SHiRaiL

New Head-Fier
Pros: One of the best KZ so far
Well tuned V shaped signature
Well controlled bass
Little to no sibilance
Sturdier stock cable
Cons: Stock tips didn't fit well
Lacks sparkle in treble region
Small nozzle size
Congestion at some busy tracks
Imaging
KZ ZEX Review - 𝐆𝐮𝐢𝐥𝐭𝐲 𝐏𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞

Disclaimer: This unit was provided to me by kzearphone.ph in exchange for my honest opinions for this IEM. Your mileage may vary.

𝐒𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬

Pin Type: 0.75mm 2-Pin

Driver Configuration: 1 Dynamic Driver + 1 Magneto-static Driver

Frequency: 20Hz ~ 40kHz

Impedance: 25Ω

Sensitivity: 103dB/mW

Sources Used: Zishan U1 (ES9038Q2M), Sony NW-A55 (Walkman One, Neutral Tuning)

𝐈𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧

To be honest it's has been a long time since I had a KZ IEM, the last KZ IEM that I had is the KZ EDX which I already sold. I also placed an order for the Pro version of it, but the parcel was lost by the courier. We all have such unlucky times. I was given opportunity when KZ has contacted me and asked if I want to review one of their latest releases which is the KZ ZEX. I would like to thank kzearphone.ph for the opportunity to review the KZ ZEX. Now onto the review!

𝐏𝐚𝐜𝐤𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐠 & 𝐁𝐮𝐢𝐥𝐝 𝐐𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲

I think by now we are all familiar with the packaging KZ has in their budget lineup. It's the usual KZ unboxing experience. Simple does it, right?

Now onto the ear tips. I find it weird that the ear tips that was on the earpiece is the usual KZ Starline ear tips. But inside the packaging is a different set of eartips, different from the usual KZ Starline ear tips. And I find the fit of the new eartips to be horrendous. I find it hard to fit it in my ears as they don't provide a secure seal and proper insertion. So I tip-rolled and settled with Final Audio Type E Eartips for the entirety of this review.

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On the bright side, we can see that there is improvement on the stock cable of the KZ ZEX. Instead of the old 4-core twisted braid cable, they now opted to a simpler looking SPC cable. Some may prefer the old cable, but to me I prefer the new cable compared to the old one. It feels really sturdy and has a simple look. Now the question is will this cable oxidize after some time, seeing that this is a SPC-like cable? That's a question only time can answer.

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The build of the earpieces of the KZ ZEX is very good. It has a metal front plate with like powder finish, so it's not a fingerprint and dirt magnet. As for the body of the IEM is a translucent black plastic, it allows you to have a peek in the insides of the KZ ZEX. The nozzle of the KZ ZEX has a thin nozzle, so you have to keep this in mind when tip-rolling. Using a ear tip that has a wide bore may result with ear tips getting stuck inside your ears when you remove the earpiece out of your ear. Only use ear tips that can securely fit in the nozzle of the KZ ZEX.

IMG_20211030_212058_1.jpg


𝐒𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝 𝐐𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲

Sound Signature: V-shaped sound signature. Not overly aggressive recession in mids. Very easy to drive even with phone alone.

Bass: I find the bass of the KZ ZEX to be tight and punchy. With adequate sub-bass enough to be felt, but lacking the sub-bass rumble. While the mid-bass has definitely more presence as it is forward and has more heft to it, its not over-dominant and well controlled throughout the spectrum. Details is well retained as bass instruments can be easily defined. Overall very good controlled bass.

Mids: The recession of the mids in the KZ ZEX is not as aggressive as most V-shaped IEMs in the market. Meaning the mids manages to remain detailed with adequate body for it to not become to be thin sounding in the ears. Vocals and instruments sounds natural and clean, average separation with no signs of congestion. There is more emphasis that is being put to in the upper mids, making the mids vivid and lively.

Treble: Corresponding with the signature, the treble is elevated. It is natural and smooth sounding, though lacking in sparkle in the upper treble. Nevertheless still very enjoyable with decent amount of details.

Soundstage and Imaging: Average soundstage and intimate sounding. It's like when you're in a stage and the performers are in front of you, the stage is more focused right in front of you making it much more engaging to the ears. Whilst separation is well done with instruments can be clearly identified, imaging on the other hand falls behind it, sometimes failing to discern where and instruments are coming from specially in some busy tracks.

𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐥𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧

Overall, KZ did a really good job with their first attempt to have an IEM with a magnetostat driver. It is indeed KZ's typical preferred signature which is V-shaped, but I can definitely hear that the tuning on this one is much more refined compared to their releases before. Out of many KZ IEMs that I've tried before, I only liked the KZ ED16 and the KZ EDX. Now the KZ ZEX will join the ranks of KZ IEMs that I personally like. I hope that KZ's will follow this trend and release more refined products from now on. Thank you for reading! If you have any questions, comments, opinions that you want to share, put it in the comment section below.

Links (Non-affiliated):

https://shopee.ph/kzearphone.ph

#KZZEX #kzhifi #kzofficial #KZAudio #ElectrostaticEarphone #Earphone

bill0717

New Head-Fier
KZ ZEX Impressions
Pros: Good starter pair
Above-average performance
Non-offensive tuning
Good price for performance
The stock cable is enough
Cons: Pretty small nozzle diameter, not all silicone tips/foam fit the nozzle
No more cons considering the price.
KZ ZEX
U-shaped, lively, fun sounding. The iems are easy to drive. Most of all bang for buck.
A quick disclaimer;
The contents of this review are from the limit of my hearing capacity, tools and devices used, and insights about the iem. Please take my opinions as a grain of salt as your mileage may vary.

