1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

4 drivers hybrid from Knowledge Zenith

Knowledge Zenith ZS5

Rating:
3.875/5,
  • Model Number:KZ ZS5
    Driver Diameter:2BA +2DD
    Impedance: 18ohm
    Sensitivity: 106dB
    Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz

Recent Reviews

  1. theindieaudiophile
    Sibilant and Under -Designed
    Written by theindieaudiophile
    Published Feb 7, 2019
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Details , Soundstage
    Cons - Unnatural upper mids, Sharp and sibilant treble
    Sources : Flac files on Fiio X5 3rd Gen DAP, 320kbps mp3 on Samsung s7
    Reference : Beyerdynamic Byron Wired , Audio Technica MSR7 , RHA 390u , Tennmak Pro and Sennheiser HD4.40 BT
    Songs :
    Fat bottomed girls by Queen
    Stairway to heaven by Led Zeppelin
    Space oddity by David Bowie
    Billie Jean by Michael Jackson
    Starboy by the weeknd
    Albums:
    Random Access Memories by Daft Punk
    Islands by Ludovico Einaudi
    Binaural by Pearl Jam

    When my brother heard this for the first time he thought it was sibilant and unnaturally sharp.This was after I had changed the stock cable and EQed the high frequency. For treble sensitive people don't even think about buying this.

    After 100 hours of burn in and foam tips , the ZS5 still sounded sharp to my brother. But I wasn't as treble sensitive as him. The build quality is okay but you can't expect quad drivers and good build in 30 dollars ( gearbest sale ). My stock cable wasn't working in one ear so I complained to the kz seller. He gave a 7 dollar coupon for ordering the silver cable.

    Design :
    It can be clearly noticed that KZ ZS5 was inspired from Campfire Audio Andromeda. But KZ ZS5 is smaller and is more comfortable.
    Bass :
    The percussion beats on Billie Jean were so clear and hard hitting that you lose yourself in the song. . I would say the bass is clear and tight. The attack is fast and the decay is also quick. So I would not recommend this for Hip Hop and other bassy tracks
    Mids :
    The mids are little recessed when compared to the treble or bass. When listening to Queen songs I felt the vocals were little unnatural sounding. You can feel this especially on Bohemian Rhapsody or Fat bottomed girls . The vocals sound little metallic. I thought this was a problem on my phone. Then I plugged the ZS5 on the fiio X5 then the vocals started to sound a little warm but still unnatural. I personally think this is because of the balanced armature used for the mids that peaks in the upper mids and the lower treble causing high pitched vocals to sound a little tinny.

    Highs:
    If you have read any review of the ZS5 on the internet you know what to expect. The treble is so sharp that your ears can bleed by listening to one Metallica song. The cymbals crashes on metal and hard rock songs are very unpleasant.

    Comparison to the Beyerdynamic Byron and RHA MA390

    The soundstage is way better than the byron and the RHA. You can hear the strumming of the Space Oddity starting from a mile away. Only the MSR7 beats this out of all the others. The detailing is where I'm confused the most. I felt the KZ ZS5 beat everything in this aspect. I felt the strings clearer on the ZS5 than even the MSR7. This is probably because of the sharp treble that makes the sound sharp and clear. But on the whole, the MSR7 sound better.
    The ZS5 beats the RHA , Byron in most areas.But all the other earphones have warm mids with natural sounding vocals and treble that doesn't cut your ears. Even after severe EQing, the highs are sharp and vocals are slightly metallic.
    Tennmak Pro has almost similar soundstage. It's bass attack is fast but the decay is slower than the ZS5 . I has a full bodied approach to bass that makes it sound better than the ZS5. The Mids detailing is equally good on both but the timbre of tennmak pro is far better than that of the ZS5. The Tennmak Pro sound more balanced and linear than the ZS5. The highs are smooth pleasant on the Tennmak Pro unlike the ZS5.

    KZ has still got a lot to work on the tuning of the ZS5.
  2. DocHoliday
    4 stars for KZ's beta....... a work in progress
    Written by DocHoliday
    Published Mar 6, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Soundstage
    Imaging
    Overall presentation
    Inexpensive
    Detachable cables for a budget IEM
    Cons - No crossover
    Adequate but lazy choice for a cable
    Lack of accessories @ $40
    Lipless nozzle.....again (WTH?)
    2018-03-06 20.36.06.jpg

    Grab a chair! This is going to be lengthy.

    Most of you that are reading this review are fans of Knowledge Zenith, as am I, and you're wondering if KZ has managed to outdo themselves, yet again, but before we get started on the review of Knowledge Zenith's ZS5 you should know upfront that I own and enjoy each of KZ's hybrid IEMs [ZST, ES3, ZS6 and this ZS5(i)] and I have no issue with the treble present in any of the four models. I mention this because those of you who are sensitive to forward treble would be wise to keep in mind my preferences and properly absorb this review through the filter of your own preferences.

    About me:
    I tend to prefer a relatively neutral sound signature with a slight emphasis in both bass and lower treble, which is basically a mild "U" shaped sound signature where midrange frequencies are left intact and unaffected. I find that an absolute neutral sound signature usually lacks enough energy for the genres I enjoy most, which are Classic Trance and Progressive (early Tiesto, Markus Schulz, Otello, DT8 Project), Chill Out, Breakbeat (Hybrid & Burufunk Remixes) and 80's & 90's (New Order, Secession, The Cure, Siouxie & The Banshees, Depeche Mode). Sure I listen to Verve, Verve Remixed, Sade, Bach, Ella Fitzgerald and everything in between, but as of late the bulk of my listening pleasure is focused on the aforementioned genres.

    About IEMs:
    Take note when you read IEM reviews that when the reviewer gives his/her opinion regarding the sound that there are many factors that shape the final sound an IEM delivers to one's ear.

    Those factors include:
    1 - Shape & size of reviewer's ear canals. (shallow/deep, wide/narrow)
    2 - Shape & size of eartips (round/cone, single, double or triple flange)
    3 - Materials of eartips (silicone/foam)
    4 - Shape of IEM (and/or angle of nozzle) can cause fitment issues for some.
    5 - Source (quality of DAC in smartphone, laptop, digital audio player)
    6 - Source (power rating) is it amplified/unamplified.
    7 - The IEM itself (driver flex/trapping air in canal causing muffled sound.
    8 - The Reviewers ability to hear all frequency ranges (age plays a factor).

    Most consumers are unaware of how much weight each of these factors hold in rendering a final verdict. This is why there is such a wide variance in not only ratings, but the description of an IEMs sound. An unaware consumer purchases a perfectly fine IEM but has difficulty keeping the IEM in the ear or he/she does not satisfactorily seal the ear canal with the included silicone eartips (this is a common occurrence) and the consumer summarily dismisses the IEM as sub par. Another consumer purchases the same IEM but experiences a perfect fit and seal and has nothing but praise for the same IEM. Sealing the ear canals AND HAVING THE EARTIP FIRMLY AFFIXED to the IEM nozzle is the only proper way to use in-ear monitors. I can think of no audio equipment that is subjected to such praise or ridicule as the in-ear monitor. As if that's not enough, there is no "one-size-fits-all" when it comes to IEM eartips.

    Materials (silicone/foam) have different dampening effects on final sound.
    Shape of the eartips (olive-shaped, cone-shaped or other-shaped) can have different dampening effects on final sound based on how much space is between the IEM nozzle and your eardrum and how well the eartip has sealed the ear canal.
    The aperture of the eartip's opening (wide-bore/narrow-bore) will have dampening effects on the final sound.

    The easiest way for you to experience the different effects I am discussing is to take your current on-ear earphones or over-ear earphones, pick a song full of energy, put the earphones on and let them sit naturally over or on your ears. Listen to the music for two minutes. After two minutes, using your hands, slightly press the headphones closer to your eardrums. Notice the change in the sound. Is there more/less bass? Is there more/less treble? Did the vocals slightly slip forward/back?

