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

    Dismiss Notice

KZ ZSN (Knowledge Zenith)

Rating:
4.35/5,
  • HTB1A93BXcTxK1Rjy0Fgq6yovpXaD.jpg_640x640q90.jpg

    Brand: KZ Acoustics

    Model: ZSN

    Driver/Transducer: 1 High Frequency Balanced Armature + 1 10mm dynamic driver

    Sensitivity: 104 dB/mw

    DC resistance: 25 ohms

    Connection: 2-Pin 0.75mm diameter

    Frequency response range: 20hz - 40KHz

    Wire length: 1.2m (approx. 3.9 feet)

    Plug diameter: 3.5mm

    https://m.aliexpress.com/item/32943191027.html

Recent Reviews

  1. Aibo
    KZ's budget star
    Written by Aibo
    Published Jul 5, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - - Lively, detailed, composed sound.
    - Build and looks
    - New cables are much more practical
    Cons - - Strong emphasis on highs (before EQ-ing) is skewing the balance
    I must say that traditionally I was not a big fan of KZ. Before this I tried ZS3 (strongly V shaped and muddy) and ZS5 (terribly thin, sharp and sibilant). But now I tried these ZSN (2nd Generation) model as a part of KZ group test including ES4, ZSA, ZSN, ZS10 and ZS6.

    DSC_6117.jpg DSC_6120.jpg DSC_6121.jpg

    SOUND QUALITY

    First of all, ZSNs have fuller mid-range than most of KZs and that's the reason why am I singling them out of this group. Most KZ models are traditionally very bad at creating a natural, full vocals and I could never support that kind of artificial balance... But ZSNs are finally good enough with mid-range so I can give the rest of their qualities a serious thought.

    Frequency Balance - let's start from the bottom - bass on these is quite nice, it's deep and punchy but decently controlled and textured. I've heard more precise ones, more textured ones... but not for this price. Mid-range is clean but still not the most fluid, full or warm you can find (but neither is any mid-range in this price range and for those fuller ones you would have to spit out much more substantial amount of money). The more important thing is that it's not horribly thin and grainy either. The overall mids balance is still on the thinner and analytical side but within acceptable limits - it's actually decently present this time around. Highs are again being emphasized and that makes the sound overly bright and artificially lit. Fortunately, a simple EQ of -7 to -10 dB at 10 kHz will bring this effect down to a very reasonable level making mids and highs sound much more natural - this is something I just couldn't achieve on other KZ models I tried so far (they would just start to sound completely lifeless and flat).

    Sound-stage and separation - are quite decent on this model, in line with what you get with more expensive ZS10 and ZS6, and clearly better than you get on ES4 or ZSA which can get cluttered and confused, especially with busier tracks. Not the ZSN, they can keep even busier tracks sound organized. To put this into perspective - SoundMAGIC E10 and Sennheiser CX300-II both sound much muddier and more cluttered than ZSNs.

    Dynamics - ZSNs are analytical but not anemic or flat, they actually have a decent byte and overall energy. When you combine these with clean and clear edges - we get a very lively sound with plenty of zest and excitement.

    BUILD QUALITY ETC.

    Metal plate and nicely machined grills are a nice touch making this model look and feel much more premium than the price would suggest. There is a new cable connector that sits more securely and cables are new too. No more wire inside the cables that you're suppose to shape yourself, they're soft now and pre-shaped to fit around your ears immediately. Personally I really liked this change.

    CONCLUSION

    All in all, I was really positively surprised by KZ ZSN 2nd Generation. After applying some simple EQ to tame the highs they become a very decent sounding headphones. And when you actually count in the price which is ridiculously low and build quality which is more than decent... I couldn't resist to give 5 stars to a KZ product for the first time. I never heard anything this good for this kind of money.

    . . .

    If you're interested I also made a video about this whole KZ group test:

  2. Dessyboi
    KZ ZSN
    Written by Dessyboi
    Published May 6, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Cheap
    Comfortable
    Relatively good isolation
    Impressive soundstage
    Cons - Slightly muffled bass
    Slightly harsh for female vocals
    Rather empty at the transition between high mids and treble
    Hi all, I'm rather new to audio tech. Just gonna share about how I feel after using the KZ ZSN(upgrade with the silver plated cable). I use it as my permanent earpiece going with my DAP (Hidizs AP80) and sometimes I use it along my PC with an an external usb DAC(Breeze audio ESS9028Q2M) and a cheap chifi tube amp(FXaudio- FX-03) I uses FLAC files.