Bass;
mid bass has good clarity and enough body to be emphasized when listening
the sub-bass is present when needed and has a good rumble
the bass has presence but the thump is well controlled and rounded.(3 am by ALEX, Rún by Skàld, Kimi to lu Hana by AKG)
4/5
Soundstage, Clarity, and Separation
ZEX has a good separation Of instruments on tracks that are not very busy(Wagakki Band; Aria of Life,
there is also this distinct separation on the presentation on some tracks where the guitar will be isolated on a certain part of the imaginary sound room(mostly right bud) Which gives the ZEX an engaging implementation.
The soundstage is good, airy, and has a wide horizontal rendition. The clarity is above average. The minor sounds in tracks that have background sounds are very audible.(Small hours by John Martin)
4/5
Mids:
Voices sound natural, with audible separation in the lead and second vocals. clarity is above average, you can hear every detail in the vocals like breathing timing and vibratos(Junk Fujiyama's cover of Homura) . But rendition of voices are about average, lacking a bit on the emotion rendition missing some rings that create the signature of the test songs used(Anri's Last summer whisper, Cat's eye, Tanaka Yuri's cover of Amaotoha Chopin no shirabe, and Tokai, Taeko Ohnuki's Tokai and Kusuri wo takusan, Tatsuro Yamashita's Sparkle, Your eyes). But these are compensated by the beautiful presentation of instruments. Slightly recessed but clear, due to the U-shaped tuning.
3.5/5
Treble;
The highs are present, there is little to none in the sibilance section of the highs. Although, the highs tend to be a bit fast in decay this is compensated with how the highs are presented by the iems. (You've got to have freedom by Pharaoh sanders) The sparkles due to the fast decay tend to be a little bit short but acceptable.
4/5
Pricing and Quality;
ZEX is one of the new products by KZ. For KZ's range of products, it sits in the middle entry-level iems. With that said, this is a huge improvement from their previous products. The finish of the ZEX screams premium without the high price tag. Again, I believe these iems are targeted to the consumers that want to take a peek i to the Hi-Fi without breaking the bank. KZ sure has outdone themselves in this product. With the low price at this performance, this is indeed a bang for buck iem. For entry-level, to mid-level (who wishes to explore and enjoy) crowd this iem is a gem.
5/5
Overall score: 4/5
If you are interested you can buy the iem from their stores.

Workarounds:

Tip Rolling

Orthofon Tips - Apparent clarity was opened up, with a slight boost in the treble region, well-controlled bass.

Final E Wide bore - Mids became slightly forward with a slight boost in apparent clarity of the mids. The sub-bass became a bit stronger for my tastes.

Final E Tips - Mids became slightly forward with a slight boost in apparent clarity. Controlled bass.

For Philippines, Shopee Philippines store
https://shopee.ph/kzearphone.ph?smtt=0.0.9

For International Buyers, Amazon store
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09HH9271K
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jagujetas72

Head-Fier
Knowledge Zenith ZEX: Laughing from above
Pros: Smooth Treble
Good Build Quality and Cable
Good Looks
Inoffensive Tuning
Cons: Too Small Nozzle
Tip Selection Could Be Better
Bass Could Be Better
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At a Glance:


Overall Rating: A+ (S+ to C-)


Category: D (0 -20 USD), MSRP: 20 USD, Acquired at: 0 USD (Review Unit)



Disclaimer:



A KZ ZEX and KZ DQ6 (review to follow) were sent to me by the KZ Official Team in exchange for a fair and honest review. This review is not sponsored, and no money was involved whatsoever. I must also stress that I myself made a personal purchase of the ZEX, for a personal unit with no strings attached. No external influences aside from my own will change the content of this review, and as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.


Overview:


The ZEX is the latest release of the Chi-Fi giant Knowledge Zenith in the 20$ price range. It features the same driver configuration as it’s brother from another mother the CCA NRA, which is a single 10mm dual-magnetic dynamic driver, and a single 6.8mm “low voltage electrostatic” driver, which is more likely a magnetostatic driver.


  • img_20211027_165235.jpg

  • img_20211027_165951-1.jpg


Inclusions: A+


This IEM comes in the by now incredibly familiar white box that many budget Chi-Fi IEMs from different brands also come in. It’s a standard slide out box, the outside features a picture of the product with some extra info on the sides and back. Sliding it out reveals the IEMs nested in a cut foam platform which when removed reveals the new KZ 2-core cable that I first saw on the EDX Pro and 3 of KZ’s new ultra-thin and soft tips which seem like short nozzles R-Starlines. A single M sized starline tip also comes on the IEM nozzle preinstalled.

img_20211027_165528.jpg

The included cable is an excellent new addition to KZ’s budget products. It’s very soft and extremely resistant to tangles and kinks. The connectors are made of a transparent plastic whilst the 3.5mm jack and the splitter are made out of a hardened rubber material. The only gripe I have it that it has a fair amount of shape memory, however this is thankfully remedied by the softness of the cable, and for a budget IEM, this is one of the best I’ve seen rivaled only by the Moondrop SSX and FAAEAL Hibiscus stock cables.




Overall decent stock package. Tips could’ve been better but great cable.




img_20211027_164754.jpg

Build: A


This IEM is built out of both a resin inner housing and a rather thick metal faceplate embossed with a wave pattern and the KZ logo, which gives the driver housings a reassuring feeling in the hands without being overly heavy or cumbersome. The resin used seems to be par for the course in terms of quality and you can’t notice the usual overly light feeling that is normally present with other cheap IEMs. Venting is provided by a single cutout in the metal faceplate at the bottom, which is a rather good idea since it prevents the issue of the more conventional concha-based faceplates being covered up in use and causing driver flex. The only real gripes with the build here are the rather small nozzle, which makes it difficult to tip roll, and a QDC connector, which has a track record of breaking though I haven’t observed that issue in newer ones. Build is great overall, just a pair of gripes that have workarounds.


