2022 saw the release of numerous “YouTuber collaboration” IEMs, with manufacturers tapping the shoulders of the likes of Crinacle, HawaiiBadBoy (HBB), and Z Reviews. The results of these collaborations are IEMs tuned to the preference of the respective content creators, flaunting their years of expertise reviewing products from a plethora of audio brands.
HBB, also known by his YouTube handle Bad Guy Good Audio Reviews, is a name that needs no introduction; even if you’re only ankle-deep into the audio hobby. You’re bound to have come across one of his reviews on YouTube, especially in regards to ChiFi audio products.
One of his latest collaborations is the QKZ x HBB Khan, a dual dynamic driver IEM with a 10mm DD handling the bass, and a 7.8mm DD in charge of the mids and highs. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a driver configuration of this sort – the Truthear Zero (a Crinacle collab IEM) has the same setup.
So…is it any good? Let’s find out in this review of the Khan.
What It Is
In a way, the Khan really is HBB’s take on the Truthear Zero, an IEM that received plenty of praise and glowing reviews. As mentioned, both IEMs feature a dual dynamic driver setup, and they seem to have a similar tuning (on paper, at least) as the Khan with only a slight variation in the mids and treble. Both are said to give you the listening experience of a “subwoofer” in an IEM, which I’ll talk about further down this review.
The Khan features a 3D-printed, metallic-looking shell with carbon fiber-esque faceplates – which QKZ calls “dragon scales” – covered by a layer of resin. QKZ’s logo is printed on the left shell, while the right one has HBB’s own logo.
The shape of the Khan’s shell is similar to that of the Truthear Hexa, though it does have a longer and wider nozzle. The IEM fits in my ears comfortably, but your mileage my vary – some of my colleagues find the nozzle to sit a tad too deep in their ears.
As for the Khan’s included cable, it’s a detachable 2-pin 0.75mm oxygen-free copper cable with the option to include a mic at no additional cost. Unfortunately, the cable is quite basic, prone to tangling, and doesn’t feel particularly robust. But be fair, this is just a $39.99 (about RM175) IEM on Linsoul – it’s very affordable.
Aside from the IEM itself, inside the Khan’s box is a gold coin with HBB’s and QKZ’s logo printed on both sides. The coin is neither made of chocolate nor actual gold, though it is surprisingly hefty.
There’s also a hard shell carrying case included that isn’t all that…hard. It may have the looks of a Pelican case, but it feels thin and light in the hands. Not that you should expect any more for only $39.99, considering that other IEMs at this price point are usually bundled with a drawstring carrying pouch only – or nothing at all.
How Does It Sound?
If you’re a basshead, the QKZ x HBB Khan should be high up on your list. Its bass quality really is one of the IEM’s best qualities, which will definitely get your feet tapping to the beat of the drums in rock tracks, for example. Anyway, let’s break down the sound signature of the Khan.
As gimmicky as a subwoofer-like sound quality…sounds, the sub-bass of the Khan is truly something else. The low-end extends deep, it is substantial, and it is full of energy. The texture could be a tad tighter and more defined, but it is by no means muddy.
The speed of the Khan’s bass is a slight bit slower than usual to my ears, but for added context, I have spent an extended amount of time with the Raptgo Hook-X. Needless to say, the bass quality of planar drivers has entirely different speed and texture.
As for the mid-bass, it is tucked in a bit, which I’m not too bothered by as the presence from the sub-bass is already sufficient enough. This mid-bass dip also means that there won’t be any bass bleeding into the mids.
In the mids region, there is a bit of audible recession. This is especially obvious if you’re used to the upper mid-range boost usually present in Harman-tuned IEMs. The lack of mid-bass gives male vocals a lighter note weight, but it’s far from shrill. Aside from the lack of body, male vocals could also benefit from a bit more warmth to liven up the sound a little.
Female vocals are clear and natural-sounding, but they’re almost a bit too laid back. There is a lack of presence and “bite” that makes this region a little dull. As someone who mostly listens to female vocal-centric songs, I consider this to be one of the Khan’s main drawbacks.
The excitement that was present in the bass and missing in the mids makes a return in the treble region of the Khan. The crispness of the highs pair well with the boomy low-end, creating a foot-tappingly fun listening experience. In short, the treble is crispy and smooth overall with a hint of grain, and there is a bit of a gentle roll off up top, lending to highs free from shoutiness and fatigue.
Staging of the Khan is above average with a slight out-of-head sound. There is also good width, though depth and height are a little lacking. Imaging and clarity of instruments are done surprisingly well too.
Is It Worth It?
Overall, the QKZ x HBB Khan is an immensely fun pair of earphones. They are exceptionally good for genres like rock and hip-hop, though it is a bit lacking when it comes to slower ballads and female vocals. Even if QKZ doesn’t publicly market the Khan to have the “sound of a subwoofer,” the claim that the Truthear Zero makes does hold some water here as well – it has a similar driver setup, after all.
If you’ve yet to try the Zero, or if you’re just not a fan of Crinacle and his tuning – it’s a subjective hobby – then perhaps the sub-heavy Khan can be the ideal…substitute.
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