Current testing methodology is v1.2
20 October 2021
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10.16 x 7.62 x 3.05 cm
The AK6 is a pair of budget-friendly earphones from the Chi-fi company QKZ.
Just for a bit of background, QKZ is divided into two subsidiaries: QKZ and KZ, and both are well-known in the budget audio market scene.
For less than $10, the QKZ AK6 is such a steal. Depending on where you shop, you can get them for a lot less, and I got mine for under a dollar!
Before we even get to the end of the review, let me say that I’d recommend it. I mean, it’s only $0.99, but here’s why it’s worth a try.
A fun-sounding pair of IEMs for less than $10.
The QKZ AK6 is a single dynamic driver IEM from the Chi-fi company QKZ.
When you’re on a budget, it can be difficult to zone in on good sound in the Chi-fi market but that’s where the AK6 won’t disappoint. With a nice and fun tuning, this pair can come at the price of less than a dollar. That’s if you know where to buy it.
Packaged with the basic accessories and with several colors to choose from, I’d recommend the QKZ AK6 to anyone looking for cheap earphones.
- Driver: Single Dynamic Driver 10mm
- Frequency Response: 20-20000Hz
- Impedance: 32 (Ω)
- Sensitivity: 108 (dB)
What’s in the Box?
- QKZ AK6 earphones
- 3.5mm jack cable
- 2 x stock tips
- Cable clip
- Silicone ear hooks
Stuff I like
- Tuning cohesion
- Very affordable price
- Fun bass
- Clear midrange
- Decent details
Stuff I like less
- Premature decay
- Narrow soundstage
- Rounded mid-bass
- Muffled transients
When it comes to the packing and how the AK6 is presented, everything looks basic. There’s nothing fancy about it.
The QKZ AK6 comes in black packaging and with basic accessories such as ear tips and cable. But you can’t really expect more for the price.
Now for what it’s worth, I was really surprised with how they sounded from my phone, given that phones generally don’t have that much power. They had fun bass, they did the midrange just right, and I can hear details well.
Thinking that it was just a fluke, I plugged them into my audio player and used them as a DAC for my laptop and sure enough, I got amplification. They sounded better!
To be honest, I was expecting them to sound bad because of the price but we all know that appearances can be deceiving.
I threw all the songs in my library at it, and I can say that I was really surprised at how good they are despite some small issues.
The build on the AK6 is good. They’re made of a light plastic material and they’re practically weightless on the ears.
They require a little more care compared to earphones that are made of metal or sturdier material. A solid blow may cause the plastic to crack, so it’s best to avoid loading any pressure on it or accidentally dropping it.
I like the cable – it’s stiff and doesn’t tangle but it’s reminiscent of a speaker wire and could be susceptible to peeling.
Fit and Comfort
Regarding fit and comfort, I give the QKZ AK6 full points. They’re pretty snug on the ear and the included silicone ear tips gave me a nice seal even though they’re a little bit denser to my liking.
A nice seal is optimal and it can impact the bass frequencies. I tried switching out the ear tips and the cable and noticed a significant increase in midrange airiness and detail retrieval.
The QKZ AK6 is tuned as a V-shape IEM, meaning the bass and treble frequencies are both emphasized.
The amount of bass on the AK6 is really fun and adds a thick warmness to the sound.
The midrange is clear but l would’ve liked a little bit lower midrange energy as some songs just sound plain in delivery.
The treble is airy and has good details but because of the AK6’s premature decay, sounds with a longer decay on them typically end too fast on the AK6 downgrading natural playback by a little.
As for the soundstage, it’s very narrow with neither height nor width – just the center image.
Some small gripes include the transients and strings lacking some sparkle, and the sound is a little rounded in contrast to that snappy sound I prefer. Also, instrument separation is a little muddled, but you can still hear the threshold of each instrument if you focus.
The bass is boomy one, for sure. It has a fun sound but it tends to bleed into the mids. It doesn’t muddy the mix, but it creates a sort of veil on the vocals.
Punches are more on the shallow side in the mid-bass but I’ve found them to be just right.
