There have been tons of awesome budget IEMs that I have been able to get my hands on recently. Some have come from KZ, but never their QKZ sister brand. Their latest is a collaboration with Hawaiian Bad Boy from “Bad Guy Good Audio Reviews,” whose HBB name we’ve seen on other IEMs that have been reviewed recently. How does QKZ’s model stack up at only $19?
What You Get
- HBB IEMs
- 2-pin 3.5mm cable
- Mic option available
- Ear tips
- 3 pairs of white tips
- 3 pairs of black tips
Look and Feel
I was surprised to see these twenty-dollar IEMs have such a stylish design. The glossy resin faceplate made from aluminum and gold logo stands out. The silver outlining also makes the aesthetic pop. You also get a sharp, ergonomic body that establishes an easy fit that sits comfortably in your ears.
The QKZ HBB supports a 10mm dynamic driver with a titanium-coated diaphragm. Its specialized magnetic circuitry aims to significantly boost bass performance. An IEM at this price should be incredibly easy to drive, and that rings true for the HBB. Whether it is a simple 3.5mm headphone jack on your laptop or a small DAC adapter, the HBB delivers plenty of output.
- Frequency range: 20Hz-20kHz
- Sensitivity: 115±3dB
- Impedance: 22ohm±10%
KZ and QKZ IEMs have admirable soundstages for their price, and the HBB is no different. It has almost shoulder-length width, but I think this characteristic is more up to the mix. For instance, cinematic post-rock tracks and ambient music is going to perform well here. However, classical and jazz tracks probably won’t include the depth and separation you’re looking for. This IEM is all about presenting things big, where the sound feels large in scale. The HBB makes instruments tall and pushes them forward. You get a good sense of spaciousness and the slightest dimension. It is a competent soundstage that does its best to preserve the imaging.
This is pretty much what the HBBs are going to be about. The bass is powerful and aggressive. Its tone is thick but never becomes muddy in its timbre. Its only goal is to provide a fun and controlled sound signature that can boast a cinematic response. Movie scores crescendo with a solid boom, and theatrical doom metal tracks are delivered with a punching ferocity. It is a rich and meaty tone that is easy to just enjoy the experience.
While the bass makes the HBB an expressive IEM, the mids also play their part well. Between the abundant bass frequencies and the extension of upper mids, the is going to be some recession. Instruments have good definitions, but individual performances won’t provide much detail. Notes have average clarity but lack a strong attack. With tracks that are more textured, the HBB performs well with though. Heavily distorted guitars and droning synths boast an energetic drive, helped by a warm timbre in the low mids. Vocals also display balance and clarity but are somewhat veiled.
In the highs, you receive the thinnest bite to the sound signature. There’s a splash to certain sounds, and the response rings out to add character to the HBB’s profile. The response is expressive but never too bright, and the timbre of the notes never appears harsh. Its tone is smooth but with the right amount of extra detail that adds height to the sound signature and expands immersion.
This is a fantastic IEM for its economical price. The sound is what I expected with a bit more highlights that make the signature appear more expressive. Its design is also maybe the best you’ll see at twenty dollars. All of these elements combined make the HBB feel like a complete steal.
The QKZ X HBB is available at Linsoul.