Today we’re checking out the KC2 from BQEYZ.
BQEYZ is a relative newcomer to the scene, headed by Dongguan Xianchao Acoustics Technology co. LTD out of China. Ever since KZ released the conflicted but successful ZS5, everyone has been trying their hand at the same twin dynamic, twin balanced armature (2+2) setup, though with varying success. The KC2 is BQEYZ’s attempt and follows the ZS6’s formula quite closely with aluminum alloy shells, the driver configuration, and 0.78mm 2-pin removable cables.
Is the KC2 a worthy purchase or just another has-been brand trying to ride the wave of KZ’s success? Read on to find out.
I would like to thank Elle from BQEYZ for reaching out to see if I would be interested in reviewing the KC2. After seeing so much positive feedback about the brand from others in the community, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to check them out. They were provided free of charge for the purposes of review. The thoughts within this review are mine alone and do not represent BQEYZ or any other entity. There was no financial incentive to write this review. At the time of writing the KC2 retailed for 57.99 USD and could be picked up here on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GWY7YNJ?fbclid=IwAR0ulmvhpLmlaTeL-0eCF0_AwiCkoWwkfA2xZ85JnYtvcxGQvYKbnDiFHXM
The KC2 was easy to drive up to my typically low volumes, without the need for amping. As such I commonly paired it with straight out of my LG G6 and the Shanling M0. It was also powered by a TEAC HA-501 desktop amp with an ASUS FX53V sourcing music, though the HA-501 felt a little overkill and on higher damping settings introduced some grain into the treble.
I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures in my headphones I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even and natural mid-range response, with reduced mid-bass. The HiFiMan RE800, Brainwavz B400, and thinksound On2 offer examples of signatures I enjoy.
- Frequency Response: 7-40 KHz
- Impedance: 15 ohms
- Sensitivity: 105dB
Packaging and Accessories:
The KC2’s package is a compact grey cardboard box with a very subtle metallic texture. On the front in silver foil writing you find the BQEYZ brand name in the top left, “Hybrid Technology In-ear Headphones” in the bottom right. On the back you find a list of specifications and some brand information, namely the name of their parent company, location, and an email address. Lifting the lid reveals the KC2 and spare tips set within a cardboard coated foam insert. A very KZ-esque user manual sits underneath. In all you get:
- KC2 earphones
- Braided 0.78mm 2-pin cable
- Single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
- Velcro cable tie
In all, this is a very simple accessory kit. I actually quite liked the ear tips as the quality is good, they fit properly, and they pair well with the KC2. They stuck around for the duration of testing.
Build, Comfort, and Isolation:
The KC2’s shells are all metal and look a lot nicer in person than in pics, in my opinion. The face plates are wonderfully crafted with light marks from the machining process visible in the swooping accents. L and R are printed on the protrusion housing the port for the 2-pin plugs, allowing you to easy differentiate which channel is which. Although, they are design for over-ear wear so you can’t really mix it up anyway. The rear half of the shell is smooth with three neatly cut vents for the twin dynamic drivers within. On the bottom BQEYZ KC2 is laser printed and barely visible unless tilted at just the right angle to catch the light. The nozzle is a separate piece of metal, painted black for a nice contrast.
The cable is a mix of good and bad. Good is the hardware, like the flexible preformed ear guides that hold the cable in place around your ear. Also good is the y-split. It is a solid hunk of metal printed with the BQEYZ brand name. A fairly long, flexible strain relief protrudes out the bottom to protect the cable from bends. Strain relief at the top is omitted in favor of a useful chin cinch. KZ, you could take note of this. Lastly, the Dunu-esque 90 degree angled metal plug is well relieved and compact enough to avoid complications with phone or DAP cases. Unfortunately, the cable sheath is not so great. While similar to what KZ and TRN are doing with their cables right now, BQEYZ’s is quite plasticky. It retains kinks and bends and is subject to tangling, especially in the winter weather we’re experiencing right now here in Ontario, Canada. I’m sure it would be fine in warmer climates.
The KC2 is very comfortable, despite being quite a large earphone. The rounded, shallow fit design looks to have been inspired by the AKG N40, but is far from being a copy, and lets the earphone rest naturally in the outer ear. Weight is distributed evenly ensuring zero hot spots or odd fitment issues. Only if you have an exceptionally small outer ear or a particularly odd shape should you experience any issues fit the fit or comfort.
Isolation is about average which is better than I expected given the shallow fit design and ample driver ventilation. Using them in my office while answering emails, I can hear the clacking of the keyboard and cars passing by outside my window, but it’s all slightly muffled. Taking them into a more demanding environment, like my local coffee shop, sees me increasing the volume substantially to counter the noise of the hustle and bustle around me. These are fine for moderately noisy areas, but unless tossing on some foams tips I can’t see them being well-suited for use on public transit or in other similarly noisy environments.
Tips: I used the preinstalled stock mediums for the duration of my testing, but also ran them for quite a while with medium KZ Starline tips.Despite the difference in bore size, I really didn’t find there was much of a difference in sound. And that was more or less the experience running a wide variety of after market options (Sony, UE, EarNiNE, Havi, FiiO, etc.); not much of a difference. If the stock tips don’t fit you well, just find something that does. The KC2 was fairly consistent regardless of the tips, in my experience. As always, your mileage may vary.
The KC2 has a vibrant signature with lots of treble energy, big bass, and a conservatively recessed mid-range that mostly affects male vocals.