    I dont really remember the details of my first impression of using zsn... But I do remember being amazed by what it does at this low price. I also have the habit of burning-in (a cruel and unbearing wait to try cool stuff) my earpiece(it does wonders to the DD) In fact I think the purpose of burn in is to loosen the DD making it less congested and capable of reproducing the extreme frequencies correctly. To my observation, there is no audible change to BA drivers

    BASS (9/10)
    Many people have feedback that the bass is rather strong and to a certain extent pounding the head and ear drums. But I actually think that it is actually at a sweetspot(to my taste). I'm one who love bass and hates it at the same time due to often poor tuning making it sound muffled. The only reason I give it 9 is that it overpower the mids making mids sound rather boring and flat.

    MIDS(8/10)
    I really enjoy the mids especially when I'm one who enjoys listening to vocals. But like I said above, it kinda overpower the lower mids making male vocals sound rather bland(dry). For some reason, the female vocals at the high mids (I think is somewhere around 11-12k) experiences sibilance making it really harsh for the ears. It does not happen all the time but to some specific songs.

    Highs(8/10)

    The sharp V shaped drop at around 13K causes it to feel somewhat "empty"... But I won't say that it is a bad thing as it set room to clearly differentiate the vocals with instruments making it sound pleasing that being overwhelmed by "fighting for territory"

    Soundstage

    Really impressive, tested it out with a few surround sound test on youtube. Very accurate reproduction of the source and depth, allowing differentiation of near and far

    Upgrades to consider

    Like what I have mentioned, I upgraded the cable to the silver plated ones. There are some minor improvement at the bass making less "pounding" for the ears and slightly less muffled. I couldnt hear any difference in the general mids region but it does help smoothen the female vocal sibilance and the highs. I will say the effect sounded like a electronic RC rectifier filter. It makes the highs of the instruments more bearable and less like dolphin screaming.

    Another upgrade to consider is the foam tips! It increase the isolation a fair bit, allowing you to enjoy the same amount of details of the music at lower volume(healthier listening). The down side is that it absorbs 1dB off the sub bass and treble. If you like the treble and bass then you might want to reconsider. But I say there is something call EQ, you can boost it back using the EQ.

    Comfort (9/10)
    This is really comfortable, I can wear it for hours. The nozzle is slightly deeper, some people might not like it. Another issue with deeper nozzle is depriving air into your ears causing fatigue(Not to say I uses foam tips, I typically have to remove them off my ears around 2 hour mark). If it were the silicone tips I could probably wear it for upto 5 hours straight?

    Isolation (8/10)
    Not the best but definitely one the best for its' price range. Comparable to many more expensives ones in the market and falling slightly short compared to customs (Kinda like duhhhhh right? Say no crappy custom isolation)

    Price (10/10)
    EXTREMELY WORTH THE PRICE. I think I wont mind getting a custom reshell for this iem, if it fails me.
      B9Scrambler likes this.
  3. ngoshawk
    KZ-ZSN: A very affordable alternative.
    Written by ngoshawk
    Published Feb 12, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Fun affordable sound.
    Looks good.
    Affordable.
    Mic works well for call.
    Affordable.
    Cons - INCLUDE A CASE!!!
    Cable tangles a bit.
    Not the cleanest sound.
    it IS only $20usd...
    KZ-ZSN: A very affordable alternative.

    [​IMG]

    The ZSN follows on the heels of KZ’s successful AS10 and BA10. Highly acclaimed, if a bit controversial in look (the BA10), the ZSN takes a more conservative look, approach and price. Harboring only one BA and one DD per side, the ZSN tries to achieve good sound at an extremely affordable price within the Chi-fi market.And, I must say I do really like this affordable offering. The sound was quite a pleasant surprise.

    [​IMG]

    I again thank Linsoul for the product. All they ask in return is an honest review in return. I would not have it any other way. And, I will say this now. Lately there has been some push back at those who receive product(s) for reviewing. Some on the interwebbie-thingy have stated that those who receive such items in return for a review can neither be unbiased, nor present an honest review (as in one that may not actually like the product, giving a low review). I take this personally. I think that is bunk. To an open, honest reviewer it does not matter where the product came from, or if it was purchased. We approach it the same way: honest, with thought and without reservation or holding back. As such, if the product is liked, it is stated as such. If it isn’t, then that is what is stated. By providing falsities, no one benefits. Period.

    OK. Rant over, on to the review.

    [​IMG]

    *The unit at hand has been played for a minimum of 150yrs through my Shanling M0. Whether you believe in burn in or not, this is done because the critter will only sound new once. How it sounds in six months to a year is of more interest in my opinion.


