So, you’ve surely heard about TWS (True Wireless Stereo) by now and everyone is making their own version of one. Well, KZ (Knowledge Zenith), the Chinese budget iem manufacturing giant has decided to join the fray with what is probably the most ambitious implementation to date. In today’s review, I’m checking out the KZ E10 TWS earphones. The E10 is packed with 5 drivers per side (1 dynamic + 4BA) and has aptX support. As if that’s not exciting enough by itself, the E10 comes in at just $60. Surely it can’t be any good right? Let’s find out.
This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
KZ E10 Review
Very comfortable and stable fit
Good bass performance
Upper midrange glare
Bluetooth audio cutouts
Unknown IPX rating
Package and Accessories
With the E10 we get to finally see a new KZ box design. Admittedly, it’s not much different from the regular one but at this stage, any change is refreshing. It has a black cardboard outer sleeve with a black image and black text that are near impossible to see but who cares right? This is one of the ways KZ can keep costs down and after all, we just want to see what’s inside. Here’s what you’ll find in the box:
KZ E10 TWS earphones
USB Type-C charging cable
3 pairs of silicone eartips (S, M, L)
The case is made of plastic but it feels pretty rugged and should be fairly durable unless you make a habit of dropping it. It has a USB Type-C charging port and a small LED on the front. This outer LED glows red while charging and blue when fully charged.
There’s another LED on the inside of the charging case, as well as a small button. The LED glows blue when the earphones are seated inside. To pair the iems with your source, you need to first keep the earpieces in the case and hold the button for 3 seconds until it flashes green, indicating the earphones are in pairing mode. After that, the process is the same as regular TWS or Bluetooth buds.
Build Quality and Design
In terms of build quality, the E10 look and feel great. The shells are very similar in shape to the KZ ZS10 Pro and other recent KZ models. The earhooks are fixed in place, meaning you cannot switch them out for a regular wired cable.
E10’s shells are made from a mix of resin and electroplated zinc alloy while the earhooks are part flexible silicone and part aluminium alloy. These actually feel quite premium considering the low price and they feel well-constructed too.
Unfortunately, there is no mention of an IPX water-resistance rating in the documentation which makes the E10’s suitability for sport or working out unknown. However, it seems every TWS earphone has a minimum IPX4 rating, meaning they can withstand sweat and light rain etc.
Comfort and Noise Isolation
These are easily one of the most comfortable TWS earphones I’ve tried so far. They’re basically the same shell type as many wired iems on the market so they fit naturally in your ears. With the addition of the earhooks, many people will likely find the fit more secure than regular TWS earpieces and particularly stable for active use.
Noise isolation is definitely above average for a TWS earphone. Even if I’m just listening to quiet music I can barely hear any external noise whatsoever.
Connectivity and Battery Life
Pairing is quick and easy and I had no troubles connecting to earphones to several sources, including my Android smartphone, the Shanling M5s and FiiO M5. However, I did experience the E10 cutting out a lot when I turned my head and often for no apparent reason at all, even when the source was sitting on my desk, less than 1 metre away.
When it comes to battery life, the E10 performs moderately. The case takes around 2.5 hours to fully charge and has an impressive rated standby time of 100 days, although I obviously didn’t verify this myself.
As for the actual earphones, their battery lasts around 4-5 hours depending on signal quality and volume levels. While those are pretty average numbers by today’s standards, it’s actually quite good considering there are 5 drivers in each earpiece and these things can also get extremely loud if you want them too.
The KZ E10 has a lively and energetic sound with snappy bass and an emphasis on the upper midrange. Clarity is very good but the sound leans towards bright which may be fatiguing for some listeners. Detail retrieval is moderate and the overall tuning is one that aims at fun rather than naturalness. If you’re familiar with KZ recent models, I’d describe the E10’s sound like something in between the ZS10 Pro and AS16.
The bass is boosted above neutral but it’s not excessive nor bloated in any way. It has a similar quality as the ZS10 Pro and ZSX but is more conservative in output level. Bass notes have a defined leading edge, making kick drums very snappy with a sharp slam. The sub-bass has a nice, fast rumble that is clearly audible but also very controlled and tidy.
E10 has a fairly standard KZ midrange i.e. one that is a bit recessed and slightly lacking in instrument size and warmth. The clarity is very good with solid vocal articulation but only average resolution. Boosted upper mids around 2-4kHz add clarity and produce some very snappy percussion but it can also be quite glaring and fatiguing at a higher volume. It affects the timbre, as well as the overall tone. A bit more warmth in this area would produce a more natural tone but still for a budget iem it could be a lot worse.
The treble is again similar to what we’ve heard from previous KZ models. It’s a bit dry and a bit steely and while it’s not terrible, it’s not very accurate either. But once more, I need to remind myself this is a $60 TWS iem and I shouldn’t judge it too harshly.
The soundstage has moderate dimensions and is fairly even in width and depth. Vocals take a neutral position on the stage but at times can sound a bit distant. Imaging and layering are middling at best, probably due to the upper midrange glare that tends to have a washed-out effect.
The KZ E10 are extremely comfortable, they’re well-built and the functionality is mostly on point. Aside from the frequent audio cutouts that seem to happen no matter how close you are to the source, they work as intended. In terms of audio quality, they’re pretty good, so long as you don’t mind a brighter sound signature but there’s room for improvement here as well.
This is definitely one of the more unique and interesting TWS earphones available at the moment. For the most part, they show a lot of promise and I think KZ have a strong blueprint to build on but as of right now, I think there are better alternatives out there.