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Universal Fit item created by AzimAkbar, Dec 7, 2015
Pros - Startlingly great across the board at a startlingly low price.
Cons - Bass-heavy, aggressive sound signature not to everyone's tastes.
TL;DR: The KZ ATE sings loud and proud for such a cheap IEM. Despite that, they're one of the most aggressive sounding IEMs I've come across, for better or for worse.
Chinese manufacturer KZ is to headphones what Oppo or Huawei means to cellphones – cheap, of a decent quality, and Chinese. KZ was one of the first who came into the audiophile market riding the wave of distributor-sellers bridging the gap between Eastern manufacturers and Western consumers. They have seen become a staple recommendation for audiophiles with not much cash to burn, offering sound quality of much higher value than what their price tags would suggest.
This week we will be taking a look at one of the older, but still highly recommended KZ models – the ATE. My experience with the KZ ED9 was not a very good first impression (it had channel imbalance issues straight out of the box), so now, let's find out if maybe I simply got off on the wrong foot.
(Disclaimer: the product in review was received free of charge from George at Gearbest.com in exchange for my honest opinion. Please take the following with a grain of salt and always try before you buy.)
== Aesthetics ==
The KZ ATE arrives in a diminutive box displaying the earphones in question. Inside there's not much to speak of – two extra pairs of silicone eartips to augment the included medium foam eartips and an instruction manual written in the most admirable attempt at English one would expect from a purely Chinese manufacturer. I guess you'd be looking for more, but considering their sub-$15 price, I doubt you'll find anything.
Design, Build, Microphonics
The overall design of the ATE seems to be modelled after the Audio-Technica IM series – a line of studio and stage-grade IEMs which are an order of magnitude more expensive. In fact, many times during their initial release hype, they have been touted as the "Budget IM50", referring to the Audio-Technica earphones.
Upon further inspection, they do seem to be quite well designed. Their cable, which seems to be identical to that of the ED9 I reviewed previously, makes an appearance here. Knowing the cable tends to shift out of place when the earphone is worn around the ear, KZ added gold-coloured weights some length down from the earpieces. Granted, it's not as flush of a design choice as, say, a moulded ear hook, but it gets the job done. By far its only weakness design-wise would be the short cable strain reliefs on the earpieces and the lack of a cable cinch, but otherwise, for this price, they're much better than you'd expect.
Fit, Comfort, Isolation
As expected of its stage IEM design, the ATE provided excellent fit and isolation characteristics. The earphones stayed securely in my ears even during physical activity, although I wouldn't say the same for their cable (for this, I would suggest a shirt clip). My only gripe here, though, is their comfort – the sheer bulk of the earphones prevent them from fitting flush in my ears, and those with smaller ears will definitely see this as a bigger issue. Smooth sailing here, nonetheless.
== Sound ==
Headphone Type: Closed-back in-ear monitor
Driver Type: Single dynamic driver (unknown size)
Max. Input Power: N/A
Cable: 1.2m (~4 ft.) OFC
Connector: 3.5mm (1/8") gold-plated right-angle connector
1x set black foam eartips (M)
2x sets grey silicone eartips (S/L)
The source devices used for this review are a fifth-generation iPod Touch and an iPad Air 2. The test tracks I use for my assessments are of various genres ranging from classical to electronica, with the audio file formats varying from 256 Kbps AAC to 24-bit FLAC. Some of these test tracks will be linked to in the sound assessments to demonstrate certain points. The eartips used are the stock foam eartips that come attached on the earphones out of the box.
Prior to the assessment I listened to the KZ ATE for at least 40 hours to get more accustomed to the sound – otherwise known as "brain burn-in" – to dispel any "changes" to the sound after a certain amount of time. No changes were noted over the review period.
For those not new to the Chinese budget IEM scene, you'll have already known of the ATE's reputation as a stellar basshead IEM. Well, this review will be no more than another affirmation of that. By far the ATE has one of the most prodigious bass responses I've heard in an IEM at this price. I have long passed the point on my road to the best sound where bass was the single most important thing to me. That time may be gone, but when I put on the ATE, I hear not much beyond waves of basshead nostalgia fill my ears. And it put a bigger smile on my face than I'd like to admit.
It's loud, it's proud, it's overbearing, and it's not afraid to show it (Haywyre – Sculpted, Dichotomy (Soft Mix); Unlike Pluto – Someone New). Its power and aggressiveness rivals the most bass-heavy earphones in my collection, while its speed and sub-bass extension establishes a level of bass quality that you will very rarely see in an IEM of this price. Ferocious, intense, and invigorating, the ATE is an exemplary basshead IEM.
But what's pretty neat about the ATE is that it's not entirely a one-trick-pony. Believe it or not, the midrange is actually quite clear, and although the bass does affect it as evidenced by its warm tone, the ATE maintains clarity, bass-heavy recording or otherwise (MACINTOSH PLUS – リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュー; HOME – Resonance; Elijah Who – polaroids).