    Linsoul link: https://www.linsoul.com/product-page/kz-zsn-IEM

    Aliexpress link: https://www.aliexpress.com/store/pr...?spm=a2g1y.12024536.productList_2290642.pic_4


    Gear used/compared (all prices USD unless specified otherwise):


    BBOOOLL BOT1 ($23)
    Geekwold GK3 ($20)
    TRN-V80 ($39)
    Hypertense Hex02 ($25)


    Thebit Opus #2
    Shanling M3s
    Shanling M1

    Songs used:

    Coldplay-All I Can think About Is You
    Coldplay-A Message
    Coldplay-White Shadows
    Dona Onete-Sonos de Adolescente
    Los Lonely Boys- Heaven (en Espanol)
    twenty one pilots-Trees
    twenty one pilots-Car Radio
    twenty one pilots-Heathens
    Damian Marley-Everybody Wants To Be Somebody
    Damian Marley-So A Child May Follow
    Damian Marley-The Struggle Discontinues
    Ziggy Marley-Lighthouse
    Ziggy Marely-See Dem Fake Leaders
    Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
    Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado

    The new twenty one pilots album, Trench

    [​IMG]

    Unboxing/Fit-n-Finish:

    Coming in a small plain white box, the ZSN presents no pretense at being upscale in either packaging or accessories. To say that there would be a dearth of accessories is like saying there are tumbleweeds in the desert…

    With simple black outlines on the front you get the shape of the ZSN, along with some words describing that it is a DD and BA hybrid. The back lists the specs. Pulling the cover off reveals a clear plastic cover over the IEM and a lower “compartment,” which houses the attached cable and tips. Other than a simple directions sheet, that is it. This is one time where the packaging will actually get recycled instead of keeping. Simple, straightforward and without fanfare. And again…NO CASE! PuLEEZ provide a case! I’m getting really tired of remembering what color Meuxan case goes with what (yes, I have them labeled…).

    With a tightly wound copper colored cable, complete with microphone; you are presented with a simple cable that does not tangle easily (unlike the TRN-V80). No cinch is provided above the y-splitter again, but the cable lies peacefully upon your chest. No problem. Longer strain relief is had at the IEM end, making for a good over-ear fit. In-ear fit is easy and very good. No weird angles or problems. It just works. I do find with the silicon tips that I have to re-insert the IEM occasionally. Not bad, but more a function of my ears than the fit. A right-angle jack is neither here nor there. I have no preference, and never did. I will state that as a result of the right angle, the jack fits closer with a lower profile, hence less trouble. Pliable plastic coated, there is some give to the jack, but good grip is a result as well. Overall fit is flush in my ear. I would also state that the IEM is of average size, so this is a very good fit for me.

    Made of three pieces, the fit and finish of the IEM itself is quite good. Almost extraordinary at this price. A metal composite backing with slots gives an industrial look to the piece, faux rivets on the back give a further sense of that look. The front half is clear giving a solid look into the organs, errr parts. With colors inside to break the industrial look, you are treated to a gold-covered nozzle, which is glued inside. The nozzle looks larger than most, but this does not seem to hinder in-ear fit at all. As I said good overall build, and an interesting look.

    [​IMG]


    The sound! What about the sound??!!

    Well, coming off of the TRN-V80 this is a very nice surprise. Without the clarity of the V80’s 4-driver set up, there is less to work with; but I would characterize the ZSN as having a very fun controlled sound. I would even state that the mids sound clearer in the ZSN. Easier to drive than the TRN, this may be a placebo effect coming fresh from the V80. Using the included silicon tips, there is decent isolation, which actually adds to a bit of air between notes. Not a bad thing.

    What I can say is that there is decent reach of sub-bass, but no real thump. Call it a fun bass, which eq-ing can bring into the raucous fun stage.

    I find of late that I do not really care for the mid-treatment of Chi-Fi. While the sound is good, I find that there is an artificiality to the mids, even in the vocal range here. Cymbals seem to be the worst with mids such as these. They just sound unnatural. That said, Tyler’s vocals as good as any affordable sound to date. Ode To Sleep runs the gamut from softer to in your face and the ZSN provides that typical KZ fun-sounding vocal treatment. I really enjoy the presentation here and can look past the artificiality.

    I would call the treble a laid-back sound. Neither piercing nor grating the sound falls short to me. I would have preferred a higher reach of sound in that treble, but since harsh treble does bother me; this is a good treble sound to me. Call it a bit veiled as a result. Higher vocals can be heard but tend to fall behind the mids and bass. Good details are present, just not that clearly.

    Soundstage is decently wide and tall but not all that deep. This would be more of a narrow tall rectangle to me. Vocal treatment comes in right to the middle, neither forward nor back. It is just there. Not bad mind you, but nothing really special.

