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June 2016
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Beteran KZ-ATE In Ear Monitors (IEMs)
I bought two more pair!

Review By Tom Lyle

 

Beteran KZ-ATE In Ear Monitors (IEMs)

  Call me absent minded, but I keep losing my in-ear headphones. I guess I can look on the bright side of losing them from now on I'm going to consider myself the Johnny Appleseed of IEMs (In-Ear Monitors) and bask in the joy of having someone find a set of $300 Shure IEMs on the train, or $250 Grados somewhere on the sidewalk outside my local coffee shop. After losing one, before acquiring a new set, I drive to my local Best Buy or electronics bodega to buy a low cost IEM to hold me over until I can get a more serious replacement for the very decent set I just lost. When I'm there I pick up a clam-shell of in-ears for around twenty bucks made by Sony, Skull Candy, or Sennheiser, et al, so when I'm in places where my favorite over-ear cans are not appropriate I can at least listen to some tunes.

 

Off To Amazon!
After my last spell of IEM absent mindedness, I decided to visit Amazon.com instead of going to a brick and mortar big box store or kiosk. I'm an Amazon Prime member, so I'd only have to wait two days before a cheap replacement arrived. And since I was going to be on the Internet to visit Amazon anyway, I thought just for fun, I might as well read some reviews and blogs about inexpensive IEMs. That's when I came upon the website where there happened to be an article about what they felt were the best IEMs for under $50. The first IEM listed was the KZ ATE by Knowledge Base, where the review raved about these IEMs and the killer sound one could obtain for such a small amount of money. For convenience there was even a link to Amazon. When I clicked on the link it brought me to the KZ ATE that was in the review, but the manufacturer was listed as Beteran, not Knowledge Base. "No big deal", I thought, companies change hands all the time. And since these were obviously made in China, perhaps the name of the company was a fluid one, one that changes depending on who is the customer. But the biggest surprise was that the cost of the IEM: it would set me back only $15.53, including two-day shipping since it was an item marked "Prime", and I'm an Amazon Prime member.

 

Bereran KZ-ATE In Ear Monitors (IEMs)

 

The package arrived a day and a half later. Inside the bubble-pack envelope from Amazon was a Star Trek phasor-shaped box that contained the earphones, but the box that I ordered did not have any brand name attached to it, only a decal that proclaimed: "MIC", since this model included a microphone on its cable. On the bottom of the case there was a large decal with specifications in Chinese and English, and at the bottom of the list the manufacturer's name: Shenzen Yuan Ze Electronics. I suppose this company makes lots of electronic products and are branded once they get to the distributor that will sells them. Opting out of spending what I would expect to be an entire afternoon or longer acting as Enjoy The Music's investigative reporter in order to get to the bottom of who is responsible for naming them Beteran or Knowledge Base, or who gave these headphones the KZ ATE model its name, I let it go.

 

Unwrapping
Opening the oddly shaped plastic box revealed the headphones and a manual written in hilariously translated English. There were also three different earpieces small, medium and large, each attached to a small post, the small post attached to a small internal shelf inside this carrying case. In my mind's-eye I imagined the young Chinese worker, his or her job to place these six earpieces upon the posts for who knows how many hours per day for a paycheck that is most likely appreciated but by no means worth the mental scarring that this repetitive task will eventually inflict. But I digress.

 

What Is The Sound Of A $14 IEM?
The earpiece that fit best was easy to determine (the medium sized, if you wondering) that formed a decent seal that blocked out most of the outside noise, but this decrease in outside noise was no match for a custom molded earpiece. But that was to be expected, and in fact wasn't that big of a deal, especially given that these IEMs cost less than a half a tank of gas. But what happened next was quite unexpected, and the reason for this review. These cheap-o IEMs sounded incredible. Not only incredible because I wasn't expecting them to sound nearly this good, but incredible because they sounded good enough use on a daily basis or at least every time I need to listen to IEMs in lieu of "normal" headphones. And incredible because before they even had time to break in, I decided that I was finally going to get off the replacing-the-expensive-IEMs I-lose-on-a-regular-basis with-another-set-of-expensive IEMs treadmill.

 

Bereran KZ-ATE In Ear Monitors (IEMs)

 

I had to think about how I was going to approach any discussion of the sound quality of the KZ-ATE headphones in this "review". When I first connected them to my Questyle QP1r portable player (reviewed by Steven R. Rochlin in the September 2015 issue) I was taken aback not only by the amount of bass, but the characteristics of this bass. Whether or not this bass was true to what was on the original recording, was pitch stable, had the appropriate amount of transient response, or whatever audiophile trait one would like to discuss, hardly matters when one is describing the sound of a $15 IEM. The reason why this review is being published in Enjoy the Music.com in the first place is because this headphone has no right to sound as good as it does. I'm not going to waste my time or yours going into detail about their sound quality, since first of all, there are no other IEMs to compare them to, other than the crappy $20 or $30 in-ears that I've been buying off the hanging display at my local strip mall or big box store. All one needs to know is that they have great sounding bass, and blow away every other sonic quality possessed by any other ultra-low costing mass produced consumer electronics product.

 

The Fact Is...
No, the Beteran KZ ATE or Knowledge Base KZ ATE or Ze Electronics Co Ltd. KZ ATE or whatever they're called cannot be described as having any of the positive aural traits of an Etymotics or Noble Audio or Ultimate Ears or Westones or name your favorite high-end IEM all which should feel fairly safe that audiophiles aren't going to start purchasing the KZ ATE instead of them.

But you can be sure that I'm going to recommend the KZ ATE to those who are never going to consider purchasing a set of upper echelon audiophile IEMs, or already have a pair of expensive IEMs but need a pair for a young family member, or as a back-up pair, or for someone like me who is fed up with losing their mid-level high-end but certainly decent set of IEMs. I just checked Amazon.com and they are no longer being sold for $15.53 but are at the time I'm writing this go for a ridiculously low $14 or thereabouts. I bought two more pair.

 

 

Specifications
Type: In-ear monitor
Frequency Response: 15 Hz to 29 kHz
Sensitivity: 104dB/1mw
Impedance: 16 Ohms
Plug type: 3.5mm gold-plated
Cable: Kevlar fiber material resistant to pull winding
Cable Length: 1.2 meters
IEM Color: Metallic Silver
Weight: 24 grams
Price: $14

 

Company Information
Shenzhen Yuan Ze Electronics Co., Ltd. 
No. 12 XXian Young Mei cum pier Industrial Zone
Wan Jiang St.
Dongguan City
Guangdong Province
China

Voice: 4000990680

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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