Current testing methodology is v1.2
The QKZ AK8 is another IEM offering from the Chi-Fi brand QKZ. It’s part of the AK line, with the AK6 having the most number of releases.
Overall, the AK line has produced many decent and commendable IEMs considering that all of them are under $10.
Is the AK8 as good as the other AK IEMs? How did it perform? You’ll find out in this in-depth review.
A phenomenal $5 set with big yet non-fatiguing bass.
The QKZ AK8 is a single dynamic driver IEM from QKZ.
It has a great build quality, with a resin faceplate that looks sublime and gets shiny when the light hits it.
It’s unapologetically fun and despite its big bass presence, it doesn’t cause any bass fatigue. The midrange sounds slightly forward in the soundscape and treble details pop out from the sides very cleanly.
Overall, the QKZ AK8 is fairly detailed and has a good air to its sound which makes me wonder how is this only $5.
- Driver: 10mm Single Dynamic Driver
- Frequency response: 20Hz-2,000Hz
- Impedance: 20Ω
- Sensitivity: 103db/mw
What’s in the Box?
- QKZ AK8 earphones
- Reinforced white carrying case
- 7 x pairs of stock tips
Stuff I like
- Big bass without the bass fatigue
- Fun sound signature
- Forward midrange
- Organic timbre
- Good detail retrieval and stage width
Stuff I like less
- Non-detachable cable
The QKZ AK8 comes in the usual QKZ packaging but in white, and the unboxing experience was nothing special.
Inside the case are the earphones and included accessories in plastic packaging. The earphones come with seven pairs of ear tips in varying sizes which is a nice addition considering that this set only costs $4.99 on AliExpress.
The AK8 comes in a typical QKZ IEM shape with a colored faceplate that reflects light, reminiscent of a disco ball. I got it in blue but it’s also available in red, purple, and black.
I remember listening to a soundtrack from the animated movie, Bad Guys when testing these IEMs. The song was Go by the Chemical Brothers.
There was this sick high-pitched synth that swept from the left and then zoomed to my right ear and I was caught off guard. It was so visceral. It had good tonality and it seemed fleshed out.
After listening to a couple of songs after that, I was wondering why I wasn’t getting fatigued by the bass yet since I’ve had previous experiences with IEMs that have similarly tuned bass regions.
Weirdly, there’s no part where I got fatigued and ended up putting them down. In my mind, the AK8 was perfect.
Before everything audio, the first thing that clued me in that I was going to like this set was its brilliant resin faceplate.
It was very reminiscent of the KZ EDCX and the AK6 DAY. It might as well have taken design cues from both of those sets, but I think the QKZ AK8’s sheen is more brilliant in its chroma. It’s just so captivating to look at.
The build is mostly made of plastic except for the faceplate. It does feel like a durable type of plastic. A few unplanned drops and piledrivers wouldn’t be enough to break it. But hey, the goal is to make them last and not test their structural integrity by abusing them on purpose.
The cable is similar to that of the KZ EDCX, except that it’s a little smoother and more pleasant to the touch. It resists tangling without being too resistant, which is the sweet spot for non-detachable cables.
I do wish they made the AK8’s cable swappable so I could’ve paired it with a nice-looking silver-plated cable just for, you know, aesthetics. Style is king, after all.
All in all, the QKZ AK8’s build is very satisfactory.
Fit and Comfort
These IEMs are pretty comfy. They have that standard 32° tilt that makes them sit nicely on the ears.
There are a lot of included ear tips, and I actually went with the second largest white ear tip and it worked out for me well. I like how they included a lot of ear tips in case three-size options still don’t cut it.
So the AK8 gets plus points for that.
All in all, they give me a nice seal, they’re light to wear, and I didn’t get any irritation or discomfort while wearing them. QKZ nailed it with this set.
The QKZ AK8 doesn’t have any graph for reference but to my ears, they sound like a reference type of tuning with a bass boost.
The sub-bass goes really deep without becoming a formless blob of monotonous reverberation and the mid-bass has just the right dynamism to present engagement and does not slam into your chest with the intent to induce nausea.
The midrange sounds a tad bit forward although I’m almost sure it’s recessed in its measurement graphs due to the bass boost. On tracks where the bass doesn’t play though, I can almost swear it sounds really forward.
When the bass and instruments do play with the midrange simultaneously, the mids retain their intimate presence. I’m curious how a large bass region doesn’t introduce significant bleed that hampers on the lower midrange’s clarity.
The overall midrange is pretty brilliant, and I like how the presentation is expressive in its texturing and timbral characteristics.
The treble is splashy but remains relatively smooth without any harsh peaks.
On the topic of technicalities, imaging, and stage are pretty good. The imaging sounds very accurate in its placement and the instruments sound fleshed out and well-separated in the soundscape.
The soundstage is very wide and has good depth. I heard an ambulance as folly in one of the songs I listened to, and I thought the sound came from beneath the lounge I was on.
When you take all of these into perspective, it’s a very groovy and fun signature that doesn’t slouch on its technical aspects either.
The sub-bass on the QKZ AK8 has a lot of quantity in its playback.
It presents good texture along with its hefty serving of rumble. It also gives songs an ample amount of healthy warmth.
The mid-bass is pretty speedy and has good dynamics. It hasn’t once come off to me as nauseating, which a lot of mid-bass presentations often end up doing. The timbre and texture on the mid-bass are also done well.
This is a bass that’s not afraid of holding back on its alcohol but makes sure that it doesn’t black out and run amok. It’s big and engaging but reigned in and controlled for the most part.
The midrange is one of the best things about the QKZ AK8 but I do think that the three frequency bands do a kick-ass job.
I was expecting the midrange on the AK8 to sound recessed for some reason and even though the bass ended up being big, the midrange didn’t shrink.
I’m a fan of tunings like the BL-03 where the midrange is a more laid-back presentation and lets me enjoy it alongside other sonic qualities. The AK8’s tuning is similar except that the midrange decided to join the party too.
In other words, a reference tuning with a bass boost. It takes what I like about the BL-03 and throws in an intimate vocal presentation that has good energy with no sibilance soldered into it. The vocal prowess on the AK8 just shows.
In terms of tonality and organic timbre, it passes my standards. The decay on the notes also has good pace and speed and doesn’t sound abruptly cut off.
Overall, it’s a very evocative and engaging midrange presentation and I’m all about it.
The treble of the QKZ AK8 sounds very detailed.
While some set trade being airy for being detailed, the AK8’s treble insisted on being both, which resulted in a very resolving listening experience that’s married to a very eloquent and expansive head space.
The treble sounds a little grainy to my ears but don’t mistake that for sounding skewed or distorted. It doesn’t.
I guess the amount of boosting to make the treble detailed and airy would naturally make the upper register relatively more uneven. The transient response chimes, it has a good splash and sounds very life-like.
The treble performance overall is great.
The QKZ AK8 is unapologetically itself – it knows what it wants to do but isn’t reckless in doing so. It comes off with a level of control and finesse despite its dazzling performance.
The bass fatigue mystery is still an enigma to me. I’m not complaining, but I’ve always thought that a set with this kind of bass is bound to cause fatigue after some time, but I guess I was mistaken.
The midrange is very emotional in its playback and ensures you hear the feelings inside your songs. It makes sure you really listen as opposed to just hearing. That distinction is a planet’s distance of difference.
The treble is resolving and moves a lot of air within its higher end.
With all of these things working in combination with each other, I just can’t see why anyone wouldn’t get the AK8. I’m confident it can even go toe to toe with the AK6 Day, which is a superb mid-centric tuned IEM.
The QKZ AK8 is definitely a steal at $5. It’s criminally good.
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 2023-12-02 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.