Current testing methodology is v1.2
The QKZ SK3 is another budget IEM offering from the Chi-fi brand QKZ.
I’ve already reviewed several IEMs from this brand and they’ve yet to come up with a pair of IEMs that I’d find disappointing. Then again, with their super affordable pricing, I can’t find any deal-breaker with these IEMs.
Sure, there are nitpicks here and there but they still sounded decent overall for their retail price of under $10.
Anyway, up next for review is the QKZ SK3, which I like to call a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and here’s why.
Budget-friendly IEMs great for listening to music and gaming.
The QKZ SK3 has a surprising sound that’s all too different from its distant relative the SK9.
Older models don’t equal bad sound and that’s a lesson I learned the hard way with these IEMs.
Having a slightly boosted bass, engaging midrange, and good treble performance, SK3 is a perfect everyday carry and daily driver for those who love listening to music with a limited budget.
- Driver: 10mm Single Dynamic Driver
- Frequency response: 20Hz-20000kHz
- Impedance: 23Ω
- Sensitivity: 112db
What’s in the Box?
- QKZ SK3 earphones
- 3.5mm jack cable
- 2 x stock tips
- Cable clip
- Silicone ear hooks
Stuff I like
- Forward midrange
- Deep sub-bass rumble
- Splashy treble
- Good detail retrieval
Stuff I like less
- Rounded mid-bass
- Needs a DAC to release its full potential
- Treble air
As expected, these IEMs come in QKZ’s signature packaging which is quite simple. It’s a box that contains the IEMs and the accessories, and that’s it.
Upon first listening to them, I thought the QKZ SK3 IEMs sounded okay.
They were a bit underwhelming when I plugged them straight into my laptop so I decided to use my digital audio player (DAP) as a sound card to see if there are any changes. And they instantly lit up!
The bass jumped out from the depths, there was now adequate rumble, the mid-bass felt a little fuller, and the transients became more robust. It was apparent even before busting out my DAP that they were very midrange-forward but it was right after when I said “I like this one”.
On an ordinary source, these IEMs are nothing special, but you can do yourself a service and get any kind of digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and your ears will thank you.
The QKZ SK3 shares many of the AK6 line’s attributes, including its build, which is a light plastic material. The cable is also identical.
The connectors seem to be QDC terminations but when I tried taking them out, they wouldn’t budge. I inspected the internals using a flashlight and I found out that they’re soldered into place, meaning the cable is non-swappable, which was such a bummer.
All in all, the build isn’t extraordinary. Plus, you need to be careful with these IEMs by avoiding dropping them or placing any heavy weight on them because they might break.
Fit and Comfort
The upside of the build is that the QKZ SK3 is very light to carry around in your ears. I’ve had no issues wearing them for long hours of music listening.
I’m also happy to report that the included silicone tips have given me a proper seal. This is imperative to get the best amount of noise isolation before you begin to listen to music.
A leak in the seal can decrease the level of music immersion and quality.
In some cases, improper seals have been reported to decrease bass frequency perception. So if the silicone doesn’t fit your ears, be sure to get an ear tip that’s right for your ear size.
The QKZ SK3 sounds like a neutral set with some warmth and boosted bass frequencies.
I think the midrange is the more dominant frequency in the range.
The bass isn’t a perpetually present kind of bass as it only pops out when a track needs it to. To this extent, I think I can commend the SK3 for delineating from the very common bass-boosted IEM trend.
The treble is well-extended but I seem to be wanting a little more for the air frequencies to shine a bit more.
Overall, I like the level of cohesion the set has and how clear the midrange is for the price.
The sub-bass is fairly neutral most of the time, and it shows itself when the track requires it. Using a DAC converts it to a very authoritative and deep sub-bass.
The sub-bass is a little too soft for my taste but has a rather nice slam, giving songs a good amount of energy.
