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KZ ZS1 In-Ear Monitors

Rating:
4.125/5,
  1. nofacemonster
    KZ ZS1 heals my ears
    Written by nofacemonster
    Published Feb 5, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Warm laid back, dark, mellow bass sound. Ideal for those who fatigue easily with Highs.
    Cons - cable is similar to ATR, rubbery gummy and tangling type. Wish it was detachable.
    I am not an audiophile, just an enthusiast so you may not be able to take my idea about these headphones as a professional review. Reason for me to buy these because i felt almost everything i listened to was too bright. I can listen to them but then i get the fatigue quickly. After doing a bit of research someone recommended me KZ ZS1. Out of curiosity i bought them. It is exactly what i need for my treble (Highs) sensitive ears. They sounds so warm, mellow and laid back with heavy bass sound and they also sound dark. I can listen to them all day if i want to without feeling any listening fatigue.

    Build quality is ideal for its price and i really wish they had detachable cables so i could replace them without replacing the monitors when something happens.

    I highly recommend this to anyone who feels everything is too "BRIGHT".

    ( I am comparing them to KZ ZS5, KZ ATR, KZ ZS3, Panasonic RP-HTX7, Audio Technica S600, Philips SBS-HP200 (VERY OLD) )
  2. NymPHONOmaniac
    IMMENSE sound experience for a tiny tiny price. BOOM HEAD approuved. Very fun sounding toy!!
    Written by NymPHONOmaniac
    Published Aug 19, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Wide Soundstage, big rumbling boumboum bass, good instruments separation, cheapest dual drivers earphones on the market.
    Cons - Lack of details, mids and highs, bass can bloat the mids and can sound out of control, pretty big and uncomfortable.
    KZ ZS1 Review :
     
    s-l16dd00.jpg
     
     
    God bless KZ for their incredible value earphones that open doors to audio enthusiast from around the world that haven't enough money to buy 100$ big boys earphones. This chinese brand have made some of the best earphones out there that can be find under 20$, at a point that they even made a Dual Driver one that can be find under 15$, it is name the KZ ZS1 and have already made some buzz here on Headfi for his nonsensical value. The ZS1 is one of the earphones under 50$ with the bigger soundstage and have plenty of bass to please pop oriented listener, this IEM are quite big but produce big sound too, if you can find them for about 12$ (Gearbest) like me, don't abstein yourself from trying them because their soundsignature will surely have a place in your earphones collection.
     
    Packaging :
     
    s-l160ss0.jpg
     
    No a lot to say here, little box, the earphones and 3 extra eartips.
     
    Construction and Design :
     
    s-l160ssk0.jpg
     
    Good overall construction, like all KZ it use the same cable, earshell are made of all plastic (2 part stick togheter) and look well made with his venting port but don't step on it cause it will break. I can't say the construction look sturdy and have a long life because it isn't but all in all it is well made and if you take care of your gear it will surely be okay. Earshell are very big and can be a struggle for some to find the good fit with the earhook, I finally use memory foam tips to have a better seal and stability, otherwise the KZ was prompt to got out of my ears.
     
    SOUND IMPRESSIONS :
     
    DAP use : ONN X5, Xduoo X3, Ibasso Dx90
    Earphones for comparaison : Somic V4, Tennmak Pro
     
     
    LOW :
    The KZ have big vibrant bass that hit hard and take lot of place, it do bloat a little the mids cause it is pumped up alot, this is near basshead earphones and this aspect is not a quality in my dictionnary. The bass isn't very well controlled and will sound muddy with some complex track that have lot of sub-bass roaring. Still, because it have lot of air between instruments, the sound is not overly congested by the clumsiness of bass performance, but I still feel that even if the bass is big it lack thickness and roundness wich will help to give energy and resolution to the sound, in comparaison the Tennmak pro can have sub-bass and mid-bass sounds playing at the same time with good roundness without cinterfering with each other, soundstage feel a little smaller cause of this but is more fuller in fact. The Somic V4 sound anemic in bass region compared to the ZS1 dark and wide performance, it is more punchy but have less decay and air, anyway, the Somic are more detailed and natural sounding, just not made for rap or big beat.
     