    Consider that on-ear and over-ear headphones have a driver that sits approximately 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches from your eardrums and by pressing the headphones 1/4" closer to your eardrums the sound changed. Now consider that an IEM driver sits anywhere from 3/4" to 1/4" from your eardrums and the slightest changes (angle, depth, shape, material) can have up to three times more of an effect due to the proximity of the IEM to the eardrum.

    For this reason, I think it is wise to invest a nominal dollar amount on different eartips to find an eartip that works well for your particular ear's anatomy. This way you experience everything the earphone tuner intended for you to experience. Some IEM manufacturers supply multiple sizes (S/M/L) and/or materials (silicone/foam) of eartips to increase the odds that the consumer achieves a satisfactory seal, but even this is not foolproof. If this information holds any interest for you, there are a plethora of aftermarket eartip brands to look into, such as "JVC Spiral Dots", "Spinfits", "Comply Foam Eartips" or "Znari Foam Eartips", "Creative Aurvana" and others. If you really want to fine tune things, then you might find yourself doing what I do, which is scouring Amazon for inexpensive earphones that appear to have silicone eartips that have a shape that typically work well with my ear's anatomy.

    sku_468209_1.jpg
    The Knowledge Zenith ZS5(i):

    Typically, my KZ reviews start off with me discussing how Knowledge Zenith has a large catalogue of in-ear monitors (IEMs) offering specific sound signatures and/or fashions (wires worn over-ear or wires hanging directly down). All of that still holds true, but I have to say that once KZ released the ZS3 and ZST, they silently moved further up the food chain.

    When Knowledge Zenith released the ZS3 "with detachable cables" in June 2016, there was nothing in the sub-$20 category that could touch it's sounds quality so long as you knew how to moderate the bass response via eartip size (see my review).

    Three months later, Knowledge Zenith released the ZST with it's detachable cables, which, again, nearly dwarfed everything else in the sub-$20 price bracket at the time of it's release. The ZST still sells quite well for an IEM that was released eighteen months ago, and rightfully so. The ZST, while not a perfect IEM (if there is such a thing), outpaces about 90% of the sub-$20 IEM offerings currently available. This is especially true regarding brick & mortar and big box stores, but astonishingly it holds true for the ocean of budget earphones found online.

    NOTE: For those of you that don't know, there is a quiet storm taking place in the IEM (and Audio Gear) market which we hobbyists affectionately refer to as Chi-Fi (Chinese Fidelity). In essence, the sound quality of audio gear coming from some Chinese manufacturers (Knowledge Zenith, Fiio, Monoprice, Shanling and others) is improving and progressing at a quickening pace. Some brands deserve as much attention as the established brands, if for no other reason than the value proposition in a global economic downturn where one typically receives less for their hard earned cash. In the midst of an unavoidable global economic upheaval, Knowledge Zenith is one manufacturer that consistently offers exceptional value for your hard earned cash and the ZS5 is evidence enough that the changes in the world of audio gear are reaching a feverish pitch.

    Knowledge Zenith's previous offerings, for the most part, resided in the sub-$20 price bracket. This ZS5, however, has taken a hop, skip and a jump into the $40+/- price bracket....and while I will admit that I was skeptical, I can tell you unequivocally that Knowledge Zenith has MOSTLY accomplished what they set out to do.

    What do I mean by MOSTLY?

    It's become clear to me that the ZS5 with it's 2DD & 2BA (two dynamic drivers and two balanced armatures per earpiece) was to be a "Beta" model, an interim model or even a test run. The following anomalies and abhorations will paint a clearer picture, so let's just lay this stuff right out on the table.

    Shortly after Knowledge Zenith released the ZST Colorful Edition, we (hobbyists) were teased with two up and coming IEM models. The first was a "Campfire Audio-inspired" design known as the "ZSR Pro" which, according to KZ's own photograph and specs, was to have a total of 10 drivers (4 balanced armatures & 1 dynamic driver per side). 9991704.jpeg

    The second, and lesser known of the two, was an "Audio-Technica E70-inspired" design. 10060323.jpg

    Many of us waited months for an aluminum shelled 10 driver IEM from KZ. After SIX months of rabid speculation, Knowledge Zenith released a PLASTIC shelled "Campfire Audio-inspired" ZS5 at a whopping $40+/-.

    I could not muster the words to express my disappointment.

    PLASTIC?!

    FOR MORE MONEY?!

    Knowledge Zenith, a rising star on a roll, consistently offered well tuned quality METAL finished housings on most of their IEMs (ED9, ED10, EDR1, HDS3, etc.).

    Why regress to PLASTIC shells, especially ON THEIR FLAGSHIP MODEL?

    To add insult to injury, the included detachable cable that was thrown in....FOR THEIR FLAGSHIP MODEL mind you....is not designed for the ZS5 at all. The included cable was designed for the ZS3. Note the angles of the stepdown molding on those cables. That stepdown angle was specifically designed for a perfect flush fit for the curvy ZS3.
    2018-03-06 21.00.08.jpg
    What could be sadder?

    Well....that would be the "square peg in a round hole" connection. Apparently, the ZS5 flagship didn't deserve its own cable, but whoa there Nelly....don't trail off just yet. I'm not even done yet. The ZS5 promotional photo showed the ZS5 with a crossover which is a key ingredient in multi-driver IEMs. Why? Because having all four drivers putting forth full spectrum frequencies from top to bottom (20hz to 20khz) tends to cause resonance issues in the frequency response you actually hear.

    Guess what?

    NO CROSSOVER.

    WTH?!?!

    What has happened to my favorite Chi-Fi brand?

    Needless to say, baffled and bemused, I barricaded myself in my man-cave, assumed the fetal position and reached for my pacifier.

    In the ensuing weeks I poured over multiple reviews that praised the ZS5's sound quality, but I just couldn't pull the trigger on the ol' "square peg in a round hole" IEMs.

    ......that is UNTIL I caught a glimpse of the braided silver plated upgrade cables you see attached to my ZS5's in the photo below. Truth be told, "IF" I was going to pick up the ZS5 in it's original configuration I had to put my order in quickly because, lo and behold, Knowledge Zenith chose to revise the configuration of the balanced armatures in the ZS5. Instead of the original configuration (1 BA in the nozzle and 1 BA in the main cavity of the ZS5 shell) KZ has now chosen to place both BA's in the nozzle. Hmm, in light of everything I mentioned earlier regarding how minute changes can effect sound I knew I'd better order sooner rather than later if I wanted to receive the ZS5 in it's debut configuration, so what you see in the photo below is indeed the ZS5 in it's original release configuration, though I've since trimmed the excess length from the collar of the upgrade cable pictured.
    71zMBjyFS1L.jpg

    The ZS5 that is under review here is the original configuration with one balanced armature in the nozzle and one balanced armature in the main cavity of the driver housing. I will refer to this configuration as the ZS5(i), which is no longer sold unless Knowledge Zenith recommissions the original configuration.

    ZS5(i):
    10064004-1.jpg
    ZS5(ii):
    ZS5 version 2b.jpg

    There has been much praise of the ZS5 sound signature when the ZS5 is paired with foam eartips. I have Znari Foam Eartips and Comply Foam Eartips, but I just can not abide the dampening effects present in foam eartips. I always feel one step removed from the music. Conversely, silicone eartips ALWAYS give me a presentation that I deem "true" to the IEM, and in the ZS5's case, the best silicone eartips (to my ears) are the Whirlwind eartips that KZ offered with their ED8 and ED10 IEMs. I'll explain why in the body of the review below, but in the meantime let's consider the accessories - or lack thereof - in light of KZ's near $40 pricetag.

    Accessories:
    -1 basic 2-pin cable
    -proprietary small, medium and large silicone eartips

    That's it!

    It would've been wise of KZ to offer:

    - their well designed, in my opinion, Star-tipped silicone eartips (included)
    - their Whirlwind eartips (S, M & L)
    - foam eartips (S,M & L)

    At near $40 Knowledge Zenith should be including all three designs to give the consumer an optimal chance for a satisfactory experience with their flagship IEM.