Sound Review Conditions:


  • Stock KZ 2-core QDC cable
  • Stock KZ thin tips
  • JCALLY JM20, CX-PRO dongles, Topping L30, KGUSS GH-3 Desktop
  • Deezer HiFi, Foobar 2000, Signalyst HQ Player
img_20211027_165538.jpg

Sound:


Bass: A



Overall, this IEM has a fair amount of bass. The bass region can be summarized as mostly forward across the entire frequency range with good extension. Midbass is very marginally prominent but isn’t overpoweringly forward. Subbass is also present and adds a good amount of weight and body to the bass especially on kickdrum and synths. Bass attack and transient performance is very well done, with excellent snap and a crispness to notes. However, the same cannot be said for the decay which tends to be less controlled and reined in, sometimes leading to a fuzzy and wooly texture when combined with the mediocre driver speed preventing this from handling busier tracks all that well. In terms of texture this IEM is a mixed bag, with good extension and balanced quantity meaning that reproduction was good but overall texture was hampered by the lack of driver control. In general, bass performance is very good in terms of quantity though a little less so in the quality department. Regardless a solid tuning in this region for the price.


Mids: A+


Overall midrange presentation can be described as relatively balanced with a slight bias towards the upper midrange. The lower midrange is decently warm and thick with decent timbre to vocals and strings, however for the extremely thick and rich voices of some singers, this IEM can’t quite match the amount of warmth and richness to their voice leading to it being a little hollow and thin in comparison. Still, for more middle-ranging voices and strings not at the low extreme this IEM does a good job of presenting those. On the other had the upper midrange registers of this IEM are remarkably well done with excellent control over their transients making them bright enough to have “bite” and avoid sounding laid back but enough restraint to avoid any sort of sibilance and harshness. However, it doesn’t smooth over sibilance either, presenting it as the track was recorded. Overall, for tonality the upper midrange pulls ahead of the lower mids but it’s still very good showing overall.


Treble: A+


(Preamble)


This IEMs treble is perhaps the headline feature thanks the unique magnetostatic driver that’s inside this IEM. Now, I can’t say that it does anything radically different from a typical driver but since it’s very coherent that doesn’t matter. However, the special driver doesn’t mean that this IEM gets good treble extension like a more expensive IEM with a Piezoelectric or Super-tweeter multi-BA IEM.


Overall treble tonality leans towards a focus on the lower treble with the upper treble as mentioned, rolling off. The treble here is reminiscent of the HZ Heart Mirror, though not as bright. It’s decently forward in the mix and does bring a decent amount of brightness. Listening to it at higher volumes, it seems to me they could’ve even pushed the tuning a little brighter but maybe didn’t want to make the old KZ house tuning of piercing banshee. Snap and attack is very good but there’s a smoothness to the edge of the treble that prevents it from being overtly bright. Energy is very well balanced and this treble is very good, though I think it falls slightly shy of the benchmark set by the Heart Mirror. Nonetheless, well-tuned treble overall.

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Technicalities: A


This IEM has a pretty well-rounded set of technicalities, though it doesn’t quite stand head and shoulders above it’s peers in this respect. Detail retrieval is probably the standout feature, as it’s both good in false (given the great treble tuning) and true detail (decently resolving). Timbre is also decently good with a nice balance between the metallic treble and upper registers and the more honeyed organic lower registers. Soundstage is just average on this IEM, it’s got decent depth and is relatively rounded in shape, not too much of the misshapen oblong that tends to be the usual stage shape. Imaging is alright, a little diffused and not pinpoint but layering isn’t too bad regardless. Separation suffers in the lower region thanks to the lack of decay quality but does very well in the treble region. Overall, I reiterate, it’s a mixed bag though still quite good for the price regardless.


Conclusion:


KZ seems to be clearly on a redemption arc. After a series of rushed banshees this IEM is an excellent breath of fresh air. It features new and interesting tech, mature tuning, and as a package? It’s very competitive, even with the current state of the market. KZ’s reputation as a brand and this IEMs good looks probably make it a great thing for the mainstream as well. Overall, there isn’t much to fault here, especially for the price, there are other, far more expensive IEMs that don’t quite sound as good, and this competes with a select few even in it’s own price bracket. Highly Recommended.

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Thank you very much to KZ for sending these out. When possible, do buy direct from them. It should save you from a headache if QC issues do arise.


Link (NON-AFFILIATE)


Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/mpc/A3KFVP2FNCFW8X
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E
Ezekiel0904
This one's more informative and specific, thanks for the review sir.
S
Satankawaii69
Informative
R
Ramil0224
Atlast haha great review sir

OspreyAndy

500+ Head-Fier
KZ ZEX - The Modest Performer
Pros: -
- Smooth highs
- Amazing speed
- Great tonal balance
- Well controlled dynamics
- Very well behaved Bass responses
- Stock SPC cable already very competent
- Solid build
- Very scalable to source matching
Cons: -
- NOT a real Electrostatics yet marketed as Electrostatics
- Lacks precise imaging with most tips
- Narrow soundstage due to long nozzle design

KZ ZEX - The Modest Performer


For a start, this is yet another "Magnastatic" masquerading falsely as an Electrostatic unit. Clearly evident there's no Electrostatic tech being used here with the absence of proper 200-590v energizer a legitimate Electrostatic needed to produce sound. ChiFi producers should really do proper marketing not to confuse the consumers base with less than accurate information. Just use Magnastatic and be done with it.

However I will concede that at the very least KZ implementation of Magnastat is something of a marvel. Intended to cater for higher frequencies while the companion Dynamic Driver does the lower registers.