    MIDS :
    So, for a V shaped soundsignature the mid frequency are quite present, wich make the ZS1 perfect for pop and rap music, with there wide soundstage and foward vocal it is well suited for not too complex track. Mids Texture isn't very fowards and resolution is on the warm side but I find the vocal performance better than with other iem of this price range. With the Ibasso Dx90 it do not sound good at all tough and the mids take a back seat and feel very far away, with the Xduoo X3 and especially the ONN X5 (mid foward) vocal have more authority and presence. Anyway, the bass can interfer with sound presentation like it do with the jazz signer I listen right now were the sub bass have too much decay and stole the show to everyboy else. Both Tennmak Pro and Somic V4 are way better in this frequencies range.
     
    HIGHS :
    So it look like KZ have pushed the treble foward a little wich can give too much texture to background noise or unwelcome details, even if the overall sound is dark and laid back with a little roll off in upper frequencies, some microdetails that do not feel natural can appear were it is not needed (hit hat and cymbals are spot on). This make the listening session a gamble because we do not know if the earphones will accept the music we trow at it or make it sound not natural. Anyway, this is far from being analytical earphones or bright sounding one.
     
    FINAL WORDS:
     
    The KZ ZS1 give a very exciting listening experience for a very little price and it will be hard to not suggest them to any beat driven music fan, this earphones are more meant for audio enthusiast than audiophile and will impress them by the wide soundstage and big bass it produce. It is the less expensive Dual Drivers on the market today wich is why I respect the ZS1 that much. For more serious listeners the KZ ED9 is a more neutral choice with a better construction and changeable nozzle for different soundsignature.
     
    Anyway, at the less than 10$ price that we can find them at Gearbest it is a supreme no brainer and a must for any IEM collector:
    http://www.gearbest.com/earphones/pp_273867.html
    1. B9Scrambler
      Great review :D Woot! KZ represent. It's too bad they modified the ZS1 so heavily since the release. This version is good, but the original is great (even with the less-than-ideal transition between drivers).
      B9Scrambler, Aug 19, 2016
    2. NymPHONOmaniac
      Yeah, they are very entertaining and can make some electro music sound very exciting! Will perhaps review the ZN1 one day cause I feel they sound even better and more balanced in soundsignature....hum, perhaps I will add a little comparaison in these review instead cause I want to review ALL my KZ earphones. The KZ ED3 Perfection look like to be my favorite from the 7 pairs I try, but this is a first impression. Will review the ED4 next, really good one too...well, just the EDR2 and HDS2 didn't impress me.
      KZ mofoking Reprezzzzzent fo'real Brooooo!
      NymPHONOmaniac, Aug 19, 2016
    3. RebeccaSugar
      You're spot on! This has pretty much been my experience with it.
      RebeccaSugar, Aug 24, 2016
  3. B9Scrambler
    KZ ZS1: Bow down to "Lord Bass"
    Written by B9Scrambler
    Published Jan 8, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - - Might as well have a built in sub-woofer - Good soundstage and separation
    Cons - - Memory wire might cause fit issues - Bass will be overwhelming for many

     
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    Greetings Head-fi!
     
    The instant I heard the ZS1 I was enamored. It's not often I come across an earphone that instantly plants a massive smile on my face, and continues to do so each and every time I listen to them.
     
    They transported me back to a time when I used to chill in university with my old-school Creative 2.1 system listening to Crystal Method, Evil Nine, Massive Attack, Rage Against the Machine, The Prodigy, and numerous other groups. Back then I was more focused on the music than the source, and while I appreciated great sound, that appreciation went mostly towards full-sized stereos and not headphones. The ZS1 is exactly what I needed to return to my roots and start enjoying music again.
     
    This unit was purchased through AliExpress. I am in no way affiliated with Knowledge Zenith or any AliExpress sellers. All options within this review are just that, opinions.
     
    A Bit About Me:
     
    I like to think I'm starting to get a grasp on this whole portable hi-fi audio thing, and can thank Knowledge Zenith and their army of budget earphones for helping me find my preferred signatures. My gear is constantly improving. I have finally upgraded to a quality phone, the HTC One M8, adding the Topping NX1 as my go-to amp. I primarily listen to EDM (liquid drum and bass ftw), hip hop, and classic rock, but have been known to dabble in metal and jazz. While I enjoy a good sounding earphone, physical design is also key. If they look boring but sound great, that's cool, but I would like to have something interesting to look that is also great sounding.
     