    Be mindful that the ZS5's 2-pin connection can take some patience to connect. Initially the connection receptacle is quite tight. Hopefully, this was done to prevent a loose fitting connection once the cable is attached to the earpiece.

    You should also be aware that the ZS5 has NO LIP ON THE NOZZLE so your eartips may just take up residence in your ear canals when the ZS5 has left the building. You'll have to get creative if you object to squatters.

    Pairing:
    If you've read my review of the ZST, you'll be familiar with my rule of thumb when it comes to IEMs that sport multi-drivers (particularly hybrids). That rule is "for a full-bodied sound, use a low output impedance source with a well regarded DAC and sufficient power". The ZS5 sports not one, but two BA's. In my estimation, having multiple balanced armatures may introduce impedance curves and/or render the ZS5 quite sensitive to your source (phone, laptop, DAP, etc). Unless your phone has sufficient power with an exceptional DAC or is tethered to a low output impedance portable amp, I would stick to the ZS3, ED9, UiiSii Hi-805 or UiiSii CM5. A great DAC and more power will likely give you a smoother response. It's not a hard and fast rule, but I find it to be true more often than not and taking the ZS5's unusually low impedance (4.7Ω) into consideration a source with a low output impedance is absolutely necessary. The ZS5 sounds quite anemic and thin when coupled to my power-EFFICIENT ZuneHD. On my ZuneHD, rating on a scale of 1 - 10, the ZS5 bass was 4 out of 10 while the mids & treble pushed to the forefront presenting a bright and analytical sound signature. When I coupled the ZS5 to my Fiio X3(i), which has an output impedance of 0.3Ω @32Ω - 270 mW (32Ω), the sub-bass & bass of the ZS5 woke from their slumber and breathed unrestrained life into the music. Not only was the presentation full-bodied, but now it was a more balanced presentation (though not flat or neutral).

    With certain eartips the ZS5 had somewhat of a dual personality. Sometimes the music was crystal clear and inviting while at other times there were hints of lower frequency resonance that would ruin the experience. It didn't happen often, but it did happen.

    As usual, for me, the foam eartips masked/muted some of the natural sound (particularly the treble and midrange), while KZ's proprietary Star-tipped silicone eartips increased the focus on mids and treble. While the star-tipped silicone eartips were good, I wanted to fine-tune things by diffusing and de-emphasising. With the KZ Whirlwind Silicone Eartips or a decent wide-bore silicone eartip (such as Tennmak's Whirlwinds) resonance issues were harder to detect. The wide-bore aperture slightly diffused the lower frequencies and pulled the midrange and treble out of focus making the whole presentation from top to bottom well balanced. With this set up (Fiio X3i - ZS5 - Upgraded Cable - Whirlwind Eartips) I was quite surprised at how well the ZS5 performed considering all 4 drivers were firing in parallel [from top to bottom (20hz - 20khz)].
    Original-font-b-KZ-b-font-3-Pairs-L-M-S-In-Ear-font-b-Tips.jpg

    Bass:
    Again, with the wide-bored eartips the bass remained quite deep, quite natural with good body and weight. It isn't particularly quick, but it isn't loose or overstated either. To my ears, eartips with a more narrow bore seem to give the ZS5 a dual personality, where the bass could go from perfection on one track to slightly boomy or unrefined on another track, but bass was consistently well done with Whirlwind or wide-bore eartips.

    The mid-bass had admirable weight on Dream Theater's"Pull Me Under" as you can hear and the sub-bass in Schiller's "Das Glockenspiel" fleshes out the tune nicely.


    Bass: 8.5/10 (wide-bore), 7/10 (at other times)

    Midrange:
    Midrange & Vocals were natural and just south of centered. There was admirable weight in male vocals and female vocals were transparent and velvet-like, but truth be told, I prefer a little more presence in the midrange. It's why I love the ZS6 so much. There was a small anomaly I debated with myself on whether or not to mention this, but from time to time the midrange seemed to gain more presence as I increased the volume. That may be psycho-acoustics or it may be due to the lack of a crossover or.....
    I just thought I should mention it.

    You can hear the richness in Louis' voice and Ophelie Gaillard's cello is just so full of melancholy bliss in the tracks included below. You will also note all the instruments perfectly placed but a slight recession in the midrange on "Who's That Lady" by The Isley Bros..


    Midrange: 8/10

    Treble:
    Treble was never ahead of the mids or bass (with wide-bored eartips). Diana Krall's "I Miss You So" and "Maybe You'll Be There" are tracks that I know are prone to sibilance, but I experienced none. Personally, with said eartips, I think the treble is well judged (never bright, never lacking). Note those micro-details on Simple Minds' "Come A Long Way"".


    Treble: 8.5/10.

    Soundstage/Imaging/Layering:
    Soundstage is wide and imaging is impressive. The ZS5 soundstage is a bit wider than the ZS3, but there is a trade off. You gain width on the ZS5, but you lose the ZS3's silky warmth and true-to-life realism with both male and female vocals. In fact, because wide-bore eartips are necessary to attenuate the ZS5's midrange and treble the ZS5 actually loses some resolution in comparison to the ZS3 due to the ZS5's presentation being a bit more diffuse. I should mention that the ZS3 I am referring to is KZ's debut matte ZS3 which sounds slightly richer than the current ZS3. The ZS5's mids are good, but I noticed the difference right away. The presentation as a whole is slightly more diffuse and leans more towards an over-ear headset than the typical in-ear presentation. I did not say that the ZS5 sounds like an over-ear headset, but the ZS5 LEANS toward an over-ear presentation. How much does it lean in that direction? Let's call it 25%. That's enough to set the ZS5 apart from just about any budget-fi IEM you can shake a stick at.......and then some........for $40+/- mind you.

    Listen to Simon & Garfunkel's "Sound Of Silence" or Al Stewart's "Year of the Cat" or even "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5 and you can place every instrument and/or vocalist with near precision on stage in your mind's eye.


    Soundstage : 9
    Imaging 8+
    Layering: 8+

    I was quite skeptical and, truthfully, quite miffed at KZ for offering a half-baked IEM to pacify KZ fans while their mad scientist concocts their next line of IEMs for the informed enthusiasts. The truth is that the ZS5, in its original release configuration, though it is not perfect, may just be that rare IEM that defies logic and becomes an instant collectible once the debut configuration is sold out. Can't explain why it works so well and don't know how it works so well...but it just does. I'm glad I gave in and finally picked these up before they vanished.

    Part of me is thankful for the ZS5 because with the right gear and eartips they are a phenomenal steal at their sub-$40 pricepoint, but I'm thankful in a begrudging sort of manner because it seems Knowledge Zenith either:

    1) rushed this to market to placate the fans after all the teasers that were put forth like the "ZSR Pro 10 driver" model and the Audio-Technica E70 inspired multi-driver model

    or

    2) KZ lost their business savvy....ness which is necessary to keep ahead of the competition by under-promising and over-delivering like they used to.

    Yes, KZ over-delivered, mostly, for a sub-$40 IEM, but they over-promised from the very beginning, even if it was only implied. I understand the necessity of staying relevant by keeping the buzz alive, but it's better to remain tight-lipped than to float test balloons. In fairness I have to give credit where credit is due. In spite of all of the anomalies and abhorations I exposed here Knowledge Zenith did release an exceptional budget IEM in the ZS5(i), occasional resonance aside, and they've surprised me yet again.

    Me and my furrowed brow almost missed this one. They are indeed better then I'd first given them credit for. Glad I finally secured a backup pair.

    The KZ ZS5 is currently available at GearBest.com for $22.99.
    https://m.gearbest.com/earbud-headphones/pp_641227.html

    Hope this was helpful.
    ZS5 version 1.jpg
      hakuzen, CoiL and skajohyros like this.
  3. dougmwpsu
    Sharp and unnatural highs
    Written by dougmwpsu
    Published Jan 18, 2018
    2.0/5,
    Pros - lows, mids, looks, easy to drive
    Cons - terrible highs, awkward wrap around the ears cord
    Bought a pair of second generation ZS5s with 2 BAs in the tip. Read so many positive reviews and wanted to see how they compared to the urbanfun hybrids, which I enjoy a lot. I read a few reports of overstated highs and sibilance, but figured a few people were just being sensitive.

