QKZ vk4 unofficial thread

unnofficial thread for QKZ VK$ as there are som eyes on these. and some built up hype in the IEM community.

Uploading: IMG_20200201_130500 (6)-min.jpg… I bought these out of pure curiosity after a person on the tin t4 forum heavily endorsed them saying skip the t4’s as these might as well be them being budget t4’s. looked up the price sell for about $12 I had to pick up a pair. 3 weeks later the showed up came with a blon quality with slightly worse cable. serviceable rubber tips. Comfort isnt bad and the build quality on the units themselves are very good aside from the crappy filter but can be overlooked for the price.
how do they sound off the bat?

the bass really good heavy not the cleanest but fairly controlled and really hits. leaks into the mids but overall really fun for the price hard to complain.

the mids: recessed not the greatest not the feature of the IEMs and often overpowered by the highs and bass

the treble: sharp can be sibilant not too overdone.
presentation. pretty narrow and intimate imaging is passable can do left and right fine but around the middle get iffy

some test tracks and how they sound


this is a track I use to test bass quality.
the bass is impressive on these that beginning of the track with the thumping bass somehow no distortion. only vocals that come out are the ssss tones and the rest of the vocals are burried under the backing track behind the brass instruments and bass and the snares.

the timbre on the drums is pretty good. the vocals and higher pitched percussion instruments are sharp and the s’s again is sibilant. but when that beat drops these get very fun.

this song is used for testing how gear handle that snare that moves around the stage. some sharp headphones and iems specifically the tint t3 really emphasize it but these surprisingly handles it well it was present but not aggressive. the bass guitar sounded great. vocals were pretty good surprisingly no complaints with this song.

in the end I ended up with this configuration some tips I got from one of the pairs of tins I had lying around the bass and treble got pulled back and the mids improved and became less recessed. with a better cable
stock these are impressive for the price bass head V shaped IEMs. now do thes sound like budget t4s? hell no. you could double the price though and they would still be pretty good at $24 around the same quality as the KZ ZSN pros. or ZSTs but no where near blons or t2 territory. these arent the greates for rock but for newer genres like hip hop , EDM , trap these are pretty good choice.

overall really hard to fault at $12.

5 Likes

I’m curious what the difference between the V and C lines are. This one is ~$6

Probably build cause they most likely use the same drivers

I’m going to guess that the C line uses more generic inferior drivers. The V line use better drivers. For what it is worth, the CK5 is ok, even for the price their going for, they’re not that outstanding as some people are making them out. The VK4 on the other hand…

Wheezy seems to like these, another chi-fi IEM to add to the collection…?

I mean it’s $13. I bought them just to try them ended up giving them away though

Yeah true. I’ve also been looking at the BLON BL-03s, as I really missed the hype with them when they first came out. But now I see the BL-05s are out so waiting for some reviews on those and see how they compare. I don’t really need anymore IEMs but it’s always very tempting and fun to try something new especially when they’re so affordable!

I agree with @RiceGuru and his summary above. I impulse bought these (they are about as cheap as it gets) after seeing a couple outlier hype reviews . I feel like they are nowhere near the level of the BL-03 in terms of sound. The build was also just ok. Very cheap feeling and the logo printed on the cap looks fuzzy. But I mean come on! They are like $12, and they sounded fine for that price. Still have mine, but they sit in a drawer.

1 Like

Anyone know of a 0.75mm 2-pin cable with mic that is of good quality? The realm of 0.75mm realm of cables I’ve found so far are all crappy thin plasticky replacements that look just like the stock cable that comes with this set.

Also, can anyone who’s swapped cables confirm that Type B is the type that should fit this set?

Do you have a lead where to get this cable? (but this one seems like it doesn’t have a mic)

I own the VK4 and I have to rant a little bit.

It seems to me that with cheap earphones like the VK4, a lot of reviewers will give them a quick try and then dismiss them for sounding too bassy, not detailed enough, or whatever. Yet with expensive earphones like the Campfire Andromeda, reviewers will go to great lengths tip rolling, cable swapping or even using custom impedance adapters in order to get the best sound out of them. Then they declare that their details, soundstage and “technicalities” are just amazing and make excuses for their often odd tuning by doing things like suggesting you use EQ.

Given similar latitude, the VK4 actually stands out not just as a great value, but just a great IEM period.

The thing about the VK4 is that is bassy. Not in a bloated mid-bassy kind of a way, but with really elevated and impactful sub-bass that extends below the audible 20Hz limit. It’s also got slightly laid back upper mids at around 2 KHz but a forwardness around 4 KHz that keeps the mids from sounding withdrawn. It’s a high energy tuning that won’t necessarily appeal to everyone, but if you like your music to sound engaging, it’s actually pretty versatile as far as genres go.