The treble rounds out the ATE’s aggressive V-shaped sound signature with its crisp, bright treble. At times, it does get a bit fatiguing (Desiigner – Panda), but it definitely gets the job done. Beyond that I’ve no complaints.
Soundstage / Presentation:
The ATE's soundstage is, in my opinion, the weakest link in its otherwise solid sound signature. Whether it is due to the superb ambient isolation, the recording, or both, the ATE sounds very closed-in and restricted in its projection of space. This, coupled with its forward sound signature, equates to an overall fatiguing experience. Of course, that's not to say the ATE is bad by any means – in fact, I'm picking at straws here trying to find something not so positive to say about these earphones.
Being an aggressive, bass-heavy IEM, one would practically expect the ATE to perform best with electronic genres and worst with mellow acoustic genres – and you would not be wrong in expecting such. However, as I've found, the ATEs actually sound best with hard rock, metal, and similarly aggressive genres (Megadeth – Hangar 18, Holy Wars...the Punishment Due; Iron Maiden – The Trooper). The ATE's combination of ferocious, speedy bass and an uncannily clear midrange makes them more than suited for the growling guitars and rumbling drums of those genres.
Using the included silicone eartips on the ATE mellows out the sound slightly, adding a bit more midrange clarity and smoothing out the intensity of both bass and treble. In my opinion I find this setup better than the foam tips I tested the KZ with for this review, but despite that, I did not find the improvement to be significant enough that it changes the sound entirely.
The ATE is a dangerous one. It's got a fast, bright treble, clear, weighty midrange, and a bass performance that is so far unrivalled in my collection. It's one of the most aggressive sound signatures I've heard, and as such, a very divisive and specialised sound signature.
The KZ ATE's bass-focused sound signature will prove you well with both games and movies, but their lacklustre detail and closed-in soundstage will detract from the immersion that non-music media needs so desperately.
With a reduction in the bass response, one can coerce a lighter, more balanced sound signature from the otherwise heavy, intense ATE. They respond to EQ quite well, even taking up a bass boost without much trouble.
So far my overall tone of the ATE has been not entirely positive. This is because of the point I shall make here. The KZ ATE is, for the low, low price of $10 dollars, absolutely brilliant. Its bass performance has so much raw power and aggression that it alone is more than worth the price of admission. Couple that with an admirable midrange and treble response and you have a very interesting earphone in your hands.
Versus KZ ED9 (~$15):
The KZ ED9 was a very promising budget IEM, with its filter feature a key component of its success. I wasn't much of a fan of the IEM in my review, however, although this is mostly due to the fact that the one I got was defective. Nonetheless, the ED9 was a pretty good IEM, which is why they butt heads with the ATE without much indication of who is winning.
With the bass filters on, the ED9 matches the ATE in sound signature, but that's where the similarities end. The ATE simply edges its relative out with more intensity throughout the frequency range. The ED9, however, sounds smoother and less aggressive. It really comes down to personal preference in this matchup, depending on how intense you want your music to sound. Overall, though, the ED9's two filter selections do make it the better overall choice since you have a bit more flexibility with the sound signature without using an EQ.
== Conclusion ==
The KZ ATE is a predator of an IEM. It seems unassuming price-wise, but its rather eye-catching design will make you raise some suspicions. It is only when you put them on and press "Play" that the ATE pounces at you with raw, untamed aggression. With its swift yet prodigious bass and admirable clarity, the ATE is by far one of the most exciting IEMs I've listened to. And to think, all this for a measly 10 dollars.
Nonetheless, the ATE does have some drawbacks. Its intense sound signature clearly is not for every type of listener, and I wouldn't even think of mentioning this when someone asks for a budget IEM for acoustic, jazz, or other similar genres. But it does have its merits, and it will certainly find favour with the metalhead or raver in you.
Packaging, Accessories: 6.5/10
Design, Build, Microphonics: 8.5/10
Fit, Comfort, Isolation: 7.5/10
Gaming, Movies: 7/10
EQ Response: 8/10
I would like to extend my gratitude to George at Gearbest.com for sending out the KZ ATE featured in this review. If you like my review please leave a like below, and if you’re interested in having a KZ ATE for yourself, a link to the Gearbest store page can be found here. Otherwise, if you want it or have it, do write up a comment and let me know what you think about them.
This has been thatBeatsguy, and I’ll see you in the next one!
Pros - Clarity, soundstage
Cons - Bass, Cable durability
I used a pair of KZ ATE IEMs as my daily driver for most of the last two years, following a pair of Mee Electronics M6 IEMs and only recently replaced by the Mee Electronics Pinnacle P1. I have purchased at least three pairs of KZ ATE In-Ear Monitors over the last two years at a personal cost of around $15 per pair give or take a few dollars per pair. I bought the second pair for my girlfriend and the third pair to replace the first after around a year of use (more on that later).
I have used the KZ ATEs with a variety of Mediatek powered Android phones including handsets manufactured by Mlais and Blu, the Fiio X1 DAP (first gen), and my desktop Magni/Modi setup (first gen) and JDS Labs The Element.