    I found these unlistenable for anything but EDM or hip-hop. Vocal sibilance is extremely present and distracting. Cymbals sound extremely strange and grating. Listening to Yes, my ears were bleeding. The problem starts at the top end of the highs. If you have significant high frequency hearing loss, you might enjoy these.

    The rest of the sound signature is quite good with great mids and deep controlled bass.

    I'm comparing these to Grado SR-80, Grado HF-1, Sennheiser HD600, Koss Portapro, and Urbanfun hi-fi hybrid, all of which I enjoy. And honestly I'm usually not very picky or snobbish.

    It's hard to tell if most of the good reviews of the ZS5's are for the first generation. It's possible it was much better before.
  4. BulldogXTRM
    Terrible build quality
    Written by BulldogXTRM
    Published Dec 3, 2017
    1.0/5,
    Pros - Price
    Fit
    Sound
    Cons - Broke within a day of having them.
    I'd love to say that I like these but they broke within a day of having them. From what I could hear, they were decent sounding, but while trying to find the right ear tip for a good seal and fit, the nozzle on the right monitor broke.

    I suppose I could contact the seller on Amazon for a replacement, but the shipping back and forth would cost me more than an new pair. Did I mention the price on these is outstanding for a 4 driver IEM?
  5. kiler
    Beyer house sound in IEM format
    Written by kiler
    Published Oct 23, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - - Tight, extended bass with crispy treble on top
    - Price is amazing
    - Removable Cables
    Cons - - Mids might be recessed for some
    [​IMG]

    Today I’m here to talk to you about KZ iems. You might already know the brand Knowledge Zenith as one of the primary budget IEM maker from China, made popular mainly by the KZ ATE. Well the model that I have today for reviewing is the KZ ZS5, technically the version 2 from what I read about the sound signature. This is a quad driver per earbud: two dynamic drivers and two balanced armatures, which technically should offer a really good sound on a budget. They also have detachable cables which should improve on the durability.

    Technical Data


    Talking about technical data and specifications, nothing like using the specifications provided by amazon:

    Connectivity : Wired

    Application: Apple iOS and Android

    Driver: 10mm*2pcs,6.4mm*2pcs

    Sensitivity: 106dB

    DC resistance: 16 ohms

    Frequency range: 20Hz-20000Hz

    Maximum power :10mw

    Microphone: Have

    Cable length: 3.9 foot


    All in all some interesting specs, but the lack of official specifications may mean you should look somewhere else for legit info.

    YouTube


    Packaging

    [​IMG]

    Talking about the packaging, we can clearly see that this is the smaller version used for overseas shipping (since KZ have a bigger one used in the domestic market). Being smaller, we also don’t have anything interesting and on the front part of it we can read the model of the IEM while seeing them.

    [​IMG]

    Seeing them on the back, we have a picture of a brass instrument and the mic logo, which means this is the smartphone compatible version (which has a cable with a microphone and a single button).

    [​IMG]

    Talking about included accessories (excluding the cable, since it is detachable), we have a user guide alongside S/L tips. That’s it really, so nothing to talk home about, it would be good to see at least a hardshell case to carry the ZS5. Anyway this means that the IEM are cheaper, so lets hope the rest of the IEM are well made.


    Build Quality and overall look

    [​IMG]

    These are the KZ ZS5 in one of the many available colors. We got the grey ones and as you might be able to notice, we got an housing that’s a bit bulkier than usual, but the normal size for multi driver IEM’s. On the housing we got the Four Drivers image, alongside the ZS5 on the underside of the housing.

    [​IMG]

    Here we have both sides together and we can see a little vent near the right size nozzle (for the dynamic drivers). The housing material is some kind of plastic that has a metalized look to it .

    [​IMG]

    This version we received is the mic version, which means the detachable cable included is the one with a microphone (as it would be expected), alongside one button for play/pause.

    [​IMG]

    The 3.5mm gold plated jack is a right angled one, but the most important part is that you can pick any 2 pin cable to pick one to your likings.

    [​IMG]

    The nozzle without a tip lets us see that it is quite a lengthy one(in comparison with dynamics), so it might be hard to find tips that retain the original sound. It looks study so it might handle some abuse.

    [​IMG]

    The housings have the entrance for these 2 pin cables which I would try and be careful with (and avoid lots of cable changing in order to ensure the connectors last).

    [​IMG]

    Here we see the stock cable. The fit with the housing is tight and snug and won’t come out during use.

    Overall we are really satisfied with the overall build quality and looks of the ZS5, hopefully they keep on impressing in the remaining areas!


    Comfort/Isolation

    For a lot of folks that use their sound equipment for long durations during the day, comfort is rated pretty highly on their list, whenever they are looking for some new equipment. Since these are IEM’s, the things that should weigh the most would be the housing shape and weight, alongside the fit you can get with the tips compatible with them.

    Regarding weight, I would have to say that while looking at them I was afraid that the KZ ZS5 would be heavier than I thought. I was pleasantly surprised when I put them on with the memory cable and I found out that even during larger sessions I had absolutely no issue with fatigue regarding weight. While they can be worn not over the ear, I really wouldn’t recommend it because they will fall over time. And this is the other issue I have: as time goes by, the insertion is lost a bit so you find yourself readjusting them more often than you would like. This is fixed with the help of some foam tips, for example. The included cable is a bit microphonic for on the go use, but there are custom cables with a lot less microphonics, such as the KZ silver cable, which might be something worth to add while buying these.

    Talking about the included tips, they are simple rubber tips that don’t have anything special about them but do their work of keeping the KZ ZS5 inside your ears nicely with a decent seal. This seal really helps make the ZS5 one of the most isolating IEM I’ve used lately, so they might be a bit too isolating if you plan to wear them on a crowded street. This is really nice for places where you need to be concentrated though, such as a library for example.



    Sound

    Source – HifimeDIY Sabre Dac amped with Objective 2 DIY, Vernee Thor

    Files Used – 256 to 320 kbps and FLAC

    As always, before using starting to review these, I let them play a variety of music for about 50 hours (having tried them when they first arrived). Nothing too much happened, just a bit of tightening over the lower frequencies.

    We should start by describing their overall sound signature. While only including silicone eartips, I’ve tried on the KZ ZS5 with foam tips and found out that they attenuate some of the bright highs, for those of you that don’t enjoy a bright sound (think Beyerdynamic). Still, the review will be done with the stock tips both because I think that is fair (you get the IEM as is) and because I enjoy a little extra sparkle in my music (DT990 owner here). The sound out of the KZ ZS5 is v-shaped with the emphasis being more towards the high end of the spectrum than pumping out bass. All in all, a good signature for electronic music and to listen to dakr recordings preferably with quality recording quality.

    Lets start with the low end , I was impressed by the sub bass quality of these IEM, most with fast dark electronic genres like psy trance. The bass goes low and doesn’t distort much, although bass kick lovers might be unimpressed because there is more sub bass than the usual midbass. Proper seal is needed for maximum subbass goodness, so make sure you spend some time trying to find the correct tip size. The bass also has some texture to it, although it isn’t the most detailed I’ve heard (but keep in mind you can get these for around 20$).

    The mids shine mostly with male vocals and instruments, because there isn’t that intimate touch that you usually have with balanced armature IEM and female vocals (DBA MKII still do vocals like no other). This is due to the mids being slightly recessed and not quite in your face. Even then, strings sound nice and lively with adequate resolution. Comparing with the original KZ ATE which was warmer and sweeter, I’d say that I prefered that more intimate presentation. Still, the ZS5 do mids quite nicely for the price point and for various genres.