    Layering is like a thick stack of pancakes with molasses syrup. You know there is more than one pancake, but it really isn’t evident on first look. I seem to be bashing the little KZ, but it isn’t really that bad. For the price, this is a really good sound and a definite step up from your Smartphone buds. And for less than those would cost as well.

    Separation is just average. This is not a detail monster, but it really isn’t meant to be. This is a replacement for your Smartphone bud, and in that regard, I haven’t heard one that sounds better than this. Of course, my sample there is reliant upon several Apple buds, Samsung and HTC; so take that as you may…

    [​IMG]

    Comparisons (all prices USD unless otherwise noted):

    KZ ZSN ($18ish) vs BBOOOLL BOT1 ($23):

    I tried really hard to enjoy the BOT1, when I auditioned it, but found that keeping a good fit inside my ear was to the detriment of sound. Isolation was not the best as a result and I had to almost constantly adjust the fit. Other tips may have led to a better fit, but I was using the included silicons.

    I did like the 3-driver set up and appreciated the male vocal treatment as well. While it does provide decent detailed response, this is no world beater, especially when to me it was bass-light. The treble presentation is without sibilance as well. Decent reach up top, you quickly realize that this is a $25ish IEM replacement. The ZSN does provide a better and wider soundstage, which can give a better sense of air between notes. This comparison just goes to show what $20 can purchase these days and how it can change in a matter of a couple of months.


    KZ ZSN ($18ish) vs Geekwold GK3 ($20):

    My takeaway from the GK3 review was that it will grow upon you. This is one that you must spend time with to fully appreciate. With an excellent cable (one of the best at this price), good build and a sound, which provides decent bass response; the GK3 is most definitely an upgrade to your Smartphone bud. I find that the GK3 presents itself in an elegant manner, complete with a mature sound at the sub-$25 IEM price point. I like the sound of it, and I like the ZSN. This is another case where technology has moved forward and the ZSN edges ahead in sound quality as a result. I do like the detail retrieval, which can come about when companioned with the Aune M1s. A very nice pairing, which brought out enough detail from the GK3 to make it a pleasant listen. But again, the ZSN wins here with better detail.


    KZ ZSN ($18ish) vs TRN-V80 ($39):

    For less than $50usd, you can get pretty good stuff. The two listed right here are witness to that. While the ZSN provides a slightly brighter signature (but thankfully to me less bright than many Chi-Fi before it…) the sound of the V80 is quite sublime. Solid bass response, with vocals that are pretty clear and concise, you get a very good product. Treble representation is very good, without sibilance, providing enough “sparkle” up top to let you enjoy some air between notes. Not delicate mind you, more robust than the ZSN. Just about right. I find myself really enjoying the V80 at the sub-$50 level. It is an immense product.

    The ZSN on the other hand does not have that presence. Not as robust of a sound, it none-the-less provides very good detail response. That said, the sub bass response gives you that presence of sound, which makes you just about go ‘wow’ this really is a sub-$25 IEM. Well done, Knowledge Zenith.



    KZ ZSN ($18ish) vs Hypertense Hex02 ($25):

    When I reviewed the Hex02 some months ago, I noted how it was not the most detailed of critters around. It’s ease of use and included microphone can certainly add to it, but the cable can become tangled fairly quickly. Coming back to my original comment its really does not have the best detailed response. Decent bass reach when you smoosh it into your ear, there really isn’t the best reach of treble either. With a fairly nondescript soundstage, this is a step up from your smartphone buds, but not by much. The ZSN pretty much crushes it.

    [​IMG]

    Stealing the format from another sssshhhh:

    If I had to boil all of this down to numbers, this is what I could come up with and fairly reliably as well.

    Fit: 9/10
    Finish/Durability: 9/10
    Wearability: 9/10
    Noise Isolation: 7/10
    Microphonics: 9/10
    Value for Money: 10/10

    Avg: 54/60= 9.0

    Bass: 7/10
    Mids: 6/10
    Trebles: 7/10
    Sound Stage: 6/10
    Separation & Imaging: 6/10
    Source Matchability: 7/10

    Avg: 39/60= 6.5

    So…this makes it decision time:

    Running the ZSN through the iFi Pro iDSD, MacBook Pro and Pine Player to finish may seem like putting a $5 shift knob in a Porsche 911. Well, if that is what you like, then do it! For the ZSN brings down the traditional KZ sound to an even more affordable market. This is a no-brainer. Better than just about any headphone included with a smartphone, this becomes an even easier decision when you consider it has a mic and can give good phone call quality. This is a very, very good product at sub-$25, without pretending to be a giant killer at prices much higher. Isolating at that level, this is extraordinary. Again, not meant to be that giant killer, you get a very fine change from your smartphone product, and one, which provides much better sound than you should be able to get at this price. Well done, KZ indeed.

