October 12, 2018
4.06 x 2.95 x 1.34 in
Can KZ, an IEM titan, produce a budget ANC wireless headphone worthy of its name?
I’ve reviewed a few of the KZ IEM range (Knowledge Zenith) over the years and will continue to do so in the future as they continue to produce more and more IEMs for their range. I enjoyed the KZ ZAX and others have made our always updated budget IEM list. Next will be the KZ ZEX – watch the site for a later post.
So, when KZ reached out and me to review their first set of ANC headphones, it was a solid yes. It’s not their first set of headphones as they did release a pair a few years ago, but it is their first ANC set of cans, and really first headphone set of note.
KZ-T10 Active Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Speakers
There is a lot to appreciate about these ANC wireless headphones for under $100
The KZ-T10 once again show that KZ can produce a good quality unit for an affordable price. The retail packaging, included cables and hard carry case add value to the package. The buttons enbedded in the right earcup are very well executed and feel like really decent quality. It’s quite intuitive which buttons do what once you’ve figured them out.
The sound profile definitately improves with certain music types. Some music genres didn’t go as well as others in these.
The included technology i.e ANC, ambient more and Bluetooth 5.0 are solid. No complaints here about the ease of connectivity and quality/strength of signal. Thumbs up.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0
- Impedance: 32 Ohms
- Plug type: 3.5mm
- Sensitivity: 101dB
- Wireless Range: ~10m
- Battery Life: 38hrs
- Standby: 60hrs
- Charging plug: USB-C
- Battery capacity: 800mAh
- Time to charge: 2 hours
- Driver: 40mm Dynamic Driver
- Wired option: Yes – Wired (3.5mm) or Wireless
- Color options: Black / Silver-Grey
What’s in the Box?
- Carry Case
- USB-C Charging Cable (to USB-A)
- 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable
Stuff I like
- Build Quality
- Included carry case + cables
- ANC – Active Noise Cancelation
- Battery Life
- Protein leather is really nice
Stuff I like less
- Top band can’t be too tight if you’re listening for long periods
- Will rise and fall on what you feed them
- Can get warm on ears on long sessions
- A little tight when new but this didn’t bother me as much as I thought as the earcups are so nicely padded
We’ve had pretty good weather here lately, unusually hot for this time of the year so it’s afforded me time to lay around on the patio furniture enjoying extensive listening sessions on the KZ-T10.
My initial excitement mellowed on the first listen but as I spent longer and longer periods with the T10 I balanced the results with the price; a much more realistic outcome.
When you first power up the headphones the voice prompt is very nice. She has a lovely voice that adds to the positive feelings towards these headphones. Even my QC 35ii voice prompt sounds disappointing compared to the T10 lady.
The build quality, keeping in mind the price, is excellent. The protein leather finish on the earcups and headband has a premium feel about it. The buttons on the right ear cup have a good tactile feel without them feeling plasticky or cheap.
Overall the balance of the metal and plastic result in a headphone build that punches above it’s weight range.
The hard carry case is a bonus inclusion and you can have confidence it’s going to protect your investment. The case might get a little discolored over time as the light color could pick up some dirt in your backpack or similar but that’s the point of a case.
Overall Sound Quality
The overall sound quality of these is good. I’ll clarify where they could make some improvements and it’s worth noting I listened to these ‘out-of-the-box’ the whole time with an iPhone 12 for source. I did this intentionally as I expect most people buying the KZ-T10 will be using a smartphone as the source with Bluetooth as the primary connection method.
The KZ-10 do have a wired option if you prefer. You could also add a DAC or Headphone Amp at that point but for $100 I’m assuming most people will not be this invested in additional gear.
An important note is that these would greatly improve with some EQ adjustments which you will be able to do on your phone or whatever source you are using. I listen flat as that’s the way I prefer to test. So, when you are reading these comments keep that in mind – that you can probably adjust your EQ to overcome some of these default frequency outpots.
I threw a lot of tracks at them. Some from our HiFi testing tracklist and some from my Spotify Top Songs of 2021
Starting at the bottom end, the KZ-T10 certainly have more in this frequency range than the mids or treble. There is a lot of bass which is well-represented regardless of what you put through them.