    Now for the most polarizing part of the ZS5, the treble, I can clearly listen to why it might be a bit much for some. There is definitively a lot of detail for the price, but it is also the most elevated part of the sound spectrum. Cymbals are sparkly and tonal correct, making them really fun for trance and drum and bass. There isn’t enough accuracy overall for orchestral recording because they sound a bit congested due a not broad soundstage. The treble also extends quite high and even if you don’t like it, you can easily EQ it out, or just use foam tips to reduce some harshness. Overall you still get plenty microdetail and way more than you thought it would be possible while remaining musical.


    Now the soundstage, like I said, definitively isn’t the widest I’ve heard, making more complex pieces of music sound a bit congested due to lack of space. This is due to the good seal and lack of venting I think, but this isn’t quite a big issue because the amount of space you have is quite accurate in terms of 2D directions.

    Bottom line about these KZ ZS5 is that they will handle pretty nicely about anyting you throw at them, but just make sure you don’t mind a treble happy sound. They excel in darker genres of music and make hip hop sound amazing due to their bass capabilities.

    Another thing is that I relly found out that the ZS5 benefit being amped, but I’m unsure whether that is due to the weak DAC on my Vernee Thor or just a requirement for them to sound their best. The O2 really brings out some fine details in recordings and makes the ZS5 sound tighter overall.

    The microphone addition is decent for people that will be using the ZS5 with smartphones, but I really want to try out the silver cable that KZ offers in the future, because lots of people are saying it improves the sound a lot. In terms of compatibility , the microphone remote worked perfectly with Android smartphones.

    As for some songs that the KZ ZS5 do really well I’ll leave two below:

    Infected Mushroom – Becoming Insane– With the Sitar notes coming out really crisp through the ZS5's, the quick sub bass never leaves the ZS5 breathing for air, making quite the impact during the track.
    Kanye West – Mercy – The bass is once again the main focus of this track and the ZS5's do it flawlessly and when the hats kick in you can really feel the crispness to them (even while not as clear as one would hear in the DT990's).

    Conclusion

    Build Quality: 4/5

    Accessories: 2/5

    Comfort: 4/5

    Isolation: 4.5/5

    Sound Quality (bang for buck): 4.5/5

    KZ presents the ZS5 as a major revolution to their lineup (at the time of release, since now you have the ZS6) in order to enter the multi driver IEM arena. With only 20€ you get 4 drivers in each housing, but is more always better? Well you can definitively hear the presence of each one of them, but I still think that two of each might be overkill and just one dynamic and one BA would have been enough if nicely tuned. But all the money went to the drivers because we don't even have a carrying case. Either way, the ZS5 caters to a lot of different music and does just well enough with any of em. I've enjoyed these mostly for psytrance and downtempo or old hip hop instrumentals because the bass weight just packs such a nice punch. These might also interest you if you need IEM with a lot of isolation, due to their form factor and the memory wire to keep them in place.

    All in all for 20€ these are an excellent pick if you can handle your high frequencies (so Beyer DT990 fans rejoice), but since we have an ever growing amount of IEM's for this amount of money it becomes a super difficult task to say: "this is the end all of IEM's for this price". So I'll just add my 2 cents and say that for the price you can't really go wrong if you pick these and are looking for tight bass with nice highs (like I said above, a V shaped sound with more emphasis on the highs).

    Another end note is to make sure that your phone DAC can drive these well enough, because I found out that these like some amping to sound their best.
    And maybe lets hope I get to try the ZS6 because KZ keeps new IEM coming out like they are hot bread!



    References

    Price: Around 21€ on https://www.gearbest.com/earbud-headphones/pp_668327.html?wid=21&lkid=11655193

    I would like to thank Gearbest for the opportunity to review and publish my unbiased opinion about these IEM, it has been a fantastic experience working with you.
    1. nofacemonster
      Amazing review....! thanks a lot.
      nofacemonster, Mar 5, 2018
    2. kiler
      Absolutely no problem man, thanks for reading it :)
      kiler, Mar 15, 2018
  6. GI Chow
    Astonishing
    Written by GI Chow
    Published Sep 8, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Punchy perfectly judged non-boomy bass extending well into sub bass.
    Clear natural vocals.
    Detailed sparkling but unsibilant treble.
    Incredible separation of vocals and instruments in different frequency ranges.
    Top notch sound in a convenient portable form factor straight out of a phone without any need for an amplifier.
    Cons - May need to change tips to slightly more compliant ones than stock so they stay in reliably and for optimal comfort.
    Very tip sensitive since even a 2mm shorter than stock core canal can make male vocals sound slightly harsh and unnatural.
    Male vocals not quite as natural as HD600 which has the edge if just listening to speech.
    More fussy to put in than regular earphones.
    No instructions on which way round to insert cable into earpiece.
    You will need to set aside a day to relisten to all your favourite music!
    It's been a fascinating journey developing my musical palate over the years, appreciating the ingredients of good sound.

    Reading the myriad opinions on Head-Fi, lists by ClieOS and |joker|, watching Tyll at Inner Fidelity, Zeos at Z Reviews, Lachlan and many more. Parting with cash and hoping one's research has paid off.

    The delight of the natural vocals and tardis-like big bass of the venerable Koss Porta Pro with its rolled off treble and bass bleeding into mids. The superb all round natural sounding Creative Aurvana Live and Sony mh1c with their boomy resonant bass and sweet soft treble. The extended treble but non-existent bass of the HifiMan RE-0. The incredible value of the toilet paper modded Superlux 668b.

    The cheap as chips but outstandingly competent everyday value of the Samsung EHS64 and KZ ATE Sport earphones and VE Monk Plus earbuds. The bass and extended treble of the V-shaped Beyer DT990 Pro.

    The head-turningly lifelike vocals of the Sennheiser HD600 with not quite deep enough bass. The all round competent but uncomfortable Shure SRH840. The clarity and deep bass but lack of warmth of the Fostex T50rp mk3. The impactful bass and superbly competent and sensitive but uncomfortable for long listening session on-ear Sennheiser Amperior (HD25-1 II evolutions). The open and balanced sounding but tip sensitive and heavy Fiio EX1.

    Each had its own strengths and weaknesses.

    I feel now like at long last the ingredients have come together in one magnificent Great Chinese bake off final showstopper.

    Punchy perfectly judged non-boomy/overly resonant bass extending well into sub bass. Clear natural vocals. Detailed sparkling but unsibilant treble. What is so astounding is that all of this is there at the very same time..all the layers of a track are there to appreciate and explore, like cinematic sound for your ears only. Drums, vocals, keyboard, strings, cymbals all sound clear, natural and distinct like there's a little orchestra playing in each ear. This isn't something I've ever experienced before, even with my Genelec studio monitor active speakers and sub. One hears about stage monitors used by musicians with 7+ drivers per ear. I'd thought this was unnecessary and that one good speaker per ear must be the ideal in principle since having any more must surely introduce distortions at the frequency crossover points. The proof of this multiple driver pudding is in the listening and these earphones taste..erm sound..great. My Fiio EX1 that I used to consider my earphone reference now comes across as having a distinctly mushy sound.

    Sensitive enough to get loud straight out of my Samsung S7 phone (also S4). Comfortable enough for long listening sessions. Flat enough to sleep with. Isolating enough to wear outside and not disturb those around you inside. I didn't even need to change the tips to others from my collection - the large 'star' ones it came with have been fine for me for comfort, seal and sound. I think the slight gaps created in the seal within the ear canal by the grooves in the supplied tips are a functional more than purely aesthetic thing and allow some air to escape avoiding the bass boominess I experienced when I tried perfectly sealing Sony tips. I have also used some more flexible regular smooth Sony-shaped tips (without the harder plastic bore channel) from other earphones that had a similar bore diameter at the ear canal end to the stock tips but which didn't seal too tightly in the ear canal and had almost as good sound (male vocals slightly harsher) from them with improved comfort and more reliable seating in the ear.

    I feel I have come to an epiphany, a revelation, a musical nirvana. An audiophile budget holy grail.

    I've done my apprenticeship and graduated with honours.

    Sorry for the flowery language. Unless you have a comfort issue I think these will be keepers.

    End game at under £30?! I bought in the UK from Amazon but if you can wait looks like they can be found much cheaper. KZ I salute you for bringing musical truth to the masses.