Overall, I like this kind of bass profile. It doesn’t force itself on tracks and shows up when needed. The texture is also pretty good and gives some depth to the rumble that the sub-bass generates.
The midrange isn’t the cavalry– it’s the whole unit. I guess you didn’t know The Rock also said that, but I digress.
The mids on the QKZ SK3 are clear and come across as forward in nature. So for midrange lovers out there, this one hits it right on the money.
The lower mids have sufficient energy to them and give more growl and engagement to tracks.
Another thing I’d like to point out is that it has a good timbre and is alright in terms of tonality.
Despite the compressed region, I can’t seem to pinpoint making the midrange sound a little unnatural. I find that I don’t pick it up without entering critical listening mode.
All in all, I like the SK3’s midrange presentation and overall tonal attributes.
The treble details on the QKZ SK3 are great.
This tells you that there’s a good extension on the treble frequencies, allowing the IEMs to retrieve tiny details in the track.
The treble also has a good amount of sparkle, making high notes pretty clear and emotional as they need to be. The transient response on the other hand is quite snappy and is presented with crisp and articulate sound.
And although the treble has some good extension, I would’ve liked more presence beyond the 10kHz range to give some leeway for airiness to come into play.
All in all, it’s a very solid treble response and as far as I can report, I haven’t experienced any discomfort from treble peaks as sibilance wasn’t an issue.
These are some tracks I loaded up in my playlist.
The QKZ SK3 is pretty flexible in terms of genre selection, so a wide variety of genres should be no problem compatibility-wise.
- Psycho by Post Malone (Pop) – The guitars at the start have great texture and grunge, and the vocals that followed sounded clear and had a great waft of expression wrapped around them. The lyrics were carried out with great articulation with a nice rumble on their underside. The electric instruments sounded clear but were situated at the back of the main vocals. Transients were pretty crispy and had a nice timbre, which give a sense of real-life percussion hits after each consecutive slam.
- Dream of You by Far Caspian (Alternative/Indie) – The instrument separation on this track is superb. The strings and secondary instruments flared from the sides, and there was good layering as they were all simultaneously playing and sounding beautiful. The tonal warmth of the midrange on this specific song was pretty good. I’m unsure if this was due to the IEMs or the track’s inherent mixing properties. The stringed instruments had perfect timbre and you can hear what makes each instrument distinct by the sound of their initial plucks and string slide decays.
- Dancing with my Phone-HYBS (Alternative/Indie) – The synth at the start of the song had a great tone, especially with HYBS’ signature house reverb. The vocals came in mellow and continued to lead the track into a lovely serenade that entangles itself into more verses and then the addictive chorus hook. The vocals were intimate and had a great expression with the synth floating around them. Cymbal hits were presented pretty strongly and sounded crispy. Small details like tambourines and audio effects in the background were audible as well. It was a nice song with good mixing.
- Apocalypse by Cigarettes After Sex (Alternative/Indie) – The electric guitar intro had a great tone and body to it and the vocals at the start caught me off guard as I’ve never heard them that before. I could understand the words in the lyrics even though they often sound slurred and murky. The midrange presentation on this song was pretty lush and emotional, which is even more enhanced by the healthy amount of reverb. The stage on this song had a good height but not much width to it, but I was pleased overall with how the vocals sounded.
I call the QKZ SK3 a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” as I’ve expected them to suck on the get-go but all these IEMs ever did was exceed my expectations.
It’s a very good set with nice tuning across the frequency spectrum.
The behavior of the bass is similar to the QKZ AK6-X and is very flexible in presentation depending on the track you’re listening to. The midrange is forward and very clear, giving you front seats to the singing, and the treble has good details and a great transient response.
If these IEMs are gunning for an award, then I’d give them a certificate for certified awesomeness.
If you like a slightly bass-boosted signature with good vocals and details to boot, then the QKZ SK3 is a good match for you, be it for listening to music or gaming.
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 2024-02-26 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.