For the nit-pickers and nerdy ones here, I’m giving the specs and technical sheets . For all the other, you can just go to the next page to see how the amp performs.
– Type : IEM – Hybrid
– Crossover : 2 way
– Drivers : 10mm dynamic drive x2 / 30095 Ultra treble Balanced Armature x2 / 6.4 Mids Balanced Armature x2
– Socket : 2 pins (detachable cables)
– Frequency response Range : 20Hz – 20kHz
– Sensitivity : 106dB
– Impedance : 16ohms
– Price : 25$ https://tainghe.com.vn/tai-nghe-kz
Hybrid Dynamic and Balanced Armature
Usually, an IEM uses either dynamic drivers or balanced armatures. The first are known for deep, impactful bass whereas the second are famed for their speed and resolution. High-end IEMs get multiple armatures to cover the full audible spectrum, each driver covering a precise range of frequencies.
But, sometimes you can get an hybrid, joining both worlds in a symphony of mayhem. This taboo can lead to great sounding IEMs, although most of the time you obtain a painful cacophonia. Building a crossover for a hybrid isn’t for the fainthearted and more than a few didn’t make it.
A good hybrid, should have the best of both world : lush lows, wide sound stage, cutting edged highs and smooth mids. With a combination of two balanced armatures and two dynamic drivers, I’m not very optimistic for the KZ ZS5 as double dynamics rarely work correctly….
Let’s get straight to the point, for twenty-five dollars, I don’t think you can get anything better than the KZ ZS5. Seriously, I know they look like a Polaris rip-off but sonically I prefer the KZ…
The sound signature isn’t flat by any means, bass is deep and sometimes a bit too present, but they are never overwhelming. You could never get this type of bass on a BA IEM, this toe-tapping bass that could drive you for miles and miles on a bike. If you’re a bass-head and miss a good, hifi-grade, IEM in your collection, you should seriously take a listen to the ZS5.
My biggest surprise came from the overall signature, I have a few hybrids in my collections and none of them achieved what KZ did here : a good crossover.
On all my other ears, you can clearly hear the moment where the dynamic driver crosses with the balanced one. Like a bridge with a toll, everything seems uneven as if every car came to an halt. This leads to thin mids and absent voices, the exact opposite of what we want.
On the KZ ZS5, voices are clearly distinct but blend accurately with the other frequencies. A good track to test it ? Hounds Tooth by Dope Lemon, the bass is buzzing during the whole tune and on bad hybrids, the voice is completely veiled by the hum. It’s never the case here.
Let’s begin with the highs. They aren’t too bright or aggressive, even with a distinctive bump around 8kHz which can lead to pronounced hi-hats. There is no sibillance whatsoever, a good thing for me as it’s one of my main deal-breakers. My test track for this is Customer is King from Solomun, between 6:00 and 6:15 you only have highs and hats, a painful experience with a bad IEM. Not here fortunately.
The mids are good, nothing much to see here. The soundstage is wide, not amazingly large but, again, for TWENTY FIVE dollars I can’t complain, in any way. Try it on Hotel California from The Eagles (remastered) and at the beginning of the track you still get dizzy from the left/right pan. Special prize for the guitars, they sound amazing and I clearly prefer dynamic drivers for this instrument especially. What you loose in precision you gain in realism, try it !
Finally, the lows. It’s a bit unfair to compare the KZ ZS5 to classic IEMs, dynamic drivers always win the bass battle ! A DD can move a lot more air and the ZS5 is no exception, it’s a real pleasure to hear a bass slamming this hard on an IEM. I was curious to hear how it would sound, and this is, for me, the best trait of the IEM. Even my CIEM don’t compare, which is a shame…
Sensitivity / Hiss / Association
With 16ohms of impedance and 108dB of sensitivity, the KZ ZS5 can be driven by nearly anything. Fortunately, they are not prone to hiss and I used them with various sources without problems. The crossover is a wonder, how could they manage to make it sound so good and not hissy at the same time, on a hybrid !
If I mainly used it with the iBasso DX150 and my iPhone 6S+, the best association came with the SMSL AD18. The bass sounded tighter and the highs a bit more prominent. V-Shaped you say ? Maybe, but I really liked it. Another good pairing, the KZ ZS5 and the Cayin N5ii. The accuracy of the player produce delightful mids, voices came as a surprise, a good surprise.
Unless you haven’t read the review, you should know what I’ll say here : get a pair of KZ ZS5. It’s a cheap, great-sounding, hybrid IEM. Commonly, cheap + hybrid + chi-fi doesn’t equal success but KZ proves me wrong withe the ZS5. It has been my daily driver for a few weeks now and they never fail.
The build is sturdy, which is great for my daily travelling. The bass is astounding and the mids can surprise you more than once, thanks to a carefully designed crossover (the real hero here). It’s comfortable, so light you’ll forget them (I did) and you can fit all the cables you want. The only real drawback being the highs, not as refined as you’d expect… for a classic 4 drivers IEM.
Sure, you can get better IEM with wider soundstage or more detailed mids. Sure you can get fancier ears with Campfire and their Ceratoke finish. But, for T-W-E-N-T-Y F-I-V-E dollars ? I don’t think so, and that’s why you need a KZ ZS5, or two, in case you lose the first. This is a Recommended Buy for sure!! Thanks again to tainghe.com.vn for sending us these!!