    More cheap truths on my blog at gichow.com

    images

    1. 20170826_070938.jpg
      nofacemonster likes this.
  7. Viber
    What a Trip
    Written by Viber
    Published Sep 7, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - -Can sound extremely good in certain genres\songs.
    -Looks better than you'd think
    -Detachable cable allows replacing the cable or upgrading the earphones into wireless Bluetooth earphones.
    Cons - -Can sound too bright or too raw in some songs.
    -The nozzles on the ZS3 and ATR were better.
    I got these earphones as a review unit from Gearbest.com, i specifically requested to review this product.

    I wholeheartedly recommend buying from GB as they always provided me with the proper support\warranty\refunds for the products i bought from them.

    Specific product page: https://www.gearbest.com/earbud-headphones/pp_668330.html?lkid=10690141

    *I make no profit from this review or from the link above.

    On to the review:

    Package\accessories:

    The ZS5 come in the usual KZ box. Inside you can find the Earphones, A detachable cable, 3 pairs of S/M/L sized silicone ear-tips.

    IMG_20170824_203534356.jpg



    Form Factor:

    I usually don't pay special attention to this aspect in my reviews, but I would like to express that the ZS5 are not as "bulky" or "ugly" as some early reviews have mentioned.

    You can say they are a bit on the heavy side, but I really like their looks and their size is normal for this kind of IEM.

    IMG_20170824_205300767_HDR.jpg


    Sound:

    Now this is going to be difficult to describe: the ZS5 are like nothing I have ever tried before in the world of earphones.

    One track they sound like regular,high value "budget" 20$ earphones, but in the next track they can sound like 150$ full sized headphones.



    The only time I've ever experienced anything like that was when I owned the Sony MDR-MA900, so anyone who tried that pair would understand what I'm talking about.

    To my ears, it seems like the ZS5 shines with Male vocals, slower genres of music (it can do fast genres of music with dark signature such as Psy-Trance) good recordings and darker sounding pieces. I think their performance in Classical music is also very good.


    The bass is kicking enough for genres like House\Trance music, yet it doesn’t come at the expanse of the Mids which are bright.
    The treble is very present, detailed and energetic.


    I usually rate the performance in each frequency, but I feel as if it would be pointless this time around.
    It will be far more helpful to go over the songs in which the ZS5 shines\shines less:



    Tony Bennett feat. George Michael - How Do You Keep The Music Playing

    ^Usually, I wouldn't dare to listen to these two exceptional singers on a "chi-fi" set. This really surprised me as I actually enjoyed their singing abilities as well as the background orchestra on the ZS5. When I try this song with other earphones I just laugh and move on.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Hans Zimmer – Nyah

    ^Everything sounds lively and you don't get the sense as if you are missing any instrument. Just a brilliant performance for a sub 30$ pair.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Vivaldi - The Four Seasons - 06 - Summer – Presto

    ^I mention this piece just so you wouldn't think the ZS5 can't handle classical music.
    The ZS5 can paint a relatively realistic picture of this classical piece without sounding too artificial or boring like other budget in-ears tend to do.


    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Shogun feat. Tania Zygar - Find Me (Alex Klingle Extended Remix)

    ^Bass is kicking and fast, every word is coherent and the overall sound signature is exciting enough for an EDM track.

    ..............................................................................................

    Songs that sound less impressive on the ZS5:

    Heart – Alone

    ^it might be the recording, but I just find the singer's voice a bit too piercing for my taste.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Parkway Drive - Wild Eyes

    ^this song is a very hard test for any earphone.

    It's just too bright,too fast,too busy and too dirty for the ZS5.




    Mic compatibility:


    Unfortunately, the right earphone could not work together with the mic on my device (Moto G 1st Gen).


    The only way around this issue was to keep the remote button pressed while I connected the earphones to the device.

    Note that doing so would disable the mic on the ZS5.


    Maybe it was a problem with my old device or the Android OS, but it's something to consider before making the choice between the mic\no-mic version.

    *This problem was non-existent with my regular music player and 2 soundcards.


    Conclusion:

    How do u rate a product which sounds 'good' on some tracks, but 'great' on other tracks?


    I think that for years we grew accustomed to full sized cans sounding great for certain genres\tracks yet only "ok" for other styles of music\sound signatures.
    No one would recommend the ATH-AD700 for trance music or Sony MDR-1A for Vocal music.
    The ZS5 are no different in that regard.

    IMG_20170824_205216015_HDR.jpg


    Verdict:
    For 20$ - Get them. If they fit nicely with your music collection then you've hit the value-for-money jackpot.


    IMG_20170824_204511030_HDR.jpg
      DJ The Rocket likes this.
  8. PowderLegend
    Bass Monsters
    Written by PowderLegend
    Published Aug 26, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - BASS, ALL OF IT
    Price
    Cons - Comfort
    Treble
    I didn't know what to expect from these- I paid $18 each for two pairs, with the idea that if they're good I'd give them as a gift. I'm kind of obsessed with sound quality, and needed to hear them before handing them off. Got a sweet discount for buying a second pair, so problem solved.

    While the packaging is pretty nice, these don't come with many accessories. There's no pouch or case, and only three sets of tips, small, medium, and large. The cable is rubbery but has nice strain relief, a passable splitter, some memory wire on the ends, and comes terminated in a plastic right angle jack. I'm impressed that the cable is removable- I have a balanced cable, but won't be able to test these balanced until my new amp shows up.

    The build quality is not stellar, there are sharp edges, panel gaps, molding marks, and even some flashing still attached in places. Not too concerned with that though, some sandpaper and glue and everything will be fine. I mean... $18, right?

    These are not comfortable in any way, shape, or form. The sharp edges and size, combined with the need to keep them deeply inserted for SQ make them painful to wear. I'll fine tune the fit and kill those edges when I clean up the plastic, but my hopes aren't that high.

    I tested these in a pretty unfair way- I have some Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00 Purple Hearts with Dekoni pads and a set of three way DRMEARZ customs. I used a Fiio X5 Mk. I, both from the headphone out directly, and through the coax out into a Bifrost Uber/Asgard 2 stack.

    I used two tracks- Piles from the Re-Volts EP in VBR MP3 at 320, and Kendrick Lamar's LOYALTY in WAV.

    The first thing that struck me was the sheer amount of bass. I've never heard anything like it from headphones. There's just so much volume and extension. All the stuff about cheap build quality and discomfort just went right out the window when the music drops out in LOYALTY and it's just the baseline and Kendrick- I've heard subs that don't hit as hard as these IEMs. Totally nuts! The ZS5 just walks away from both sets of $500 headphones. Didn't expect that at all. Blew me away!

    The mids aren't anything special, but I didn't catch any flaws either. The bass doesn't intrude too much, so while there's a slight mid bass hump, it's pleasant to listen to. The more expensive options just do it better, but who is really surprised by that?

    The highs are a little veiled, but that's a good thing because they're harsh. This is where the ZS5 really falls down in this comparison. They're noticeably harsh with some extra zing in the presence range and have a cheap, non-hifi edge.

    So... are they worth $18? YES

    They're fantastic for the price, and would be worth it even in the $50-75 range as is. What I'd like to see is a version with a better enclosure, a storage case, and FFS make them comfortable to wear for more than an hour at a shot. They legitimately hurt to wear, but the sound is so good that it's worth it in short bursts. KZ, if you read this, if you sort out the comfort issue and tame the treble a bit, all you'd have to do is add a case and these would be legitimately worth $150.

    images

    1. IMG_6205.JPG
    2. IMG_6204.JPG
      DJ The Rocket likes this.
  9. Biffsearphones
    Disappointed so far
    Written by Biffsearphones
    Published Aug 11, 2017
    2.0/5,
    Pros - Cheap, decent fit, memory wire
    Cons - High sibilance, noisy cables, broken pin on cable
    Picked these up after reading comments on the Trinity thread and after cancelling my PM6 order. Needed something to listen to at work. So far not very impressed, i find them to be quite sibilant, which for is quite fatiguing to listen to. I had to sell my Shure SE535 for a similar reason ( they were too sensitive and with my Oppo HA2 I got constant hiss) The separation between instruments is pretty good and the soundstage seems pretty big. I have only had them for 3 days and initially thought maybe they just needed to break in, but it has not gotten any better yet. Ordered some comply tips to try and seem if that helps any. Not trying to bash anyone or any of the positive reviews out there, but to me they sound like a $30 IEM.

