TKZK is a new subsidiary of the famed Tin Hifi IEM manufacturer. In this review, I’m looking at the brand’s debutante product, the TKZK Wave. The Wave is a $38 hybrid dual-driver IEM with 1 dynamic driver and 1 balanced armature.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided by HiFiGo for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
The Wave comes in a small black box with an image of the IEM on the front. Inside the box is pretty standard fare, including the TKZK Wave IEM, a detachable SPC cable, a fabric carrying pouch and 3x pairs of silicone eartips.
For a budget IEM, the TKZK Wave looks pretty nice. It has a pseudo-custom shape shell with a stylish wavy design on the faceplate. The shells are made of resin but the nozzles are aluminium. Speaking of the nozzles, they have a good lip so eartips stay firmly in place and there is the usual metal mesh cover.
There’s a single small vent about halfway down the front side of the housing. Once again we see the hooded 2-pin connector type that has become increasingly popular over the last couple of years.
This type of shell is usually comfortable and the Wave is no different. The curved surface of the inner shell fits quite well in my ears and provides pretty good passive noise isolation. I would say these shells are quite broad though and stick out the side of my ears a bit.
The stock cable is very similar to the budget KZ, TRN, KBEAR types. It’s a twisted silver-plated copper cable with translucent rubber components and transparent plastic connector housings. Above the Y-split the wires are thin and tend to get tangled very easily. There is no noticeable cable noise/microphonics.
The TKZK Wave has quite a neutral presentation, similar in some ways to the VDSF tuning of the Moondrop SSR and Quarks. However, it has a brighter tonality that focuses on detail and clarity over smoothness. The Wave gives the impression of a fast-paced IEM with a vibrant, clean sound.
It’s very easy to drive and can run off any low-powered source, including a smartphone. However, due to it leaning towards bright, the Wave works better with warmer sources as it might be a little fatiguing at higher listening levels.
The Wave’s bass is tuned for speed and definition rather than weight and warmth. Having said that, the bass extension is good and sub-bass notes have good reach but any rumble is light and tight. With the right track though, for example, Asura’s “V.A.N.T.A”, the Wave’s lower bass sounds exquisite.
The mid-bass is snappy and well-defined but doesn’t have a strong impact. Bassheads would not find satisfaction in the bass quantity of the Wave but those looking for a light, high-quality bass will be rewarded.
The midrange has clarity and detail in abundance. But at the same time, midrange notes have good body and don’t sound unnaturally lean. It’s a transparent and uncoloured midrange that has a surprisingly accurate timbre for a budget IEM. Due to the light bass quantity, however, music with a lot of upper midrange activity can become strident.
At this price point, good treble can be hard to find but the TKZK Wave delivers. It’s detailed and airy with a dose of sparkle. Detail retrieval is good and treble notes have proper density without sounding dry or thin. The Wave isn’t a sibilant IEM but it’s not particularly forgiving on poorly recorded or mastered material. Despite its forwardness, the Wave’s treble is detailed but relatively smooth.
The Wave’s soundstage is reasonably large with equal amounts of width and depth, creating a rounded, natural space. There’s a good sense of layering in front of the listener with instruments clearly defined behind and to the sides of the centre image. Instrument separation and overall resolution are above average for an IEM in this price range.
Moondrop SSR ($39)
The Moondrop SSR has a single Beryllium-coated dynamic driver. Both of these IEMs share a similar sound signature that is clean and leans towards bright but there are a few key differences. The SSR has a mid-bass focus with rolled-off sub-bass while the Wave has more linear lows with better sub-bass extension.
SSR has a slightly thinner midrange and has a boosted upper midrange. The Wave, in comparison, has a forward midrange and less emphasized pinna gain. SSR favours female vocals but the Wave indulges both male and female vocals.
The two IEMs have reasonably lively treble regions but the Wave’s sounds more balanced. The SSR’s treble notes sometimes get nudged back behind the 3kHz summit while the Wave’s treble is more upfront. As a result, the SSR is slightly less detailed. Wave’s soundstage is somewhat wider and larger.
HZSound Heart Mirror ($49)
The HZSound Heart Mirror is a single carbon nano diaphragm dynamic driver IEM. You can see from the graph that the two earphones have a similar frequency response. But the Heart Mirror has a subtle sub-bass roll-off and a mild emphasis on the mid-bass while the Wave is the reverse. Wave has little extra weight in the sub-bass but the quality of the bass on both of these IEMs is really good.
The heart mirror has more body and fullness in the midrange making it just a little bit warmer. However, the Wave sounds even cleaner and has more midrange clarity as a result of its leaner lower midrange. Both IEMs share a similar treble response but the Wave’s treble sounds a touch more forward, again because of its midrange tuning.
So these are both high-quality neutral-ish budget IEMs – the Heart Mirror is a tad warmer but the Wave has greater clarity.
The TKZK Wave is a solid first release for this new brand. It has great build quality and is comfortable to wear during long listening sessions. What’s really impressive about this budget IEM though, is its natural timbre. I would regard this along with the Moondrop SSR and HZSound Heart Mirror as one of the best budget IEMs for content creation and studio monitoring. Its brighter tonal balance won’t suit everyone but those who like a more neutral and energetic sound signature should give this one a listen.