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Something very new and special from us today — in-ear monitors KZ ED16 (ZS7) that are promissed to be the best of the cheapest… 🙂 Maaaan, the whole world of sound for about $20 — hybrid technology of combining 4 balanced armature with 2 dynamic drivers in an attempt to conquer the minds and hearts of poor audiophiles 🙂  All of that from Chineese company (ShenZhen YuanZe Electronics Co.,Ltd) that is stamping different models of headphones one by one since 2010.

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We were curious enough to get on the same hook and give those IEMs a try. Not a big deal of investing less than 20 bucks in further understanding of how would such a budget choice compete with $75-$100 respected high quality IEMs. In hope of a miracle and to make sure once and for all…

So, we’ve ordered a pair of KZ ED16 or ZS7 — sorry for such mess with naming, we still don’t know the real name of the product because the box states ED16 and earphones are labeled with ZS7 — and were rubbing our hands in exitment while waiting for the delivery….

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Product specifications:

  • Name: KZ ED16
  • Type: In Ear
  • Driver: 4 Balanced Armature + 2 Dynamic Driver
  • Sensitivty: 108dB/mW
  • Impendance: 25ohm
  • Frequency response: 10-40000Hz
  • Cable Length: 1.2m
  • Cable: removable, 0.75mm pins
  • Connector: 3.5mm
  • Plug Type: 90deg
  • Color: Blue, Black

First negative notice here is that specifications stated on AliExpress shop page deviate from what is written on the box. It becomes a quest to understand what are the real specifications of this product, whether the box is actually belongs to this unit and what did AliExpress shop mean when writing something completely different. Marketing materials like photos with the description of ED16 won’t help either — there are severe deviations as well. For example, promotional photo states 4 armature and 2 dynamic drivers. Shop description states 1 dynamic driver, box states 1 dynamic driver…. Feel free to choose, I think… Anyway, finally we’ve understood that PR photos are talking about total number of drivers… What about differences in frequency response? Great example of  negligent approach to precise product description for a customer…

Some additional PR materials to understand technical design of this product:

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Let’s move on. As you might have understood, our first exitement about this product already has started to vanish. Still willing to give it a try, though.

Box arrived after about 3 weeks since the initial order placement. Its contents are very typical:

  • ED16 IEMs
  • 3 pairs of silicone tips (different sizes)
  • cable
  • short user manual

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Design and materials:

KZ ED16 are made of semi-transparent plastics with logos printed on the outer sides (ZS7 instead of ED16). Shape, size and weight are comfortable for long listening sessions. No problems here.

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Detachable cable with 0.75mm 2 pin connectors feels cheap but sits very tight when connected to earbuds. It also has flexible ear hooks with memory effect.

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Both, cable connectors and earbuds have corresponding «L» and «R» labels. Although, there is nothing that would show which side the connector should go inside earbud to avoid wrong polarity.

Testing equipment:

Our current source equipment consists of Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 smartphone, Hidizs AP200 flagship DAP, Hidizs Sonata DH1000 DAC&AMP.

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Other IEMs that we would be comparing to are: Dawnwood Knight ST08 and Hidizs Seeds. Both are in $70-90 price range and both have excellent audio quality.

Sound Check:

Ups… This is the worst part and a complete disaster. Why? Because you’d not be able to use ED16 IEMs with any source and for any music unless you are willing to make significant adjustment in EQ, and this won’t help much either. Otherwise, you’d get a headache and your ear would start to bleed 😦

The main problem is in the extremely unbalanced and enourmous delivery at higher frequencies. ED16 would open the whole new world of noise and sibilants in every favorite composition. It is overpowered to an extent when your eyes start to twitch unconsciously and there is a feeling if someone is trying to drill your skull. And all of that comes at middle volume level. Dial it a little bit more to get an undestanding what it is like when standing next to accelerating fighter jet in closed space. If to try to explain visually — AFR would look like something like this:

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Oh, man, what a pain when listening to high quality vynil rips in DSD — needle tracking noise transforms to sparkles in your eyes 😦

Besides extreme amount of highs, such approach would also keep mids and voices behind and produce more lows. But in case of ED16 it is not just a typical «V-shaped» tuning. It is «√-shaped« if you know what I mean.

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What is the most amusing is that this product is showing some very good performance in other aspects and could have been a great bargain if not so poorely tuned on highs. We are talking about reasonable amounts and good dynamics of lows, clarity of mids and very good channel separation and scene width and depth. The latter might be a result of combined drivers desynchronization which is a bug but really becomes a feature in respect of creating this lovely pouring sound effect which adds some more distance between channels and different instruments.

Conclusion:

We can’t tell which audience did KZ brand targeted while releasing ED16 IEMs. Woman and children should be kept away — they are more sensitive to higher frequencies and would definitely suffer from such sound. Moreover, we warn you of possible damage to child ears…

Audiophiles?, no — cause the flaws in sounding are obvious from the very first attempt.

Almost deaf old people? Probably yes. Our ability to perceive higher frequencies falls as we get older and by the time of celebrating 100th anniversary ED16 IEMs should become more or less acceptable 🙂

Very strange approach from a company that claims to have some experience of manufacturing for higly staturated and demanding HiFi market. Looks like if they didn’t spend a second of their precious time for a short sound quality check which would show such severe tendency of emphasizing highs. Bad attitude and no respect to customers…

Finally — just don’t buy KZ ED16 (ZS7). We don’t know whether other products from this brand would be any better but ED16 is a complete crap that shouldn’t be given as a present to the worst enemy cause Bible has tought us to show some mercy on him…

If you are searching for really good IEMs — there are great options like Dawnwood ST08 or Hidizs Seeds which are perfectly balanced and represent everything what you’d expect from high quality IEMs to pair with HiFi Hi-Res source equipment.

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Disclaimer:

If KZ brand representatives would ever read this review: yes, we are rude in our judgements when it comes to so negligent attitude towards customers. It doesn’t matter what the price of the product is — if it could cause any harm in future or could have been made much better after a short mandatory QC — it should be revised and released only after eliminating all severe and obvious flaws. The rest is just a strive of a company to elevate some funds with no signs of responsibility to its own deeds. Proove us wrong…   

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KZ ED16 (ZS7) IEMs — keep away from reach of children: 2 комментария

  1. Hello, I was notified of this review by a discord server I am in for budget audio, of which was made based on a website (www.audiobudget.com)
    I suggest complaining to the seller as it appears you may have a faulty IEM; as they are chinese it is very easy for poor quality control. See if you can get it replaced as the ED16 are not known to have treble issues (The tuning is one of its strong points)
    Kindest regards and thanks for the review! It’s nice to share opinions and discuss Hi-Fi.

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  2. Well, Hi! Thank you for your comment and suggestion. Perhaps it was faulty indeed. Who knows… 🙂 Perhaps it should have been changed and given another try. But I was so upset that I’ve preferred to throw it away. I don’t doubt that other KZ products might be better, but I constantly see some negative feedback as well. This company does a lot of IEMs and seems to be not paying much of the attention to each single one. So, buying it is like a russian roulette — some products might be great and some might be crap. I had reviewed numerous IEMs since ED16 and never had similar issues with other manufacturers… Anyway, thanks for your input. I do believe that you are honest! But I would not take another try with ED16 at least. Maybe with other KZ products in future…

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