What I’ve found about a lot of “detailed” IEMs like the OG Andromeda, HA-FDX1 or Legacy 4 is that they’re comparatively less bassy. Whenever I compare such an IEM to the VK4 and find myself thinking “oh, that is detailed!” I do a quick volume check with my handheld SPL meter and lo and behold, I’m listening 5-10dB louder than with the VK4. Why? Because I’ve turned up the volume to achieve a similar level of bass impact. And of course if you turn up the volume, you’re going to hear more detail :slight_smile:

I will confess that with standard medium or narrow bore silicone tips like the one included with the VK4, it sound basically like a V-shaped IEM, which isn’t really to my taste. Thankfully, I own a larger assortment of tips than is healthy, and several of them improve things noticeably. My current favorite are some short wide-bore tips that I have no idea where they came from. They resemble the shape of the tips on the Mele or the silicone tips that came with the OG Andromeda, but they’re firmer, creating a more reliable seal for me.

In any case, the benefit of these tips is that by being short, they bring the VK4 considerably closer to my ear canal, which raises the mids to a point where they don’t sound recessed at all, and it also shifts the treble resonance peak to a place where it sounds less offensive. The wide open borecreates a bit more treble air, which improves the sense of resolution/detail, and it also avoids amplifying the bass the way that narrow bore tips do.

The VK4 can easily be enjoyed just like this, sporting a well balanced tonality, some of the best textured and dynamic bass I’ve heard, and lively upper mids and treble that sound energetic without being offensive or tiring. But, a little EQ can take it even further.

Really the only stuff I tweak with EQ is:

  1. Pretty steep cut at 10 Hz. This is outside of the audible band, but with the VK4’s sealed front volume the bass pressure gets to me sometimes, and this seems to relieve that pressure without altering the sound very much.

  2. Small boost around 2500 Hz and small cut at around 4250 to bring vocals forward a bit and push instruments back a tad.

So, if we give the VK4 the same amount of TLC as we do more expensive sets, how does it stack up to pricier sets? Going up the price ladder …

Tripowin Mele - With Sedna Xelastec tips and deep insertion, the Mele is my favorite IEM for Rock and Blues, especially older recordings. The elevated mid-bass brings some warmth, fullness and punch that highlight the rhythm section, and the solid upper mids presence helps vocals and electric guitar shine, but never becomes shouty. By contrast, the VK4 is much more even and refined sounding, especially in the mids, which on Mele sound noticeably V-shaped. It’s still fun with rock and such, but where the VK4 really excels is with more technical stuff like modern Jazz and classical, as well as with EDM that benefits from the sub-bass extension.

Moondrop Starfield - The Starfield is very pleasant sounding, inoffensive and just kind of okay with anything I throw at it. But the dynamics are completely lacking compared to the VK4. The Starfield kind of makes everything sound like elevator music, and I tune it out pretty quickly. I will say that the Starfield excels in terms of natural timbre (more so than the VK4).

Legacy 4 - The Legacy 4 sounds very detailed to me, with similar volume of bass to the VK4. However, the Legacy 4’s bass sounded rubbery and one-note in comparison, and there’s also a persistent harshness somewhere in the upper mids that fatigued me really quickly. The Legacy 4’s treble sounded like a strange combination between bright and blunted, tonally elevated but lacking quite a bit of air and energy. The attack of percussive instruments on the VK4 is just on a whole different level from the Legacy 4 (maybe because of the treble resonance peak?), which combined with the slightly laid back 2 KHz region makes it a ton of fun for metal.

JVC HA-FDX1 - With the right tips and fit this could have sounded a lot like the VK4, but I couldn’t get them to fit deep enough in my ears to get the kind of sound I want. I could either get the dynamism and bass impact of the VK4, but at the cost of recessed mids, or I could get the mid presence and clarity of the VK4 but with somewhat soft sounding bass. And I tried an ungodly number of combinations of tuning filters and tips. I will say that the bass quality seems even better than on the VK4, which is impressive, so with the right fit there seems to be a lot of potential here.

7Hz Timeless - Similar impressions to the Starfield, but with more lively treble, better extension/detail and more articulate and impactful bass. Clearly an upgrade for Starfield lovers, but compared to the VK4 it still sounds a bit limp and unexciting, and the vocals sounded comparatively further back in the mix but still sometimes shouty (probably because of the 2 KHz peak).

OG Campfire Andromeda - I don’t know how these became such a meme. I spent a lot of effort on these, building custom impedance adapters with varying impedances, tip rolling like crazy and trying different source gear. They’re always pleasant enough sounding, and there is truly something special about their treble sparkle, but the upper mids are just totally missing, making a lot of vocals and guitar sound like they’re under a blanket. And the bass, oh the bass. It manages to be simultaneously thick, soft and poorly extended.

