Hybrid IEMs usually give a delicious bass, no matter the price range. The KZ ZS10 is not a bad surprise in this regard, the dynamic driver does its job pretty well. Lows are tight, hits are deep and the layering is pretty good for the money. It doesn’t get bloated either, although you shouldn’t expect a 1000$ performance either. There’s a slight absence of mid bass which did not surprise me, as I’ve heard this character with lots of Chi-Fi products using dynamic drivers. They don’t produce a warm mid bass with a good resolution and body unlike the BA’s. They instead give you a good sub bass and great deepness and slam. I think it’s actually for preventing a muddy sound at this technical level.
Still, I really liked the bass of the ZS10, since it’s quite engaging and you sometimes feel the need for tapping your feet. The control of the bass is also very successful and I can’t ask more than that. The bass keeps its own area, and does not get out of there either. So the mids stay clean and crisp thanks to that good control. Lows also have good speed and decay and they don’t splash around easily. Very nice job indeed.
Mids have a very good resolution and definition. The transparency is more than acceptable for this price level, which is one of the strong suits of this IEM. Timbre is not the most realistic, which is expected, as well as the tonality. Is it bad? No way, but it would’ve been perfect with just a little thicker and more realistic timbre. The lack of midbass stands out here as a negative point, but I think it’s not just that. The same timbre problem also exists with the Hibiki, and I think the important thing here is shaping your expectations correctly.
Maybe the tone is a little off, but the resolution and transparency is not. For 60$ this is a fantastic mid resolution and this could be the most transparent sub – 100$ IEM I’ve tried regarding mids. They also have a very good energy and they’re positioned beautifully at the center of the stage. They sound quite close though, which creates an intimate nature and perceived stage is quite close. It feels like you’re on the front row very close to the instruments and vocals.
The KZ ZS10 has a soft and slightly laid back treble response. The extension is quite good but not “very very” good of course and it’s totally fine. You probably need to pay 10 times more to have a great extension on treble, and still it’s not guaranteed to have this relaxing, smooth treble. So I think the ZS10 has a very nice treble response. It’s totally in control, sounds natural & unaggressive, and separates itself away from mids beautifully. I also did not hear any peaks in lower treble and cymbals overall sound quite consistent and cohesive with the IEMs overall warm-ish yet engaging sound.
Treble is still quite energetic but it’s not sharp or bright. That’s some good tuning mastery for this budget levels. Since I don’t like sharp treble, I had some enjoyable times with the ZS10. Positioning of cymbals sound very realistic and that contributes to the imaging.
Hybrids aim to give a delicious and enjoyable sound first and foremost. So the technical prowess is not the first priority here, but the ZS10 has good qualities for the price. Firstly it has a very nice stage in terms of width and provides a very realistic atmosphere. Therefore the stereo image is very nice and separation is also quite good, helping the IEM to sound very satisfying for 60$. Dynamism is also a good point with the ZS10, which is not easy to find below 100$.
The depth of the sound stage is not impressive though. The Hibiki had the same weakness, having a wide stage but very close in terms of distance, like sitting on the very front row. Of course that can play well for the people who like the intimacy, but I myself enjoy a 3D stage more. The background is successfully black for a hybrid and it’s not hard to pick the elements, but not extremely easy like some high end monitors. The other weakness of the ZS10 is the timbre and tonality on mids. It’s still very enjoyable but the tone is not very correct, which also happened with the Hibiki. Like I said on the entrance of the sound part; it’s not easy to criticize this kind of a product, since it performs great for the price. Especially in this market of huge prices.
VS. SHOZY HIBIKI
I decided to include this comparison since they’re going for same or almost the same prices. It would be a nice reference point for many. First of all the Hibiki feels nice in the hand. It looks sturdier with its materials and it also looks more premium. I remarked in its review that, when I showed it to my friends in a meeting, they thought that it costs more than 200$ as a first impression. They have a very similar, rounded shape and they both fit very good. Yet the Hibiki has a slightly better fit with its longer nozzles which provides a deeper insertion and to me it has better nozzle angles too.
Sound wise the Hibiki only has a single dynamic driver, whilst the ZS10 has 1 DD + 4BAs. To my surprise they sound pretty close, despite having very different setups inside them. The ZS10 has a more impactful bass with a deeper response and more body. The Hibiki stays a little more conservative in that regard, giving a more flatter response but it still has a nice bass with that dynamic driver. Mids are crisper and more open on the Hibiki, while both having some timbre issues and tonality problems. The mids have more detail on the Hibiki, since it sounds more transparent. Overall the KZ ZS10 sounds a little warmer and has more body. Hibiki has thinner mids in comparison, but with better resolution.
Treble is better to me on the Hibiki, sounding a little more articulated. The ZS10 has thicker trebles in comparison, from the back of the stage with a relaxed approach. It sounds darker and the Hibiki sounds sharper and a little more bright in comparison. The Hibiki has the upper hand in terms of treble accentuation. They both share a weakness in terms of mid bass, but the ZS10 is just a tad better in there. The sound stage part is around the same, whilst the Hibiki gives a wider one. They both have a close type of staging performance in terms of depth though. Overall separation is very similar while the ZS10 sounds more engaging and intimate. The Hibiki stays more linear and reference – like, with its good technical performance for the price.
The KZ SZ10 is -once again from KZ- a great budget IEM with its engaging and intimate sound with a very good body and dynamics. It’s slightly warm, yet with good resolution and quite enjoyable tuning. It’s an all rounder at this price level as well, with its forgiving nature (especially on treble) thanks to its controlled approach. A very nice budget hybrid which can continue its popularity that it created recently.
It just misses out Universal IEM Recommendations list, since I still find the Hibiki a tad better. Yet the ZS10 is a very good gear for the money regardless. Chi – Fi offers wonderful value to the market, and we hope we can catch up this speed of product cycles from there. Thank you for reading and don’t forget to check in to the HFN main page every once in a while. Again, if you’re interested in buying the ZS10, you can do so from Linsoul Tech on Amazon and on Aliexpress.