KZ Acoustics is one of the better-known low-priced “Chi-Fi” brands in the audio market. “Chi-Fi” stands for “China Hi-Fi”, products created by China-based companies. Their tagline loosely translated from Chinese is “Do not forget that the original intent of using headphones is to enjoy music.” Their earphones design attract the diverse audiophile enthusiasts with the detachable swappable cables and the impressive driver specs, ranging from single driver to multiple drivers, in dynamic, balanced armature, and hybrid combination. The Z1 retails at US$36.84 (or US$29.99 with promo code BGKZZ1AA with 9.9 VIP Day), and thanks to Banggood for sending over this sample unit for my review.
KZ stands for Knowledge Zenith.KZ Acoustics
Like most online-exclusive products, the KZ Z1 box design is plain without any fanciful graphics or images. The box contains the earbuds in a case, micro-USB charging cable, 3 extra pairs of ear tips, instructions.
The case uses lightweight plastic and appears to easily incur abrasion marks against other materials. The case is not easy to open because the groove is very small. It also takes me time to find the groove to pry open because the case is symmetrical. I would recommend putting a colour sticker to mark the opening.
The earbud mould is ergonomically shaped like IEM with a glossy finish, reminding me of the ADVANCED M5-TWS. But in close observation, there are joint marks which shows that the case is fabricated from several parts pieced together instead of a unibody construct. That’s not a major issue, considering the budget price.
The earbuds are easy to pair. It goes into pairing mode when no other device is paired to it. Operating is by tapping the capacitive face, but it’s not very sensitive so sometimes it could not pick up my taps accurately. Single tap to play-pause, double tap to skip track, triple tap to go into low latency gaming mode, press-hold to trigger voice assistant. You cannot adjust volume.
The earbuds only have a battery life of 2 hours, which is among the lowest I have reviewed in recent months. Similarly uncharacteristic is the connection quality, which is prone to streaming break-ups and distortions, a condition which occurred frequently to many products during the infant years of TWS and had not recurred for a long while when I reviewed TWS in recent months. This phenomenon occurs occasionally during my review period.
The KZ Z1 audio is easily likeable, thanks to its compact emphasized bass for impact, producing like a mini boombox effect. It’s clean enough not to bleed into other frequencies to muddy up. The treble delivers clear sounds yet not overtaking the mix, achieving good listening balance minus the excessive harshness. Midrange is clean and distinct but not warm, with good separation of instrumentation through roomy staging, and that should further impress the listener. Sharp ears would detect dirty noise floor but it shouldn’t bother you if your music is loud and furious.
Compared with Earfun Air, the KZ Z1 has more prominent bass pressure, but Earfun Air’s treble is even more crisp, transparent, spatial, and precise, like the crashing cymbals. To each his own, but I would prefer KZ Z1 for a more balanced sound, but Earfun Air’s treble is much more clinical.
Compared with ADVANCED M5-TWS, the KZ Z1 still got a more pushy bass, but the M5 bass is more spread out along the spectrum hence a little more full. Similarly, the treble on the M5 is more forward and the midrange is more present, giving the M5 an edge in terms of energy, albeit slight overcooked sibilance. KZ Z1 is still a more easy earbuds to accept, unless you prefer a more pushy low-treble delivery.
When low latency gaming mode is turned on, the audio latency is reduced relatively significantly, that it is good enough for critical gaming. For call quality, I could not test because my sample unit does not appear to be working, which is an absolute puzzle. There is just complete dead silence.
The KZ Z1 is comfortable and offers a V-shaped sound tuning that should easily impress listeners. Z1 delivers compact punchy bass without sounding too muddy, achieves clarity with distinct instrument separation while managing harshness. It is let down by poor battery life, unstable connectivity and an absence of mic pick-up on my sample unit. Don’t be discouraged by my review, as Alex Hong’s YouTube review seems positive.
Get yours at Banggood (link here) and use the promo code BGKZZ1AA (9.9 VIP Day) to get yourself a checkout price of US$29.99 or wherever you can find is selling at a good price with safe and fast shipping.