With many thanks to Aoshida, Subjective Reviews brings you an inexpensive way to get your iems wireless, the KZ AptX HD Dongle, available by clicking here , I’m gonna keep it short and sweet. I’m going to tell you why you might want to go wireless, what this dongle is all about, the good and the bad of this device and how it compares to a wired version.
To be free, or not to be?
That is the question. Bluetooth enables you to clear the wires away from your source. Provided your source (smartphone, DAP, Dac/Amp, Streamer, TV etc) has a bluetooth facility, you can uae bluetooth headphones or earphones. What this dongle does is to allow you to disconnect your drivers from their detachable cables. You switch on, pair and wear these around your neck. You can’t have that flexibility with truly wireless earbuds. And truly wireless will not support the level of codecs that a dongle can. With a decent quality detachable earphone, you can go 3.5 mm cable for everyday use, 2.5 mm balanced cable for your posh DAP and bluetooth dongle for out and about. Here, I’m thinking the gym on the run or even out for a stroll. Anywhere you need to have your hands free will benefit from hiding that phone away and keeping long cables from getting in the way of the fun.
The Bluetooth HD dongle in use
What we have in the KZ is a few tweaks from previous designs. A cosmetic improvement, the lines are smoother and sleeker and it looks less cheap and nasty. The dongle has a level of water resistance, rated at ipx5, so it’ll survive a downpour and probably a shower as well, but it won’t be ocean proof. The dongle merrily paired up with my Android Xiaomi 3 5G as Aptx HD. AptX HD goes way beyond the 44.1 CD quality lossless standard and will support your files in 352 mode, hence it can be called HD. The dongle supports one touch hands free phone answering, and does a redial of your last call by a quick 2 presses of the play/answer button. It has a three button control that you can dangle a fair way down your shoulder, thanks to the length of the cable. The other two buttons are volume up and volume down. There is bluetooth 5.0 built in here, which is a standard more to do with efficiency than audio quality, but it does help maintain a more consistent audio quality. 5.0 is more efficent; it has greater range and uses less battery at the same time. It will hang on to a signal with more stability than previous formats. The earhooks have memory wire so can help keep your earphones in your ears when you’re bouncing around.
Successes and snags
These things are long. Very long. They do fall a long way down the back or front, and nothing is supplied to adjust to one’s individual neck. In use, this was good for volume and call answering bu they did hang a long way down the back and front of me. The sound qualit is a great improvement on the old KZ model; in use I’d expect all but the most discerning of golden ear afficianados to accept that this was good enough to enjoy your music on the move; a pleasant distraction to the thump and grunt of a street run, for instance. The three button function sacrifices fast forward and rewind/ next or last track for volume up and down. I guess you can’t have everything; this might be a deal breaker for you. In pracice, I prefer volume up and down. I’ve got pause, ,at least, with the KZ HD. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, these are retailing for £35. That’s the price of a fairly nondescript 3.5 mm cable. With the Bluetooth HD dongle, yet get freedom thrown in as well. The noise that comes from connectng and going out of range, instead of being a soft ping, is a screeching piece of electronic feedback. I have been growing accustomed to a lovely chinese lady saying “your bluetooth dewice isahh coonected.” And now this. Is it payback for something? This, and all the other shortcomings I am prepared to put up with, for the sake of freedom.
How much difference is there between wired and wireless sound quality?
Is the burning question for htose who seek the truth, however far down the rabbit hole it takes them. I am less worried about such things. If I am out and about I simply am not listening to music with the concentration I would be if I was sat at home in a darkened room. Compromises can be accepted under such circumstances, surely? Anyway, because it’s you I’m going to indulge you. I’ve done a side by side test. I’ve hooked the CCA C16 up to the standard cable and listened to a Hidizs AP80 Pro. Then I’ve used the AP80’s bluetooth out to the KZdongle. Here is the result, if you must. As expected, the C16 is leaps ahead on wired mode compared with the HD dongle. The dongle is lacking finesse. The sound stage, tonality and detail on wired is wider, softer and deeper. We are not talking custom cable here, either. We are talking cheap and cheerful stock cable. Satisfied? Bluetooth v wired in this test is a resounding win for wired. Don’t give up those wired earphones just yet. These HDs are an addition and not a replacement. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
You need to get out more. We have been stuck indoors for too long now. This dongle is part of a group of audio gizmos that can make you go hands free. Embrace it for that. If buying one of these dongles makes even one person more encouraged to get some exercise, I’ve done my job. Ok, we are not talking the last word in Chi-Fi here, but it hits the spot when you need an extra lift with your workout. That’s enough for me. Is it enough for you?