It’s not particularly tight and it can get a little muddled on some tracks but it’s certainly there.
Of all the frequencies the mid and sub-bass consistently delivered through the whole listening experience – regardless of tracks.
The mids are an interesting mix. Overall vocals stand out clearly in a lot of tracks but some genres lose their way a little bit, swallowed a little by the bottom end.
This is where I mention that what you throw at these can affect how good they sound.
I tried some rock music but the lower mids seemed to merge a little with the vocals and guitar so I didn’t feel there was enough sound separation in the overall sound stage (read more on the sound stage and stereo imaging later in post).
There were some genres that really made the mids enjoyable to listen to. I found, after more experimentation, that music with less clutter and more separated tracks really did well.
London Grammar sounded really good – the simple bass lines, separated guitars/keys and the delightful vocals all soared along in their own place in the sound stage.
I tried some Rap which, depending on the number of instruments in the mix, also sounded really good with solid bottom end, separated vocals spitting down the mic.
Changing to any classic rock/heavy rock like Thrice was hit and miss. Some tracks on some albums have a better mix for these headphones than others.
Treble frequencies were one area I missed on a lot of tracks. It’s not totally void in the mix but I feel the mids and treble could have popped a little more and stood out a little more with some elevated higher frequencies.
It’s worth noting I am a bit of a treble lover so it’s easy for me to be critical at this point but even without my predisposition to treble frequencies, it it clear these could use a boost in this department.
The sound stage and stereo imaging output is really nice. Again, it’s better on tracks with less tracks…if you know what I mean. Artists like London Grammar sound really nicely separated and the sound stage is wide and open. The more tracks you mash in there, the harder the headphones work to distinguish them.
I feel this is the base, default position for these headphones – to have a nice sound stage but even with their 40mm driver the mid and upper-frequency tracks start to get crowded.
ANC (Active Noise Cancelling) + Ambient Noise Settings
The earcups on the KZ-T10 headphones seal very well without needing a lot more help from active noise cancelling. The sound isolation as soon as you put them on and the faux protein leather is very comfortable.
If you press and hold the ANC button on the side of the right earcup there will be a voice prompt that tells you what mode it is changing to, either ambient more or ANC mode.
The ANC is there, it works but don’t expect any Sony or Bose level ANC. That said the Active Noise Cancelling will certainly take the edge of any loud office, noisy commute or droning plane hum.
Certainly worthy of the price point here. I played some white noise tracks on my stereo to simulate a plane cabin and noticed about a 50% drop in hum and noise in the headphones.
There are three modes for ANC/Ambient
- ANC On
- ANC off
- Ambient Mode
Ambient mode, like other headphones, allows external sounds in to the earcup. It’s almost designed to allow mid-level frequencies to be present in your listening so you can hear people talking and cars in case you go for a run and don’t hear that Ford F-150 coming down the road as you’re about to cross.
The KZ-T10 have Bluetooth 5.0 which is plenty good enough for most people. A range of about 10 meters which is quite standard. The connection to my devices was quick everytime I powered them up so no fussing with connectivity here.
No complaints about connectivity.
Summing up the KZ-T10
If I listen to these as headphones, there are a few things I’d love to see improved in the next version. More treble and a little loser headband.
If I listen to these as $100 Wireless Headphones with ANC, they are a great choice as they so feature rich.
The faux leather earcups feel nice on the ears, the build quality of the overall unit is really impressive, the ANC works, there are cables and a hard case included and the overall listening experience is good.
Like all headphones your ears adjust to find the sweet spots over time, this means the more you listen the more you’ll find to like about these with different genres.
reentry for KZ in the headphones market and a good price for people looking for all the bells and whistles in a headphone that looks good and is feature-rich.
For $100, they make it pretty easy to pick up before leaving the house on any adventure even if it’s not going to be a reference level listening experience.
Any questions? As always, fire away in the comments below.
This post was last updated on 2022-06-10 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.