KZ T10 Review: Another Shot

  • Good battery life
  • Volume knob

  • Lacks a lot of features for the asking price
  • Pads seem to be irreplaceable
  • No aptX or LDAC, just AAC and SBC
  • ANC worsens the sound

Knowledge Zenith, or KZ, is company from China that is known for producing budget in-ear monitors. In case you didn't know, the T10 is actually KZ's second headphone. The first headphone they released was the LP5, 4-5 years ago, and it didn't gain much popularity for some reason. This year, KZ tried again, and this time they included active noise cancelling and ambient mode. The T10 currently retails for 99 USD, and was provided to me for free by KZ in exchange for this review.

Driver unit: 40 mm dynamic
Impedance: 32 ohms
Sensitivity: 101 dB
Frequency response range: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
Noise reduction range: 50 Hz - 800 kHz
Bluetooth version: 5.0
Battery capacity: 800 mAh (up to 20 hours playtime)

Poco X3 paired with FiiO KA3, iBasso DC03, Shanling UA1, Tempotec Sonata E35 and Zishan U1

Test tracks:
Africano - Earth Wind and Fire
Dark Necessities - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gurenge - Lisa
The Chain - Fleetwood Mac
Monsters - All Time Low
Ours - Taylor Swift
Stay - Mayday Parade
Snuff - Slipknot
Yesterday Once More - Carpenters
So Slow - Freestyle
Aurora Sunrise - Franco
Attention - Pentatonix
Blue Bird - Ikimono-gakari
You're Still The One - Shania Twain
Anyone Who Knows What Love Is(Will Understand) - Irma Thomas
Salamin - Slapshock
AOV - Slipknot
Hey Jude - The Beatles
The Way You Make Me Feel - Michael Jackson
...and a lot more.

Unboxing and Accessories:
The sample of the T10 I received does not come with the retail box yet as it was not yet officially released when KZ sent it to me. It only came in a cardboard box and bubble wrapped like someone's life depended on it.

The T10's body is a mixture of metal and plastic. The headband is made of plastic, with metal inserts for the size adjustment. The upper portion of the headband that touches the head has a rubber cushion for added comfort. The hinges the hold the earcups to the headband are made of metal, as well as the outer portion of the earcups. On the right earcup, there is a built-in dial for volume control. There is also a button labeled "M" for multifunction which acts as play/pause and answer/hang up a call. There is also an on/off/pairing mode switch, 3.5 mm jack for auxiliary connection, a USB C port for charging, and another button for next/previous tracks and for switching to ANC on, off, and ambient mode.
ANC and Ambient Mode:
The ANC mode is actually pretty decent. It can block most noises especially the sound of an air conditioning unit, low humming noises, and even people talking. But when this mode is turned on, it seriously messes up the sound. Everything becomes pushed back, the lows loses body, the mids become very thin, the already distant sounding highs sound even more distant. Meanwhile, the ambient mode is also good. It let's in a sufficient amount of sounds in the background without altering the sound of the headphone.

Now let's get to the sound.

The lows are simply relentless. It has the biggest presence out of all the frequencies. Subbass has a major boost with serious amounts of rumble. The reach is just average but the decay and loudness of it are through the roof. Midbass sounds really thick, boomy, and oppressively bloated.

Overall, the lows feel like they are scattered everywhere. The lows are so boosted that, on some parts of some tracks where you expect a soft whisper, or a cymbal crash, you will feel a soft rumble behind it that should not even be there while using the T10.

The mids have a hard time emerging through all the bass. The mids are also partially pushed back, vocals are really thick and sound like they are muffled. Guitars, pianos, and other acoustic instruments sound blurry.

Overall, KZ seems to really like recessed mids for some reason. And that alongside lows that are overpowering is never a good combination. It just takes away a lot of flavor especially in vocal focused tracks.

The highs are missing in action. Treble reach is below average, partnered with a good amount of decay that can only be heard by focusing hard on it. Cymbals sound like they are crumpled together with the upper mids and all other instruments in this section barely have any presence.

Overall, the highs need the most improvement in the T10. There are a lot of details in every track that can't be appreciated because first, the highs lack that upper reach and second, the lows are just utterly dominant.

Soundstage and Imaging:
The soundstage redeems the T10's sound a bit. It has a slightly above average expansion for a headphone, focusing more on the width than the height. But all other technicalities, the T10 falls short. Imaging has subpar clarity, layering and separation of the instruments are both below average, and congestion can be felt on most tracks.

KZ seem to have rushed the release of the T10. Build quality feels adequate, but that's just about it for this headphone. In terms of features, the T10 doesn't have much to show for in the competitive price range it got introduced to. To top it all off, the T10 has more misses than hits in its sound, which is the most important thing.

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