Binmer(TM)KZ-HDS1 Mini Metal DIY Headset HD Dynamic Pronunciation Ear Headphones (Silver)


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: - Lightweight with heavyweight sound - Price - Comfort
Cons: - sticky, thin cable - isolation is low


Greetings Head-fi!
Knowledge Zenith (KZ) has been producing excellent earphones targeted towards budget-minded buyers for quite a while now, and they have a strong following on Head-fi. We collect these things like baseball cards (is that even a thing anymore?). There is good reason for this.
KZ earphones are made from quality materials, have interesting yet occasionally questionable designs, and most importantly they sound amazing compared to many other products in their price range, and well above for that matter. There are certainly exceptions and some true stinkers from KZ, but they are few and far between.
This bring us to the HDS1, one of KZ's final releases from the 2015 calendar year.
This unit was purchased through AliExpress. I am in no way affiliated with Knowledge Zenith or any AliExpress sellers. All opinions within this review are just that, opinions.
A Bit About Me:
I like to think I'm starting to get a grasp on this whole portable hi-fi audio thing, and can thank Knowledge Zenith and their army of budget earphones for helping me find my preferred signatures. My gear is constantly improving. I have finally upgraded to a quality phone, the HTC One M8, adding the Topping NX1 as my go-to amp. I primarily listen to EDM (liquid drum and bass ftw), hip hop, and classic rock, but have been known to dabble in metal and jazz. While I enjoy a good sounding earphone, physical design is also key. If they look boring but sound great, that's cool, but I would like to have something interesting to look that is also great sounding.

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About the HDS1:
Normally this is where I would look at packaging and accessories, but in typical KZ fashion this is so inconsistent I don't see the point. One set of HDS1 I picked up came in a small cardboard box set within a larger cardboard box. The other in a plastic bag nestled within a nice carrying case. The point is that what I describe might not be your experience so packaging expectations should be set aside and focus placed on the earphone itself.
To get this out of the way now, know that micro-drivers, 6mm and smaller, are my favorite driver type. In my experience they tend to offer up quick, snappy bass, lots of detail, and result in tiny earphones that are almost always exceptionally comfortable. As with everything, there are exceptions, but the HDS1 isn't one of them. The tiny 6mm driver KZ stuffed in an equally tiny housing is a marvel at the sub-10 USD price point these can often be bought at.
The all-metal housing on the HDS1 is very small, very light, and very comfortable to wear. They don't tug at your ears or create any painful hot spots. They do however transmit an unnecessary amount of cable noise should you choose to wear them cable down, which is a big no-no to my ears. Cable noise is enough to ruin an earphone entirely for me if it cannot be quelled, so when I found that wearing the HDS1 cable up removed it from the equation almost entirely, I was a happy camper.
The cable itself is a KZ standard found on many of their other products, such as the ED10. I found that it was a pretty poor choice for the HDS1 since by it's very nature it is a noisy little thing. Combine that with a housing that projects this noise directly into your skull and things can get pretty distracting. At least the cable feels reasonably durable, though it is a bit thin and sticky. Not one of KZ's best cables, and in general, not one of KZ's highest quality earphones when it comes to material choices.
Where the HDS1 fails to impress in it's build, it certainly makes up for it in it's sound quality. While the HDS1 has a bit of a boost to their mid-bass they offer up a mostly balanced sound, especially compared to the majority of KZ's lineup.
Treble is well-extended and nicely detailed without being too sharp or prickly, though it can run a bit dry on some recordings. As with the rest of the HDS1's signature, the HDS1's upper ranges are in general very musical and carry a beat well. They're never splashy or harsh, and are just pleasant to hear.
Mids on the HDS1 are slightly forward in my opinion, and as a result soundstage is smaller than I expected from a semi-open back earphone. It's not congested by any means, but it does give off a more intimate presentation putting you close to the artist. They sing at you, not to you. Both male and female vocals sound great, but I prefer the texture female vocals are given. Female vocalists (Hope Sandoval anyone?) with breathy voices sound particularly amazing through the HDS1. Males with higher pitched voices (ie. pretty much every male EDM or pop vocalist nowadays) benefit from the HDS1's presentation as well. Acoustic guitars pluck realistically and with just the right amount of grit and reverb.
There is a mild mid-bass boost on the HDS1. While I find it plays nicely with middle frequencies, the HDS1 does occasionally produce a bit of echo when undesired. For the most part though bass is well controlled and pleasant without ever being overpowering. It's plentiful enough for bass heavy beats, but polite enough to keep the HDS1 from ever sounding like a bass-heavy earphone.
Compared to other micro-driver earphones in my collection, the HDS1 stands out as one of the best. Out of the box I compared them very closely to RHA's obscenely good S500i. While I don't necessary agree with my initial impressions, I do still think that they compete with each other quite well. The RHA S500i is brighter with less forward mids and reduce mid-bass emphasis, although I think they dip into the sub-bass frequencies more effectively. I agree with @peter123 that the HDS1 is the darker of the two and falls short in clarity when put head-to-head. That said, the HDS1 is a more relaxed listen. The S500i's bright signature can be fairly fatiguing even over short listening sessions. They are two different but equally good-sounding earphones. The RHA whomps the HDS1 in build quality and accessories, easily making up that ~40 USD price difference and justifying the price jump if you want something a bit more "hi-fi" and premium feeling.


Overall Thoughts:
The HDS1 is really a no-brainer buy. While I paid about 13 CAD near release for each for mine, they can often be found for under 10 USD on AliExpress. When you take into the account the quality of sound you are getting, it becomes pretty easy to overlook their flaws. Yeah, the cable kind of sucks, mid-bass is ever so slightly boosted, and they probably won't come with anything but a few spare ear tips, but man do they ever sound awesome.
Thanks for reading!
- B9Scrambler


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Sounds like a $50 headphone all day. Low bass rumble, neutral signature, very wide sound stage
Cons: Jack of all trades. Treble is not sparkly... for $8 who cares?
KZ knocked it out of the park here. This headphone basically sounds like an excellent mid-tier $150 headphone that has a cold.
  1. There's sub-bass rumble that most cheap headphones completely disregard -- albeit it's not super refined.
  2. The bass is well-controlled and has fantastic texture without being boomy.
  3. The midrange is very similar to the RE400 with beautiful clarity and crunch to guitars, and a melodic lilt to voices -- though it's not quite as clear in the upper register as, say RE400.
  4. The highs are very much present and not at all sibilant, but can take a backseat at times.
  5. The energy the HDS1 presents is very punchy and dynamic -- where most cheaper headphones sound relaxed or "laid back".
  6. Very wide sound stage with great imaging and instrument placement for the price -- of course in complex passages it gets muddied a little.
If you can imagine the concept of an Aurisonics Rocket or Ortofon e-Q5 with a "cold" or that sounds "not quite the same as you remember" or some other handicap that lowers its overall level of refinement, you have a perfect concept of the KZ-HDS1. And that's really incredible when you think about it -- a very well-made, attractive headphone that sounds "similar" to $100-$200 IEMs -- for just $8.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: resolution, value, tuning, correct mids, balanced with a bit more mass, precise instrument placement
Cons: small but precise soundstage, upper treble could be a tad more differentiated, no chin-slider

Knowledge Zenith, in short “KZ”, is a Chinese manufacturer of very inexpensive in-ears and headphones that usually offer a really good value, sound and build quality for the little money they cost. Sure, you can’t expect the sound of $100 headphones from earphones that usually cost around $10, but many of the KZ earphones offer a sound (and build) quality that can compete with $30-$50 headphones easily (I have also heard some worse $30-50 IEMs than most $10 KZ’s).

After I had already bought many models of the KZ range from the KZ Official Flagship Store (, they kindly provided me with a sample of the HDS1 (, ~ $10) for review.
Please note that (as always) I am not affiliated with Knowledge Zenith or any of their stores in any way and that this review reflects my actual thoughts on the product. (As always,) I don’t gain any financial benefits from writing this review.

Technical Specifications:

Drivers: dynamic, single-driver (6 mm), 16 Ohms
Impedance: 16 Ohms
Sensitivity: 108 dB
Colours: multiple colours

Delivery Content:

My evaluation sample arrived only in a plastic bag, but I guess the retail version comes with additional silicone tips and the shield-shaped plastic box which is typical for KZ.

Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

The first idea that came into my mind when I unboxed them was “Whoa, these are small!”. The HDS1 in-ears have got the coloured cable which is typical for Knowledge Zenith. It is really flexible, but in contrast to most other KZ in-ears has got less strain relief. On the right hand side is an (optional) in-line remote control with microphone.
In my case, the metal in-ear bodies are silver-coloured and have got the “HIFI” lettering as well as the side markers on their sides. Unfortunately, they are not clear-coated, wherefore they can be scraped off with a fingernail.

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Comfort, Isolation:

The in-ears can be worn both with the cables straight down as well as over the ears, whereby the latter is my preferred method, as it improves fit plus comfort and reduces microphonics. Due to the lack of a chin-slider, the cable unfortunately moves when leaning back or to the sides.
As the HDS1 in-ears are extremely small, even people with tiny auricles and ear canals shouldn’t have any fit or comfort issues.

Isolation is definitely above average, however not as good as let’s say the KZ ED3c by a tad.


The sound was mainly evaluated with the iBasso DX80, DX90 and the LH Labs Geek Out IEM 100. The music files were stored in FLAC format, but I also used some MP3s. I used the application “Sine Gen” as sine generator on the computer (with the Geek Out as DAC/Amp).
(Just in case,) the in-ears were burnt in for at least 50 hours before I started listening.

The sound was evaluated with the large, black stock silicone tips.


I would describe the HDS1 as being balanced with a pinch of extra bass. From 40 to 400 Hz, the lows are emphasised by 4.5 dB. Level rolls somewhat off in the sub-bass.
The mids are tonally correct and also a bit raised by ca. 1.5 dB. The presence area/lower treble is not pushed back, but the middle highs are, although just a little. Upper treble is on a normal level again.


Overall, the HDS1 counts definitely to the echnically strongest in-ears out of KZ’s product range.
Here is really nothing negative that stands out and the resolution is clearly much higher than someone could expect at the price of just $10. The bass hits hard as well as clean, is controlled and detailed. Also towards sub-bass, it does not soften – nice! Bluntness, like with the ATE, is something the HDS1’s lows lack completely. However, decay is a bit slower than impact, but still faster and punchier than the Logitech UE200 or KZ ED3c.
The mids are clean and display voices very detailed. The treble sounds very decent, though the upper highs could be just a tad more differentiated, which is however definitely nothing to criticise at this low price, as they clearly play above what their price range suggests.
A huge compliment to the developers of these – what is offered here for so little money is remarkable and these IEMs really don’t have to hide from $50+ in-ears.


The lateral and spatial extension of the HDS1 are rather small in my ears, but with a really nice layering (it somehow comparatively reminds me of the Shure SE425’s soundstage). The spatial depth is of about the same amount of the width; the instrument placement as well as separation are very clean as well as precise and single instruments or sound elements can be precisely spotted on the imaginary stage – the spatiality is not large in terms of size, however extremely clean and precise.


The HDS1 in-ears feature a good build quality, a mature plus well-resolving sound and definitely belong to the best models in Knowledge Zenith’s product range – in addition, the price is also ridiculously low and these in-ears are actually even suitable for listening to music more critically!
The bass is fast and punchy, the mids are well resolving and the instrument separation is on a high level. The HDS1 offer a good sound for a surreally low price and score 5 out of 5 possible stars with ease.
Thanks for the review!  Surprised there aren't more.
Read the review, which was good, by the way, and bought a pair of these and can't believe the sound for the small amount of money they cost! And they are very comfortable, I can leave them in my ears for many hours. Still can't believe the sound for the dollars!!!
Everyone should own a pair of these!