    Minor update, my Onkyo DP-X1 just got back from repair and have now been listening to them with it rather than my i-phone and tried them with some Trinity Audio Combo tips. The fit and isolation is better, but still very sibilant. I also tried them with Comply tips which is a bit better but still very bright. At least with my Onkyo the soundstage is bigger and I can EQ out some of the highs. I should have looked up the frequency response before ordering.

    Switched to the upgraded cable that I ordered with them and one of the pins broke off :frowning2:
      B9Scrambler, Cinder and Dsnuts like this.
  10. NymPHONOmaniac
    Beleive the Hype, ZS5 is a MUST!
    Written by NymPHONOmaniac
    Published Aug 8, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Superb sound quality, wide soundstage and good instrument separation, U shaped soundsignature with good cohesion, cheapest 4drivers iem of all time, exciting bass, lot of details, detachable cable, solid housing.
    Cons - Quality check issues (lot of complaint about defective ZS5 on receive), so so cable, little background hiss, source dependable
    KZ ZS5 Review:

    P7160087.JPG

    I receive this KZ ZS5 as a free review sample from Gearbest and want to thank George about this. Anyway, I have already bought a pair on Aliexpress before receiving this, but it's still not arrive! My review will perhaps change when I compare the sound of 2 different ZS5 pair to know if they sound exactly the same or have quality issue about construction. ZS5 are lot of time on Flash sale at Gearbest for the best price possible (about 20$) so check it out cause they are NOW on flash sale!!!
    http://www.gearbest.com/earbud-headphones/pp_641227.html


    Specifications:

    Drive units:

    10 mm low frequency driver x 2
    6.4 mm medium frequency driver x 2
    30095 Balanced Armature driver x 2
    Custom 1205 Balanced Armature driver x 2

    Sensitivity: 106dB/mW
    Impedance: 16Ω
    Frequency response range: 20-20000Hz
    Plug: 3.5mm, 90 degree angled
    Earphone interface: 2 pin 0.75mm
    Cable: 1.2m



    KZ is a budget iem company that look like to create a new earphone model every month, they are one of the biggest in china and very popular for a good reason : they really offer incredible sound value for the price. About this, ‘’legendary’’ iem like KZ ED9 with changeable nozzle, ZST dual dynamic + balanced drivers or even the old scholl Dual Dynamic driver like ZS1 or ZS2 permit to the mass to buy more than potent sound experience for a very little price, the kind of price that we can either buy a coffee (KZ EDR2), a macdonald meal (KZ ATE) or a 6 pack of beers (KZ ED9, ZST, ZS1-2).

    Okay, we were use to their great price value and new ZS line like ZST prove they can even go further in sound engineering using balanced armature driver to creat sub-20$ earphone with detachable cable….

    Okay, but i’m not sure people (or even chinese market) was ready for the tunderous happening of KZ ZS5 4 Drivers earphone that offer a price value in term of sound quality as well as construction and inner compenent that no other brand anywhere (and perhaps at any time) are able to compet with. 2 10mm dynamic driver and 2 different balanced armature in both earphones for a total of 8 and all that hide in a (already seen) big solid plastic housing that look ferocious and sound so too, cause the ZS5 are the sub-100$ beast all budget audiophile dream about, or don’t even have the hope to dream about.

    My expectations about these was incredibly high and i’m far, very far of being disappointed by these supremely exciting budget earphone, for the price it can be found (20-35$usd) it just give a sound presentation that look to be a stole luxury from budget iem god, yeah, I was hysterical of excitation to listen to them and i’m still as much hysterical to praise them, for me -a guy that pass his time searching best value chinese iem- this ZS5 is a monumental achievment, and as I know perfection doesn’t even exist in high end iem, it offer a luxury that cannot be underatted by a bad sound tweaking because ZS5 offer a mature, full bodied sound with incredible details retreival and surround soundstage that is sure to inject lot of fun to your music!!

    Packaging & Construction:

    P7140071.JPG P7140072.JPG
    The package I receive is the same as ZS3, a little minimalist one with just the basic stuffs we need: iem, eartips and cable. Construction of ZS5 if not extraordinary look quite good and sturdy and will not break in 2 parts if you trow it on the ground even if it's just 2 plastic part glued (fastly) togheter. Metal mesh of nozzle look of good quality too. Housing is quite big and is not the most comfortable, especially for small ears, as mine are big I do not have fit problem, but with silicone tips it can be hard to keep it well sealed inside the ears wich is the only way to get full body of the sound. Cable is the same than ZS3 and other KZ iem with detachable cable, it's a little cheap but do the job. Still, this cable can create microphonice noise so I suggest to find a better cable that do not have this issue. I do not suggest to wear this while it rain because their space in housing (cable connection) were water can infiltrate.
    P7160089.JPG
    EAR TIPS : Some iem aren’t that capricious about fitting to give their real soundsignature, Zs5 however is sure a capricious earphone, but I think this problem will not occur with everyone because silicone eartips give the best result I think-even if I don’t talk about the one that are included in ZS5 package. I have personally try the double-triple fangle, the memory foam and lot of different type of silicone tips to finally get the best one with a smaller silicone eartips with big-medium opening (withe and blue one from I don’t know what iem from Ali!). I think the real fitting is far inserted in the ear with a tip that have enough air in the nozzle to open bass roundness and a vast soundstage. Anyway, just saying here that with ZS5 fitting is a really important aspect, more than ever I would say because of a somewhate large and angular housing.

    Source : Ibasso DX90 & Xduoo X3, as well as Ibasso D2+ Boa

    Note : Use mustly DX90 cause amping (mid gain) current is perfect and sound is way better, clearer and more 3D with it. Xduoo X3 sound good with sensitive iem, but not quite with the ZS5 wich sound little tamed and congested (aka less sound stage), less punchier and more warm and mid centered (wich can be a plus for treble sensitive people).



    upload_2017-8-8_11-22-33.jpeg
    (Graph to be taken with a grain of salt, as it’s the more peaky less smooth curved one from three ZS5 graph I found, still, we see a low mid bump, pushed 2k-5k mids peak and peaky high too, as if all 3 soundrange are pushed to be easily spotted on by the listener, wich can explain a very present treble.)


    LOW:

    ZS5 have texture to share, and a bold, thick sound signature too, and bass performance is among the more impressive and complex you can get under 100 if not more. Definition is very good and bass go deep, it have some slam but do not feel too punchy. Round, thick and textured if not somewhate dark, the bass line are easily discernable and well articulated, wich give immense listening joy, especially with electro and beat driven music because no details are really stoled by this (driver) dedicated bass performance. Still, I can’t say it’s peeeeeerfect, it do not sound ultra clear with a ultra black background because of treble push that make ZS5 sound so textured and lively. About this, as it have 4 drivers, I think it mix different treble tweaking that create a very dynamic and foward sound presentation, bass is fast and well controlled, do not bleed in the mids or highs, and can be consider as the opposite of so bass perfomance of dual drivers hybrid like Senfer UE’S or Urbanfun, cause this bass IMO is quite muscular with a mid-low punch that help this atletic performance. Synth bass line can sound full, chunky and well textured with ZS5, and that do not hide the kicks and sometime other bass line to be audible and quite well presented too wich make complexe beat track a real joy to listen too! Even if it can dig low, we cannot really call basshead the ZS5 because it do not emphase on sub rumble, it is still a very bass heavy iem that at high volume can make dribble your brain like a maracass.


