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KZ ED3c In-ear Monitors

Rating:
4.25/5,
  1. HiFiChris
    One of the better KZ IEMs
    Written by HiFiChris
    Published Nov 26, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - well-tuned, value, sound for the price
    Cons - no chin-slider, treble could be a tad more controlled with complex music
    Preamble:

    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 (http://aliexpress.com/store/1358152), they kindly provided me with a sample of the ED3c (http://de.aliexpress.com/store/product/KZ-ED3-Metal-Micro-Moving-Coil-Unit-In-Ear-Stereo-HiFi-Music-Earphone-Headphones-For-Samsung/1358152_32302313401.html, ~ $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 (6.8 mm), 16 Ohms
    Impedance: 16 Ohms
    Sensitivity: 108 dB
    Colours: multiple colours


    Delivery Content:

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


    Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

    The ED3c have got the coloured cable which is typical for KZ, very flexible and has got ideal strain relief on every transition – it is really good and something other manufacturers could learn from. Though, also typically for KZ, the cable has no chin-slider.
    The in-ear bodies are made of metal, seem indestructible and are painted (red in my case). The plastic faceplate says “ED3 The acme”, the bodies feature black “HIFI Acoustics” lettering. In the front section is “kz :ed3 .00 1 54.02” engraved.
     

    P1020846.jpg   P1020847.jpg
    P1020848.jpg   P1020866.jpg

     
     
    Comfort, Isolation:

    The IEMs can be worn both with the cables straight down or around the ears. The latter is generally my preferred method, as it improves fit as well as comfort and clearly reduces microphonics. As a chin slider is missing, the cable unfortunately moves when I tilt my head backwards or lean to the sides.
    The ED3c sit comfortably in my ears, but I wouldn’t mind if the nozzle was a bit longer.

    Noise isolation is definitely upper mediocrity.


    Sound:

    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.

    Tonality:

    The ED3c have got an emphasis of around 7 dB in the area between 40 and 300 Hz, wherefore they sound bassy, but not bass-heavy. The sub-bass rolls only slightly off. The mids are tonally correct (which is unfortunately something not many IEMs have in the low budget sector, but almost all KZ IEMs joyfully do) and neither over- nor under-present. The treble is just spot-on as well, with a slight, gently rising emphasis of the upper highs – there are no peaks or dips, which is quite nice.

    Resolution:

    Just like actually all KZ IEMs, the ED3c offer a good resolution for the price. Keeping the price in mind, the overall resolution of these IEMs is definitely among the better Knowledge Zenith in-ears. The mids are detailed, precise and natural.
    The lows are actually neither spongy nor lack differentiation, though they could be a bit more arid and also seem a bit blunt at times (just like the ATE). The treble sounds detailed, but could be a tad more differentiated with complex music – still, both attributes (the slightly blunt bass and the highs that could sound minimally more differentiated with complex tracks) are things that can be forgiven to ~ $10 earphones and in my personal experience, the ED3c could even cost triple the money and would still be worth it.

    Soundstage:

    I perceive these in-ears’ soundstage as marginally wider than average, while having a depth that consists of about 50-60% of the width, so yeah, they “can do” spatial depth. Instrument separation and –placement are good, but they could be even a tad more precise (although there are many more expensive in-ears that sound foggier). All in all, the soundstage (with these in-ears that could easily cost $30) is still quite decent.


    Conclusion:

    The ED3c in-ears offer a good build quality with a nice and sonically correct midrange as well as a resolution that is easily above the price range. Though, the lows seem a bit blunt at times and the treble loses differentiation with complex music.
    These things are however no deal-breakers and for a price of just $10, these in-ears are no-brainers and get 4.5 out of 5 stars with ease.
      vapman, sabrosa33 and B9Scrambler like this.
    1. zenovi
      Hi..
       
      I'm very interested in them.. I just want to know how they stack up against audio technica ath clr100 and the xiamio piston 3(this was my daily driver for last 5 months n i lost it.. :frowning2: ).
       
      Thanks
      zenovi, Jan 30, 2016
    2. HiFiChris
      @zenovi

      no idea, don't own any of the IEMs you mentioned (look at my profile to see a list of what I've got)
      HiFiChris, Jan 30, 2016
  2. B9Scrambler
    KZ ED3c: "The Acme"
    Written by B9Scrambler
    Published Jan 8, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - - Great all-rounder - excellent cable - comfort
    Cons - - Possibly too "safe" sounding

     
    DSCN0101.jpg
     

     
    Greetings Head-fi!
     
