In this review, I’m looking at the KZ EDC. The EDC is an ultra-budget earphone with a surprisingly mature and neutral tuning. It retails for around $9.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided by KZ for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Frequency Response Range: 20 – 40Hz
Driver: 10mm dynamic driver
Oxygen-free copper cable
Packaging and Accessories
EDC comes in a tiny cardboard box. It’s even smaller than the usual KZ box but it serves the same purpose. Inside the box, we find the KZ EDC and 3x pairs of silicone eartips.
Considering the price, the KZ EDM is a nice looking earphone. It has smooth resin shells that have an understated, premium aesthetic. To keep the price down, the EDC comes with a fixed OFC cable. The cable is utilitarian and a bit unruly but it feels durable and doesn’t have any significant microphonics.
Once again we see KZ using a smaller than standard nozzle diameter which makes tip rolling more challenging than it needs to be. As far as comfort goes, the EDC feels great in my ears. The fit is snug, secure and comfortable. Passive noise isolation is average for this type of resin shell.
The KZ EDC has a neutral-warm sound signature. KZ states that EDC is a monitor-level IEM and while that may sound absurd for something at this price, it’s actually a fair claim. EDC’s presentation is fairly uncoloured and a far cry from the usual V-shaped tuning we normally see in the ultra-budget category.
But its low sensitivity means you’ll need a source with some proper power output to bring out EDC’s best. I wouldn’t recommend using these earphones straight from a smartphone. Any decent dongle DAC or amplifier will do the trick.
EDC’s bass is focused more on the mid-bass with a sub-bass roll-off. Bass extension is good but it’s not an earth-shaking experience. It produces a light, fast rumble that is well controlled even at high volume. Mid-bass notes are fuller and hit with moderate impact and good definition.
Overall, it’s a competent bass for such an affordable earphone. I was impressed by the texture of the bass guitar while listening to Tool’s “Stinkfist”, as well as the naturalness of the decay on bass notes.
Mids are the focal point of EDC’s presentation. Vocals are clear, vibrant and full of detail. The lower midrange is fairly forward. As a result, male vocals are full-bodied and robust. In comparison, female voices aren’t as vibrant and even sound slightly suppressed.
Electric guitars are full of bite and crunch and you might be surprised how well the EDC does violins and pianos too.
The treble is fairly relaxed, except for a 4kHz peak in the lower treble. That peak can cause some fatigue, especially for certain instruments such as electric guitars but for the most part, EDC has a safe treble. It’s a bit uneven, resulting in a series of peaks and dips. As a result, parts of the sound are clear and detailed while others have a veiled effect.
The upper treble is fairly subdued, so there isn’t a lot of airiness or precision there. Instead, the focus is on the lower treble area. I feel that if the 4kHz peak were attenuated and the treble was more even, this IEM would be a real killer. As it is, however, it’s still respectable for a pocket change IEM.
Soundstage and Technicalities
The soundstage is fairly wide, even with the muted upper treble. Soundstage depth is limited due to the upfront nature of the midrange and lower treble emphasis. Instrument separation is average as the overall sound is influenced heavily by the 4kHz peak. Still, the centre image is stable and I can even detect a little bit of layering.
Moondrop SSR ($40)
The Moondrop SSR has a single dynamic driver. Its frequency curve is quite similar to the EDC but it peaks earlier in the lower treble and then extends further and more evenly. As a result, SSR has better clarity and detail.
SSR’s lower bass is similar to the EDC but it’s leaner in the upper bass and lower midrange. As a result, this, along with a more forward treble give SSR an edge in clarity, instrument separation and tone. Vocals are more upfront and articulate on the SSR as well.
As you can see in the graph above, SSR’s treble is more even and pronounced, which, along with the more neutral midrange, gives it better detail retrieval, clarity and precision than the EDC. It’s worth noting, however, that SSR costs more than 4x the price of the EDC. With that in mind, I think the KZ performs admirably in comparison.
You can pick up a KZ EDC for the price of a couple of coffees. And with that in mind, it’s hard not to see the value there. The shells look and feel good and the build quality is solid. While the sound might not be perfect, it’s about as good as you’ll find for something with a near-neutral tuning in this price range. If you’re on a very strict budget and looking for an affordable monitor for mixing or content creation, you can give these a try. Just keep in mind you’ll need a powerful source to get the best out of them.