    MIDS :

    I’ll say the mids are ‘’fowarded’’ instead of being naturarly foward, but do not sound artificial or cold, just a little more trebly and isolated and solitary. Female vocal can sound very good, textured and detailed, it do not have lot of decay tough, more a small, concret spot where it make himself very visible and do not struggle to be hearable in the must demanding and layered music composition. Because of this treble emphasis, some vocal can sound little nasal for ultra severe audiophile, here, I don’t talk about hissing and real harshness wich ZS5 is exempt from. Some treble sensitive find them kind of harsh but having listening to way harsher earphone (PMV A01, Plextone S50, Swing IE800), and due to the fact i’m no treble sensitive, I find the treble more prompt to make bad recording sound worse as well as avoidind a complete silent background. Mids are fast, detailed and textured, not expensive but very lively and dynamic and for certain track with hard to discern vocals will really be a revelation cause of their unique pushed presence that give an ‘’ultra hd’’ resolution to them.


    HIGHS :

    Treble sensitivity isn’t my disease, but perhaps i’m about to became deaf because of this, as it’s due to long music exposure as well as music producing and sound experimentation that can really be dangerous for the ears. Anyway, this explain my details obsessions and the love of well pushed treble and frequencies response to deliver HD sound resolution and fowarded microdetails that absolute ears can heard more easily, it’s a pair of binocular for the ears that I search, but that will sound musical and give a balanced impression (or even illusion). ZS5 pushed the treble quite alot, and in a special secret 4 drivers sound recipe, I don’t think all drivers have treble pushed the same way (perhaps more its far in the housing more it’s pushed?) but it have some details revealing spike and sparkle as well. I never struggle to have an exciting detailed listen with ZS5, the layerings of sound mix togheter quite well even if it lack a little bit of air between them, cause of a quite analytical treble that give lot of texture to soundsignature, you do not have a perfectly black background, clarity have teeth with ZS5 and most of time it’s for the better if your sound source (or music quality) is clean.

    COMPARAISONS:

    PMV A01 MK2 (1DD+2BA):
    Compared to these, the ZS have a less agressive and analytical sound presentation without sacrifiing details at all, MK2 are brighter and have smaller soundstage but better instrument separation, they are more fatiguing too and have a different approcah about treble, wich permit to have a very HD like sound resolution. ZS5 have more proeminent bass, more fowards mids, and to me, an overall more exciting and wide sound presentation with more deep and rounder attacks than the MK2. Both are really good value and excellent sounding, but MK2 is more source dependent even if easier to drive than ZS5, as I use my Ibasso DX90 wich make shine ZS5 but not the MK2 that became too agressive sounding, while with the X3 it sound excellent and not the ZS5 wich sound tamed and congested. Favorite:ZS5.

    WESTONE ES2 custom dual driver (1DD+1BA) :
    So the soundstage is more than wide with these and a little more airy than the ZS5 but not by far, both are very sensible and can create hissing with bad tracks or wrong DAP, comfort is superior (duh!) with ES2 as it’s a custom made for my ears and it drive you completly deaf of outside world wich ZS5 is able but only when playing music. ES2 are mid-centric with emphasize on bass, but bass is less articulate and punchy than ZS5 (yep!) but go deeper and have sub rumble (the problem with articulation!). vocals are more envelopping and have more decay with ES2, and overall soundsignature is warmer and deeper, but with a treble roll off and lack of details that ZS5 deliver with way more plentiness (yep!), vocal are inferior tough and more nasal than ES2. My personal preference : ZS5 (but not for isolation and soundstage).

    SENFER XBA 6in1 (1DD+2BA) :
    XBA have a warmer sound and more congested soundstage, bass line can be more beefy and textured than ZS5 and details retreival are quite similar. Instrument separation is a drawback from XBA as it lack deepness in soundstage, ZS5 is more resolving and accurate and have more air between instrument wich make the listening experience more exciting. Vocals is better for male with XBA and for female with ZS5. Comfort wise the XBA is easier to have a quick fit (but not if you were it over-ear). Both are easy to drive but benifit from good amping cause of their multiple drivers (i guess). Favorite : still ZS5!!!

    Urbanfun Hybrid (1DD+1BA):
    ZS5 have way bigger soundstage and deeper too, more bass and sub and overall more dynamic and punchy soundsignature. Urbanfun have a little more sparkle in the high but details do not pop out of imaging as exiting as ZS5, bass of Urban fun, even if less agressive, feel more natural and soundsignature is less harsh. Vocal of ZS5 are more fowards but less smooth than Urban fun. COmfort wise, Urban fun are way more comfortable. My favorite: ZS5 for fun factor.

    Xiaomi Hybrid Pro (2DD+1BA):
    Way warmer than the Zs5, the PRO lack in instrument separation goodness like the ZS5, soundstage feel more congested and details are veil by bass performance, wich compared to ZS5 is quite hollow and not super resolved. 3D feel of ZS5 is way superior, but high of the Pro are less peircing and overall soundsignature i more neutral. The Xiaomi are more comfortable and construction of housing is a little better cause it's metal. My favorite: Big time ZS5!



    OVERALL IMPRESSION :



    As said, my attempt was very very big for the ZS5 as I was following positive impressions everywhere as well as on headfi, few people adept of high end iem did not like it as much as budget audiophile or music enthusiast but even this elitist listener can’t deny the complex and impressive fun the ZS5 can give with a generousity impossible to get in this price range value. After more than 50H of merely non-stop obsessive use of this incredible 4 drivers beast i’m still awed by the enjoybility of these, and i’m very happy to have bought a pair even if I receive this one as review sample because my opinion is about the bucks here and 5 stars is as well for the sound. Only negative feedback I read about the ZS5 is about quality control and defect about cable side or quality, as with every budget iem this is a commun issue and for this price value range I cannot get mad about this, but, if I have a suggestion i twill be to buy it from a trusthworthy and collaborative seller so if any defect occur you can have a replacement pair without having to struggle. So, having personally listen to 40 iem ranging from 4$(KZ Edr2) to 600$ (Westone ES2 custom), I can say with confidence that these are the best iem I heard in term of price value what ever the price is, this can look subjective but it isn’t, just the fact that the ZS5 have 2 dynamics and 2 balanced driver for such a low price make them a must have, and the other fact that it sound enough balanced and musical if not very well, deserve a special mention too, engineering of the 4 drivers was in the searching of a fun and impressive soundsignature that will create wow effect with a vast range of music, it try to give it all for a make it all that will not sound perfect but will push the bundaries of sound experience at low price, even at 60$ these would have been an enormous achievment and create a buzz with music enthusiast, but it sell at half (and even third) of this price wich is what I will call a chifi miracle for all the people with a small wallet but a big (lossless!) music collection. ZS5 create a budget beast that deliver a very precious sound that is far from the price of a diamond. Having this WOW effect from such a low price is something that will perhaps never happen again, well, from other chifi brand than KZ I mean!


    Music that I listen with the KZ ZS5 for this reviews :
    Electro : Arca, Jlin, Ametsub, Jon Hopkins, Rival Consoles, Slugabed, Prefuse 73, Equinoxx, Flanger, Plaid, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Laurel Halo, Andy Stott, Motion graphics, Tipper, Lapalux, Ash Koosha

    Vocal (all style) : Agnes Obel, Bjork, Jessica Pratt, Hope Sandoval (Mazzy star), Arianna Savall, Timber Timbre, Linda Perhacs, Vince Staples, Lula Pena, Marissa Nadler, Julia Holter, Phaedra, Cornelius, Beach House, Sevdaliza, Meridith Monk....

    Jazz : Arild Andersen, Jamie Shaft, E.S.T, Thelenious Monk, Charles Loyd, Chris Poter, Aaron Park, Lars Danielsson, Avishai Cohen, Labtrio, Mats Eilertsen, Ralph Towner....

    Classical : chamber music of Bach, Purcell, Vivaldi, Corelli, Kodaly. Harpicord work of Francois Couperin, Dandrieu, Rameau, Telemann, D’Anglebert. Terry Riley, Phillip Glass, Elini Karindrou, Pengui Cafe, Rolf Lisevand...

Comments

To view comments, simply sign up and become a member!