I listen mostly to heavy metal, hip hop, and electronic music, as well as movie and video game soundtracks. I value detail, clarity, and soundstage above other acoustic qualities.
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
My most recently purchased pair of KZ ATE IEMs came in a clear plastic container with 4 additional eartips (a small and larger pair). The container is not convenient for use as a daily carry case.
BUILD QUALITY / DESIGN
The KZ ATE is designed to be worn with the cable over the ear. Build quality is generally solid and resistant to wear, tear, and blunt trauma with one major exception. The area where the cable joins the shell is prone to fraying. This is ultimately what caused my first pair to fail.
FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION
The shell is ergonomically designed and does not protrude into my ear on any side. The shell also sits almost flush with my ears which makes it very possible to sleep comfortably while wearing them. My right ear canal is slightly smaller than the left, so I often have to mix and match earbud tips to find a good seal. I generally prefer Comply foams, however, this review was conducted with a pair of Ostry OS100 tuning tips of matching size.
Isolation is about average. I used these on my daily commute on public transport with success, but a higher volume was definitely necessary compared to a home setting.
The following observations were made using a combination of local FLAC and 320 kbps Spotify Premium.
The KZ ATE has an analytical signature with the main frequency boosts in the upper mid-range and treble. It sounds crisp, detailed, and has a tremendous soundstage for the price. Bass is clearly defined but lacks substantial impact. This is not a basshead IEM. In addition, EQ adjustments that boost upper frequencies have a tendency to make the sound harsh.
She Moves Like a Knife – Perturbator (Synthwave)
Layering of different synths is excellent, wide soundstage is very evident. Drums are more “thwack” than “thwump.”
Power Trip – Chimaira (Metalcore)
Instrument separation is good. Guitars have bite. Bass drum a little too clicky. Cymbal crashes sit at top of soundstage but occasionally sound harsh.
V Has Come To - Harry Gregson-Williams (Original Soundtrack)
String instruments sound incredible. Brass section not as warm as I would like. Cymbal crashes slightly sibilant.
In Da Club – 50 Cent (Rap)
Vocal layering/soundstage placement is clear. Percussion sounds a little cold. Bassline during chorus jumps out.
The KZ ATE is easy to drive and produces audible and clear sound with just a smartphone using 40-50% volume.
The KZ ATE is a detail fiend’s budget dream. I have never heard anything close to the clarity present in these IEMs at anything close to their price point. They are well suited to classical / orchestral music and rock/metal with prominent upper frequencies. I do not recommend them for bass heavy genres like rap or EDM. They are absolutely worth the modest purchase price.
Pros - Melodic Sound Quality with significant Clarity, Impressive Soundstage and Separation, Very controlled bass, Value
Cons - Springy cable, lack of strain relief on parts of the headphone, not going to win any beauty-pageants
Just like my previous review, I will continue to iterate the format and thrive to more accurately describe the sound and listening experience and once again I will be using Spotify links to reference to the tracks I'm testing because that is the most efficient way I'm aware of to allow users of various countries to test the songs and compare their experience in a relatively easy and legal manner.
Before starting the review I'd like to just make a short intro about myself. I am a budget-oriented audiophile and have appreciated and listened to music from before I can even remember it. My taste in music is varied with everything ranging from a bit of jazz, to trip-hop, progressive rock and electronic music. Lately I've been listening to some of Youko Kanno's work and Nujabes. My preferred type of audio signature is neutral, though I don't mind and even appreciate a bit of coloration whether it's on the lows or the highs. I've bought and owned many earbuds and IEMs over the years, I've been burned many times by muddy Sony ones, been occasionally impressed by some cheap Sennheiser buds/IEM. After many years of faithful service, my go-to IEMs, the Sennheiser CX200 (which at the time cost me around $50) were the best sounding and most expensive earphones I had ever purchased started suffering from connection issues near the plug which lead me to search for a new IEM to replace them and the search for great value lead me to read about many Chinese IEMs that were touted for offering great value and the KZ ATE were the first of the ones I decided to order.
Nujabes feat MINMI - Who's Theme (Spotify song link)
At the start of this song, the first two things that stand out to me are the melancholic female chorus that hum as if they were very close by. Behind them, the percussion of the piano is discernible to great detail as is the aerophone instrument but it's when the drums and bass kick in that song gains a blanket of life that seems to tie all of the elements together. The lows of the bass are very comforting without bleeding much into the mids. The singer's melancholic voice sounds very present and it is possible to discern small nuances near the end of her phrases.
At around the 1:20 mark, only the beat of a drum/cymbals and a slightly distorted echoing piano accompany the singer. The piano feels as if it's floating behind the singer echoing within a marbled room's corridors. Every single sound is very smooth and while there isn't a lot of instrument separation in the track itself I think it is a good enough one to showcase how well the ATE resolve a varying number of instruments and ranges.