Treble is well-extended with a tightly controlled, shimmery presentation to it. There is lots of space between notes giving the KC2 an open feel up top. Even upon cranking the volume (for me…keeping in mind I typically listen at very low volumes) I didn’t find the kC2 particularly fatiguing despite the upper treble having more emphasis than lower, a trait I enjoy but find can wear me out. The most respectable aspect of the KC2’s treble is how effortless it sound and how easily it reproduces everything. Such as one Run The Jewel’s “Oh My Darling (Don’t Cry)” where at around 2:30 the track gets extra aggressive with lots of harsh high pitched effect. In general, really nice treble for a budget friendly hybrid.
The mid-range displays a mild warmth which sounds really nice with female vocals. Take Riya on Lenzman’s “Open Page” which who simply sounds liquid and sweet with lyrics that roll smoothly and flawlessly amidst the mellow beats. Male vocals are set further back than I’d like and are lacking the body present in female vocals, but they’re mostly on point. Take Chrom3 on Brooks Brothers’ “Carry me On”. His presentation is rife with emotion and carries an uplifting tone. Instruments like guitars and drum on Havok’s “Covering fire” sound accurate and timbre rich. Lovers of metal and hard rock will find a nice companion in the KC2.
Bass is elevated with a satisfying balance through the upper to lower regions. Bleed into the mids is completely absent and there is no mid-bass bloat. Sub-bass rolls off slowly keeping the KC2 from offering an overly visceral presentation, but there is still some decent rumble. Either way, the emphasis is more or less spot on. I was quite surprised at how quick and nimble the low end was too, easily tackling the rapid double bass on Havok’s “D.O.A” without any congestion or smearing. About the only aspects I can see improvements being made on is texture and impact. The KC2 lags slightly behind some of the competition here.
Overall detail and clarity from top to bottom is quite good as seems to be the case with hybrids in this price range. There is some smoothing going on in the mids and low end which reduces texturing slightly. I found the KC2 to have a very dynamic sound stage with effects having a lot of space to move about. Channel to channel transitions can be quite extreme, especially when there is some fade applied as the effect trails off. Well-layered tracks are represented decently with adequate instrument separation so as to prevent sounds from melding into one another. Overall I found it a very immersive experience.
TRN V80: The V80 has a leaner presentation with additional upper treble emphasis making them brighter and more energetic. KC2’s treble is tighter, more controlled, and lacks the uncomfortable sharpness the V80 displays at times. V80’s mids lack the same amount of body and despite their leaner nature, do not come across as detailed. They are also slightly less pronounced making it sound less balanced and coherent. V80’s bass is some of the best I’ve heard in a budget hybrid, evident when comparing the two. V80 digs deeper, is more impactful, and is more nimble with greater texture. It’s a more engaging presentation. V80’s sound stage is more confined and restricted than the KC2. Imaging quality is similarly accurate with the KC2 coming out just ahead. Same goes for layering and separation. When it comes to build, both are above average. The KC2 shells are larger but lighter, making them slightly more comfortable to me. The TRN’s Dunu inspired shells are very comfy though, and better suited to smaller ears. Their cables are very similar with TRN using a softer, more flexible sheath that does not stiffen to the same extent in cool weather.
With the exception of it’s outstanding bass quality, the V80 is outclassed by the KC2 when it comes to sound. It holds it’s own in terms of build and comfort, however. I could not recommend the V80 over the KC2, but if you can’t afford the latter the V80 is a suitable, more affordable alternative.
KZ ZS6: When I first put the KC2 in my ears and fired up a track, I was smacked across the face by a tidal wave of familiarity. “This thing sounds exactly like the ZS6,” I thought. Now that I’ve a/b’ed the two, I’ve reduced that to sounding almost identical, save for a few tweaks here and there. The ZS6 has slightly slower but deeper, more textured, and more impactful bass. Treble is similarly boosted, but the ZS6 has an emphasis shift towards the lower treble making it more detailed but less shimmery. KC2’s mids have a touch more weight and warmth to them. Imaging, layering, and sound stage are virtually identical save for the KC2 being slightly more open. Could be due to the larger earpieces, ventilation location, driver layout, or maybe just a superior tune. Either way, these two are tuned similarly enough that I can place one in each ear and within a song my brain has adjusted to the differences making for a completely viable, though not quite ideal, listening experience. Feels like I’m listening to an earphone with a mild channel imbalance more than two entirely different products. When it comes to build, they’re both immaculately constructed for the price. I personally prefer the look of KZ’s Campfire Audio inspired design to the AKG inspired KC2, but when it comes to fit the KC2 is probably going to be the one to win over more fans. While the ZS6’s angular shells pose no problems for me, they do cause discomfort for others, something I can’t imagine being an issue with the KC2. ZS6’s paint job also wears out around the edges, another quality they took from Campfire Audio, something you aren’t likely to experience with the KC2.
For me, choosing one over the other comes down to three things; aesthetics, ergonomics, and price. Get the one you like the look of more, and/or feel will fit you better, and/or is more affordable at the time. They’re both outstanding products for the price and I can’t choose one over the other.
The KC2 came as a great surprise, easily surpassing my expectations and showing itself to be a well-build product with above average sound quality to match. While I think the cable needs some work, namely that plasticky sheath, and that a more impact and texture are needed in the bass, that’s about all I can find to complain about here, especially for the price.
The overall sound is reasonably well-balanced with lots of detail and a spacious presentation. The shells are fairly large but are well constructed and free of sharp edges making them quite comfortable and unobtrusive during long listening sessions. Heck, even the included ear tips are perfectly viable to keep around and use, something that is less common than you’d hope it would be.
My experiences with the KC2 means BQEYZ is a brand I’ll be watching, and one I hope runs the gamut to take on KZ as a viable contender across numerous price points. Thanks for reading!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Some Test Tunes:
Aesop Rock – Skelethon (Album)
Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)