Now, before I proceed any further, the reason this KZ ZEX gets a 5/5 ranking from me is simple. With the asking price of just $20, this thing delivers the quality I have heard from IEMs in the $150-230 range. And this largely attributed to a very simple tweak that involve pairing it with the right tips and matching sources. After tinkering with TONS of tips for good three days I settled with Misodiko Mix460 (which is a shameless ripoff of Symbio Orange). Believe me I rolled like insane amount of tips from KZ Foams to KZ Reverse Starlines to piles of multiple branded silicone tips...
IMG_20211027_005847.jpg


Tips Assessment

KZ Stock Silicones:
Utterly hopeless and useless for my ears, prone to Mid-Bass bleed, confined boxed in Soundstage with fuzzy imaging.

KZ Foam Tips:
Much better presentation with Mid-Bass behaving better and less overpowering into other frequencies. Soundstage improved slightly with better sense of layering, separation and imaging.

Misodiko Mix460:
And the ZEX is transformed into something which is beyond my expectation. With amazing articulation on both end of the spectrum. Bass and Treble offering crisp and smooth presentation I would normally associate with much more expensive IEMs. The Mids being brought a little bit forward than stock which now transformed this natively soft V Curve ZEX into a moderate W Curve unit.

So this is where the essence of my following impressions are based on. With the magical synergy of Misodiko Mix460 tips (or Symbio if you happen to have them).

IMG_20211021_172947.jpg

Timbre, Tonality, Dynamics:​

The default tuning for ZEX is a soft V Curve with warm organic timbre. It is markedly warmer than the popular sibling of KZ EDX. What I do like about ZEX from the get go is how well balanced it is with tonality, it does not sound artificial, nasal or unnaturally shouty, nor does it ended up being bass heavy or dark. In fact with the current setup that I have for my ZEX, I daresay it is pretty much natural balanced (with slight boost in Mid-Bass). Note weight felt just about right with no emphasis on being thick or thin. Dynamic wise it is surprisingly competent with admirable density and depth. Dynamic Range extends far on both ends especially when driven by equally competent sources like the CEntrance DACport HD and Questyle M12. It is as vibrant as it can be without being overly cooked like many other "energetic" or "euphonic" IEMs. There's maturity in Dynamic transients that keep things polished enough to contribute to overall coherence.

Treble, Mids, Bass:​

Even with less than stellar sources like my Sony Xperia Z5 Compact and Xiaomi Redmi 10, I can audibly recognize the quality of three frequencies.

Treble perhaps will be considered as a bit more subdued for those enjoying sparkly bright presentation, however it does not mean ZEX is a slacker. Even at low listening levels I was able to hear subtly extended Treble nuances with crisp and smooth decays, not as extended as how I prefer it but it also mean the roll-off also provide the foundation for ZEX being less likely to induce Treble fatigue. It is just smooth and pleasing - most importantly it does not sound metallic or artificial. There's ample Treble details and texture to please even an Etymotic and Shure/STAX Electrostatic geek like me. It reminds me a lot to Etymotic ER2XR Treble (with Red Filter setup on the Etys). Yet again this largely depends also on how competent the source is. I get the most technically crisp Treble from Questyle M12 and the most polished presentation out of DACport HD. Avani on the other hand delivers close to 90% of what the M12 capable of and Abigail 80% of what the DACport HD delivers.

Mids, with the Misodiko tips it is a bit more forward now and no longer felt recessed. ZEX passed with flying colors with my favorite Soprano vocalist, Alison Krauss. Her vocal being very shrill and piercing, can easily sound nasal on less than ideal listening devices. But ZEX performed admirably and even at her highest peak, Alison remained sweet and sharp. The same can be said of Diana Krall's Contralto vocals which is the exact opposite of Alison. Warm and deep without any hint of coloration. Can almost feel her breath on several songs. Somewhere in the middle, Sinne Eeg sang gloriously natural and crisp, again no hint of coloration or sibilance on upper Mids. Instruments wise I would say ZEX did it right by being transparent to the intended tonality. Perhaps a touch of warmth to the attack and decays and this could be perceived by some as lacking clinical resolution, but to me it simply mean ZEX is not overdoing it. ZEX opted to be a bit more musical here. However, a pleasant surprise when paired with my most technical dongle of Questyle M12, suddenly there's that crisp clinical precision which I find rather enjoyable as well, especially for critical listening sessions. ZEX remained largely musical on the other three of my dongles (DACport HD, Avani and Abigail)

Bass, now this is the sort of Bass that I can tolerate. Being a DF Neutral junkie for ages I am so accustomed to Etytmotic flat Bass responses and have been having hard time adjusting to many other IEMs due to overly euphonic Bass responses. KZ ZEX Bass is surprisingly so tantalizingly enjoyable to my ears. Well, with the stock tips (or most Silicone tips) I will admit that the Mid-Bass presence is a bit over the line. There's bleeding of Mid-Bass into Sub-Bass region and lower Mids. Which in turn can make things a bit fuzzy overall. In my case, this partially solved with the use of KZ Slow Rebound foam tips which dampens the bass resonance (it absorbs instead of reverbing it back like what a silicone tip would do). With the Misodiko tips, everything sounded proper to my ears now. Mid-Bass well behaved and still offering ample rumble and punch, but not sacrificing the Sub-Bass or interfering with lower Mids. All in all I would have wish for longer Sub-Bass decays but at this point I decided not to complain too much about it, if I am not nitpicking then I settled for the crisper but shorter version of it. If I want crisp, smooth and super extended Bass then I just switch over to my Shure KSE1500 or FOSTEX T40RP MK3.
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Technicalities:

Whatever it is that KZ is doing, they are doing it right. Hearing how notorious it was with the early iteration of KZ products it is hard to imagine something like ZEX exists. Let's start with the older sibling of KZ EDX, I mean the later generation of KZ EDX. The most prominent element I observed was how SPEEDY the driver is with that single DD. And I am seeing the very same thing here with ZEX. Both the Magnastat and DD being competently fast and agile. This agility allowed them to work in unison and harmony with each other, responding deftly to resolve even the most complex of passages without breaking sweat. Maintaining coherence while the speed ascends is no small feat to achieve. ZEX must be acknowledged for this accomplishment. ZEX is equally competent to handle even tracks exceeding 200 Beats Per Minute (BPM). It is easy to test this. Just play some speedy Black/Trash Metal tracks with layered guitar tremolos coupled with thundering blast beats drumming. A slow driver will result in those songs sounding outright muddy. But not ZEX, ZEX remained cool and composed under those conditions.

