Current testing methodology is v1.2
February 25, 2022
17.2 x 9.4 x 2.5 cm
In the IEM market, QKZ is known for having a huge catalog with options for every price point – most of them in the budget space.
The QKZ SK8 is an IEM from their ultra-budget IEM lineup and you can purchase it for around $6-$10, which is quite cheap. Let’s see how it does in this review.
Where the cons sadly outweigh the pros
The QKZ SK8 is another product from QKZ’s ultra-budget lineup. It has a bright V-shaped sound signature that’s an oddball in terms of performance.
Although the QKZ SK8 has some good characteristics, it also has a lot of flaws so this purchase seems like more of a waste of money instead of being a good budget option for those just starting on the hobby.
- Driver: 10mm Single Dynamic Driver
- Cable: 3.5mm angled plug/non-detachable cable
- Frequency: 20-20,000Hz
- Impedance: 16Ω
- Sensitivity: 96±3db
What’s in the Box?
- QKZ SK8 earphones
- 3 x pairs of silicone ear tips (S, M, L)
- 1 pair of rubber ear hooks
- Plastic carrying case
- Shirt clip
Stuff I like
- Very affordable
- Bright and energetic tuning
- Good tuning on the mids
Stuff I like less
- Cheap build quality
- Non-detachable cable
- Thin treble presentation
The QKZ SK8 comes in straightforward packaging and shies away from the typical white carton that’s commonly used by other Chi-fi brands. It came in a white carrying case that feels pretty cheap, in my opinion.
The earphones themselves were pretty colorful and were made of a polycarbonate resin shell, although the resin used feels a lot lighter and cheaper compared to other IEMs in this price range. They also have a bold design which can be an acquired taste for some.
The set includes a few pairs of silicone ear tips, a pair of ear hooks that I opted not to use since they feel pretty awkward, and a shirt clip for the cable.
The QKZ SK8’s shell is made out of a polycarbonate resin shell which is common with many IEMs. However, its quality isn’t as good as that of more expensive sets and this is understandable as it was done to reduce production costs.
The cable is non-detachable, which is problematic because you can’t replace it when it gets damaged. The detachable cable feature is available, though, on its Pro version.
The plastic carrying case is very low-quality and cheaply made but it’s still a welcome addition because it’s useful for storing the earphones. Also, the SK8 doesn’t cost a lot so the carrying was a nice little surprise.
Additionally, the ear hooks are poorly made and feel awkward in the ears so I don’t recommend using them.
Fit and Comfort
The QKZ SK8 has a fairly standard shape and the shells are pretty lightweight, so I haven’t encountered any issues regarding the fit. The ear tips are of low quality but they still provide a good enough seal for the sound.
QKZ also included a pair of ear hooks that you can attach to the cable of the SK8 but I opted not to use them since they’re pretty uncomfortable due to their shape and size.
In terms of sound, the QKZ SK8 has a V-shaped sound signature with a bit more pronounced treble. It had all the typical characteristics of a V-shaped sound signature with its recessed mids, and elevated lows and highs.
In terms of its technicalities, there’s nothing special with the SK8.
The bass is more mid-bass-focused with minimal sub-bass extension. I tried listening to various tracks to observe how its bass performs and it always comes out as lacking in note weight.
Although the midbass has a bit of body and punches on more bass-heavy tracks, it’s very subtle. There were also times when it lacks definition because it sounds muffled and muddy.
With the bass of the QKZ SK8, the sound presentation lacks details, depth, note weight, and clarity. On listenable volumes, there were instances when the SK8 produced some clipping which was very unpleasant to listen to.
Since the QKZ SK8 has a V-shape sound signature, the mids are recessed. In this case, I feel like the SK8 may have taken it a bit too far because, on some tracks, the vocals get crowded out by its top-end and low-end.
The guitars and other instruments have a good amount of definition and clarity. However, it gets smeared by the midbass bleed sometimes, and this messes up its resolution resulting in a muddy presentation on the lower mids, affecting said instruments.
The upper midrange has a decent timbre, although they can sometimes get quite harsh or peaky. They also tend to sound thin at times which we can blame on their tuning.
Overall, I was unsatisfied with the SK8’s presentation on its mids.
THE QKZ SK8’s treble presentation is better than the other frequencies mentioned. It has a decent treble extension and a good timbre quality with no weird tonalities.
However, it’s still plagued by flaws. Like the mids, the treble is very thin and sounds like two pieces of paper rubbed against each other, which gets pretty irritating. I’ve had this issue from the get-go and was pretty annoyed. This can be very fatiguing in the ears, which is a huge deal
breaker for me as I use IEMs often.
I’ve tested the QKZ SK8 on different genres of music to get a proper understanding of how they sound and here are my findings.
- Metal / Rock – When listening to the test tracks, the guitars lacked body and sounded disjointed from the tracks. There were a lot of harsh peaks all over the tracks, which got very fatiguing. However, the vocals were decent and could stand out even on busier tracks. Tracks used: I Don’t Love You (My Chemical Romance), All The Small Things (Blink 182), Ignorance (Paramore), Cold (Korn), Cliffs of Dover (Eric Johnson)
- Pop – The vocals were close to being on point but still lacked definition and needed refinement. The layering was average. The bottom end of the tracks was sometimes clouded and frequently lacked volume. The soundstage was average in width, but it caught up to some of the tracks’ demands. The performance of the QKZ SK8 for this genre is lukewarm since it failed to do anything special. Tracks used: Snooze (SZA), As It Was (Harry Styles), Yours (Maye)
- Hip-hop – The QKZ SK8 produced small amounts of rumble on the tracks I’ve listened to, which shows its lack of sub-bass extension. The mid-bass is much less prominent than I expected, although there were times when they bled through the vocals. The instruments on the top end also suffered from treble peaks, and the cymbal hits sounded too sharp at times. Tracks used: LOVE. (Kendrick Lamar, Zacari), sdp interlude (Travis Scott), I Wonder (Kanye West), Superhero (Metro Boomin & Future)
- R&B / Soul – This genre has two main highlighting components I often notice when testing earphones – it’s how well the vocals are presented and blend with the instrumentation. I must say, the QKZ SK8 did a pretty good job. The instruments were precise and well-controlled. The vocals had good clarity, although they suffered from some peaks in the frequencies. The same goes for the instruments, which can get sharp in presentation. Overall, the SK8 did a decent job in this genre. Tracks used: LA FAMA (Rosalia, The Weeknd), Blessed (Daniel Ceasar), Moonlight (Kali Uchis), Traingazing (Sam Wills ft. Honey Mooncie), Always (Daniel Ceasar)
The QKZ SK8 may be flawed but there were times when I enjoyed listening to them. Its relatively bright V-shaped tuning makes it stand out from other alternatives but sadly, this tuning isn’t implemented well.
Tons of treble peaks and harsh frequencies plagued me during testing, which took a toll on how I perceived these earphones.
That said, even in the ultra-budget space, the QKZ SK8 isn’t good enough. It just has a lot of flaws that even its price can’t justify.
A man of many interests, Querho is passionate about discovering new things that stimulate the mind. When he is not writing about the things he is passionate about, Querho can be found making music at his home studio.
This post was last updated on 2023-11-28 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.