TKZK Wave Review: Make Waves

  • Surprising build quality for the price
  • Great technical performance
  • Great clarity in the mids

  • Uses 0.75 mm pins for some reason
  • Treble can get a bit too much

TKZK is a relatively new competitor in the portable audio industry. They are from China and not at all related to KZ or Knowledge Zenith, but actually a sister company to the well-known TinHIFI. The Wave is their debut IEM which is equipped with a classic hybrid dual driver setup in the budget range of IEMs. The Wave currently retails for 36 USD, and was provided to me for free by HiFiGO in exchange for this review.

Driver units: 1 dynamic, size or diaphragm material not specified + 1 balanced armature
Impedance: 22 ohms
Sensitivity: 110 dB
Frequency response range: 10 Hz - 40 kHz

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 Wave comes in a small, minimalistic, square box. Removing the lid will reveal the Wave inserted in a thin piece of plastic, and below it is another, smaller box that contains the cable and other accessories. Accessories include a warranty card, thank you card, instruction manual, 4 pairs of silicone eartips, and a drawstring pouch.
The shells are made of transparent 3D-printed resin, and like many other IEMs that uses the same material, it has a smooth and glossy surface. The shells are also feel solid due to the insides being filled with resin instead of being hollowed out. The faceplates are decorated with a piece that resembles tiny waves or ripples. Looking at the other side of the shell, there is a single vent placed at the center of the dynamic driver, but it looks like it is covered by a thin paper tape. Below it are L and R side indicators. The nozzles are made of metal with a lip to hold eartips in place and a metal mesh filter. Upon closer inspection, the balanced armature is visible through the filter.
The cable is a pretty common 4-core twisted silver plated copper commonly found in budget IEMs and is fairly soft and light. The angled 0.75 mm 2 pin connectors are made of plastic, while the splitter and 3.5 mm gold plated plug are made of hard rubber.
Now let's get to the sound.

The lows are reproduced in a linear manner, with both the subbass and midbass having the same position and weight. Subbass is tight and doesn't feel like it's coming from a dynamic driver at all. The reach is below average, as well as the decay. Midbass is also fast decaying but has adequate body and never felt lacking.

Overall, the lows of the Wave are definitely not for bassheads. But, it has enough substance so as not to sound bland and with a clean texture that can still provide some life to each track.

The mids are forward and has great transparency. Vocals sound organic and lively but are somewhat thin, with a bit of an elevation in the upper mids making female vocals sound slightly more forward than male ones. Instruments in this section especially strings and percussions sound very clear and snappy.

Overall, even though the mids are tuned to be slightly thin, it never sounded shouty nor too aggressive. But I would have liked it more if it were a bit thicker than this since the lows have minimal impact.

The highs are evidently the main focus of the Wave's sound. The reach in the treble is excellent accompanied by an above average decay. The treble adds a great amount of shimmer and energy to the sound. It never sounded sibilant nor piercing but the upper treble may cause fatigue for long listening sessions.

Overall, the highs are the Wave's main strength, but can also be its weakness since it can become a little over the top in some tracks. This may be attributed to the placement of the balanced armature driver since it is placed just behind the mesh filter on the nozzle.

Soundstage and Imaging:
The Wave has a slightly above average expansion in the soundstage. The width and the depth expands equally. Despite the soundstage being not that big, instruments are fairly easy to identify and are well separated, and the imaging has great clarity and accuracy. Congestion is very minimal even in complex tracks.

TKZK Wave (1 DD + 1 BA, 36 USD) vs. BLON BL-Max (2 DD, 37 USD)
The BL-Max has a lot more lows than the Wave. It has more rumble in the subbass, thicker and fuller impact in the midbass, but the Wave doesn't have that bass bleed that the BL-Max has. The BL-Max also have thicker mids, but the Wave is able to output more natural and clearer mids. In the treble, the Wave obviously has better sparkle and more extended decay. The BL-Max's treble is so much more relaxed, therefore not causing fatigue when listened to for some time. Soundstage is wider in the Wave in both the height and the width. The Wave was also able to present better instrument separation, more detailed imaging, and less congestion than the BL-Max.

Seeing and hearing a very affordable IEM that steers away from the common V-shaped, warm, or similar tuning is always a welcome surprise, and the TKZK Wave is one of those kind of rare IEMs. It's really nice to hear TinHIFI's classic bright tuning in a more budget friendly IEM, and like most of their IEMs, the Wave offers outstanding build quality. However, the most obvious flaw in TinHIFI's tuning which is the excessive treble carried on here in their sister company's debut product, and that is something that needs to be addressed in TKZK's future releases.

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