     
    DSCN0094.jpg       DSCN0108.jpg
     

     
    About the ZS1:
     
    **Edit: The ZS1 has been updated since this review. It seems the newest version of this model has removed the brass ring in the nozzle, and the crossover covering the back of the tweeter. If the model you pick up has traditional mesh in the nozzle, I recommend looking into feedback on the ZN1 Mini and how it sounds. That should be more applicable.**
     
    Normally this is where I'd dive into packaging, build quality, and accessories, but given this is a simple earphone this will be a simple review. Please do not read simple as bad, because the ZS1 is awesome *if you enjoy bass heavy earphones*. KZ products are also not really known for their consistency regarding packing and accessories. Were I to outline what mine came with, you may find your experience varying greatly.
     
    The ZS1 is a well-built iem made of quality plastic, and if you have at minimum average sized ears should be pretty comfortable. For me personally they can be used for hours on end with no discomfort. I love the cables KZ uses, but I know others find them sickly and sticky. This particular cable is a KZ standard but is hindered by one very important aspect; memory wire.
     
    I'm not a huge fan of memory wire. I understand why it's used but find it leads to issues with fit and boosts microphonics. The memory wire on the ZS1 is overly long, a couple mm more so on the left, but on the plus side it does stay in place once formed and if used correctly can be shaped to press the housing tightly into your ear. This does a great job of ensuring there is no risk of them popping out during movement.
     
    Isolation and wind noise are a mixed bag at best. With music playing, even at reasonably low volumes, I found them to isolate decently; average you might say. Turn that music off and isolation is minimal at best. When walking into the wind, the four vents at the front of the ZS1 whistle and interrupt your music quite significantly. Angle your head and wind is much less intrusive on your listening experience. I love the semi-open design, but I wish KZ placed those portholes in a less wind-happy position.
     
    Sound Quality:
     
    Let me get this out of the way right now; the ZS1 is NOT for everyone. Think back to that 2.1 sound system reference and that should give you an idea of what to expect. Their defining feature is warm, relentless, thundering bass that neglects to consider mids and treble in it's pursuit towards aural domination. Others have noted that there is a slight dissociation between the two drivers. While normally I would count this as a knock against an earphone, in this case I think that is what gives the ZS1 their character and the impression of containing a dedicated subwoofer.
     
    If you use an equalizer to nullify the bass, you will find that treble and mids are well-balanced with each other. Treble rolls off early and lacks any sense of sibilance. Mids are warm, lush, and especially pleasing with female vocals. Both are reasonably detailed, not to the extent of KZ's own ED9 or HDS1, but it works with the thumpy club sound the ZS1 portrays. Despite being so unnecessarily boosted, bass doesn't bleed into or distort the other frequencies. It may overlay/overshadow them, but it doesn't interfere. It just thunders along in the foreground leading the charge.
     
    Oh yeah, they also have an expansive soundstage which further adds to the unique atmosphere. Most of my other uber-bassy earphones (pretty much everything from the JVC XX series, Sony XB50/AS800AP, SUR s808, etc.) have either concentrated to average soundstages. Nah son, not the ZS1.
     

     
    DSCN0112.jpg       DSCN0115.jpg
     

     
    Overall Thoughts:
     
    The ZS1 is a very relaxed, inoffensive sounding earphone that does bass-heavy music great justice. They're not suitable for a ton of genres, they might fit you well or not at all, the memory wire is mildly annoying until you set it correctly, and their bass output is ridiculous. This is an earphone packed to the brim with character, and is one which I cannot seem to put down despite owning earphones that are technically vastly superior. There is something about that bass that draws me in and won't let go. I will happily set aside my other bass-head earphones and pledge my allegiance to Lord Bass (courtesy of DaveLT).
     
    Thanks for reading!
     