Steven Wilson - Significant Other (Spotify song link)
One of the characteristics of the ATE that I appreciate the most is how wide their soundstage can feel and how they resolve some tracks in an airy manner that makes it seem as if sometimes the band or the artist were performing in the same room as you are. Significant Other is a track that showcases this very well.
From the very start of the song, it feels as if you are in a studio. Every single stroke of the airy guitar flows to the back of the room and feels as if it's expanding and spilling over the back.
The climax that starts around the 1:40 mark adds a lot of distorted highs mixed in with high-pitched vocals. There is hardly any discerning sibilance despite their harsh nature and one thing that stands out during this moment is how smooth and warm the bass guitar feels. Not only do the ATE hold their own against high-pitched distorted sounds but also maintain a detailed laid-back presentation during this song and many others.
Darren Korb feat Ashley Barrett - The Spine (Spotify song link)
The strident bass hum at the start seems to deliver a grainy texture making the singer's voice seem slightly recessed for a few minutes but when the chorus starts and the strident strings begin the presentation gains a certain lushness and opens up rather than feeling congestioned but for the most part the track still feels like a somewhat intimate experience and most of the instruments feel very close whereas some others only appear briefly and fade smoothly into the background.
Sound Quality Conclusions
After these three tracks I went on to listen to a few dozen more and while I could describe a few more tracks and the little nuances you can hear in each of them its best to just reach for a conclusion that is and has been a given for me for a long time now:
The KZ ATE sound good or great with anything you can throw at them. They are, in my opinion, at their best with melodic music that rely on percussion or string instruments. They handle both female and male vocals quite well. They are not warm or cold sounding nor does their sound get fatiguing.
The bass is something about the ATE the first time I received them but ever since trying them with different tips that seal better I've gotten a deeper appreciation for them. Does that mean they are good for bassheads? Absolutely not, but for those, read the sound comparisons.
Sound Comparisons (between similarly priced earphones)
Sennheiser CX200 - the Sennheiser have an overall warmer presentation that sounds warm but lacks a bit of clarity compared to the ATE which is particularly noticed in the vocals and the highs which sound more refined on the KZ ATE.
Xiaomi Hybrid - the highs on the Xiaomi seem more forward than the ATE. Similarly to the ATE they benefit immensely from better earphone tips. Their low end is also more pronounced but not as articulate as the ATE and vocals, particularly female ones have a presentation that sounds a bit more metalic or echoing. While on first impression they have a slightly warmer presentation that is soothing to the ears if you appreciate that kind of signature, upon closer listening they fall a bit short of the way the ATE render certain details and are much less comfortable to wear and less easy to get a good seal/fit with because they are considerably heavy for an earphone and can't be worn over the ear due to their shape.
KZ ZS3 - These don't share the same type of signature as the ATE. Whereas the ATE are neutral sounding the ZS3 are distinctly V-shaped, have a higher emphasis on bass that does slightly bleed into the mids but still maintain good clarity. The details in the sound aren't as well defined as with the ATE but are still enough to give the Sennheisers, which are similarly warm-sounding earphones, a run for their money. In terms of ergonomics and features these also present some advantages over the ATE. The cable is better than the ATE's, feature ear-guides and are replaceable. The design of the shell is also more rounded which to my ears lends them a more comfortable fit than the ATE even after long sessions. If you appreciate strong bass these may be more to your liking.
Physical Attributes The KZ ATE are an around-the-ear style earphone. The inner part of them is rounded smoothly and sit fairly comfortable within my ear. The outside part of the shell has smoothed edges but is hardly rounded at all. This sometimes leads a slight discomfort as the edges of it may sometimes press against your ear. It's not a deal breaker, but certainly worth considering.
The cable has an odd copper and brown finish that together with the golden details near the shell give them a look that is peculiar and, while it isn't to my personal taste, what I'd consider a beautiful set of IEMs, their sound certainly is, and I have no qualms about sacrificing a bit of aesthetic for earphones that sound as good as these.
(KZ ATE 5th edition with Comply-sized T400 ear tips)
Unlike their KZ brothers the more lively ZS3 the cable is not replaceable which is a bit of a shame but completely understandable for their price. This is however a slightly bigger concern on the ATE because unlike the Sennheiser CX200 which lasted me many years the ATE barely have any cable strain relief at all. They have a nice bit of strain relief where the cables split but outside of that, the rest of the ends have very little if any cable relief at all. The only two places where you'll find reasonable cable relief are on angled plug and on the cable splitter.
(the microphone has a single button remote and the cable has two gold-colored weights to help keep the earphones from coming off from around your ears)
If you appreciate a neutral sound signature and decent soundstage I think you will find the KZ ATE a pleasant surprise and one that I can recommend without any reservations regardless of what you listen to.
Pros - Surprisingly Good Sound Quality! Punchy Bass, Crisp Mid-Range,Does not Crack at High Volumes, L-shaped Jack, Undeniably Great Price
Cons - Soundstage, Cables are Sticky and Tangly, Restricts Movement
I got my KZ-ATE from Amazon.com three weeks after I ordered it. I was just looking for budget earphones and from what I had heard from the hype about these IEMs, I decided to go for them since it was cheaper than most other and promised a higher Bang-For-Buck than the most I had observed, and boy oh Boy didn't they shine upon me! The waiting was totally worth it.
