QKZ x HBB Khan English Review


Duel Of Tunings




Construction and Design




  • Eloquent tuning and smooth in the upper range.
  • Good bass.
  • Weight and ergonomics.
  • Value for money.




  • Cable too generic.
  • Its 2Pin 0.75mm connection is not the most common one.
  • Recessed mids, relatively dark and muted tuning.
  • Technically speaking, average level.


Purchase Link




Link to the Store






Until now I had not looked up the history of QKZ, »Quality Know for Zero Defect». It is a brand that was born in Bao’an district – China. In 2005, QKZ was divided into two subsidiaries: «QKZ» and «KZ». Currently, QKZ specializes in hybrid technology, balanced armature, zinc alloy earphones, CNC metal earphones, and Bluetooth v4.0 to v5.5.
But if we talk about the current model, the QKZ x HBB Khan is a collaboration between QKZ and the famous audio reviewer HBB (HawaiiBadBoy from «Bad Guy Good Audio Reviews»). It uses a 10mm dynamic driver for bass + a 7.8mm dynamic driver for mid and treble. The cable connection is 2Pin and 0.75mm. It has been manufactured in 4th generation DLP-3D, to create a lightweight, ergonomic, semi-custom design, with an outer panel carved like dragon scales and coated in resin. Let’s see what this new collaboration, priced at no more than $40, has to offer.





  • Driver Type: 10 mm dynamic driver + 7.8 mm dynamic driver, with LCP liquid crystal complex diaphragm.
  • Frequency Response: 20-39500Hz.
  • Sensitivity: 117dB±3dB.
  • Impedance: 10Ω±15%.
  • Jack Connector: 3.5mm SE.
  • Capsule Connection Type: Recessed 0.75mm 2Pin.
  • Cable Material: Oxygen Free Copper.
  • Cable Length: 1.2m ± 5%.





The QKZ x HBB Khan come in a black box, dimensions 112x162x50mm. On the front side you can see a realistic photo of the capsules. Underneath, the name of the model, in gold lettering. At the bottom, a description of the model and a logo that imitates the Hi-Res logo, but with the HBB logo inside. The brand name is in the top right corner, in holographic ink.
On the back, the model name is repeated at the top, next to the brand name and HBB logo. There is a frequency response graph, product description, specifications and an exploded view of the inside of the capsule. Also visible are the brand name and some other contact information.
Removing the outer cardboard reveals a completely black box, with the brand logo in large print in the centre. After lifting the lid, the capsules are encased in a thick foam mould, covered with black cardboard. Underneath, there is a kind of golden coin with the HBB logo in the centre of a rigid plastic sleeve. Behind this first layer is a white hard plastic case, inside of which are the cable and the silicone tips, both inside plastic bags. The complete contents are as follows:


  • The two capsules.
  • One 4-strand black oxygen-free copper cable with microphone and control.
  • Three pairs of white silicone tips with black core.
  • One white hard plastic case.
  • One gold coin with the HBB logo.


I don’t like this kind of basic cable. I prefer the 0.78mm connection because it is more widespread. Although it’s not a problem, I prefer embedded connectors, instead of recessed, because they are more common as well. The gold HBB coin is curious and also the white hard case. I prefer it to cloth bags. Although, being rigid, it does have a rattle effect when you carry it around in your backpack. But overall, for the price it’s not bad.



Construction and Design


The capsules of the QKZ x HBB Khan have been 3D printed in an almost translucent material. The outer plate is carved like dragon scales and coated with resin. On the right side is the HBB logo and on the left side the brand logo, both are gilded. There are two horizontal slots at the bottom corner. The 2Pin 0.75mm connection is oval and overhangs. Inside, the contacts are gold-plated. On the edge of the capsule you can read the model name, in gold lettering, together with the channel lettering, inside a circle. The inner face is rounded and smooth. The mouthpieces are quite projected, with a length of 6 mm. They have two diameters, the bottom diameter is 5.75mm and the rim is 6.65mm. The grid is metallic and perforated.
The cable is the classic 4-strand black coiled cable, with semi-rigid plastic over-ear. It has a microphone and control. It’s the typical basic cable that comes with the vast majority of IEMS in this price range. It’s the kind that screams «swap me!» if you like IEMS. What I don’t like is the 0.75mm interface type and the shape of the connectors, I prefer a more common one. But as there are so many models that use this connection, it’s not a problem to find compatible cables. But, it’s true that the best cables don’t use this shape.