Soundstage for ZEX is pretty much underwhelming in width and depth with the stock setup. This is due to the design of the nozzle which is notably longer than the other IEMs I have in my collection. In fact it is almost as long as the Etymotic EVO nozzle hahaha. A long nozzle means that the projection of sound will be closer to to the ear drums, this does not help with portraying sense of space and depth. So yet again this was fixed with the right pairing of tips to reflect the biology of the listener ears. For me the Misodiko and Shallow Foam does the trick. On top of that it also depends on the capacity of the source to lay the foundation of staging. I get the widest soundstage with DACport HD and Abigail. The most confined boxed soundstage with my two Android phones 3.5mm output, and intimate presentation with Avani.

Imaging and layering depends largely as well with the tips selection and source pairing. The most precise and clinical when driven with Questyle M12 and followed by Avani, so I suspect with the likes of ASUS ROG Clavis, TempoTec Sonata E44 and HD Pro similar results can be obtained (all of which being technically sharp with imaging). But again it depends the most with the tips - and I am already repeating this more than I care to count (sorry).

ZEX is no slacker when it comes to details and transparency. Despite being natively warmer sounding, it does not cloud the resolution. Details are not as pronounced as how other bright sounding IEMs would, the bright sparkly nature often being perceived as "details". Much similar to TForce Yuan Li, the details comes subtle and smooth, it is not in your face kind of details.

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Scalability:

KZ ZEX is astonishingly easy to drive. Even with my two Android phones I can actually enjoy it just as it is. But when paired with more competent sources and amplification, ZEX scale up admirably. The pinnacle of fidelity during my 1 week testing of this ZEX being driven by the 18V VE Run About Plus 5 (RAP5) + Dongles. In this setup the entirety of sound spectrum just bloomed naturally offering very wide sense of space and precise layering. Dynamics presented super effortless and with smoothness to die for. It's just plain eargasm.
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- On the other aspect of scalability, I did quick swap of cables and observed that the stock SPC is more than enough to provide the SQ I deemed satisfying. To scale further from that state it will need to be swapped with a Litz OCC based cable like the TACables Obsidian. This Obsidian can be quite finicky with pairing partner but it does jive well with ZEX. Offering marginal improvements on transparency and crispiness. With Kinera Leyding, the overall sound remained similar to the stock SPC with a touch of smoother warmth and better sense of space. But yes otherwise I used the stock cable for 80% of the time.

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Epilogue​

If you are still reading by this point, then it is evident why I like this ZEX so very much. A $20 IEM that offers so much potential for tweaking to suit the listener's taste. If I want my ZEX to sound super warm and fuzzy, I can simply just swap to some large bore silicone tips and thick OFC copper cable - driven by an equally warm source. If I want it to be clinical and sharp, swap in narrow bore short tips and Litz compound cables with native ESS Sabre based DAC. And it is entirely possible to balance things out in between - being musical, organic yet technically competent. ZEX is super flexible and does not require crazy level of modding as per demanded from the likes of KZ EDX. For this review I spent the entire week with my ZEX, each day 6-8 hours trying different combinations and situations. Very rarely would ZEX disappoint me with the tweaks subjected to it.

My ZEX was provided to me by KZ directly, on a condition that I am free to say what I want. And I am keeping this one for good. Replacing my own personal unit of KZ EDX and QKZ VK4. Being a minimalist I keep only what I use, I can already see myself giving away my modded EDX, QKZ VK4 and modded TRN-MT1 because none of them would be able to compete against what ZEX offers. (I already gave away my KBEAR Aurora, CCA NRA, BQEYZ Spring 1, Moondrop Aria, HZSOUND Heart Mirror, CCZ Melody and CCZ Emerald). Yep KZ ZEX is here to stay.....until I find another budget gem to amuse me better.

#kz #kzhifi #kzzex #zex

PS:

For Malaysian and ASEAN based consumers, best to get the ZEX directly from their official store. This is to ensure less likeliness of variation issues with bad samples ( we all know how notorious ChiFi stuffs is on this one) I got mine from here:
https://shopee.com.my/KZ-ZEX-Electr...trostatic-and-Dynamic-i.345920859.11552840977
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S
snabbeltax
Electrostatic yes or no...25 euro's hardly break the bank and it gives me such good sounds.
When I got them I immediately slapped on some ComplyFOam's and hooked it up to a 4.4.mm balanced ODC cable and plugged it into my ZenDAC V2.
Boy was I surprised how Roisin Murphy's "Incapable" sounded(MQA)
The deep bass was like I never heard on other big headphones. Thick and well sustained and roll of. No bloating at all.
It thumped where it needed to be and subtle on the easy listening albums.
During testing, most details of the KZ ZEX were demonstrated very good during listening to the classic jazz album Jazz at the Pawn Shop from 1976. (DSD128)
Incredible. I could almost smell the beer and the smoke of the café in Stockholm.
R
Roberto75
I got the litz cable OspreyAndy is talking about and I also saw an improvement as far as clarity.
I otherwise ran them with the Misodiko tips he is recommending and it sure works incredibly well together.

eagleowl

New Head-Fier
KZ ZEX - 1DD + 1Electrostatic Hybrid
Pros: Balanced Sounding tuning in Bass, Mids and Treble, pleasant V-shaped, not sibilant at all.
IEM egornomic shaped and decent stock tips and cable at price point
Fit and isolation is good for my ears - normal average size
Cons: Tonal and Timbre not the most natural as compared eg. bl03
Sound stage can be wider 3D holographic and top end more sparkling and air eg. , slight nitpick
Not the most resolving and resolution revealing when compared eg. Knowles / Sonion BA [against Electrostatic]
Disclaimer : Thank you and kudos to KZ for sending a sample review unit, no affiliation nor obligation hereby, all based on individual observation and hearing impressions.

