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!
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.
What Is The Sound Of A $14 IEM?
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...
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.