Adjustment and Ergonomics


The capsules are very light. I like the projection of the mouthpieces, because they allow an insertion that can be medium. The only thing that can be a bit problematic is the thickness of the mouthpiece lip, as well as its diameter. In particular, I’ve done great. With my classic foam-filled home-made tips, they fit very firmly to my morphology. In addition, the sound is completely full. The fit is durable and rotation is minimal. Because of the great fit and coupling, the isolation achieved is remarkable. I feel that the ergonomics might be problematic for other users, but, for me, it is almost excellent. Once again, I’m back on the comfort track I seemed to have lost lately.







You could say that the profile of the QKZ x HBB Khan has a rounded w-shape. The humped shape of its bass and the precise cut-off at 200Hz is curious. Then, it is completely linear up to 1khz, to rise smoothly towards the upper mids. There is a slight roll-off in the early treble, to burst into a little double sparkle at 9kHz and 14khz. In reality, there are two dynamic drivers, one for bass and one for midrange and treble. It seems that the performance of a frequency crossover between them is clear from the way the bass transitions to the mids. The use of a driver for midrange and treble stretches the frequency range in the air range. The specifications state that they reach almost 40khz.
On the other hand, although it claims to have 10Ω and 117dB sensitivity, it requires a good voltage level to sound comfortable and reach the sound pressure level of its competitors.





The first thing I find in the bass is a dull and nuanced feeling. It seems that the softness of the upper range influences the bass in a negative way. This sonority makes the music seem darker and sparser than usual. And that’s how I feel the lower range, opaque, but punchy. With a good level of energy from the source, the bass returns an energetic, hard, compacted punch with good dryness. For its price range, it’s not at all bad on speed and punch. It’s not overly sensory and feels coloured by the hump tilted towards the mid-bass. The reproduction of pure tones below 40Hz is not very realistic and it has a BA-like sonority, which detracts from the naturalness of LFO performance. However, it recovers very well at 40Hz and that is the point that gives the sound quality in the bass. In fact, the texture is restored to the point of being rough and attractive.
It’s relatively effective in complicated passages and resolves them with simplicity, but without muddying the sound too much. It doesn’t have a very good definition to draw complex bass lines with much precision. But it performs coherently, for its price range, without falling into faults or unpleasant sonorities. It can only sound more boomy than usual, losing a bit of control in unfiltered bass. This can be observed in many Massive Attack songs on the Protection album, where the bass lines reach a level that can be excessive, both in pressure, texture and sonority, vibrating more than necessary on more than one occasion. At moderate listening levels, the control is more accurate.





In the mids, the dry and dark tendency of the HBB Khan is once again evident. The low incidence of treble is once again the protagonist and the sound feels not very juicy, with limited sparkle. The special tuning decouples the lows from the mids to a good degree, but also distances them from the listener. The combination of the limited expansion of the overtones and this distance to their presence makes the first part of the middle range a bit sterile, especially in the area of vigour and exuberance. But, in the musical aspect, this appreciation can be likened to an analogue warmth, which can be reinforced to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the source used. In my view, and with the intention of counteracting this characteristic, I recommend the use of cooler or more analytical fonts. Under this patina of softness, denser music benefits, as long as the thickness of the notes does not affect the sharpness of the representation. In expositions with fewer instruments, one can distinguish the more muted timbre it possesses. However, it is also an aspect that makes the texture more present, revealing and informative. This thickness can help male voices to have a fuller physical sensation, even if the distance of their focus implies otherwise. In female voices, despite the gentle emancipation of the mid-highs, their physicality is not comparable to that of their male counterparts. In the same proportion moves the response of the instruments. The brighter their timbre, the more pronounced the analogue feel of their presentation. The result is a soft, veiled musical manifestation, without any sibilance, but little extended in resolution, clarity and transparency.





I’m surprised by the frequency response, in relation to the actual sound of the treble. Without listening to the HBB Khan and only interpreting the graph, I would have thought that the high end would be more represented than in reality. But, perhaps the gentle rise of the mids towards the treble is to blame for the more muffled feel of the music. While there is good extension, expressiveness, energy and sparkle are limited. The result is a high end that doesn’t feel bright, nor is it crisp. Its portrayal is soft, measured, very controlled and doesn’t help the detail and nuance to be at its best. Although, with time, burning and aural adaptation, the treble seems to improve little by little.



Soundstage, Separation


The scene enjoys adequate width, even a good sense of depth. But it feels eminently frontal. The stereo representation is good and the laterality of the sound is up to par. But let no one look for a lot of three-dimensionality in the musical recreation. The imaging is average. The thick weight of the notes means that the definition is not very high. It also doesn’t help that the treble is soft. All in all, the level of transparency, light and brightness is low, offering a not very high level of resolution and a not too evident separation. The perception is of a warm, denser and duller sound, yet soft, even mellow and analogue-leaning. As a result, the image can be a bit fuzzy, as well as the appreciation of details. Even micro details can be penalised and almost invisible.







At a similar price, but with a different frequency response, I have the BLON BL-Max. In common, they are also dual dynamic, with 10mm + 6mm drivers. The construction is metallic, in zinc alloy. Ergonomics and design are not the best. In addition, they are relatively large and heavy. In that respect, I prefer the lightness, ergonomics, fit and shape of the HBB Khan.
In terms of handling, the Blon is much easier to move than the HBB Khan, which requires much more power to shine on par with the BL-Max.
You could say they both have a w-profile, although they are different. The Blons have a more extended tendency towards sub-bass, with peaks throughout the range being more boomy. The HBB Khan, apart from the bass hump, are smoother and more homogeneous.
The Blon has a more realistic and traditional sonority in the LFO range, while in that frequency range, the HBB Khan generates a coloured, shallower and less sensory sound. Although the textural feel of the QKZs is superior, it is not always natural, but feels a little reinforced by that particular behaviour at the low end. Despite this, it seems that the HBB Khan’s are able to layer and separate bass better than the Blon’s, which become somewhat slow and diffuse in passages with overlapping bass lines, even losing punch comparatively speaking. While I prefer the timbre and bass colour of the Blons, on an objective level, the QKZs have better quality and fullness in complex passages.
There is more light, transparency and clarity in the Blon’s midrange, with the timbre less impaired by the Khan’s softness. Although they have more bass impact, the cut-off is not as abrupt as in the HBB Khan, they again seem more realistic and with a fuller, more realistic timbre. The HBB Khan’s are more sparse, shaded, dense, dark, warm and analogue. They do not possess the sparkle or transparency that the BL-Max do, but they are not paradigmatic in this respect. The Blon’s tuning makes the high-mids more present, offering a greater closeness on female vocals and guitars. They also possess a point of greater physicality and body in the first half of the mids. Undoubtedly, for better or worse, this is a more traditional tuning.
There is a clear difference in the treble. The BL-Max have an excitation from the mid-highs, which gives them more clarity and transparency in the mid-range. But if one looks at the graph and averages the area in this zone, one could say that the HBB Khan has more presence in the highs. The actual result is like that and in the sound as well. The highs of the HBB Khan, although soft, sound more realistic than in the BL-Max. The roll-off or control zone of the Blon gives them a sonic clipping that doesn’t benefit them and adds a less realistic timbre, as if the treble ends prematurely. But, actually, I don’t really like the treble performance of the HBB Khan either, because it’s not very defined, they don’t have much resolution either. I think they are finer on the Blon and have better resolution, but with worse timbre. So there is no clear winner in this respect.
In terms of transparency, separation and sense of clarity, the Blon scene feels wider. The denser, more homogeneous sound of the HBB Khan’s brings together the recreation of their image. In this way, details are freer and more perceptible in the BL-Max, without the BL-Max possessing a revealing analytical capacity. But at least where detail is known to exist, it can be perceived. Whereas, in the HBB Khan, most of them remain hidden. Technically, the Blon are better than the HBB Khan, although this is partly due to more appropriate tuning.





The creation of a new IEM model should have a distinctive feature that distinguishes it from previous ones. What has been the motivation here? Well, it seems that the story about this model is already well known. But, apart from that, what is that distinguishing feature? Actually, it could be several. One could be that the capsule has been 3D printed. But the important thing is the sound, and in that respect, the frequency response is absolutely eloquent. The bass humps at the borderline between sub-bass and mid-bass, and then cuts back sharply at the very moment when the mids begin. From there, the midrange is flat up to 1kHz, then rises almost linearly to the treble. After that, a slight dip and a double sparkle. No doubt, this is a different tuning, which resembles the one we are all thinking of. But, I insist again, why repeat this form, because of power, or because it is really accurate? Personally, I don’t believe the latter. IEMS should do some good in some respect, as I started the conclusion. In this case, all that glitters is not gold. But I would highlight the bass, an IEMS signed by HBB should never disappoint in this aspect, no matter how inexpensive it is. Nevertheless, its eloquent FR is also worth mentioning, as well as the smoothness, warmth and analogue feel of the whole. Above all, keep that. But I would also add the level of construction, the case and the price/quality ratio. And, if I may be so bold, also the comfort and ergonomics of the QKZ x HBB Khan. Although, of course, it will depend on one’s particular morphology.



Sources Used During the Analysis


  • Aune X8 XVIII Magic DAC + EarMen ST-Amp.
  • TempoTec Serenade X + iFi Zen Can.
  • Earmen Angel.
  • TempoTec Variations V6.
  • ACMEE MF02s.
  • xDuoo XD05 BAL.
  • Hidizs AP80 PRO-X Red Copper Limited Edition.
  • Aune Flamingo.