Presentation / Packaging

This is a budget set from KZ, Model is ZEX at USD$22. Inside small box comes with 4 sets of white silicon tips, soft and comfy, and 1 set foam tips, and a new KZ flat cable of decent thickness in 2pin 0.75mm and other end L-shaped SE 3.5mm.

Source
iMac Linux - RPI4 8GB -Volumio Tidal Connect - AQ FMJ - Toppings DX3Pro DAC - Toppings L30 Amp [32 bits/44.1PCM]
iMac Linux - RPI4 8GB - Volumio Tidal Connect - ifi Silencer - ifi Zen Dac V2 - Xduoo TA05 tube amp [32bits/44.1PCM]
Samsung Mobile Note 8 and LG G7+ 3.5 out Tidal and UAPP
Fiio M9 DAP and Sony A55 DAP

Music Tracks
Some of test tracks -
Dire Straits - Tunnel of Love
Billie Ellish - Happier Than Ever
Aha - Hunting High and Low
Camomile - Fields of Gold
Chicago - You are the Inspiration
Depeche Mode - Strange Love
Eagles - Hotel California
Ed Sheeran - I Don't Care
Fleetwood Mac - Big Love
Glass Tiger - Thin Red Line
Listening Test done with stock cable and tips provided.

Sound Impression

Timbre / Tonality - a tad off natural timbre compared eg. bl03, tonality is good balanced, well tuned pleasant V shaped in all 3 departments - bass, mids and treble.

Bass / Mids / Treble - Low sub bass present is tuned better than mid bass, in terms of rumble, strike and actual hit of drums heard. Quantity and Quality especially, can be improved further. For Male / Female Vocals - both are tuned pretty well, clear and clean, concise voice without much nasal, forward sounding not recessed, but not in best leading class yet. Treble high of instruments seperation are good, not exceptional, especially in busy tracks. More wider soundstage is preferred and thus air and sparkle will be better.

Conclusion

A very well tuned budget set with creativity and innovation to incorporate a Electrostatic with Dynamic Driver Combo set. Good consideration for listeners shy of bright sibilant treble high sensitive ears. Good sufficient Bass quantity and quality and Mids not recessed/veiled/nasal.

#KZ ZEX
#eagleowl
https://shopee.sg/KZ-ZEX-Electrosta...trostatic-and-Dynamic-i.432274181.12216775717

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Zerstorer_GOhren

100+ Head-Fier
Knowledge Zenith (KZ) ZEX: V is Viably Affordable, Innovative IEM
Pros: - Balanced, matured V-shape tuning

- Satisfying bass quality

- Decent detail retrieval

- At last, a more smoother treble response.

- Newly improved 4-core SPC cable
Cons: - QDC-type 2-pin connector (to be honest, I have issues with this kind of connector)

- Inadequate quality on technicalities like soundstage and separation.

- Still a bare-bone included accesories in the packaging box.
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Oi! mates and welcome to my another review spot and I'll talking about a new product from a well-known audio company from the land of ancient middle kingdom, Knowledge Zenith.

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As we are all aware of Knowledge Zenith or KZ as we know in audio enthusiast community on how influential the company was and on how they shape the current trend of audio market scene. We also know the background of the company as they are founded by classical musician and a former audio engineer from a one of the most reputable audio company, Audio-Technica and their mission is to deliver an affordable hifi IEM for people who are on tight budget but wants to experience a better sound quality on their ear gears.

For additional information about them, This is the first audio company that introduced a cheap and affordable hybrid driver set-up IEM in the market a few years ago and once again they try to innovate and also to please the whims of audio community with their even more exciting products. I'll introduce to you their latest and first product on a different Hybrid set-up, The KZ ZEX.

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The KZ ZEX is quite innovative on this part as it has a different hybrid driver set-up compare from their previous offering for it has a single dynamic driver and their newly develop "electrostatic" (electret, or more correct term, magnetostatic) driver. This is now available to all e-commerce store sites at $22.00/£16.00. I'll give some insights and information on how magnetostatic drivers works based on my understanding.

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The principle on how magnetostatic driver works, It uses a current output unlike electrostatics that uses high voltages as these current travel all way to those static magnets with some wire or strips that attaches to a diaphragm that provides a sound due to the interaction of magnetic fields and conductor. If you look upon the whole process and try to understand about it, it has a similar fundamentals with a dynamic driver with some added some complexity on its mechanism.

The KZ ZEX is made of an opaque polycarbonate plastic at base part with a magnesium alloy faceplate to add more rigidity and protection on its internal parts. The position of vent port is meticulously placed at the buttom part of the IEM in borderline seam between faceplate and base part. It has decent built quality in my standard that can stand on daily wear and tear usage. The fitting of this set is somehow decent as the size of its shell is on a medium scale albeit it is quite a little bit hefty. The nozzle length is average on length but I occasionally feel the looseness and some wobbly feeling in my lug holes while I'm doing some daily walking while listening to music.

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Packaging content-wise, It still as usual bare-bones KZ stuff as it has just basic accessories included in box. It has a white-coloured box sleeve with illustration of ZEX at front and some basic infos while the contents inside consist of pair of IEMs, a four (4) core SPC white with a L-shaped 3.5mm termination jack (mine was has a mic option with basic mono single control button for receiving and ending calls and also play or stop on playing a music track), three (3) pair of white eartips of different sizes and a simple instruction manual.