The kick drum is may sound more rounded and muted to most listeners’ ears but some prefer that kind of sound. For EDM playlists, this does pose a slight issue as the kick drum comes off a little untamed and muted.
The midrange is a flat presentation and is quite clear.
The lower midrange is tamer than I’d like, so more energy in this region could make the mids sound more assertive. More bite could increase the level of engagement by a few notches, which can make a huge difference.
All in all, the midrange has decent tonality and timbre, which is commendable for a set this affordable.
Generally, the midrange takes a lot of the hits experiment-wise when it comes to cheap earphones, and can leave them quite unnatural and weird to listen to. Luckily the AK6 has a great midrange and is injected with some warmth by the bass.
The treble can resolve a decent amount of details, and a presence boost in the treble region would benefit this set as the treble air could be better.
It can handle reverb to an extent but the decay is too short to convey that illusion of space.
Now the treble on the AK6’s provided graph has precision boots from 1.5, 4, and 8kHz and still has an extension past 10kHz. This is a fairly odd graph because I rarely see any other IEMs boosting at these frequencies except for the 4 and 8kHz ranges.
All in all, the AK6 has good detail retrieval and doesn’t sound sibilant despite that 8kHz peak.
I’ve included some tracks that I’ve used while testing the AK6.
These selections were slowly weeded out from my library from extensive listening to make sure that they’re enjoyable on the AK6.
- Let’s Go Outside by Far Caspian (Alternative/Indie) – Even with caveats in the transients and mid-bass, this song is done well and matches the mellow vocals. The cymbal hits are audible and the whole song is done with great balance. Not even halfway through the song and I’m bobbing my head. The tambourine in the song sounded farther and I could forgive that because of how well the entire playback was done.
- Wrapped Around Your Finger by Post Malone (Hip-Hop) – The vocals and the reverb is done well. It isn’t a busy track and that gives the midrange adequate screen time to shine. The bass texture is a bit muddy and I would’ve preferred a little more grunge when it came to the bass guitar but overall, I loved how the vocals and the sense of space sounded in the track.
- Daisy by Delorians (Indie) – It seems to be a recurring trend that songs that have a soft and relaxed vocal sequence excel on these IEMs. Vocal playback is excellent and has sufficient air in them to sound emotional.
- Hot Rod by Dayglow (Pop Rock) – I think at this point the sound of the slightly rounded stringed instruments has started to grow on me as they begin to sound like a soft synth. Speaking of synth, there’s a lot on this song and coupled with its general tuning, is enjoyable to listen to. The vocals were done nicely, and the interplay of the vocals and the instruments wasn’t a tug-of-war but a very cohesive sound.
- Westside by Keshi (Pop) – The acoustic strings were well done on this track and the warmth benefitted the mids as Keshi’s soft vocals developed from a deep tone to a falsetto. I still have gripes about the transients but overall I can’t deny how well the AK6 performed even in areas where it is lacking.
At the end of the day, I think the AK6’s transient hits are geared more towards blending into the music rather than standing out, which works very well for its relaxing and laid-back style.
Overall, I like this set. The QKZ AK6 offers a warm sound signature, fun-sounding bass, a neutral midrange, and a treble with decent extension and detail retrieval.
For the price, this defied my earlier expectations of disappointment and I was really surprised with what QKZ has been able to achieve in this price range.
Cheap Hi-Fi IEMs can be a hit or a miss due to tuning experiments or generally bad tuning.
These IEMs redefine what less than $10, or even a dollar, can give you sound-wise. The best part is their sound is completely malleable and can be improved with a DAC, more amplification, and cable swaps.
For anyone who loves to listen to music and would like to dip their toes into the audio hobby, the QKZ AK6 is a solid option that doesn’t need to sell itself.
Gavin is a college student who has a lot going on. From collecting IEMs and modding mechanical keyboards, to different hobbies like digital drawing, music mastering and cooking. It is safe to say he is a complete multi-faceted geek (and he's kinda cool too)
This post was last updated on 2024-02-19 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.