| 8.2 mm Driver |
? KZ has a massive number of earphones and the KZ ATE are one of the most famous. They gained great reputation for the low price, quality aesthetics and good sound.
The ATE line is confusing for some because there is/was more than one version on sale with similar names: ATE, ATE-S and KZ ATR. The ATE-S has a black translucent housing, it has a memory wire and a red cable-housing connector; the ATE model (without the “s”) can be bought in silver or in the same translucent black housing as the ATEs, they have instead a golden cable-housing connector and no memory wire, the ATR instead is not translucent and differs slightly in shape as well. All 3 models are known to sound differently.
This review is specifically for the KZ ATE model (translucent black with golden connector and no memory wire). The KZ ATE has a stylish look and construction quality is solid, they have a golden oval-shaped weight on the cables to aid them to remain in position when used above and around the ear.
The cable is a very KZ classic rubbery transparent that lets you see the inner copper cable, the connector is L-shaped and gold plated.
The ATE, as most of KZ earphones, can be chosen with microphone and a one-button controller or without them. If you are curious about what it inside the KZ ATE you can take a look at our KZ ATE Disassembly page, where we opened up a KZ ATE unit and show you step by step photos of the inner parts of the earphone.
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KZ ATE - Review
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Accessories & Packaging
A nice hard case holds the KZ ATE and all of its accessories. 2 extra pair of eartips and a pair of foam eartips are included in the package as well as a pair white silicone “guides” for the cables. This “guides” can be used to fit the end of the cable inside and give the cable a more stable structure to hold in place when using the ATE in the “up and around the ear” position. KZ has lately replaced the packaging and accessories included and now you get a tiny cardboard box with just 3 eartips, a pitty KZ cheaped out with this.
Bass & Sub Bass
The KZ ATE are not a balanced earphone, instead they are boomy but you need to fit them deep in the ear canals to get a right quantity of bass, if not they quickly loose bass punchiness. Sub-bass and mostly mid-bass are certainly present. Mid-bass bleeds onto mid frequencies.
Sub-bass and mostly mid-bass are certainly present. Mid-bass bleeds onto mid frequencies.
The ATE improve sub-bass impact vastly by equalization and amplification. If you even push its limits you can get a hint of basshead impact, way below the Sony MDR-XB50AP, KZ ZS2, KZ ZST and Elecom EHP-CA3580 but way above the Remax RM-565i and slightly above the Superlux HD381. They can manage around 45-48% of a Fiio E12 maximum power when basshead eqed and with the Fiio set to high gain and with bass boost switched ON. The dynamic drivers of almost all models of KZ earphones are not very tolerant to exceeding their limits when amplifying, so be careful, if you go just above of what they can manage they will break instantly with no way to fix them. Every KZ earphone we tested “suffers” from the same and manages around the same maximum power: KZ ZST, KZ ED12, KZ ZS3, KZ ZS2, KZ ED9, KZ ATR, KZ EDR2.
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Mids & Vocals
Mids are strange with the KZ ATE, they seem somewhat recessed at times but easily get harsh with vocal peaks and strong guitar strings. The de-emphasized sensation that you get from them is actually a matter of mid bass bleeding into the mids/vocals and dominating them. Dialing down bass frequencies you can get a more logic explanation of the mids of the ATE, they are not recessed, they are forward and that’s why out of the box you feel harshness so easily on its mid frequencies.
Highs & Treble
The highs of the KZ ATE are very recessed and suffer from too much roll-off at these frequencies, definition gets lost. There is no presence of sibilance on the ATE. Equalization can help regain high frequency response but the quality is not great.
The sound that leaks out of these earphones is amazingly low, almost non existent. They take the podium for private listening and as a companion to take to the library.
The KZ ATE do a pretty good job isolating noise from outside. There are some earphones that are better at this but by no means the ATE do a lousy job with sound isolation
The ATE have a nice form factor that allows them to be used either normally like any other earphone or in a sport/custom way with the cable above and around the ear. Fit and sound is much better if you fit it in the sport/custom way. They are comfortable in any of the 2 fitting positions but it can be uncomfortable for some as the nozzles are long and may fit way too inside the ear canals. You can always fit it a little bit less inside the ear canal but you will loose a lot of bass response.
Response to Equalization
This topic is a mixed bag with the KZ ATE. Response to eq to fix mid frequencies is poor, trying to remove the harshness makes them muffled right away and if you reduce bass to clear up the mids, they become clearer but still harsh and you loose too much of bass impact. Highs can be brought back a bit but still they don’t have great definition. On the bass department, response to eq is much better, emphasizing bass frequencies you will gain much more impact and if you add amplification you can reach a hint level of basshead impact.
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KZ ATE Frequency Response
|Cord||Y-type, round cord|
|Plug||L-shaped Stereo mini plug (gold plated)|
|Weight (Without Cord)||Approx. 24g|
|Supplied Accessories||2x Eartips, Hard Carrying case|