video discussing the issue. He was transparent about the entire situation and stated his disappointment in KZ.
Bad Guy Good Audio Review’s video description on KZ x HBB collaboration.
Finally, on March 8, KZ came up with its own official response. In a Facebook post, they have talked about the recent negative impression of their IEMs.
KZ confidently went on to claim that the BA and EST drivers did work. They admitted that the BA and EST had low pressure, but they still worked nonetheless.
In the matter of DQ6S, they were transparent about a defect in the designing process.
Apparently, a specific “Gluing” issue in the production process has led to the problem. However, KZ soon took down the post as the dust settled.
Shortly afterward, KZ held a video interview with Ian Fann, an earphone enthusiast/reviewer.
The viewers got more insight into the entire situation from the 22-minute interview.
So far, the KZ fake IEM scandal is still long from over. What happens from now on depends on KZ’s quality control teams and PR.
Updates from 14th March
KZ has finally watered down the situation by coming up with another notice.
They addressed the issue with the DQ6S and offered a refund to anyone who purchased the DQ6S from February 20th to March 8.
For the other IEM models, KZ hasn’t mentioned anything further. They are claiming that the noise on the other models is just an attempt to shower a bad reputation on KZ.
Is KZ a Chinese brand?
Yes, The KZ brand is a Chinese brand. The Guangdong-based Shenzhen Yuanze Electronics Co operates under the name “KZ”. The brand is worldwide known as KZ for that reason.
How long does an average KZ SK10 earbud battery last?
The lithium battery of KZ SK10 lasts around 6.5 hours solely on battery life. But in the case of using a charging case, the battery can last for 26 hours.
What are IEMs used for?
IEMs, also known as In-ear-monitors are high-quality earphones used by musicians and audiophiles. You can listen to the very minute details and beats of the music from IEMs.
Wrapping Things Up
That should clear up any doubts on “Are KZ IEMs good?”
If we look past the alleged “dishonest business practices”, KZ IEMs are still good. You won’t find earphones this good at such price ranges from other brands.
That’s all about KZ. Have a great day!