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Classically Colorful KZ's!

KZ ED10 (Knowledge Zenith)

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    Brand: Knowledge Zenith
    Type: in-ear monitor
    Frequency Response:15-29000Hz
    Connectors: 3.5mm
    Impedance: 16Ω
    Cord Length:1.2m
    Driver Type: 8mm Dynamic Driver Unit[

Recent Reviews

  1. DocHoliday
    More, more, more.........for less!
    Written by DocHoliday
    Published Mar 21, 2018
    Pros - Inexpensive
    Energetic sound signature
    Durable and well designed metal alloy housing
    Sturdy cable, "Y-split" and jack
    Storage case
    Cons - Upper-bass bleed into the lower-midrange
    Hard to find
    2018-03-12 22.34.21.jpg

    The ED10 was originally released in the late summer of 2015 and it was the fourth pair of Knowledge Zenith in-ear monitors that I purchased. The first KZ in-ear that I purchased was the ED Special Edition. I was so impressed with it's sound signature and price-to-performance ratio that I immediately ordered Knowledge Zenith's ED9. Turns out that the ED9 was even more impressive than the EDSE; this prompted me to order the ATE. The ATE turned out to be an excellent IEM but it was not my preferred sound signature due to it's warmer presentation. With each KZ purchase I found myself increasingly astounded at the price-to-performance ratio of each successive model but when the ED10 arrived I felt as though I had struck gold.

    Before we get started on the ED10 there are a few things you need to know.

    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 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.

    The Knowledge Zenith ED10:

    One of my all-time favorites, the ED10 remains in the top ten of my sub-$50 single dynamic driver IEMs. In 2015 Knowledge Zenith was silently increasing their customers base in the entry-level price bracket of well-designed and great sounding in-ear monitors". With each successive release Knowledge Zenith offered an incredible value proposition with in-ear monitors like the EDSE, HDS1 and ED3 "Perfection", but the icing on the cake, so to speak, was how KZ lovingly packaged models like the ATE, ED9 and ED10 in a sturdy shield-shaped case with foam cutouts to securely cradle the earpiece.

    You'll notice that the ED10 driver housing is fashioned from a sturdy metal alloy instead of one of the inexpensive and common plastics that most entry-level earphones are fashioned from which means the ED10 driver housing is less prone to cracking and/or damage from being inadvertently dropped or stepped on. The stainless steel and gold-ringed faceplate give the ED10 a high-end profile. To my eyes the ED10 driver housing was inspired by the Ostry KCO6 and KC06A but the ED10 was offered at a fraction of the KC06's price.

    This first image is the Ostry KC06A.

    This second image is the Knowledge Zenith ED10/ED11.


    KC06 Specifications:

    Driver Unit: 10mm high dynamic CCAW Drive unit
    Rated Impedance: 16Ω+/-15%
    Sensitivity: ≥110dB (at 1000Hz)
    Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 25 KHz
    Distortion: ≤1% 110dB (20μpa)
    Channel balance: ≤1.5dB (at 1000Hz)
    Rated Power: 10mW
    Maximum Input power: 30mW
    Plug size: 3.5mm gold plated

    The ED10's sturdy "Y-split" and oxygen-free copper cable that terminates with a 90° gold-plated 3.5mm jack is designed to withstand a bit of abuse from the softheaded. I have several pairs of ED10's that are approximately two and a half years old and I have had no issues with their durability. In fact, my ED10's have retained their fresh out-of-the-box look with ne'er a blemish to be found. The ED10 are cable-down in-ears as opposed to the cables being worn over-ear. If you choose to wear the ED10 cables over the ear it would be best to use silicone earhooks and swap the left and right channels to the opposite ears.

    Although the ED10 may have a KC06-inspired earpiece, the ED10 has an altogether different sound signature. The KC06 sound signature is focused on the midrange and upper frequencies with the lower frequencies hovering in the neutral to recessed position. The best way for me to describe the ED10 sound signature is to say it is a "W" shaped sound signature focused on fatigue-free energy..

    Most earphones today have a V-shaped sound signature, which means the bass is emphasized and the treble, to one degree or another, is emphasized. In the audio industry this is commonly referred to as a "consumer friendly" sound signature. Year in and year out millions of earphones are sold with a V-shaped sound signature because it is a very energetic sound signature. The problem with a V-shaped sound signature, however pleasant it may sound, is that the midrange (where vocals reside) usually get buried or forced into submission by the forward bass and forward treble. Recessed vocals have become an acceptable tradeoff for most consumers because they like the added energy in the higher and low frequency ranges.

    To remedy this abhoration Knowledge Zenith has tuned the ED10 with slightly enhanced bass, slightly enhanced treble and to everyone's surprise a slightly enhanced midrange. This results in a very exciting sound signature. A W-shaped sound signature. Compare these to your common V-shaped sounding earphones and you'll hear what you've been missing right away; a midrange with body and presence that isn't overwhelmed by the increased energy of the bass and treble. The vocals have nearly as much energy as the upper and lower frequencies.

    What a concept!

    Yes, please!
    One of the contributions to the ED10's fatigue-free sound signature is it's rolled off upper-treble. The focus here is mainly on mid- to lower-treble, which allows enough micro-detail without having to take things to the Nth degree. I wouldn't necessarily crank the volume way up on these because there is plenty of detail on display with lots of energy at moderate volumes levels. I will say that KZ's newer IEMs that sport balanced armatures do offer a higher degree of resolution in the upper frequency ranges.

    One track that I always use to determine an IEMs cutoff or capabilities regarding upper-treble is Toni Braxton's "He Wasn't Man Enough". The triangles in the upper-treble are there but they have very little sparkle due to that frequency starting to roll off. P.O.D.'s "Thinking About Forever" showed the same roll off on micro-details. For me those micro-details are a litmus test on an IEM's likelihood of inducing fatigue or not.

    Treble: 8/10

    The midrange is forward but not excessively so. If I were to put the treble, midrange and bass on a scale, 5 being neutral, I would rate them as follows:
    Midrange =6.5

    Again, the midrange is forward....but tastefully forward with good weight and body. The upper-midrange is never strident because it is slightly rolled to avoid any harshness while the lower-midrange gains some of its weight and body from the upper-bass. I prefer the lower-midrange to be a bit cleaner with more definition but my bias is showing here because my ZS6 and ZSR with their multiple drivers are more accompli at fleshing out said frequencies and both of those IEMs are more adept when it comes to the separation and layering of instruments.

    You can hear how nicely weighted and forward the midrange is on "In Your Eyes", "Year Of The Cat" and "Cross The Border".

    Midrange: 7.5/10

    The bass on the ED10 is quite full-bodied and weighted more towards sub-bass than mid-bass. My estimation would be 60:40 respectively with some of the upper bass slightly bleeding into the lower-midrange. The amount of kick and rumble down in the nether regions means your EDM sub-genres will be presented well and to your satisfaction. If you already own a set of ED10's pull them out and note the borderline unruliness of the mid-bass in "Lebanese Blonde", but the absolute driving authority in "Escape" and "Fall To Pieces". Sometimes the sub-bass is just brilliant but tracks that are mastered with a heavier footprint in the lower frequencies....well, let's just say that I prefer a little more control. Even so, "Fall To Pieces" is captivating on the ED10 because it sort of grabs you by the collar....and demands your attention.

    Bass: 7.5/10


    The ED10 soundstage has slightly above average width and slightly above average depth, with decent imaging. You can easily place where each instrument is in your head but soundstage is a bit more intimate when the ED10 is compared to KZ's newer crop of multi-driver IEMs. The soundstage extended as far as my earlobes for width and just past the bridge of my nose in depth.
    Soundstage/Imaging: 7.5

    I know what you're thinking; what's with all the 7.5's if it such a great IEM? Don't let those numbers mislead you. The ED10 is an excellent IEM for long term listening sessions because you get plenty of energy with very little fatigue which is a bit of an anomaly. Lots of energy usually means fatigue can set in early on, but the ED10's roll off problematic frequencies (upper-midrange and upper-treble) that induce fatigue.

    KZ is best known for producing "fun" sounding IEMs like the ED10, though they have designed and tuned several models that lean toward a more balanced sound signature (ED3"Perfection", EDR2 and arguably the HDS1) .

    Comparing the ED10 to KZ's newest hybrid models you can definitely hear the progress KZ has made with layering and separation in their multiple driver setups, but I'll be the first one to advise others not to lose sight of the absolute coherency a well-tuned dynamic driver can deliver. The multi-driver IEMs are indeed more dynamic due to the improved separation and layering but the ED10 holds up pretty well all things considered. My hope is that KZ is pursuing graphene dynamic driver technology in an effort to offer single dynamic driver IEMs that perform at a higher level with a quicker reflex response.

    Recently, KZ announced the coming release of 10 new IEMs. I have a particular affinity for micro-drivers (6mm or smaller) so my hope is that the smallest model in the new crop, the ED15, offers a graphene micro-driver for fast, accurate and deep bass coupled with a single balanced armature for exceptional resolution in the mid to upper frequencies.

    In the meantime I would definitely recommend adding the ED10 to your KZ collection if you ever come across them online or if the possibility of a trade arises. I pop mine in half of the time for fun and half of the time as a reminder of KZ's steady rise in popularity; KZ started to make some headway by outpacing many of their competitors. You'll probably have to pay more for them now since the ED10 is out of production but they will be a lot of fun and a great addition to your IEM collection. 61j2KVx-wcL._SL1600_-1.jpg
      B9Scrambler likes this.


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