    - B9Scrambler
      nofacemonster, HungryPanda and jant71 like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. B9Scrambler
      Glad you enjoyed the review. It's important to remember the one I reviewed here no longer exist. They updated it and removed the brass nozzle and crossover. The current version sounds just like the ZN1 Mini which more people seemed to like anyway. Regardless, I hope you enjoy them when they arrive. Cheers!
      B9Scrambler, Jan 16, 2018
      nofacemonster likes this.
    3. nofacemonster
      I have this deep gut feeling that this is my comfortable sound signature because everything seemed too bright to me. I remember i use to have an old mono FM radio, it was a Panasonic from probably 1970 powered by two D size batteries. I simply loved the sound of it when i wanted to relax i just listened to oldies radio channel. Later in life i realised that i love the "DARK" sound. I always turned that "TONE" nob to the darkest possible never knowing what i am doing.
      nofacemonster, Jan 17, 2018
      B9Scrambler likes this.
    4. nofacemonster
      I GOT THEM AND I LOVE IT...!!!!! SIMPLY LOVE IT..... it is everything you said and more. I wrote my own review also :D.
      nofacemonster, Feb 5, 2018
      B9Scrambler likes this.
  4. HiFiChris
    The Amp-less KZ ZN1? Nope, its darker brother.
    Written by HiFiChris
    Published Nov 26, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - build quality, comfort, (+/-) soundstage, value, good and warm basshead IEM for little money
    Cons - spongy/soft bass, transition between both drivers not 100% coherent, peak in the lower mids, no chin-slider
    Preamble:

    Knowledge Zenith, in short “KZ”, is a Chinese manufacturer of very inexpensive in-ears and headphones that usually offer a really good value, sound and build quality for the little money they cost. Sure, you can’t expect the sound of $100 headphones from earphones that usually cost around $10, but many of the KZ earphones offer a sound (and build) quality that can compete with $30-$50 headphones easily (I have also heard some worse $30-50 IEMs than most $10 KZ’s).

    After I had already bought many models of the KZ range from the KZ Official Flagship Store (http://aliexpress.com/store/1358152), they kindly provided me with a sample of the ZS1 (http://aliexpress.com/store/product/KZ-ZS1-Independent-Dual-Driver-Monitoring-In-Ear-Headphones-HiFi-Earphone-With-Microphone/1358152_32478361300.html, ~ $20) for review.
    Please note that (as always) I am not affiliated with Knowledge Zenith or any of their stores in any way and that this review reflects my actual thoughts on the product. (As always,) I don’t gain any financial benefits from writing this review.


    Technical Specifications:

    Drivers: dynamic, Dual-Driver (8 & 6.8 mm)
    Impedance: 18 Ohms
    Sensitivity: 108 dB
    Colours: unicolour


    Delivery Content:

    The ZS1 arrives in a black cardboard box with a purple KZ logo on the top and the technical specifications on the back.
    Inside is another black box that contains the in-ears as well as silicone tips.
    Note that I received a sample unit, so your retail unit’s accessories may vary.
     

    P1020843.jpg   P1020844.jpg
    P1020845.jpg

     ​
     
    Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

    The ZS1 looks like the ZN1, but does not include the in-line amplifier/EQ-box and has got additional ear guides. The cable is very flexible, appears sturdy and has got proper strain relief – other IEM manufacturers could learn a lesson from KZ in this regard. A chin-slider is unfortunately missing, which is an issue with all Knowledge Zenith in-ears I know.
    Taking a closer look at the ZS1, it becomes obvious that they slightly differ from the ZN1 on the inside: there is a gold-coloured metal ring-shaped element in the ZS1’s nozzle that narrows it, and the crossovers sit on the high-frequency drivers and cover their rear vents.
     

    P1020852.jpg
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    P1020853.jpg
    P1020854.jpg
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    P1020856.jpg
    P1020862.jpg
     ​
    P1020863.jpg



    Comfort, Isolation:

    The ZS1 are intended to be worn around the ears, which is also my preferred style with all of my in-ears, as it reduces microphonics and improves fit as well as comfort.
    The shape of the plastic bodies is ideal for me and just as comfortable as Westone’s and Shure’s in-ears.
    Personally, I like the ear guides, as they somewhat compensate for the lack of a chin-slider and hold the cable in place well when leaning back. Though, I would still have appreciated an additional chin-slider.

    Isolation is definitely better than just mediocre and the IEMs block out ambient noise quite effectively.


    Sound:

    The sound was mainly evaluated with the iBasso DX80, DX90 and the LH Labs Geek Out IEM 100. The music files were stored in FLAC format, but I also used some MP3s. I used the application “Sine Gen” as sine generator on the computer (with the Geek Out as DAC/Amp).
    (Just in case,) the in-ears were burnt in for at least 50 hours before I started listening.