The IEMs came in a small stylish shield-shaped container, in which were three selections for the ear tips, one medium and one large size tip, and one foam tip. I had ordered the Transparent Bodied ones (including mic). They looked cool to wear and the wires were also clear from the outside. These looked amazing, the body was unusually box-shaped and the nozzle was freakishly long. Cables are not separable unfortunately but has good strain relief on the jack. The Y-splitter could be improved but it was okay for this price.
After I got home and connect these with my MP3 (Transcend MP350), I could not stop laughing at myself for doubting the performance of these easy-go-drivers. The single Dynamic-driver ATE left me speechless afterwards, hours passed by after putting thse on my ears yet I felt no fatigue and the music it delivered was just too good to be true in such a price.
The Bass was quite pronounced and controlled and clean, not messy like some I've heard from. The Mid-Range was WAY TOO GOOD! The details it rendered made me hear new details in the same music I've listened for years. This made me realize that I was knocking on the gates of a new world of audio heaven that I have not known before, and thus my journey of Hi-Fi started. Anyways, the Treble was confusing at first then I had to learn what was I listening to, after I got a hold of what was the High-range, I found that KZ-ATE was quite clear and did not hiss in the ears even at high volumes. The Soundstage was just enough to cover your head, but this has an unusual extension from the left side. The separation was adequate, you can sense where the sound had originated from.
The wire was sticky in the humid environment I dwell in, and was kinda tangly, but I grew up fighting this so it was not so much of an issue to me. The only great flaw of these are that they are quite annoying when you tilt your head and they just fall from your ears, even though I'm using the foam tip, I have a medium sized Auditory Canal lumen. You can't sleep wearing these, or run or look up or just any movement involving your head.
I am quite new to the world of Audio and I am just too obsessed over these, but I am quite sure that these will be worth collecting and using, they are just too much fun!
Pros - Sound, Wires do not add any noise/Distortion, Good Noise isolation and Price
Cons - Build Quality (Mic is filmsy, Wires quality can be improved)
Things I own:
Shure SE215 in ear
audio technica ath-m40x
Harman Kardon IENC in ear
Harman Kardon AE in ear
JBL TMG81BL Tim McGraw Artist Series On Ear Headphones
Knowledge Zenith (KZ) ED9 in ear
AKG K451 on ear
Samson SR 950
Review of KZ ATE Copper Driver Ear Hook HiFi in Ear Earphone Sport Headphones for Running with Foam Eartips with Microphone (As listed on Amazon)
I was looking for a good earbuds to use for my Morning Sprints and Fast walk. After my experience with KZ ED-9 thought lets give KZ ATE a try. I purchased this from AliExpress KZ flagship store (there is some 50% discount going on) and took good 15+ days for delivery.
Lets jump on to the review.
Price Paid: 9.74$
Standard KZ plastic box with good presentation. Came with a pair of memory tip and 2 silicone tip. No user manual (Who needs it anyway, it is not rocket science)
Plastic transparent housing (Cannot comment on the quality, but looks decent as of now)
Wires - Standard KZ wires, No complains. Good thing, they dont add any noise if shaken or while moving or running
Mic: Disappointed. Feels like it might break soon
After an hour of Initial use my ears started hurting. This is a new fit for me. I tried using it for few days and getting better but max I can wear it for 90 minutes.
This is where all your return on investment comes from.
Good Sound (Extra bass), Bass lovers take a note you will not be disappointed. The bass is not overwhelming. It is just perfect. Technically added bass is nothing but headphones are trying to amplify the lows and most of the headphones tend to introduce distortion while doing it and leads to an headache to users. I am surprised at the clear lows and mids this headphones reproduce. Specially while workout I prefer some extra juice in my music and This headphone serve the purpose. At 10$ I really do not have any complains. Cannot expect more than this.
Noise Isolation is good.. As this fits deep into ear canal, it do reduce external sound interference.
Used it for calling, no issues with the opposite end person hearing me. As well no issue me hearing the opposite person.
You will not be disappointed, rather will be surprised at the sound quality and you will end up ignoring the flaws.
Pros - A Musical Magical Walk In The Park
Cons - Don't Be Negative Kids
Spoiler: Warning: Spoiler!
. Brand Name:KZTime to market:2015Style:Ear HookLine Length:1.2mResistance:16ΩPackage:YesUse:SportCommunication:WiredPlug Type:L BendingSensitivity:108±3dBConnectors:3.5mmIs wireless:NoFunction:Noise Cancelling,Microphone,Monitor Headphone,Common Headphone,For Routine Office Work,For Mobile Phone,Portable,For iPod,HiFi Headphone,Sport,Voice control,Supports musicWith Microphone:YesFrequency Response Range:20-20000HzModel Number:KZ ATE headphone with microphoneDriver Unit:8mmDriver TypeynamicHousing:ABS resinColor:Silver, BlackWeight:15 g / 0.52ozPackage Contents:ATE Headphone, one pair middle foam tipsMusic Stylesop, blues, rock, new ageCompatibility Information:iPhone, iPad, Samsung, htc, LG & CTIA standard Android smartphone
The KZ-ATE Copper Driver RQ:016NBM IEM
Just an enthusiasts dream! How many purchases perform bucket loads above their price point? Normally in audio we pay a lot for somewhat small audio improvements. Still every once in a while comes a watershed product, a product that redefines our personal scope of price to audio quality. That product now is the KZ-ATE IEM.
I'm not going to go into the product's history and small details which delineate exactly which version mine are. I think that they are the third version? If you visit the KZ thread there are pages for reference as well as a description of the full line of products. They also have compiled a guide to help you figure out which edition you have as well as generalizations about how each is suppose to sound.
These end up selling anywhere from about $7 to $27 USD and have been available from multiple sources as well as Amazon.com.
They come in this funny plastic box with the word MIC printed on top. Inside you find a nice hard foam holding the IEMs with the cord wrapped under as well as an assortment of tips, one foam set and two sets of silicone style olive tips.
These come in silver or clear black.
The driver housings are a two piece plastic design with gold ended detachable MMCX cables. The plug comes with a large hard rubber L Shaped plug and the cable itself is notorious for being an out of control, clear squiggly rubber affair. The cable is said to be a special high quality copper design and after spending months listening you actually start to wonder if the cable IS kind of special? The MMCX cables are detachable I read, but at this point I'm a little skeptical about trying different cables with them. I just don't want to put a lot of force on the housing itself, which holds the female end of the MMCX link, as better to just leave stuff alone, if it works well.
The different design here is that these are over ear IEMs and we have small gold weights, that look almost like necklace beads. Each bead is about five and a half inches away from the monitor itself designed to be a weight holding the cable down behind your ears. Though unique, I found the system to work, still you will not find me jogging with these.
The tips are nothing special, but also not bad. Best to just try a large assortment of tips. One great design element is the feature of an extra long nozzle which really helps with fit and holding the IEMs in place once in position. We also have a blue ring around the left MMCX connector and a red painted ring designating right side. The Android remote is really nothing too special and maybe the lowest cost feature of our whole package in view here?
My ideas about what these are have actually changed from the moment I have started using them. I don't know what people are recommending but the detail seemed to increase after 50hrs of burn-in. Upon first listening out of the box these didn't really sound super bass centered and also did not show much treble. They never show that much treble but smoothed out to a somewhat clear signature with more treble detail after burn-in.
Let's start out with describing the Mids as that's what these are about, though they would maybe never be referred to as mid-centric headphones. It's just that what Mids are there are buttery smooth and actually sublime. It's just how they connect with the highs and low frequencies that becomes both natural and endearing. In their own slightly veiled way there is great expanded sound-stage and detail in the mid range.
You could actually start out thinking these are going to have a heavy L shape signature where the treble is so pulled back that they are boring at first. After getting used to these IEMs, getting the correct upstream gear and after 50 hours of burn-in a very small change occurs. These seem to just get the mid-range and treble forward enough that the signature becomes interesting. There is life in the treble though for many it's going to be a surprise in how laid-back the treble personality sits. It's just kind of there doing it's job but never strident or harsh. If anything I would even go to describe the treble as warm in nature. Though the way these three aspects all go together is where the simple magic is with the KZ-ATE IEMs.
That Third Aspect Is Bass Tone:
And what bass tone it is. I have IEMs which dig a little deeper, go into more detail in the bass region and seem even more clear, but that's not what these are about.
They are simply romantic in the bass department. They are not fast with this bass, nor ever going all that low. It's that the bass is very much emphasized and dominant in the signature, but in a 1950s warm Hi/Fi kind of way. Sitting back I almost start to remember big 12 inch slow paced woofers with horn tweeters playing from a tube amp. That is the best description I can come up with. These IEMs would be great with Jazz with that personality, but do most genres well. They are the very definition of fun bass. And don't take any of these descriptions of slow to be a negative because that fluid fast smooth mid-range just holds the whole thing together.
In ending on my bass description here, the ability these have is bass sound-stage placement. Though not totally detailed it's just overall very forgiving of file quality and somehow becomes perfectly musical.
To Summarize Signature:
These are laid-back and warm IEMs, with just enough treble and smooth enough mid-range to make them a classic in your collection. Add the fact they always respond with a fun bass and we have a keeper. It's really no wonder they are so popular as HI/FI never ever costs this little.