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Like all previous KZ products, KZ ZEX is an easy to drive IEM as it only needs a decent power output to any sources whether from PC, laptops, smartphones, tablets and even DAPs. It really scales well on any sources and no additional contraption like USB DACs or DAC amps for further improvement unless your audio output source has unremarkable implementation.

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The tonality of KZ ZEX is still leaning more on a V-shape sound signature due to its elevation of bass and treble with niche mids on the frequency range spectrum.

Here are some sound characteristics of each frequency range and some technicalities.


LOWS/BASS:

I should say that ZEX more on qualitative aspect as it has a good detail on the sub bass extension reach as I've discerningly hear the guttural rumbling and gruffy sound its lowest bass specturm.

Midbass has a sufficient texture on a density note that gives some body for authoritative bass kicks and a decent growl and rasping sound of a bass guitar. Overall, the bass quality of these set is on a punchy, with moderate pace transients and just slight amount on being impactful as some bassy tracks demands to show in quantitative manner.


MIDS:

The midrange part of this IEM is recessed (in my liking) on the mix like most typical KZ tuning. Despite of recessed nature, It still deliver well rounded, cleaner and smooth sound. Male vocals are more on a natural side and slightly laidback in some tracks for they have just an ample amount of weight note body as they sound more on leaner texture compare to the female vocals. Female vocals has more emphasis and body on this one as it has that energy and more open for it has reach well on its intended range.


Percussive, rhythm and wind instruments are passable to be sound natural when it comes on scaling it up on timbre and harmonic sense but still I feel some lackness and sometimes sounds blunt such as lacking of crunchiness of guitar especially on acoustic guitars as its sound a little bit dry and mellow in my hearing, a rustling sound of snare drums which needs more impactful and more rounded yet less textured and somber sound of a piano.

Coherency turns out to be a decent one on how both drivers works well as it synchronize the rendition of overtunes of all musical instruments and vocals present on the mix to sound more pleasing and convincing harmoniously.


HIGHS/TREBLE:

This is actually impressive on KZ's tuning on its treble compare to their previous ones as it very pleasant and pleasurable to hear.

The upper mids/lower treble is likely smoothen out that sibilance is very miniscule to be noticeable, probably minimum up to zero and harshness is thoroughly absent as I can listen and use them for an extended time of usage without experiencing any ear fatigue and stress.

It has a smooth and sufficient detail retrieval. It is less shimmer and yet it can deliver a substantial crisp and modest vivid sound in the presence part of treble.

The airiness part of treble is somewhat on an average range and some treblehead will define it as a roll-off one as cymbals strikes lacks of that shimmering trait and hi-hats sounds a little bit dull.

To be fair, this is a decent and good treble but it still lacking one step below of being the best treble quality within its price range.


SOUNDSTAGE AND IMAGING:

This is the part where I will lay down the deficiencies of this item. The width of its soundstage is just of an average to above average size, while it has a substantial depth and fair amount of height ceiling as its sound more on an intimate side.

Separation is just average as it has only decent amount of spacing on each instrument and vocalist which isn't that impressive. Imaging quality is somewhat more on an ordinary left and right stereo panning or should I say, two-dimensional though I can still perceive on pinpointing the location of each instrument but still on a hazy point of its respective channel.



As I conclude my review of KZ ZEX, the big million dollar questions are on how does it fare compare to its current competitor and what are its advantages? Does it has an improvement of its tuning over these past years?

For me, KZ is still relevant up to this day as it working hard trying to improve their product that can offer a competitive pricing and adding some innovative features to make it more viable attractive to its potential commercial. When it comes to tuning, it really matures up and step up of its game as KZ seriously making some adjustments on its tuning as it removes some of inherent peakiness that affect the whole audio frequency spectrum specifically on treble area as it don't have a sibilance and harshness nature anymore that mostly encountered on their previous products but it take more steps to improve furthermore as audio market constantly evolving. I applauded on how KZ finally did their job well-done. Expecting for more product from you and give us even more surprises, Knowledge Zenith.

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SPECIFICATION:

MODEL: KZ ZEX
IMPEDANCE:25Ω
SENSITIVITY: 103dB
FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 20Hz-40KHz
CABLE LENGTH: 1.2M
PIN TYPE: 2-PIN CONNECTOR (QDC TYPE)
PLUG TYPE: 3.5mm
DRIVER UNITS: 1 DYNAMIC DRIVER + 1 "ELECTROSTATIC" DRIVER

Some Tracks Tested: ( * = 16-bit FLAC, ** = 24-bit FLAC, *'* = MQA, '*' = DSD, *'= .WAV)

Alison Krauss- A Living Prayer *
Debbie Gibson- Foolish Beat *'*
Led Zeppelin - When The Levee Breaks *'*
Santana - Europa *
Europe - Final Countdown *
Guns N' Roses - Patience *'*
Eric Clapton - Tears in Heaven '*'
Barry White - Never, Never Ever Give You Up
Pearl Jam - Daughter **
Roselia - Hidamari Rhodonite *
Agent Steel - Bleed for the Godz*
Metallica- Fade to Black **
Camouflage - The Great Commandment *
Queen - Killer Queen **
Michael Jackson - Billie Jean *
Bad Manners - Just a Feeling *
Riot- Warrior *
Mariah Carey- Love Takes Time *
Layla Kaylif - Shakespeare in Love *
Stone Temple Pilots - Plush *
David Bowie - Heroes **
Prince - When the Doves Cry *
Exodus - Metal Command *
Marduk - Blond Beast *
P. Diddy - Last Night *
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony - The Crossroads*

P.S.

I am not affliated to Knowledge Zenith nor receive monetary incentives and financial gains as they provide me a review unit for an exchange of factual and sincere feedback from yours truly.

Once again, I would like to thank Love Jr. David for providing this review unit, I truly appreciate on his generosity towards me and other reviewers.