    The sound was evaluated with the large, black stock silicone tips.

    Tonality:

    One could think that these IEMs sound exactly like the ZN1, but they do not (for some of the reasons I stated above (different nozzle diameter, tweeter not back-vented)).
    The ZS1 is a very bassy earphone with an emphasis that mainly concentrates on the sub- and mid-bass (~ 13 dB), but is also present in the ground-tone. From sub-bass on, level starts evenly decreasing up to ~ 300 Hz, but has got a narrow dip at 550 Hz (it is not obtrusive with music, but subjectively lets the bass appear less coherent – it seems like the transition of both drivers has somehow failed a bit).
    There is also an emphasis at 850 Hz which makes voices sound warm and full-bodied.
    The treble is clearly in the background, especially the middle highs, wherefore overall sound is warm, bassy and dark as well. Although there is a peak in the upper treble, it is still below the ground-line and too little to brighten the sound.

    Compared to the ZN1, the bass emphasis of the ZS1 starts extending deeper, wherefore the middle and lower ground-tone are a bit less present. The ZN1 has got a successful (and inaudible/invisible) transition between both drivers, wherefore it has got the better coherence (and its bass doesn’t sound slightly disconnected, unlike with the ZS1).
    The ZN1’s mids are much better made, as its voices are tonally correct and solely gain a little warmth by the ground-tone – the ZS1 however has got some kind of peak at 850 Hz which makes voices warmer.
    The ZN1 has got a very consistent treble without dips and has even got an evenly raising emphasis in the upper treble – the ZS1’s treble is clearly more in the background and darker.
    Especially in the area between 300 and 1000 Hz, the ZN1 is tonally superior.

    Resolution:

    For the price, the resolution is good, but also not breath-taking. The mids and treble seem (regarding the price) well resolving, but there is some sort of veil on vocals. The treble and mids definitely benefit from the two-way configuration, especially with fast music, where the IEMs still maintain good control.
    Just as with the ZN1, the bass is however very soft and also boomy, bloated – a lesser emphasis would have been better for the drivers.
    The ZN1 has got the better resolution in the mids and does not appear veiled in this area.

    Soundstage:

    The ZN1 has got a huge (!) soundstage, the ZS1 does not – why that? Well, just as written above, the amp-less ZS1 has got a crossover on the back of the tweeter vent, wherefore it is closed, unlike the ZN1’s, which sounds audibly more open and spacious.
    The ZS1’s width is minimally wider than average and gas got a fair amount of depth as well, although a bit less than width. The instrument rendering is quite precise, just as the layering.
    Though, it sad that the ZS1 do not deliver that feeling of spaciousness as the ZN1 do (they don’t only sound roomier but also have got the slightly better layering and instrument separation).


    Conclusion:

    The ZS1 offer a good build quality and a great comfort, but have got a slightly failed transition between both drivers as well as a peak in the lower mids and a quite soft bass. Resolution is okay, but not extraordinary – some cheaper KZ IEMs are a bit better here. Though, for less than $20, you get a quite solid performance, but the ZN1 (with turned off amp module) is the better choice.
    All in all, I give the ZS1 3.25 (rounded 3.5) out of 5 stars.
      HungryPanda and B9Scrambler like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. EISENbricher
      I second all the observations on ZS1. Good analysis and on point review. 
      Good that KZ has now release ZN1 minus amp (ZN1mini). That this is just bomb for the price : D
      EISENbricher, Jan 23, 2016
    3. Podster
      Spot on write up Chris, I think the best shootout iem with these may be the VJJB V1 then again maybe it should really be against the ZN1 Mini as I did not find my V1 to be as bassy as the ZS1:wink:
      Podster, Mar 7, 2016
    4. AT Khan
      I got the ZN1 guys... I don't know. Bad make or bad seller. The amp module was DOA. The phones otherwise are nice but it's risky. Warranty? Well how do you ship them back and stuff so... Plus with the amp they are way to bulky. The cable between the phones and the amp module is too small for comfortable clinging/hanging or even general handling. The cable is nice though.Seems expensive for the price. It's really really solid. I haven't seen such cables with $150 IEMs.
       
      May as well get the unamped ZN1s. I think they'll be... STELLAR.
      AT Khan, Mar 8, 2016