Low cost and easy to obtain
Nozzles and shape of IEM allow them to fit a lot of folks
Non-fatiguing signature makes everything washed with a golden light
Somehow you can use them with both bright or warm DACs and they still sound really good
They maybe look expensive for something which retails for $16 USD
There has been a small amount of quality control issues as of late
The cable is a bouncy out of control affair
Whatever the negatives maybe are the sound quality will win folks hearts over
You will neglect both your job, friends and family due to hours of unrestrained musical enjoyment
These are just my personal views, take everything you read in reviews with a grain of salt. Your millage may very. Still this is one IEM that can start to sound very different after some use and understanding of it's sonic character. IMO
Genres Of Music:
Really these do all the genres well. I'm just listing the music I listen to as it's just what I like, am familiar with and have around for testing.
All files either 320kbps MP3 or 16 bit-44.1 kHz FLAC from Foobar 2000/WASAPI
Cambridge Audio DACMagic Plus
Schiit Audio Asgard One Amplifier
AHD-7000 Denon Headphones
Remax S-1 IEM
Apple IPhone 4
Apple IPod Touch Generation 5
Woo Audio 3 Amplifier
[SPOILER OnLine Specs!] This sports headphone with high quality copper material driver unit, have an accurate resolution than ordinary driver. Sound performance is clear treble exquisite voicals and heavy bass.
Cooper is high rigidity, could effectively reduce the sound loss, high sound resolution, wide sound field, the sound is clear thorough and rich dynamic.
This sports headphone is lighter, reducing the burden of wearing. The reasonable shape fit for most ears of people. Comfortable to wear for long time, will not cause discomfort as ordinary in ear headphone. The headphone with better noise isolation, to prevent leakage of sound, the full enjoyment of the headphone sound.
The sports headphone with a dynamic fashion appearance. Feel comfortable wearing with the ergonomics designed headphone. And the housing promote the performance of sound.
This sports headphone with a HD microphone, have a better sound quality, cooperate to the CVC digital noise reduction technology, effectually reduce interference of the background sounds. To make clear calls.
Gold-plated jack contact surface to prevent oxidation, reduces signal loss, and provides better audio restoration. 32 core long crygen oxygen-free copper cable, audio signal transmit losslessly. Perfectly restore the sound scene and rich details. The ED3 headphone with this high end material to make the perfect stereo. [/SPOILER]
Post Review Edit:
As it turns out the KZ-ATE IEM does not have detachable cables. Still considering the value at hand, changing the cables with these is not an issue, in my opinion.
Pros - Price is unbelievable, Highs are great, Lows are good too
Cons - Mids are fine, cable can be a mess,
So I just got these KZ-ATE with mic, the one I previously had was a soundmagic es18 and it sure was a hell of an upgrade.
I can't say anything much about the sound quality because it's just so good.
though the build quality can be improved however we'll have to expect a little bit higher price if they'd upgrade the build quality.
oh and this is the first time that I've used a foam tip, and they're great for me, actually better than any silicon tip.
The cable over the ear can be a hassle sometimes, just use an earhook and it'll be good.
Overall, this is a very great IEM, especially for the price. kudos to KZ.
Pros - Good High to Bass, Cheap,
Cons - Low quality finish, Springy cable, Too big Unit. Bad Nozzle structure,
I was written personal review on my blog, you could read same review with images in my blog ( http://rageworx.ddns.net/index.php/kz-ate-review-in-a-month/ )
KZ-ATE is a popualr in ear headphone (or call it as canal earphone in some pacific nations, I think it belongs to ‘auditory canal’) in Ali-Express and Amazon in low price but good sound. So I have bought this celebrituff (a word from mixing ‘celebrity’ and ‘stuff’) from Ali-Express. Surprisingly it taken a month for delivered to my home since ordered. Many sellers are using tracking not allowed or fake parcel numbers in Ali-Express. So I don’t recommend buy valuable something in Ali-Express.
KZ is known as Knowledge Zenith. Actually I don’t understand what it means, but they are using “KZ” model numbering for their stuffs: KZ-DT3, KZ-ED3, KZ-ED5, KZ-ATE ..
I bought 4 different stuffs from KZ official seller – name known as “He Yue” : KZ-DT3, KZ-ED3, KZ-ED9, KZ-ATE. And KZ-ATE is lastest product of them. Actually KZ-ATE was a brand new product when I ordered in their store.
KZ-ATE has two different colors in store: Silver and Dark-Transparency with options to mic controller or not. My order was two of dark-transparency and normal cable and mic controller.
Product finishing is just for its price. Speaker unit has little bigger than normal IEMs, actually fitting is not comfort. It provides 3 different sizes of silicon tips and plus a foam tip. Without foam tip, silicons are good to waste or use in other headphones. I used Ultimate Ears old silicon tip. Don’t hope you can use other silicon tips in this, KZ-ATE nozle is not kind of we knows before. Actually we don’t have many choice to use different tips.
Cable seems strong, looks special. But it’s all of cable. Cable surface has too much friction. It easily snarled and difficult to unsnarl it. Only one thing, plumb to speaker side is makes rounding fit to easy, that’s only one to good in cable, just all.
Sound is similar like ED3, ED9. Much like known as V-EQ, emphasized bass and treble. But decay of these featured frequency of bass and treble makes breaking sound, specially complexed music. Maybe it is characteristic of dynamic driver based in ear headphones, but I don’t like to assent this, because some in ear headphones are not like this.