If you are interested this IEM product from KZ, Just check their official store link below:

Shopee for ASEAN market:

https://shopee.ph/kzearphone.ph
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trippleed

New Head-Fier
KZ ZEX: KZ IEM with the best price to performance
Pros: - Smooth, warm, and mature tuning of hybrid IEM
- All around or versatile IEM. It's quite capable on any genre
- Quite fast transient response
- Good coherence level
- Good technicalities
- Electrostat IEM on a budget
Cons: - Width of the stage could be better. It's slightly narrow.
- Note weight could be thicker
KZ ZEX: KZ IEM with the best price to performance


Immediately, from the sales package we were given 4 pairs of tips. 1 pair of starline white M size eartips that are attached directly to the iem driver, and 3 pairs of wide bore tube eartips (like the dq6). My advice is to just change to the wide bore tips, the original starline tips make Zex's potential cover up. More details come out, the treble is more crisp, but the staging and separation are worse, the staging height is not that great. The timbre is less natural, feels drier and adds an incoherent sound presentation. Maybe this will change when you reverse the starline eartips, which changes the bore to be wider than the tube tips. I haven't done something like that in Zex's stock starline white tips, but I've made a reverse starline in the black kz tips.


The faceplate material in zex feels heavier than the edx series, because the material is metal and the plastic resin feels more solid, like the dq6 with a smaller housing size, more fit and comfortable to use than the dq6 which feels bulky and fat.


Sound impressions (I use the stock tube tips Medium (M) size):
Bass: the quantity of bass is quite large with a good texture. The quantity is more dominant in the mid bass compared to the sub bass whose deep extension is sufficient, it doesn't roll off though. I'm still able to feel the rumble but it's not too deep to reach the lowest part. The bass control is quite good with a fairly fast speed and medium decay. The bass impact is quite punchy, even though the bumps aren't too thick, they still feel soft and don't make non-basshead like me feel dizzy. The bass bleeding, especially from the mid bass, still feels like crossing the mids and other instruments, luckily the bleeding is still controlled and doesn't cover up the sound of other instruments.


Mid: The presentation feels more backwards than the bass and treble. Obviously, the overall presentation is vshape. Even so, this is not an extreme vshape, because in some songs the mid presentation still feels in the middle of the mix. It's still an acceptable vshape to my ears, because the presentation isn't too backwards.
For tonal weight, the mid on this ZEX feels warm and is in the middle between dry and wet tones. Not as dry as mt1 or hzsound mirror, but not as warm and wet as ak6 pro or quarks.
The tonal weight is a bit thin, but the mid body is still good enough to cover heavier male and female vocals like Michael Buble or Adelle. The mid weight is not as thick as Quarks, but a little thicker than the ak6 pro with the detail and resolution above both IEMs. The presentation of the upper mid feels a little more advanced than the lower mid, it still feels balanced for the vocal position in both. Boost clarity and sweetness is still felt in the mid sector. It's very rare for a kz product to have a mid tuning like this. Moreover, the sibilance, shouty, and peaky levels are also minimal, at the same level as old kz like es4. Not like the other kz products, such as zsn, zsn pro, edx, dq6, zs10 pro, etc. which are still vulnerable to this problem.
Instruments in the mid appear to have more bite, the sound of guitar strumming still feels natural. The friction of the violin and piano beats are also quite good, not too thin here. The emotion in the mids, either from instruments or vocals, doesn't feel lacking either.


Treble: Here I can say it's the main star. The role of the magnetostat driver is felt here. Even though it's smooth, the extension is quite good especially on a drum cymbal. The sensation is different compared to the Driver Dynamic in its class, it feels more airy, light and extended.
In comparison, the treble dq6 feels smoother and the extension rolls off quickly. Although the treble is rolled off, but the presentation is grainier and piercing on my ears. The difference in the treble tuning of the two is really noticeable in the song I love - Official Hige Dandism, where zex has a more mature tuning than dq6. From the lower treble like an electric guitar, zex has more energy than dq6. Rough distortion of electric guitar, for example in Nirvana-Smells like teen spirit song feels have more bite in zex.


Technical and timbre
- The transient is quite fast, it is still suitable in metal songs. Playing a metal song like Penguin research - Kettou, the decay of the instrument is quite fast even though the bass quantity is quite large.
- The staging has a 3d feel, it's a shame that the width is a bit intimate or narrow, a little narrower than the hzsound mirror. Even though the depth, height, and imaging are good. The instrument placement is quite accurate and neat
- The separation is good, especially with the instrument layering, even though the bass is bleeding. It is expected in multidriver iem though
- The timbre feels quite natural even though zex is a multidriver IEM. Its timbre is similar with the single dd iem on its class. Even though it can't be compared to the Single Dynamic IEM that really focus on timbre, like blon BL03, moondrop crescent, and etc. The funny thing is ZEX has a more natural timbre than TRN MT1 dyuamic . The timbre naturalness is slightly below than ak6 pro and quarks.
- ZEX coherence level is one of the best in its class. It's hard to find any incoherenceness between the DD driver and the Electrostat in the zex sound presentation. Both drivers sound cohesive, there is no hint of metallic from both of them. One of the best multi driver implementations in kz. Because most multidriver IEMs from KZ feel incoherent for me.
- Details and micro details can be displayed well and clearly, such as in Lisa-Money song. The male backing vocal can still be heard with a fairly clear pronunciation. The clarity and separation are quite good, helping the presentation of details and micro details in zex.
- The resolution is pretty good, but don't expect this to nudge the top rank iem under 100$. The resolution is above bl03, but below TRN TA1. It is able to compete with zsx and zs10 pro, which are not really good resolution for the price.


Sources used:
Redmi note 8 pro, genshin impact
CXpro DAC (Neutral to bright)
Cayin i5 DAP (Warm)
Some DSD songs
Apple music lossless and non lossless


That's all that I can say for my first review on headfi. Thanks for the free time to read it. Sorry for my bad english. 🙏

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