Current testing methodology is v1.2
25 April 2022
7.62 x 5.08 x 2.54 cm
The QKZ DMX is another budget IEM offering from the Chi-fi brand QKZ, retailing for less than $10.
It has a V-shaped sound signature but in the current market of V-shaped IEMs that cost around the same price, can the DMX compete? Let’s find out in this detailed review.
A good everyday carry for those who like upbeat tracks
The DMX is a single dynamic driver IEM from QKZ. It has a V-shaped sound signature with a big, boomy bass and an energetic treble to counterbalance it.
For its price, I find that there isn’t much room to complain as there’s less focus on refinement than there is for ensuring an engaging tuning.
The DMX is a fun-sounding IEM but that comes with some tuning caveats that are more present in the lower budget segment. I enjoyed it thoroughly for modern genres like pop, techno, and EDM, so if you mainly listen to these genres, the caveats will matter less.
- Driver: 10mm Single Dynamic Driver
- Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
- Impedance: 16Ω
- Sensitivity: 96dB/mw
What’s in the Box?
- QKZ DMX earphones
- 2 pairs of ear tips
Stuff I like
- Big bass
- Fun signature
Stuff I like less
- Rolled-off sub-bass and fatiguing mid-bass
- Boxy vocals
- Overdone in the presence region
- Unnatural timbre
- Non-detachable cable
The QKZ DMX is okay in terms of build. Following the brand’s usual cost-effective yet sturdy construction with all their budget offerings, the DMX doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary.
I like the design though, specifically the red version that I ended up with. It looks somewhat like a translucent cherry red that’s just nice to look at. It’s also available in other colors like blue, green, purple, cyan, and yellow.
For the price, I’m no stranger to QKZ’s approach in terms of build quality and I’m fine with it – or indifferent at this point. I’ve tested a lot of QKZ IEMs and I’m happy that they can produce sonically good stuff with a build that doesn’t feel like it’ll break the next month.
It’s not an objectively bad build but compared to higher-priced sets, the build may seem “cheap”. If it does break on you though, you can just get another set because it’s quite affordable.
Fit and Comfort
I like the contours on the QKZ DMX’s body and its shells are one of the most ergonomically-designed shells I’ve tried for quite some time from QKZ. Plus, I must say that I have zero problems with the fit.
In terms of isolation though, it’s not very effective in keeping sound out. Take note though that we’re looking for passive noise isolation and not flat-out noise cancelation.
When I do start to play music, the only thing I hear is my music and that’s what matters. So, all in all, there are no glaring issues with fit, comfort, and isolation.
In terms of sonics, the QKZ DMX is the farthest thing from a well-rounded sound. I find that aside from the bass, everything sounds a little disjointed.
I’m trying to be as objective as I can for a set that’s priced as low as the DMX but upon testing it more and more, the clearer its deficiencies were made in the light.
While the signature is a fun V-shape that does get my blood pumping, I’ve found that its tuning is a little uneven so it isn’t the most natural. Overall, the tuning is fun and engaging with some quirks to its sound.
The bass of the QKZ DMX is big. I love a sizeable bass because it overcharges fun when listening to energetic genres.
Even though the bass has good quantity, it places its focus on the mid-bass more so than the sub-bass. The sub-frequencies are subject to a decent roll-off, which I’m not so much of a fan of.
I tested it out on a sinewave sweep with low frequencies ranging from 10Hz to 300Hz and the sub-bass only started to pick up at 40Hz.
This roll-off was heard with “Starboy” by The Weeknd, which usually blows my eardrums out with an uncanny amount of rumble. On the DMX, the intro was a touch mellow, falling short to deliver adequate rumble that brings the song alive and pulsating.
The mid-bass, on the other hand, lands with intense impact, making for that slam and kick that bass heads crave for. I’d say that the mid-bass lacks a little bit of definition, making it sound sluggish.
However, “Illusionist Shake the Dice” by Lie and a Chameleon sounded a little bit slow with the kick drum, which isn’t good considering it’s a very fast and dynamic song on the drums.
I reckon it has to do more with the size of the bass and its lack of texture which makes it a bit monotonous. A little more information and tightness would’ve gone a long way.
Overall, the bass ticks a check box but leaves a lot of others blank, capitalizing on quantity over substance.
The midrange of the QKZ DMX is perhaps the weirdest one I’ve heard in a while.
The presentation is placed a little farther on the stage, a bit recessed but not scooped or missing. Bass bleed is absent here with the upper mids balancing them out but vocals tend to sound boxy. Singers would sound like they’re belting their notes even when they aren’t.
There’s also the issue of presence. The upper mids sound overly boosted on the 6KHz region, forcing percussions to surface. Labrinth’s “Iridium” was confusing to listen to wherein the claps distracted the vocals while the bass competed for dominance.
A wonky pinna gain and an overly done presence region make for a very wonky midrange. An inexperienced ear might not pick up on this so I’d take this with a grain of salt but for someone with a little more experience, the timbre issues will be more apparent.
The upper end is okay. Due to the somewhat peaky upper midrange response, the clarity from the middle treble causes me to lower the volume ever so slightly. Aside from that, I feel that the upper end is a touch dry in the upper air region bottlenecking natural sustain.
I find that the QKZ DMX handles reverb well but isn’t naturally that airy for recordings with a more grounded staging to them.
The midrange isn’t really that cohesive to benefit any sort of enhancements the treble may give, so I wouldn’t be pressed that post-10KHz sounds muted.
Asking for big techs in this price range would be harsh so a healthy dose of expectation is ideal.
The resolution of the QKZ DMX is good for the price, more so in instruments than vocals. The layering also sounds good and to an enjoyable degree.
The resolving power is very low and while sound separation is good, the bass tends to somewhat smear the threshold-ruining an otherwise tidy execution. The transient response is nothing special wherein you hear more than you feel, and I reckon it’s because the imaging isn’t that good either.
Overall, in this price segment, I understand that technicalities are the least priority.
The QKZ AK6 DMX does more modern and upbeat genres better.
Pop songs like “TWFNO” by Tiffany Day and “Silence” by Before You Exit were enjoyable to listen to. “Anhedonia” by Your Neighbors and “Show Me How” by Men I Trust was equally as fun and had zero bass bleed.
Metal songs like “Ascension” by Voyager suffered from deficiencies in timbre and technicalities, presenting the replay in a very unnatural manner. This doesn’t remain consistent though as Mac de Marco’s “Heart to Heart” makes the tuning seem like an L-shaped with the bass overwhelming the vocals with not much treble to cut through it.
So as far as I can tell, I have no idea how the DMX will behave on every song. Still, when using this IEM, I’d recommend sticking to mainly pop and bass-laden genres like techno and EDM – or anything that doesn’t rely on correct timbre.
There’s a reason why companies offering budget products choose a V-shaped tuning. At a low threshold, any casual listener can immerse themselves in a fun and engaging sound.
Unfortunately, due to the sheer number of cheapo IEMs I’ve heard, I know for a fact that there are some sets cheaper than the QKZ DMX that do a better job. It does succeed in delivering what a V-shaped IEM is supposed to do but overall, I find that its tuning is too disjointed and unpolished.
If you stick to very compatible genres though, you end up with better results.
For a bassy IEM that’s less than $10, I do commend what it can offer – and the fact that it lets me appreciate other IEMs that do timbre correctly. This was quite a middling experience but a valiant try by our friends at QKZ.
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 2023-12-03 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.