And one more, If you are using this headphone to your smartphone, and if it is kind of Android OS, you may understand sometimes auto voice app appears like pressed mic controller button even headphone has no mic controller ! It seems to problem of L-plug of headphone, but there’s no solution to solve this strange problem.
Conclusion? I just recommend if you want to have experience of new in ear headphone from China, and time to wait for a month or above. And not? don’t try. don’t waste your time and money. It’s just a piece of cheap one in USD 10 to 20.
Pros - Excellent sound quality out of box. Tight bass, sparkling treble, a lot of details, clear vocal. Suitable for most type of music. Fairly comfortable
Cons - Springy, rubbery cable. No chin slider. Coreless foam tip easily detached.
I ordered KZ ATE on late November 2015 base on the hype citing that KZ ATE is one of the best earphone from KZ stable. Almost all (or all?) available reviews on the net indicated on how good or excellent this KZ ATE. Most of the reviewer with multiple KZ earphones just swear that this is definitely one of the best earphone from KZ stable and some even claim that it can rival sound quality of other earphone costing 50-100USD range or more. I definitely have few earphone within that price range so I am excited to compare how this 8USD earphone can sound as good as 50USD earphone. As usual my source of earphone lately came from Aliexpress. However this is my longest wait so far for any item to arrive from Aliexpress. My KZ ATE has just arrived today and already has about 10 hours of burn in period.
This is how the ATE look like. The housing are made of smoky/grey semitranparent plastic. I can see the copper driver inside. The nozzle is about 4mm,made of same plastic as housing with metal mesh covering the nozzle hole. The nozzle has good angle and the whole housing is fairly comfortable in my ears either with the provided large silicone tip or with medium foam tip (coreless). The problem with the foam tip while it is very comfortable in ear, it is very easily detached and can be left inside the ear after the housing removed. For safety reason. I will definitely recommend to replace the original coreless foam tip with silicone tip or other type of hard plastic core foam tip. The cable is very generic for KZ family. The copper core cable is covered with transparent plastic which is quite rubbery on touch. The cable/cord itself is quite springy although not as bad as my other earphone like Huawei AM12 cable. The bad thing about the cable the location of Y splitter which is quite low, in my case it located just below the xiphisternum/ upper abdomen area. To make it worse, there is no chin slider. In above picture I actually use the provided small Velcro as my chin slider. The single button remote, mic located on right cord, very near to mouth. I tried to play and pause music which work well, but 2 click forward button just not functioning. The strain relief near housing is made of hard plastic, which is not a good solution. Luckily the 3.5mm jack is better with L-shaped and good, flexible soft plastic strain relief.
So in the end KZ ATE scored a mix of good and bad for built quality. I hope KZ will address the cable problem. Cost is not a limiting factor. I have ultra-excellent cable from Xiaomi 1more that cost 19USD. I believe people like me and many more will appreciate a better cable and definitely willing to pay more to get it. Also on the wish list, built in chin slider. Some will say that cable with built in remote, mic is not suitable for chin slider since it can't slide up to the chin. But I have Sony EX650 AP with same remote, mic configuration which came with built in chin slider.
Excellent out of box! Just with minimal burn in period it has already produce a reasonably good sound. The bass is just average / medium in amount but fairly tight. Not as good as EX650 or FXT90 definitely. Slightly slow compared to those earphone. About the same quality as my Audio-technica CKX9. The treble is sparkling bright, which is the best quality for this KZ ATE. The details is there but not very prominent compared to other more expensive earphone. Vocal is clear for most song. Soundstage is just average not as wide as CKX9/7. So sound quality wise it is definitely up there among the more expensive earphones in my collection. At least it is on par but definitely not better than any of those more expensive earphones.
Comparison with Xiaomi 1more voice of china ;
This is one of the best earphone within 20USD price range. The strength lies on the excellent built quality and comfortable fit which cannot be rival by most of my other earphones. The sound quality for KZ ATE is definitely one step higher. Except for the bass which os comparable, all other qualities are leaned towards KZ ATE. If KZ decided to use better quality material for the cable then only it can rival the Xiaomi 1more in general.
Comparison with Audio-technica CKX9;
My current favourite earphone. It has a very smooth sound with wide soundstage and a lots of details. There is noticeable colouration which generally pleasant and enjoyable. Hard to describe it, sound quality wise on general I will still put it below JVC FXT90, but the fun factor is with the CKX9. Compared to KZ ATE, CKX9 has very similar bass amount and quality. The treble is sparkling bright in both earphones but CKX9 sounds smoother and more enjoyable. I will rate vocal as slightly better on KZ ATE.
So now I believe in the hype of this dirt cheap earphone that can rival much more expensive earphone in pure sound quality. What KZ need to improve in the next version is just the build quality department. Otherwise what I have here is an excellent sounding earphone, which cost almost nothing for a near audiophile sound quality . Highly recommended if you can tolerate above ear fitting and slightly low quality cable.