TWS true wireless earphones - under $50
THREE STARS - KZ's first attempt at truly wireless earphones is definitely pleasing to the ears but leaves something to be desired.
Specs of the KZ T1 TWS:
Design, charging and comfort
Fans of the well known Chinese earphone brand KZ rejoice: the earpieces of the KZ T1 TWS has the same shape as the wired KZ ZST earphones, although this time, the earpieces have a shiny black piano-like paint. It may look cheap in your hand, but it looks quite stylish in your ears. The inside is a treat too, with gold-like coated nozzles over which you can slide the three delivered sizes of ear tips.
The inside of the earpieces has a round shape, to improve the comfort in your ear. It works... once you know how to put the earpieces in. There are no L and R markings on the pieces itself, and to make it even more confusing, the right earpiece resides in the left side of the charging case!
The ear tips are incredibly soft, which ensures a comfortable fit. It can be tricky to get a real tight, secure fit in your ears however. If you plan on sporting with these, it's good to buy some more general, harder ear tips to obtain a tighter fit.
The charging case itself is a treat. Mifo (‘Make It Fully Optimal’) designed it, and it has the same matte grey design, silver accents and even the same hinge as the case of the Mifo O5. It's fairly scratch-resistant too. It's a bit too big to fit in your pockets maybe, but it does deliver impressive battery specs. The battery of the earpieces lasts around 3,5 hours on a single charge; the charging case can recharge the earpieces fully for seven times. The status of the battery can be seen by four LED lights on the inside of the case.
Connectivity and controls
Connectivity on the KZ T1 TWS is terrific. The earpieces connect automatically and fast when you take them out of the charging case, and shutting them off is as easy as putting them in the case again. The connection is steady up to ten meters and even keeps its stability areas crowded with wireless connections.
The touch controls, however, aren't the best part of the KZ T1. Press once to play or pause and long-press any bud to activate the voice assistant on your smartphone. Clear. Then it becomes weird: with two presses on the right side, you skip a track, with three touches you decrease the volume. On the left earpiece, two taps return a song and three increases the volume.
Going back a track but moving up the volume on the same side - it just feels weird.
It's fine once you get the hang of it, however. What isn't, is the sensitivity of the touch controls. The earpieces don't always respond to your touches, and tapping three times is just very hard. On multiple occasions, I returned a song trying to increase the volume.
Calling and watching movies on KZ T1
Watching movies on the KZ T1 is doable on Android, where there is a minimal audio delay in most popular video apps. On iPhone, audio and video don't synchronize very well in the YouTube app. Services like Netflix and Amazon Prime have a minimal delay but fare pretty well overall.
Calling is something you shouldn't be doing on the T1 at all. The microphone is barely capable of putting your voice trough. Indoor, you sound soft, distant and bathroomy to the other end of the line. Outdoor, your voice completely vanishes in the surroundings.
Once again, the volume steps of the KZ are a bit of a problem here. You'll hear the person you're calling with very loud of very soft.
Sound quality of KZ T1: good, but…
There was a particular hype on audio forums when the KZ T1 first showed up. No wonder: KZ is well known for lots, lots of cheap wired earphones with satisfying to even incredible sound quality for its price. The KZ T1 is no exception. It sounds great for its price.
Like so many wired KZ earbuds, the main attraction here is the emphasized upper mids. Female and higher-pitched male vocals sound incredibly forward - in your face even. They sound clear, bright, and offer a nice amount of detail. They makes music sound lively.
In the bass section, the KZ T1 is even more of a party starter. The mid-bass is enticing, delivering a joyous slam without overbearing other frequencies. The T1 knows how to rumble too, with its dark and robust sounding sub-bass.
Between the upper mids and bass lay the mids, which are also well represented in easier going and more crowded songs. Guitars, pianos and especially drums sound great on the T1, thanks to a big soundstage and good instrument separation. In songs like Dave Brubeck's Take Five, it's perfectly possible to position the drums and other instruments.
Compared to the excellent Mpow T5, the KZ T1 offer more emphasis and liveliness in vocals and higher pitched instruments, while the bass area and lower mids section resolve more detail on the Mpow T5. The T1 can also sound distorted a bit more at the highest volumes.
iPhone users, take note however. Sound quality isn't the only thing that creates a great listening experience. Listening to the right volume plays an important part too. Somehow, KZ messed the volume levels up on iPhone. The volume steps on the iPhone are horrible; it doesn't matter if you control them on the earpieces or your device. Different volume steps generate the same medium volume level - and then the next one can be way too loud (and distorted). With so little different volume levels, it's hard to acquire your favourite volume.
In their first attempt at truly wireless earphones, KZ has nailed the sound quality - with a vivid, joyous and detailed sound. The volume steps may kill your listening experience, however. Add the horrible call quality and mediocre controls on top, and the KZ T1 leaves much room for improvement.
Three STARS - worth considering
Buy KZ T1 TWS/ check current price:
I bought the KZ T1 TWS myself, to test and review. I test and review all audio products equally honest - read about it here.
Consider buying this earphone? I'd really appreciate it if you use the links in this article. It won't cost you extra, yet it will financially support me a bit in my ongoing quest for great affordable audio. <3
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