Now, I’ll freely admit to being something of a VK4 shill, and I’ll also freely admit that their build quality stinks (I’m on my 3rd pair, and I’ve got a 4th pair in reserve for when this one fails. I’ll also admit that the only kilobuck earphone I’ve owned is the OG Andromeda. But still, for people wanting a well balanced but energetic sounding earphone that’s amazing with metal, EDM, electronic Jazz and, strangely enough, baroque choral music, I’ll recommend the VK4 all day long!

4 Likes

Mele stock short nozzle wide bores are exactly the tips I’m using, and the VK4 sounds extraordinary for its price point! Punches way above it’s price bracket for its cleanness

1 Like

I don’t know if you notice this with the VK4, but it’s got a sealed front volume that gives it ridiculous sub-bass extension, but it creates some uncomfortable ear pressure.

Here’s a reversible venting mod that takes care of that while leaving the bass nearly as good as before.

If anyone is bored / likes some DIY and has an unbalanced set or a set where the front seems to have a seal when you wear it snugly / deeper fit, it looks like sometimes there is an internal vent that gets blocked with adhesive during manufacture. One half of my set looked like an older manufacture method, tons of yellowish adhesive that blocked the vent. Left side looked like this picture below (not my image), clear adhesive with a reasonable amount not blocking the vent.

my set was unbalanced and the right side would often end up with a pressure build up due the usual dynamic driver’s external vent getting blocked when I wore it with a deeper fit. the left side was always fine no matter the fit and had much cleaner and opened sound.

gave them a look and could see this difference in the driver adhesive blocking an internal vent that leads to the outer rear vent. opened up the cap pretty easily with a small screwdriver.

took a needle to the blocked vent, pushed through as much as possible and then pried a bit. probably not perfectly fixed but it sounded roughly balanced and no annoying unvented feeling going on with one side.

(photo edited by me to add text/info, original photo from: BEST BUDGET EARPHONES THREAD- Chi-fi, Obscure brands and impressions sharing+PERSONAL RANKING LIST | Page 1451 | Headphone Reviews and Discussion - Head-Fi.org )

3 Likes

WELP.

1638963714068

If you have the original, it’s time to baby this marvel. Built quality is sturdy af though not topnotch material, and it EQs beautifully and can match IEMs to the $150 price point… At least the original version.

3 Likes

I already had a spare pair lying around, and now I just ordered 3 more from AliExpress advertised as “original” and showing a photo of the OG.

It’s clear that QKZ (and their presumed parent KZ) aren’t in-tune with the demands of a western audience. If I were running QKZ, I would have released a new IEM with a fancy shell and cable but the VK4’s internals and tuning and sold it for $100 or more.

1 Like

I like how the original graphs! Found one with old connectors for $12 shipped to US (sifting through all the odd high-shipping low-price combos…)

EDIT: And straight after found one for $9. Oh well.

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005003568308763.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.0.0.42ac45f3UTckLS&algo_pvid=f0a1ddf9-b7e4-42d3-99e7-f80d6ec92f55&algo_exp_id=f0a1ddf9-b7e4-42d3-99e7-f80d6ec92f55-44&pdp_ext_f={"sku_id"%3A"12000026321353799"}

I was able to cancel the first order, bought from the link above for a $9.77 total.

1 Like

It’s bonkers how good it is. The VK4 is quite dependent on tips and fit. With typical silicone tips it sounds pretty v-shaped, with somewhat recessed mids (vocals especially, instruments less so).

If, like me, you prefer a more balanced sound, I find the following important:

  1. Find tips with a wide opening to avoid exaggerating bass
  2. Find tips that allow the nozzle opening deeper into the ear canal (i.e. shallow rather than deep tips, for example the Campfire Audio silicone tips)
  3. Find tips that seal well. The VK4 doesn’t have any extra mid-bass, so if you get a poor seal it can sound thin.

For me, Sedna Xelastec tips do the trick. It’s a bit crazy since these cost more than the IEM itself and have to be replaced every three months or so, but it’s worth it to me :slight_smile: The sound with the stock Mele tips is also quite good, though a little thinner.

Finally, if you’re open to EQ’ing, the VK4 has a couple of week spots that you can address in EQ:

  1. Sub-bass extension is almost too good, creating a sensation of pressure on my ears. A narrow (Q5) notch filter at 10Hz (that’s not a typo) seems to help me with that without appreciably changing the sound. Could be placebo, but I’m rolling with it!

  2. Treble air isn’t great. A Q1 2dB boost at 13 KHz goes a long way to fixing that.

1 Like

Thanks for the tips!

1 Like

Well, I’ve stocked up on the OG version for when my current pair quits. That’s like $50 of inventory there, and I honestly can’t think of what IEM I’d rather spend that on! :joy: