KZ S2 | $50 | Indiegogo
Cheap wireless earbuds are a dime a dozen these days. (Trust me, I recently tested over a dozen of them). But cult-favorite audio brand KZ Acoustics may have built something special with their foray into true wireless, the $50 KZ S2—which is $35 right now on Indiegogo.
The fully-backed project is shipping early bird units now, and I got a pair to try out. Not expecting much, I was surprised at how good these sounded for the price—and how well they fit in my ears.
KZ Acoustics, for those of you who don’t know, are what some would call a Chi-fi brand—a Chinese manufacturer selling high bang-for-your-buck in-ear monitors direct to consumers. Their $20 KZ ZST is rather popular among budget audiophiles and the S2 aims to bring some of that quality to the wireless crowd.
And it does a pretty good job. While I wouldn’t be so brash as to say it defeats its $150 wireless competitors, it handily beats out most other similarly-priced models in sound quality. The S2 uses two drivers: a balanced armature driver for cleaner high-end alongside a more traditional dynamic driver to fill out the bass, where balanced armature drivers don’t excel.
I was rather impressed by the amount of sub-bass these provided, and the treble was remarkably clean compared to similarly-priced buds. Cymbals carried less distortion and sibilance than the Aukey EP-T21 and iTeknic BH-006—my two favorite $50 ‘buds from the aforementioned wireless earbud roundup—and the bass extended better than both of those models, too. I did feel, however, that the mids lacked a bit of clarity compared to the Aukey and iTeknic models, but again, we’re talking $50 here, so I’m willing to forgive a little sacrifice.
For the price, the KZ S2 is definitely impressive, and easily on par with those other two options depending on your preferences in sound.
Their dual-driver design—alongside the batteries and Bluetooth chips inside—leads to a slightly larger earbud, but their lightweight build and unique shape actually help them stay in place very well (at least in my ears—everyone’s are different). While I usually have trouble with non-stick wireless earbuds falling out, the KZ S2 felt very comfortable and secure. Their touch controls were easy to use, and charging and pairing were as simple as I could hope for.
There are a few corners cut here to keep costs down, of course—the battery case feels cheaper than most others I’ve used, particularly in the hinge. The Bluetooth codec is limited to AAC (no AptX here), which isn’t surprising for the price, just something to know if you’re expecting true hi-fi. You don’t get wireless charging like you do with the BH-006, but they do have USB-C, which is actually a nice surprise. With the S2, most of your money is going toward sound quality, not creature comforts, and for $50, it’s a pretty compelling package.
If you want to grab them for their early bird pricing of $32, head over to their Indiegogo page—they’ve begun shipping right now and still have some models left.