    KZ has done it again, and again, and again, etc. What have they done again? Release a smashing good budget earphone, that's what.
     
    This unit was purchased through AliExpress. I am in no way affiliated with Knowledge Zenith or any AliExpress sellers. All options 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 (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.
     
    About “The Acme”:
     
    The ED3c is a revision of the original ED3, which I dub “Perfection” (as found on the back of the housing). It comes in blue or red, is lighter, and as much as I hate the term, more “consumer friendly” in both construction and sound than the original. It also has a much better cable, akin to the one on the EDse. In other words, you would be hard pressed to find a better budget cable anywhere. It's flexible, well relieved, durable, resistant to tangling AND memory, and is just flat out awesome.
     
    The housing is noticeably lighter than the original ED3 and as a result feels less premium. This lightness and the addition of a longer nozzle brings with it improved comfort and fit. A worthy sacrifice I say. Accessories and packing are limited to spare ear tips and a box within a box. Nothing special this time around, unlike the nice shield-shaped case used for the ED10. Nothing worth spending time focusing on. Let's move onto the important things.
     

     
    DSCN0103.jpg       DSCN0118.jpg
     

     
    How do they sound?:
     
    While the original ED3 was a bright, cold, and balanced little thing, the "The Acme" has taken on a different tone. They are warm, bassy, and naturally smooth.
     
    Out of the box I have to admit that I was pretty shocked by the ED3c, and not in a good way. They really reminded me of the CM9 which is one of my least liked KZs. Bass was overblown, mids sounded inexplicably hollow, and their treble was dull. Since I received the HDS1 and ZS1 at the same time, I tossed the ED3c on the burn station and didn't touch them again until the next day.
     
    I'm not a massive proponent of the whole burn in phenomenon, but I do think it benefits some products. I found that for the ED3c, burn-in was flat out mandatory. Given the vast change oafter a mere 8 or so hours, I suspect there was some sloppy glue work involved within the housing that I could not see. The difference between my out-of-the-box listen and a mere night's sleep was phenomenal. Bass tightened up, mids came forward and sounded normal but still a touch recessed, and the treble was nice and sparkly. They haven't changed much since then, but am happy to confirm they sound bloody amazing.
     
    Like the ZS1, the ED3c puts a big emphasis on bass. It's reasonably quick, well-textured, digs deep, and punches hard. It finds a nice medium between the HDS1's mild boost and ZS1's overblown cacophony of delicious bass goodness. Mids are a touch recessed and sound very natural, if not slightly veiled. Female vocals are warm and intimate with appropriate tone. Everything just sounds very natural and realistic, if not mildly overshadowed by the bass. Treble on the ED3c is well-defined, clean, and absent of splashiness. It's not sharp and hyper-detailed, but it's not lacking in clarity. Nothing special, but there are no glaring flaws either. They're just bright enough to add some much needed energy to what would otherwise be a fairly mellow sounding earphone.
     
    Soundstage on this promising newcomer to KZ's lineup is about average. Slightly intimate without any out-of-head experiences. Layering and stereo transitions are pretty decent making them fun for trance and ambient tunes that throw sounds around.
     
    Where the ED3c excels, and I guess this comment applies to the ZS1 and HDS1 as well, is in their refinement. Compared to the last few releases from KZ (ED9, ED10, ATE), this new trio sound very smooth and refined all-around. In my opinion KZ has always done a great job with bass, handled mids competently, but struggled a bit with well-defined treble. This new crop of releases are very well-sorted in this regard, and I can no longer fault KZ in this aspect.
     

     
    DSCN0117.jpg
     

     
    Overall:
     
    In the end, "The Acme" is one of the better KZs. Their basic design is comfortable, their overall sound signature is warm and inviting, and they really don't do much of anything wrong outside of possibly playing it too safe. They may be too bassy for some, or too relaxed in the treble for others, but I would happily recommend these along with the ED9 as a good introduction to the KZ brand. Another valued filled offering from KZ.
     
    Thanks for reading!
     
    - B9Scrambler
     
      NeonHD likes this.