The $58 KZ VXS is the first True Wireless Earphone I’ve had the chance to review from KZ, and I have to say it’s a pretty strong entry into what has become a very crowded market.
This is not a competitor to the noise-canceling earphones (think Bose and Sony) you hear so much about, as there is no Active Noise Cancelling here, but instead a parallel to the wired earphones we have depended on for so long. As such, sound quality is a primary consideration here, and consequently, the quality of the Bluetooth connection.
With the VXS, KZ aims to provide a wireless alternative to their affordable passive IEMs, which will play nicely with the increasing number of smartphones without headphone jacks. So is the VXS worth your hard-earned cash? Read on, and I’ll give you the scoop!
Features at a Glance
- Uses new Qualcomm Bluetooth chip (QCC 3040) to support Bluetooth 5.2 (stable connection, low power consumption) and APT-X technology (CD-quality audio)
- It has a 10mm customized composite dynamic driver design for clarity
- CVC noise reduction for 90% less background noise during phone calls
- It has dual listening modes, a low-latency Game mode (40ms buffer) for improved audio sync, and a standard high-fidelity Music mode
- 4-5 hours battery life on earbuds, 4 additional charges in case
- L/R earbuds connect to the source independently for fast single/dual operation
- Responsive Touch Controls
KZ VXS Review: Our Impressions
While the overall build quality is somewhat plasticky, the KS VXS still seems to be solidly constructed, at least equal to the quality of its wired stablemates. The charging case is on the larger side, which may be an issue when putting it in your jeans pocket, but it will fit in a coat pocket or bag just fine.
Most importantly, the case seems like it provides adequate protection to the earphones inside, even though I would be careful to avoid long drops onto a hard surface. In addition, the top of the case has a transparent viewing window to see the earpieces inside and the case’s battery/status light. That’s a pretty cool idea.
Inside the case are magnetic receptacles for the two earbuds, the LED mentioned above, and a button for manual pairing of the earphones to a phone or tablet. The earpieces settle in nicely and don’t seem to move around too much, which is good since they will stay in contact with the charging points.
If you’re familiar with KZ’s wired IEMs, then you will be familiar with the shape of the VSX’s earpieces as they follow their form closely. Owing to this similar contour, I found they fit my ears quite well, with just a slight pressure on my ear canal from the included silicone ear tips (three sizes are in the box).
The earpieces are slightly larger than their wired KZ counterparts, most likely to hold the battery and electronics. Despite this, they are still surprisingly compact and light, even if they stick out a little further from your ears than a passive KZ IEM.
Additionally, the VSX earpieces have a flatter faceplate than wired KZ earphones, making it easier to use the touch controls, which are quite responsive to the touch. Moreover, those controls are intuitive, with a single tap, for example, starting playback and a double tap on either side skipping tracks backward or forward.
I wish there were a volume control option on the earbuds, but that’s not the end of the world since many wireless earbuds don’t have this feature.
With Bluetooth 5.2 onboard, connecting to my smartphone was quick and easy. As soon as I opened the charging case and removed the earbuds, they went into pairing mode. All I had to do was go into my phone’s Bluetooth pairing section and select the KZ VSX from the device list, and they connected in seconds.
The VSX also had a nice and stable connection up to about 20 feet from my phone, which is better than the 15 feet KZ advertised. Like most TWS earphones made today, there is an audible announcement in the earphone when a connection is made.
Just about all of the necessary features are here, but some notable ones are missing. For one, having a companion app to set EQ or check battery life would’ve been nice. Additionally, I would’ve liked to see a “transparency mode” to bring in outside sounds without removing the buds from my ears.
Finally, I would’ve liked the ability to stop the music just by taking the buds out of my ears, something other earphones at this price offer.
Listening To The KZ VXS True Wireless Earphones
I connected the KZ VXS to my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra for my listening tests using the aptX codec. I then played a wide variety of music from the TIDAL app.
As I said before, sound quality is the most important thing regarding a set of non-ANC earphones, and the KZ VXS is no slouch in this department. For around $50, you shouldn’t expect reference quality sound but something that provides musical enjoyment on the go, and the VXS does that. Like many passive KZ earphones, they depend on a V-shaped (or better yet, a “U-Shaped” sound signature to provide presence and excitement when listening to music.
A “U-Shaped” sound signifies a slight emphasis on the upper and lower ends of the sound spectrum, and that’s what I heard in the lower treble/upper mids and the bass on the VXS. There was definitely some added twang on the strings and some extra oomph on the low end. At the same time, the mids were not too recessed or dark, which gave these earphones a wide-open and somewhat forward sound.
As far as detail is concerned, I was impressed by the top-end detail on these earphones. With the VXS, I could hear good separation and differentiation of instrumental timbre, along with nice bass articulation. I also liked the dynamics, as these earphones played fast and precise when experiencing things like drum solos.
I have to say, as I was listening to “Footprints” from Chick Corea’s “The Montreux Years” album, it was hard to tell I was listening to a pair of $50 wireless earphones. The sound was nice and clean, and the soundstage was wide and focused. I found myself just bouncing to the music and really enjoying the tune.
If I had any misgivings about the sound, it would be a little bit of bass bleed into the mids on bass-heavy tracks and maybe just a little hardness in the upper midrange. That may be something to think about if you’re sensitive to sort of thing.
KZ VXS Review: The Verdict
In the final analysis, I found the KZ VXS to be a decent-sounding pair of true wireless earphones. They may not have all the bells and whistles of the competition, but they give you the most where it counts, and that’s sound quality. They give you depth and separation I haven’t heard in a wireless earbud at this price, which makes them worth checking out. The only thing I would warn about is a little bit of harshness in the upper midrange, so that’s something to think about if you’re sensitive to boost in that area.
Buy Them: If you want an affordable pair of TWS earphones with good detail and soundstage
Think about it: If you’re sensitive to boosted top end or need Active Noise Cancelling
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I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My hunger for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.