Disclaimer: I received the KZ ZS10 free of charge for this review from a very nice shop called Linsoul Tech. KZ is not affiliated with Headfonia. The price for the ZS10 goes between 40 – 60 $ in the market and you can buy the KZ ZS10 from Linsoul Tech on Amazon and also on Aliexpress.
What’s up folks? I’m continuing my reviews of in ears as usual, and today we have a budget monster in our hands here at Headfonia. The KZ ZS10 Hybrid IEM is the new hotshot and it wouldn’t have been nice if we didn’t review this one. People seem to like (and actually demand) reviews of Chi-Fi products, and we’re trying our best to cover them as much as we can, although there are a sheer number of products from there. It’s impossible to cover them all.
KZ – Knowledge Zenith
The only other KZ unit we reviewed was the KZ ATR, which still keeps its place in our Universal IEM Recommendations since March 2017. Lieven called it the “Budget Miracle” and that headline speaks for itself. KZ has a large number of IEMs in their portfolio and it’s one of the best options for the people who like to play around with several budget IEMs. If you like collecting Chi-Fi products, this is one of the brands for enlarging your collection.
If you type KZ or Knowledge Zenith to Google, you will find loads of product links to order their products. Yet, there’s not much information about the actual company. I didn’t have much “knowledge” about KZ before, and despite writing this review, I’m still pretty much in the dark. There’s a dedicated website of KZ here, but it’s not much and it doesn’t contain an awful lot of information. It’s also not easy to find that website with a basic search and the English language is not ideal as well. I would like to get more info about KZ since they’re already very popular, but let’s go on with the review itself from now.
KZ ZS10 arrived in a modest, compact package which is more than acceptable for this kind of a budget gear. When you slide off the cardboard you see the IEMs side by side, and the cable is below that part with some provided tips . There’s nothing more or less when you think about other products that costs around the same. Of course there’s no carrying case or any other accessory, and it’s understandable as I said.
BUILD & DESIGN
The KZ ZS10’s shell is made of plastic, which is a combination of two separate parts. The overall shell looks a little fragile to me, especially the connection points of the face plate and the inner shell, and additionally, the 2 pin sockets. Expecting a tank like build at this price bracket is surely not fair to the product, but I honestly expected just a little more. That’s my nature focusing on the negatives most of the time though. The nozzles look sturdy despite the fragile look of the shells, and there are filters in them, probably made from aluminum. Filters are nice for protecting the inner electronics, but they also need to be cleaned every once in a while.
The thing I liked though is the recessed 2 pin sockets. The connectors sit very tight despite being easy to insert. The cable itself has a good plug and memory wires & other parts have good quality. There’s also a mic attached to the cable, but I don’t know how it performs since I’ve never used it. I didn’t like to color of the cable, but that’s subjective and of course you can attach a different cable anytime.
Design wise it’s of course very subjective as usual. The earphones have a fat & rounded body, which allows a comfortable fit. Yet to me the color of the plastic and those imitated circuit boards on the face plates don’t generate the most exciting look. In comparison, the Shozy Hibiki looks more premium with the same price tag. I’m sure they both have around the same build quality, but Shozy managed to give a more smooth and classy look to the Hibiki (Mk2 will also be here).
Fit is OK, I haven’t faced any discomfort with it and the provided silicone tips work very well and they do their job. They have a very good quality for the price you pay. Isolation is fairly enough for most applications, but don’t forget that this is a hybrid IEM. There’s a dynamic driver inside, and what dynamic drivers need is a small port that can provide some room for air. As a result, isolation takes a small hit when compared to full BA setups. This is not a negative point of the product though, when you go with a hybrid setup, you know this small disadvantage. Overall the fit is comfortable and ideal.
Chi – Fi sound often has a weakness here and there. To be honest, every IEM can have one or more weaknesses, or at least a very small one. Yet when it comes to Chi – Fi it’s not easy to evaluate the sound. When you criticize some point of the spectrum the price of the product comes into mind and then you can easily forgive it somehow. Is it fair to forgive a negative point? Not sure, as a reviewer I always have to reflect it if it’s there, but then again, if it costs below 100$, how can you criticize?
This is the tough part for reviewers. You listen to a lot of stuff including the ones that cost over 1000$, and when you receive something like this one after that, it’s very hard to adjust your ears and your brain to this level. We can’t come out and say “I only review high end gear from now on” like some other people do, as we have a responsibility for the people who prefer spending less money to audio. So we have to be fair to a product like this, and evaluate its sound in its own segment. There should always be a reference point in your mind, among different price ranges.
Anyway, let’s forget about the “reviewer problems” and focus on the KZ ZS10. It sounds full and engaging with a good subbass quantity, accented and close sounding mids, nicely articulated treble with a smooth nature. It’s an energetic IEM with a nice staging performance and slightly laid back trebles and very nice mids. Now the details: