KZ Symphony 1 Planar + 1DD

General Information

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Latest reviews

littlenezt

100+ Head-Fier
It's Decent....
Pros: +Technicalities
+BASS
+Value
Cons: - Intense Treble
- Big Shell
KZ Symphony
1DD + 1Planar
$59

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Before I begin this review, let me thank KZ for sending the Symphony in for review.
Rest assured, my review is 100% my own personal opinion.
Just in case you're interested on getting this IEM, you can get it here
https://www.kztws.com/products/kz-symphony

Unboxing
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Build Quality
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The faceplate is from metal, it looks kinda open, but I'm not sure if its really open or only just for aesthetics.
While the main shell is made from plastic, it is a decent feeling plastic.
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Cable is just MEH.
It is the KZ "bihun" cable, its usable but c'mon...

Comfort
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Despite its large shell, I can wear the Symphony for long listening session no problem, though maybe if you have smaller, you might get some comfort issues.

Sound

Tested using FIIO M23, Kiwi Ears Allegro, Stock Cable, Stock Eartips
Music is mostly from Apple Music (J-Pop, J-Rock, K-Pop, EDM, Rap, Metal, Jazz)

Tonality in General : V-Shaped
Bass
has strong bass boost, ranging from sub bass to around 300hz
Bass presentation is pretty bold, thick and full bodied.

Bass speed is normal, not that fast but not slow either, it still can be used with double pedal music, but for that kind of genre, I think the bass quantity is a bit too much.

Midrange is a bit weird here, the lower part is scooped out while the upper midrange is a bit boosted, it gives sense of spaciousness and clarity but at the same time it makes the overall body a bit thin.

Some vocal can get a bit sibilant from the treble boost, not all vocal but sometime its there.
Thankfully the vocal is not shouty.
While instrument sounds a bit intense, has good clarity but thin on the body.

Treble is boosted around mid treble area, its sounds sparkly, airy, forward and can be intense at times.
Though due to its boost and the planar driver used, it feels like the treble has superb detail retrieval, but in cost of the forwardness.

Technicalities
For its price, I can say the technicalities is very good.

Stage : Stage layering is decent / good.
Stage size is on the large side, also symmetrical in shape (width – depth).

Imaging : Good.
with the FIIO M23, it sounds holographic no joke, but with inferior source such as Kiwi Ears Allegro, it sounds 2.5D sounding to my ears.

Detail Retrieval : Very Good.
It has lots of textures and micro details, especially on the treble region (well probably thanks to its boosts and forwardness)

Positioning and Separation : Very Good.
Thanks to its large stage size, positioning an object and separating them is a breeze, tested on music and games (Valorant).

Conclusion

Is the KZ Symphony worth it?

YES, kind of.
If you're looking for an aggresive V-Shaped tuning profile then yeah sure go ahead grab this IEM.
It has bold satisfying bass and forward treble BUT with very good detail retrieval.

The only concern or nitpick I can give to the Symphony is that the shell is somewhat very large, so if you have smaller sized ears, the Symphony might not fit your ears.

thanks for reaching this far !

Just in case you're Indonesian or understand Bahasa Indonesia, you can check the video review of Symphony here


-littlenezt.
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jbfps116
yea the bass is a few db too much for kick drums IMO. but I love the treble response... I guess I just love elevated treble because I also like the ZS6.

Ceeluh7

500+ Head-Fier
KZ Symphony Review
Pros: -Build is nice

-Looks great

-Pretty deep sub-bass rumble

-Extended treble region

-Technically the Symphony is very nice

-Details

-Imaging
Cons: -Timbre (planar timbre to be exact)

-Somewhat of a disjointed sound

-Highs can be very tinsely & bright

-Midrange is recessed

-The low-end has quite a bit of emphasis against the rest of the mix

KZ Symphony Review



KZS Featured Image


KZS

KZ Symphony

Intro

Hello everyone, today I have with me one of the latest KZ/CCA iems, the KZ Symphony. It took me a bit longer to get to the Symphony as I was taking my time really getting to understand this iem and the direction that KZ was going with it. I try to have enough listening time to feel comfortable with the words that I write. The KZ Symphony is a dual driver hybrid iem which consists of a 13.2 mm Planar driver as well as a 6 mm dynamic driver. A very unique mix of driver tech, especially with such a small DD. Because of this driver configuration I was actually very ready to hear this set. Not every day you actually have the ability to hear a 1DD +1PL for roughly $60.

KZ

KZ has been on a couple year tear through the budget segment basically contending in every price point under $100 and that tear persists. Especially lately. It is actually hard not to be impressed by what KZ/CCA has been able to accomplish. Ya know, one great thing about this company is that they consistently add some of the best sets per their respective price points which gives the consumer the chance at owning a very nice sounding iem for cheap. It’s just the truth. I’ve personally reviewed quite a few over the last year. Ahead are some of those reviews:

AS16 Pro
VXS
CRA+
PR1 Hifi
EDCX
Linglong
ZVX
D-Fi
X-HBB PR2
Duo
EDXS
AS24
Krila
AZ20
ZAT
Rhapsody
PR3
ZSN Pro 2
CCA Trio

I’ve had a little bit of experience with KZ iems and I’d say that they have really turned out some solid choices in multiple price points. However, now we shall see how well that the KZ Symphony stacks up against the current crop of under $75 iems. I think I’m going to cut this intro short and get into it folks. The KZ Symphony everyone…


KZS


Gear used for testing

Ifi Go Blu

EPZ TP50

Aful SnowyNight

Fiio Q15

iBasso DX240 with Amp8 MK2

Shanling M6 Ultra

KZS


Packaging / Accessories

Unboxing

The unboxing experience is the same as most KZ/CCA unboxing experiences, pretty cut n’ dry. Only this time around the Symphony came packaged in a black box with a simple KZ logo on the front sleeve. Take the sleeve off and you are met with the Symphony which are sitting pretty in some foam cutouts. Under the earphones you’ll find the eartips as well as the cable. That’s about it folks. Not a lot but also, we probably shouldn’t expect a lot.

Symphony Packaging
Symphony Packaging

Eartips

KZS eartips

The tips provided inside the box are the regular KZ Starlines tips (S, M, L). I of course love these tips and do make use for them. Whether it be reversing them to use as Reverse Starlines or use them as-is on another earphone. I’ve always liked them, and they do have their use cases. The Starlines are very well known in the hobby with just about everyone having at least a few sets of them by now. KZ also added in one set of medium sized foam tips which are actually decent. I’ve always used KZ’s foamies. For my listening purposes I went with the included foam tips. I just found that the foams knocked down some of the rougher edges which would otherwise be a hint too bright and edgy. In fact, I’ll go a step further and declare that the foamies are the only way to go with the Symphony. I tried silicone tips, and the treble was simply too much. However, it may pay to tip roll with these little bad boys as the sound is very particular. We will talk about that later.



Cable

KZS Cable

The cable which comes packaged is your standard fare which has come with just about every KZ set for years now. This is one area that we simply never see upgraded. I would think that KZ does this for a reason. They know we’re swapping cables. They must! Anyways, the included cable is the same opaque/white silver-plated copper cable. It’s a QDC 2-Pin cable with a 3.5 single ended right-angle jack. Honestly, it isn’t a bad cable. For the price it’s not bad and does the job. However, for my purposes I did swap cables to a Youkamoo 4.4 balanced SPC cable which looks really great paired with the Symphony. It’s a dope looking cheaper cable and the Symphony is a dope looking set. Not bad at all. I also used the Tripowin C8 balanced cable as well. Both were great pairings. That said, I only use the balanced cable for balanced sources. You do not need to go that far at all. If all you have is a phone or 3.5 single ended source, then you’ll be perfectly fine using the included cable.

KZS



Build / Design / Internals / Fit

Build Quality

The quality of the build is as always pretty good. KZ usually crafts iems which have a solid build. Seriously, every set has some sort of alloy, usually the faceplates. While the Shells are almost always made of a hard formed plastic. The Symphony is no different. However, the Symphony shells are also made by way of 3D printing which helped to mold the internal cavity. Inside you’ll also see some sound tubes created into the mold as well. The overall size of the Symphony is rather large, similar to the Rhapsody in almost every way. If they are the same as the Rhapsody then they are the same as the AS24, the ZAT and many other sets which have the same general mold. It’s a good shape that fits most ears. Hence, why KZ still uses it… constantly. The nozzles are average length with some good-sized tips. It’s a nice build. Nothing that will wow you or change your life but it’s good for $60.

KZS Build Quality
KZS Build Quality
KZS Build Quality
KZS Build Quality

Design

Possibly one of the best aspects of the Symphony (other than the name) is the actual design and aesthetic of this set. Of course, this is very similar to other recent models like the KZ PR3 in that the faceplate has that industrial sleek look with the apparent grating used as the grill. It’s a very cool design. This is another area that KZ/CCA seems to excel at. The Shells are a darker amber/brown and are semitransparent. Clear enough to see the planar and dynamic drivers within. There are a lot of nice little classy touches on the Symphony. Like the cursive “Symphony” in thin white writing about the faceplate grating. The faceplates themselves are almost a chrome silver polish which is definitely a fingerprint trap. Under the faceplates is what appears to be a mesh of some sort. Now, I have zero idea if this is only for the purpose of design or if the Symphony really is an open back style. I am assuming it’s for the design though.

Internals

Now, we get to the meat and the true purpose that I was so happy to get this set in my ears. Like I stated earlier, the KZ Symphony is a hybrid iem which consists of one 13.2 mm planar magnetic driver as well as one 6 mm dynamic driver. The dynamic driver is meant to specifically aid in the bass response. I can see where KZ was trying to go with this. For all intents and purposes, the drivers seem capable enough.

Fit

Speaking for myself, I have a nice fit with this set. I also had a great fit with all the other KZ/CCA iems that used this body style. They seem to sit perfectly in my ears. Now I have no idea if the Symphony is going to fit you. I would assume that most folks would have a decent fit anyways. Yes, they are a hair on the large side of things, but the nozzle doesn’t reach super deep into the ear. Just find the right tips and you are in business. As far as isolation is concerned, I’d say that the Symphony has average passive isolation. Not better or worse than your average iem nowadays.

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Drivability

The KZ Symphony is rated at 18 ohms but a sensitivity of only 95 db’s. However, the low impedance does help the Symphony to not be very hard to drive. Having said that, I definitely feel you need at least a decent dongle dac or Bluetooth dac/amp. Even better to have more juice though. That said, the best I have heard the KZ Symphony was with the Fiio Q15 and the Shanling M6 Ultra, both in high gain. This set turns into its best self with more power. I don’t feel that either driver comes alive unless you have more output. Anyway, I used the IFi Go Blu as well as the Qudelix 5k quite a lot while listening to the Symphony. Only due to the fact that I was doing a ton of housework and fixing up stuff around my home. Without question I felt the Go Blu sounded better with better synergy when using the X-Bass button. Without power the bass feels disjointed a hair. The 5k didn’t work for me, only due to the highs on this set as the 5k had a bit too much of the dual ES9219 dac chips and this embellished the highs a hint more. The Go Blu sort of rounded those edgy peaks off a hair. Plus, it has a hint more power too, which definitely helps.

Dongle Dacs

KZ Symphony Review Pic (50).JPGI also used many dongle dacs. However, I used two almost predominantly, those are the Aful SnowyNight and the EPZ TP50. I actually listened to the TP50 the most for a review I was working on and so it was a constant in my ears while in my office. Folks, that brand new CS43198 dac chip within the TP50 and SnowyNight is so nice. They work pretty well on the Symphony. Both sounds very similar and offer a similar experience. Using high gain on both devices seemed to tighten up the bass a hint as well as contour the upper mids as well. To a degree. The Symphony is a set which could use a bit more power to perform at its best, along with foam tips. I do feel that finding the right source tonality to fit your preferred sound is a must with the Symphony.

A bit more juice

For instance, listening to the iBasso DX240, Shanling M6 Ultra and Fiio Q15 each gave me a slightly different overall sound. Between them, I certainly liked the Q15 the most. It has that robust yet resolving sound with a great technical chops which seemed to pair perfectly with the Symphony. You have to consider synergy as it is always a cog in the listening experience and how well that experience brings you the greatest joy.

What do you need?

Like I said, at the very least you should find a cheap dongle dac. They are very inexpensive anymore and there are quite literally thousands on the market. However, I do feel that the more power you have, the better. The Symphony houses that 13.2mm planar which just like any planar… needs and wants a bit more power output. Still, to simply get this set to volume and begin listening I would tell you to use what you have. Just remember, more power the better. At least it is to an extent.


KZS

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Sound Impressions

The KZ Symphony has a unique driver configuration as this is KZ’s 1st attempt at bringing a hybrid planar and DD combo. A very interesting mix with a full sized planar but yet a very small 6 mm dynamic driver. I find that most smaller DD’s usually won’t push as much air leaving some of the deep sub-bass rumble out. This is not a forgone conclusion though as there are definitely outliers that sound fantastic. So, I suppose it’s all in the implementation. As far as the Symphony is concerned, it’s most certainly a V-shaped overall sound signature with heavily emphasized sub-bass and a very uplifted treble region. However, this low-end emphasis doesn’t really come across with the meat that a larger 10 mm driver would have, unless you crank the power. This helps the drivers to balance out I feel. I hear very good detail retrieval with pinpoint imaging and good separation and a larger than average soundstage. There are some very good points to the sound as well as some things which will be issues for some folks. The sound comes across slightly disjointed between the bass, mids, and highs to a degree, but I like where KZ is headed here and very curious to see where they go.

Prerequisites

I should also add that prior to giving this set some real power, listening at lower volumes rather than what I usually listen, and using foam tips does help. Honestly, I thought it was one of the worst sets that KZ has ever made prior to that. I still don’t think it’s their best and certainly isn’t my preference, but I also think that it’s not bad at all. I’m telling you people, with high gain enabled on my almost 1-watt Shanling M6 Ultra and high gain enabled on my 1.6-watt Fiio Q15 the Symphony did in fact sound much better. The bass almost equaled the dynamic balance of the treble which is what was needed. Of course, the treble is still too much for me, but I could see how people would like this set. With the conditions I outlined. Also, higher volumes things get a bit out of cohesion I’ve noticed. Prior to that, I was not happy and bounced around even reviewing this set. I don’t review stuff I don’t like and so I was about to send them away and let KZ know that they just don’t jive with me. However, using foamies, lower volumes and power helped. Remember, this is a 6 mm dynamic and a 13.2 mm planar set. I cannot imagine it’s easy to make these two plays along cohesively. I do wish that KZ would’ve bumped up to a larger DD but that’s not the case. Please don’t take my words as though I’m rec’ing this set. That’s not what I’m saying. I am saying that I can see how v-shaped folks would like them.

Condensed Sound Between the Two 20’s

Beginning with the bass region, the Symphony has huge sub-bass rumble and deepness, but the mid-bass seems to lag a bit behind. The mid bass can still slam and boom, but not as earth shaking as the graph states. This is a reasonably tight bass with only a slightly lingering decay. The midrange is slightly recessed, like most V-shaped iems. There isn’t a ton of bleed over from the low-end into the mids as well which makes them a bit thin. The Symphony has a slightly warmer low-mids and a bit more shimmery and thinner upper-mids. The treble is very bright with a persistent treble sheen which overlays that region. Definitely enough to bring some levity to the sound as a whole. That’s putting it politely. Basically, the treble will be too much for some. Again, unless you have some foam tips which do knock down that treble enough and keep the volume down to a reasonable level. Details are actually very good apart from any heavy bass tracks. Imaging is spot on, and separation of instruments and vocals is good for the price too. I find the stage size to be above average to very good in all ways. There are certainly some issues to note, and I do cover those in the next few sections.

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Graph courtesy of Paul Wasabii, Thank You!


KZS



Bass Region

The low-end of the KZ Symphony has a very thick feel to it. A sub-bass beast wh3n powered well. For me that was high gain on the Shanling M6 Ultra and Fiio Q15. The bass generally is slower to decay and has a wide presence. It makes its presence felt. This is a very warm bass region that is closer to syrupy rather than compact and dense. I want to say that it is big, bulbous and unnervingly grandiose. Look at the graph! It looks like a low hanging pregnancy if you flip it up on its vertical. It should be the type which rattles the wax out of your ears. This boggles my mind wondering why there was this detached feeling to the bass region. With enough juice It is dynamic in its presence with that localized and dense vibrance down low. Without power it feels held back and pushed back. Then it dawned on me that we are in fact dealing with a 6 mm dynamic driver covering the low-end. You simply don’t get a huge amount of air and sound pressure. The surface area of a 6mm driver simply doesn’t produce the same experience. Like I said, I would’ve loved to see a slightly larger DD. Anyways, feed the Symphony some power and both drivers seem to come together a bit better, the sub-bass gets flat out nasty deep too. Still a slight lack of cohesion, but this is what worked for me.

Sub-bass

The lowest of lows can flat out bang! Now, with less power I didn’t get this, and the sub-bass felt held back and almost pushed behind everything else. It wasn’t until I began playing around (without EQ) to try to make this set work for me. The sub-bass can growl very deep and become pretty overbearing and boomy which does cover up and mask some frequencies. This won’t be a problem for folks who enjoy more bulbous and grumbling bass down low. Listening to “Groove” by Ray Wylie Hubbard you can hear and feel the haptic vibration that this little 6 mm driver can put out when pushed a bit. This track has a pretty deep bassline that moves along to Ray’s deadpan vocals. I did not get any masking of his voice, which is good, and I was impressed by the deepness of the bass. This can work for some genres. Granted, it isn’t my favorite type of bass but again, I can see how some would enjoy it.

Mid-bass

The mid-bass has a bit less weight to it than the sub-bass levels and does feel a little held back. Oddly enough, this isn’t all the time. Some tracks come across better than others to where the Symphony sounds like a fun set. Anyways, the Symphony has a bass that’s hard to pin down. Timbre-wise it is just fine, no issues there. The transient attack through sustain is reasonably quick and without a huge amount of decay drag and so the mid-bass doesn’t come across slow. I wouldn’t call it that. “I Can’t Stop” from Big Boss Vette off of the Across the Spider-Verse Soundtrack showcases a round, tight and springy bass which keeps up well with the surrounding digital melody and doesn’t mask over anything. Also, in “Stereo Colour Cloud” by Sampha, this is a bass that can easily begin to mask as the bass is the foundation to this track. The lead’s voice is never cast in veil, and it all comes across clean enough. The only slight subjective issue is that the bass sounds a hint pushed back. Still authoritative against the rest of the sound field. I figured that was worth noting.

Downsides to the Bass Region

This has been an up and down review of the bass region so far. There’re some good aspects as well as some not-so-good aspects of the bass. One thing I didn’t really speak on enough is that in bass heavy tracks the low-end can get pretty over saturated which can mask other frequencies. Then the mid-bass doesn’t sound like I’m getting that nice transition from the sub-bass. On the bright side, the bass doesn’t sound flabby or pillowy and has great density, especially in the sub-bass. Not at all perfect and I do think that KZ will have to go back to the drawing board but, not horrible either. Also, this is a first try at this driver configuration and so you’ll see some issues. It’s like anything else.

KZS



Midrange

The midrange doesn’t get a whole lot of warmth and weight from the bass due to the more dramatic roll-off of that bass into the midrange. To my ears I hear a pretty hard recession which isn’t their best tuning to date unfortunately. I think fans of ole school V-shaped iems who don’t mind some thinner scooped mids, will find this appealing, but anyone looking for balance may think about moving on. Or, even checking out some of KZ’s very well-tuned iems. That said, I don’t want to beat a dead horse here. Also, after a while my brain adapts, and I can listen just fine. Is it my favorite? No, it isn’t. I like a balance, more forward style mids with a hint of warmth from the low-end. I like a hint more smoothness as well. However, here we are. The midrange is kind of thin, pretty resolute and fairly detailed but it will not give you that hearty note weight and is actually leaning to the artificial side of the aisle within the timbre. Similar to the KZ PR3, so if you enjoy the PR3 then you’ll like the Symphony.

Lower-midrange

Listening to the lower midrange I hear a certain thinness in this region compared to recent KZ/CCA releases. Kind of a departure from a winning tuning philosophy. Like I said it takes me a minute to gather my senses and get with the tuning. Anyways, it’s thinner and the note density isn’t there like I’d like. They just feel less present, less proportionally weighted across the spectrum with boosted highs and not a lot of warmth to counterbalance the mix.

What you end up with is Chris Stapleton coming across thin and a hair edgy on “Tennessee Whiskey”. His voice needs body and his voice needs just a hint of smoothness and warmth to really carry the inflections in that voice. Also, the sub-bass reverberant growling drone of the bass guitar is a bit much on this track, while the strumming guitar sounds almost a hint too thin and tinsely. I am being beyond picky here. I simply want you to know what you’re getting. Even deeper pitched singers like the bass singer Avi Kaplan (which I always use for review purposes) sounds a bit too lifted. The track “First Place I Go” sounds only slightly resonant and I’m missing that deep drone to his voice. Ya know, he has a voice with a fundamental frequency somewhere in the bass to low-mids, but his harmonics live in the midrange. Avi’s voice sounds a bit too pushed back in the sound field, thinner than usual, and his voice is less sonorous and more artificial vibrant than anything.

Then again…

On the other hand, The Paper Kites sing “Pocket Full of Rain” which truly comes across beautifully when the Symphony is in my ears. The tuning really fits the mellow sound of the track. Almost adding a slight vibrance to the otherwise more mundane and dull sound. The lead’s voice sounds natural and organic and just sounds great. This is the stuff you run into folks. On one hand I’m telling you thin, vibrant, artificial, and on the other I’m telling you something different. More mellow tracks sound fine. Tracks which won’t pull in those upper frequency notes.

Upper-Midrange

From the mid-mids to the upper midrange is closer to appropriate as far as presence. Females for example are generally more forward in the mix from their male counterparts. This isn’t an across-the-board truth, however. Generally, it’s true though. Now, having said that, I also find females still don’t come across as timbre accurate as I think most hobbyists would enjoy. Perhaps KZ needed a hint less treble emphasis and a hint more of a gradual slope from the bass to the midrange. However, once again this is not an across-the-board theme. The sound of some females is great. For instance, Olivia Rodrigo in the track “Teenage Dream”. Her voice sounds very melodic as the entire track is more reserved and withdrawn. This is an emotional track with this reticent style singing from Olivia which keeps the vibrance down and so it is a winning combo on the Symphony. However, once you play a track like “High” by Caitlyn Smith, you begin to hear that vibrance which also happens to bring out some sibilance and planar timbre. Especially in the more strident and vivacious areas within the chorus. Just a bit too much of that treble footprint shows up in the upper mids.

Downsides to the Midrange

The biggest downside of the midrange is that it is recessed a bit too much in the lower midrange which gives off a slightly distant feel. I realize this won’t bother everyone and some may actually really enjoy the sound. I don’t want to discredit you at all. But it’s just a bit recessed. Not horrible. The midrange also has some planar timbre show up which I assume comes from not enough balance in the mix. It truly isn’t always bad and there are plenty of tracks which come across beautifully on the Symphony. It’s when you push it a bit too much in the vibrance area that things start to become sheened- out and sibilant. Again, I am definitely talking up some of the worse infractions of the midrange and I don’t think it’s as bad as I make it come across in my words. It’s simply a departure from the great tunings we’ve seen lately.

KZS



Treble Region

The treble of the KZ Symphony is very bright and very lifted, especially when pumping up the volume. Even with foam tips it can be a bit too much. Now, this isn’t every track. For instance, I was just listening through some critical listening playlists I happened upon one of the harsh tracks. Friends, it was far too bright. Of course this was also at higher volumes too. Without question the Symphony treble is better heard with less volume. This is a treble that is over emphasized, which contrasts in a negative way against the bass, and so you don’t have that nice balance and smooth transition. Almost like the 6mm DD is trying hard to play catch-up to the planar. So of course, the track that you are listening to plays a part and so does your source to a degree and the tips you use. However, I think it’s clear that the treble is pretty jarring at times. The treble is very tinsely and chimney rather than controlled brilliance. Simply too much of a direct disconnect and lack of cohesion between the frequencies for my personal taste. Again, it all comes together a bit better at lower volumes for me. I could certainly see some people who enjoy this though. Hence why I’m reviewing them. If I didn’t think anyone would enjoy them, I would not review them. Plain and simple. There are a number of sets where the treble doesn’t play as big a role and those usually sound okay. However, even without treble activity on a track doesn’t mean that the treble doesn’t affect other frequencies to a degree.

Redeeming Qualities

On the good side the treble has fantastic extension. Yes, it’s a bit splashy but we are focusing on the good stuff. Also, this is a treble that is very well detailed and well defined with some very good note separation as well. I do feel that treble heads who enjoy some forced treble would also enjoy the Symphony as well. Another thing that the Symphony treble region excels at is in complicated tracks. This is a planar driver which can move pretty quick and doesn’t miss much. Billy Strings song “Secrets” has some fast paced near treble banjo play and the Symphony cooks right along without skipping a beat. So, there are certainly redeeming qualities here.

Downsides to the Treble Region

I feel like this section has been a downside and I never want to point out flaws over an entire section. Especially for KZ who has always been very good to me. Certainly, it isn’t personal. I don’t jump on the “hate KZ” bandwagon. I’m not that guy. I have heard way too many good sets from them. I mean way too many. Also, I’ve given rave reviews countless times for their products. So, I won’t list all those things again. You get the picture. Treble is bright. High volumes are a bit much and lack cohesion too.

KZS



Technicalities

Soundstage

The next couple sections are where the Symphony actually fares very well. Looking at the soundstage in particular, it’s a good-sized stage. I hear good width, good height and even a slight bit of depth. Which is not the norm for a planar. Even more-so with more juice. I wouldn’t call this a grand stage or a coliseum type of stage breadth, but for an in-ear costing $60…its big enough and it does make a difference in your listening.

Separation / Imaging

Another area where the Symphony shined. I felt it was very easy to pick apart different instruments with a fine lined control. The Symphony does a great job of making distinct elements of a stage that don’t seem to overlap or get confused. Even on more complicated tracks I was quite happy with what I heard. The only real caveat would be overtly bass heavy jams. Those types of tracks did have some masking going on and so separation was a bit more difficult to discern for me. Imaging is another bright spot as well. I feel that I haven’t had an issue with the placement of elements of a stage which is a good thing to hear. Left to right and even front to back (to a small degree) sounded as though everything was in its place pretty much all the time.

Detail Retrieval

Hearing all the subtle little details in my music really isn’t hard on this set except when the track I’m listening to has a lot of bass presence. Heavier bass jams will mask some frequencies at times but that is to be expected with a more elevated low-end. Other than that, the Symphony does have tighter transients, a wider and more separated stage, resolution is nice, and the treble is lifted which will always help to bring out some of the finer things in my music. All of this helps the Symphony to come across a bit better than most iems in the price point with detail retrieval. Certainly, above average.

KZS



Is it worth the asking price?

I can only answer for myself folks. This is always a tough thing to answer but I will come right out with it… no I don’t think so. For me personally. To be fair, the only reason I say this is because it simply isn’t my favorite sound signature. I don’t enjoy the ultra-bright treble and there really needs a bit more mid-bass emphasis to balance things out. There are so many other iems out there in the Audioverse at the same price point which make more sense. Shoot, there are KZ/CCA iems that would make more sense. Sets like the CCA Trio, CCA Rhapsody, KZ ZAT among many others. Now if it’s simply the planar tech that is driving you to get this set and you enjoy a hearty sub-bass with a bright treble, then yes, it’s worth it. I do think it’s an upgrade from the KZ PR3. However, I said the PR3 wasn’t my favorite sound signature as well. Now, does the Symphony have redeeming qualities? Absolutely it does. Also, it’s easy to EQ and takes to EQ very well, like most planar magnetic earphones. I actually increased the mid-bass and dropped the frequency past 4k down a few db’s and I can get this set to where it makes sense for me.

The Why…

If I’m answering “why” the KZ Symphony is worth the money that KZ is asking I would have to put myself in the place of a person who enjoys that brighter treble and deep sub-bass kick. Perhaps someone who loves the KZ PR3 but simply needs some oomph down low. The Symphony is worth it to the person who loves crisp over smooth and a highly resolute playback over musicality. The reason the Symphony would be worth every penny is because this set has a very unique driver configuration which is a great addition to a collection. Also, the Symphony takes to EQ very well. This is not a bad set folks. In fact, it’s quite good. However, it is simply a stretch that this tuning was going to appeal to many hobbyists. However, for those who do enjoy what I’ve described, you’re in luck because the KZ Symphony is a very cheap planar hybrid.

KZS



Ratings (0-10)

Note: all ratings are based upon my subjective judgment. These ratings are garnered against either similarly priced sets or with similar driver implementations or styles with the unique parameters of my choosing. In the case of the KZ Symphony ratings below, that would be $40-$75 iems in any driver configuration. Please remember that “ratings” don’t tell the whole story. This leaves out nuance and a number of other qualities which make an iem what it is. A “5-6” is roughly average and please take into consideration the “lot” of iems these ratings are gathered against. $40-$75 US is a huge scope of iems that is extremely competitive, and so seeing a Rating above a “9.0” better mean something very special. My ratings are never the same and each set of ratings tells a different story. Each time you read one of my ratings will be unique to that review. Basically, I create a Rating that makes sense to me.

Aesthetic

Build Quality: 8.8 Built well, as per usual with KZ.

Look: 9.2 This set is dope looking.

Fit/Comfort: 8.9 Fit and comfort is great for me.

Accessories: 5.5 This is expected, no big deal.

Overall: 8.1🔥🔥


Sound Rating

Timbre: 6.5 Some artificial timbre, planar timbre.

Bass: 7.9 Beefy sub-bass that rumbles.

Midrange: 7.0 Recessed low-mids, not bad, a little artificial.

Treble: 7.4 Very bright but also technically very good too.

Technicalities: 9.5 Technically a very fine set.

Musicality: 6.3 Technicality over musicality.

Overall: 7.4🔥🔥

Ratings Summary:

To summarize the ratings above I first want to say that comparing any and all iems of any driver configuration at the price of $40 to $75. There are a ton of iems which sit very comfortably in this price range. Oh, and by the way, this also happens to be smack dab in the middle of one of the most successful and heralded price points in all of audio between $50 & $100. It’s simply a loaded range to try to come in with anything that isn’t perfectly stellar. So, the ratings may appear a bit lower but there is a good reason for that.

Okay, so there are some very debatable ratings above. One would be the bass rating. I could see this go either way. I could see folks Rating this much lower and much higher. It all depends on your likes and dislikes. The bass has such a heavy-handed sub-bass, but the mid-bass doesn’t really show up as much. Some folks will drool over this. Hence, a “7.9”. Still a great score. The treble rating is another which some will think I’m nuts. Treble heads may think the treble is great and I understand that. For me it’s simply a few db’s too boosted across the upper ranges but I know plenty of folks who love this type of sound. The rest of the ratings are pretty reasonable I suppose.

KZS



Conclusion

To conclude my full written review of the KZ Symphony, I have to first thank the kind folks of KZ as well as Tyvan Lam. KZ has always been good to me, and I have enjoyed listening to their sets for a long time. By and large I enjoy them and never got onto the KZ-hate bandwagon. I don’t do that sort of stuff. I follow my own lead and look at things from a perspective that I understand. Not like some other reviewers who feel they get bonus points from the peanut gallery if they put KZ down. Really strange. So no, I don’t play that game. KZ has made so many great sets for far cheaper than anyone else giving people of less fortunate situations the ability to have good sounding in-ears, in their ears. It’s a beautiful thing. How can you hate that? I’m telling you it’s weird folks. Also, who cares about their public relations? I hear worse at the jobsite by 8am then KZ has ever said and done. It’s time we grow up. Be tough. Also, thanks KZ for sending out this unit in exchange for a feature at Mobileaudiophile.com. Thank you for never asking me to change my words and always being content with my thoughts, no matter what those thoughts look like. I can respect that. Folks, I can count on my hand the number of brands who are similar in this respect.

Other perspectives

As always, please check out other reviews of the KZ Symphony. Please do this. Especially, because I told you all through this review that the tuning does not fit me. Please listen to, read, or watch other reviewers who may actually love this set. I know they are out there. It will only pay off for you to hear more voices concerning this set. With that, I think I’m done. Please take good care, stay as safe as possible and always…God Bless.

OceanOfLight

New Head-Fier
What is this Symphony?
Pros: - Clear treble with very good extension
- Bass is powerful and way more present than in the PR2 and PR3
- Really good build quality and slick design
- Very expansive and immersive soundstage
Cons: - The midrange is recessed
- Treble can get harsh on very bright some songs.
Introduction
Where to begin? It's been a while since KZ has produced such a divisive pair of IEMs. Lately, they have been crafting really good IEMs, and it doesn't help that the Symphony is overall on the pricier side compared to other models made by KZ. The idea behind the Symphony is quite straightforward: "Our previous planar models were found to be lacking in the bass department. What if, by combining a Dynamic Driver with our Planar one, we could have the best of both worlds in one pair?" With this simple yet effective idea, the Symphony has come into existence.

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Disclaimer: I bought the KZ Symphony with my own money.

Technical Specifications
・Drivers: 1 x 13.2mm Planar driver + 1 x 6mm Dynamic Driver
・Impedance: 18 Ω
・Sensitivity: 95 dB

Packaging
The KZ Symphony comes in a different than usual black box, but it shares the same contents as the KZ standard one, which includes:
・The IEM (KZ Symphony)
・3 pairs of KZ Starline silicone ear tips (S, M, L) and one set of medium-sized foam tips
・A QDC 3.5 silver-plated cable

Gears I used for the review:
DAC:
FiiO BTR15
It's more "analog" than "hi-fi" sounding. Very neutral presentation, very open sounding, and not aggressive at all on the higher frequencies (especially in the pinna region) . So, keep that in mind, because like every DAC it has an identity, and this identity will actively influence my perception of the Symphony and therefore my review as a whole.
Cable 1:
TRN T2 PRO 4.4mm
It's quite a "neutral" cable, it doesn't seem to alter the sound of the IEM much compared to the default KZ cable, but the build quality and material are better compared to it, and foremost, it gives me access to the 4.4 port.
Cable 2:
NiceHCK BlackCat 4.4
Definitely not a "neutral" cable, it tightens up the bass and bumps up the mids. This is a really nice "fix" if the Symphony is way too V-shaped for your taste.

Drivability
I would highly suggest pairing the Symphony with a good DAC/AMP, as it is almost as power-hungry as the PR2. Needless to say, a good DAC will also improve dynamics and detail retrieval compared to integrated ones. If you have a DAC/AMP that supports a balanced connection, even better! Compared to the 3.5mm unbalanced connection, the soundstage of the Symphony improves massively when used on the balanced port (2.5mm, 4.4mm).

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Sound Signature
The KZ Symphony delivers a more “classic” KZ sound, characterized by a distinct V-shaped tuning. The bass presence is noticeable without becoming overwhelming. It provides a solid foundation for the overall sound signature. The midrange, however, takes a step back, residing more recessed and subtly in the background. This contributes to creating a sense of spaciousness and separation. As for the treble, it is crystal clear and with exceptional extension. In summary, the KZ Symphony embodies a classic “fun” signature, and what makes it even more captivating is the expansive soundstage it offers.

Bass
The KZ Symphony showcases a full-bodied bass that manages to strike a balance between precision and control. It performs admirably across both the sub-bass and mid-bass ranges, without encountering any significant issues. Notably, the bass delivers a solid punch, which adds an engaging dynamic to the overall sound. Additionally, it synergizes effectively with the planar driver, introducing a touch of warmth to the IEM. This warmth is particularly valuable, as planar drivers can sometimes lack it on their own. An important observation is that there is no midrange bleed. This means that the bass doesn’t spill over into the midrange frequencies, preserving clarity and separation. In summary, the KZ Symphony’s 6mm driver impresses with its bass performance, offering a well-controlled and punchy experience.

Midrange
As per other reviewers, the midrange in the Symphony is recessed. However, I’d like to emphasize that it’s slightly more recessed than what you may typically encounter in other v-shaped IEMs. In my opinion, the Symphony could have benefited from a subtler V-shaped tuning to cater to a broader audience. But to be honest, I’ve grown to appreciate this tuning over time. Male vocals, lower-stringed instruments, and even female vocals may appear a tad more distant and subdued than usual, yet there’s an undeniable charm to this tuning. Ultimately, the Symphony’s mids, though recessed, are executed with finesse. They serve as a canvas, allowing the lows and highs to truly shine.

Treble
Some individuals have criticized the Symphony’s treble, but I respectfully disagree. For me, the treble is not a drawback; in fact, it stands out as a highlight of this IEM. It shares the same quality that can also be found in the PR3 (same planar driver): the treble is crystal clear with exceptionally good extension. However, it’s essential to recognize that individuals who are treble-sensitive might perceive it as fatiguing. But I believe this is more of a preference issue rather than an inherent flaw of the product. As a side note, I would say that when compared to the PR3 and especially the PR2, the treble can be perceived as a bit ‘tamer’. This effect is due to the fact that it is better counterbalanced by the bass of the 6mm dynamic driver in the Symphony.

Soundstage
The soundstage of the Symphony is remarkably expansive and incredibly immersive, boasting a generous width and really good depth. Additionally, the imaging is excellent, aligning well with other models in the same price range.

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Conclusion
The KZ Symphony is a highly competent IEM for the price (I purchased it on sale for $55). In fact, I would even say it’s exceptionally good. It provides a well-rounded, fun and enjoyable listening experience. While I do believe that a less V-shaped tuning might have made it less controversial and divisive, over time, I’ve come to appreciate its uniqueness, and it has become more of a pro than a con for me. So, in the end has the idea behind this hybrid worked? Yes, the Symphony is a KZ planar IEM that doesn’t fall behind in the bass department, while still offering a good performance in the mids and an exceptional one in the treble region, thanks to its very capable planar driver. Does the Symphony still have room for improvement? Undoubtedly, and I’m sure KZ will capitalize on that with a next iteration. But for the time being (especially if you like really good V-shaped IEM) the Symphony has got you covered.
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Nimweth
Nimweth
My NICE HCK Black Cat cable came today. I first tried it with the PR3 which was great. You are right, the Symphony sounds really good with the Black Cat. Thank you for the recommendation.
O
OceanOfLight
Really happy you liked it! :)
Nimweth
Nimweth
Yes, the Black Cat adds a little warmth to the mid bass, lifts the mids and smooths out the top end. It addresses the slight tonal inaccuracies and it works really well.

Comments

passie42

100+ Head-Fier
Probably crap like all the other Kz IEM’s (except for the LingLong which actually sounds amazing, a first from Kz).
 

OceanOfLight

New Head-Fier
Probably crap like all the other Kz IEM’s (except for the LingLong which actually sounds amazing, a first from Kz).
Generalization at its finest. KZ it's killing it right now with its latest releases Castor (both Harman and Bass version), Krila, PR2, PR3, ZSN PRO 2, Rapsody and so on. The value is simply ridiculous for the price.
 
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dimapro

New Head-Fier
Alright, I'm intrigued. CCA Rhapsody is really good.

Can't wait for the real graph in a database from a reviewer. Hope they dampened treble enough, otherwise planar will guarantee to have a peak there. 🤞
 

OceanOfLight

New Head-Fier
For the people that are curious, a Japanese reviewer posted a detailed review of the new KZ Symphony on X. You can translate it directly from there, X use google translate and the translation is decent enough. To sum it up, he thinks the KZ Symphony is really good IEM, and it feels like a combination of Castor Bass and the PR3. Have a good read!

EDIT: he posted it on its site, it's more in depth and well formatted. Here's the new link:
KZ Symphony Review
 
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OceanOfLight

New Head-Fier
Another (positive) Japanese review of the KZ Symphony. The reviewer also briefly but effectively compared it with other planar IEMs in the same price range. Have a good read! :)

https://sat03.hatenablog.com/entry/2024/03/07/205428

To sum it up:
"I've always liked KZ's donshari* sound (*V shaped), so I quite like KZ Symphony and I use it often.

While inheriting the fun sound signature of KZ, it has an even higher sound quality.

The 13.2mm planar drive driver delivers clear, high-resolution sound quality.

In addition, the 6mm Dynamic driver compensates for the power and thickness of the sound, fully expressing the charm of the song.

Compared to other planar models of other brands, I think the Symphony has achieved an even better sound quality
.

In addition, considering the price of about 10,000 yen (80 dollars), the cost performance is also very good.

KZ Symphony is one IEM that I can recommend.

I think it's a good option for those who are buying planar drive earphones for the first time.

If you like the KZ sound, you should definitely buy it.
"
 
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OceanOfLight

New Head-Fier
My go-to Japanese reviewer has given the Symphony 5 stars out of 5.

I'm quite surprised by the discrepancy in taste and opinions between the majority of "our" reviewers and Japanese ones. As for me, since I pretty much enjoyed all the 5 stars IEMs and cables he reviewed, I'm happy that I ordered the Symphony.

The narrative with the Symphony for Japanese reviewers at least, seems to be that it improves on the PR series formula by adding the bass that it was lacking (thanks to the 6mm DD), and letting their planar driver do what it does best (medium and high frequencies), and this makes perfect sense.

Personally, I really liked the PR3 (way more than the PR2) especially in the treble region that I found way more refined and less harsh. The only thing that it could be said it was "lacking" (and here too, is a pure matter of taste, not all IEM should sound the same) was in the bass department, so the Symphony could potentially fill this hole in the PR series.

As for me I'm really curious to try it out, every now and then it's cool to try a polarizing set of IEM, especially now that Harman-Ish curves seems to be the go-to for so many makers.

The video review is here, but as for now there are not English subtitle available yet.

 
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OceanOfLight

New Head-Fier
Yes, it’s me again. One of my trusted Japanese reviewers has published a video review of the Symphony.

They tend to post reviews with English translations straight out of the box, and they do REALLY detailed testing with the IEMs they review: they do direct audio comparisons between the IEM they are reviewing compared to other IEMs tested on various genres of songs, they clearly state the cable and the DAC/AMP they used for the testing, and they even do graphs of the same IEM with 8-10 different type of ear-tips!

So, I highly suggest following them, they are a really good source of information, and I tend to base many of my purchases on their feedback. Plus, they are also very fun and entertaining in how they present their contents.

 
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passie42

100+ Head-Fier
Generalization at its finest. KZ it's killing it right now with its latest releases (Castor (both Harman and Bass version), Krila, PR2, PR3, ZSN PRO 2, Rapsody and so on. The value is simply ridiculous for the price.
I owned the Castor, Krila, PR1, PR2, PR3, ZEX Pro, DQ6, LingLong and ZS10 Pro X so it’s save to say I had my share of KZ. So how do you come up with generalization? They all suck. The PR1 balanced edition is the best out of the bunch but they can’t compete with the competition. Period. I stand with my statement. Until now KZ sucks. I haven’t heard the Rhapsody or Symphony but I am not going to spend 80,- euro and than have to sell it with loss in a week. No, I am going to spend my money on the Kiwi Ears Crinacle which probably be a is better.
 
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OceanOfLight

New Head-Fier
To each their own. Personally, I have over 10 KZ IEMs, and there is not a single pair that "sucks". Quite the contrary, to be honest. For me it's more a: "how can these IEMs sound THIS good for how much they cost?"

So, when I hear "all KZ IEMs sucks" my first thought is exactly "generalization at its finest". This is based on my direct experience with them and, overall, on the positive feedback that many reviewers continue to give them iteration after iteration.

So, ultimately, you stand by your statement, and I stand by mine, nothing wrong with that.
 
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Wuzhishan

New Head-Fier
Happy to help! I'm glad you found them useful. :beyersmile:
My KZ Symphony just arrived! Loving it! We must be ready to disagree with the "anti-KZ" crowd. Thankfully, this community has room for people to make their own judgments. We should not impose personal sound preferences as a universal standard for all to follow.
 
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