    I thank Lillian for the opportunity to review this fine product, and highly recommend you give it a listen if you are looking for an extremely affordable replacement or addition to for your smartphone.

    [​IMG]
  4. antdroid
    KZ ZSN vs AS06 Review and Comparison
    Written by antdroid
    Published Jan 19, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Great clean sound
    Neutral signature
    Attractive build
    Cheap!
    Cons - Bad recordings may sound harsh
    Cable is easily tangled and messy
    Untitled.jpg
    Introduction
    Normally, I review one headphone at a time, but since the holidays were a bit busy, my review queue started piling on. In the process, I accumulated two earphones from KZ and decided to do a review/comparison between these two new models from the ever-growing library of KZ products.


    The first model is the ZSN, which can be found anywhere between $20 and $25. It’s a hybrid model with dynamic driver and a single balanced armature driver. The second model is the AS06, which features 3 balanced armatures (bass, mid and treble), and is positioned to be in the middle of the KZ lineup with a retail price at around $45.


    Both of these products were provided as review samples by Linsoul. As usual, there are no other compensations and requirements besides to provide a review of the product online. As this comes up quite a bit about the legitimacy of these statements – I would like to add that I never send my reviews to the source to pre-review it prior to release, except on Headphone.com which is only to make sure it is properly formatted for the website template. This type of freedom is nice, and allows me to express how I really feel about a product without any pre-disposition from the supplier of the item. In this case, Linsoul has been supportive of my reviews, and has pretty much been hands-off in the process except for requesting I post links to the products as part of my review – which are here:


    KZ ZSN:

    https://amzn.to/2M5NnkA


    KZ AS06:

    https://amzn.to/2M5gPXU


    Packaging and Build Quality

    Both products feature similar accessories and both have acrylic housing containing the drivers. The ZSN differs in that it has a metal faceplate which actually looks quite premium compared to the AS06. The AS06 shares the same housing as the AS10, which I found to be very mediocre and boring. The only difference is that it has an inner metallic plate with “6 Balanced Armatures” scribed on it. It’s sort of a lie, since there’s only 3 in each side.

    The ZSN is also a little bit smaller and shaped to conform to my ears better. The AS06 has the same large size that makes it a little challenging to fit correctly in my ears without fear that it will pop out. When it does sit correctly, it does feel large and uncomfortable. In contrast to this, the ZSN is quite comfortable to wear for long time and is lighter weight.

    P1020721.JPG

    Both feature braided cables with preformed hooks which is a nice change from the previous memory wire cables that KZ was known for. The cables are a bit sticky and can get tangled and messy pretty easily though, but I still find them very attractive and nice for the price range they are being offered at.


    Finally, the standard KZ “starline” tips come included in the package and come in the standard Small, Medium and Large sizes. The AS06 also has a larger box and a metal badge that I really don’t know what the purpose is for.


    Sound

    In doing this contrast and compare review, I ended up having two KZ products that sound different from one another. They really share little in common to be frank. In general, I found the KZ ZSN to have a generally neutral-bright signature which I typically find best suited for my tastes. The KZ AS06 was a darker, and more laid back, warmer IEM which isn’t normally my thing. That said, I do like headphones that can fall into some of this category – mainly the HD58X and HD650 which are a bit warmer and laid back.


    For my listening trials, I used a variety of different gear. The main device was the Pioneer XDP-300R Android-based portable audio player, but I also switched back and forth with the newly released Hidizs AP80 and Xudoo X3-II audio players. For desktop use, I did limited listening with these IEMs on the Monoprice Monolith THX-AAA DAC/Amp, Cavalli Liquid Spark, and a DIY Pete Millet Starving Student Tube Hybrid amp. For every use-case here, I used the single ended cable as opposed a balanced cable as I typically do. I did play both IEMs through balanced cables but only on a limited basis.


    I spent a lot of time listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album while trying out both of these earphones. I also put them through the paces with various acoustic rock, indie, folk, dance, jazz and alternative rock music.


    AS06 in detail:

    P1020739.JPG


    My very first impression when putting the AS06 on was WHOA! Bass! It was very dark and bassy with the stock tips. In fact, I got great seal, and it was so bassy, that it muddied up everything else. I swapped the tips out to Rebound foam tips and found that the bass levels were more controlled. Still, the bass dominated the overall sound signature and still bled over to the mids, which are quite recessed. Bass extends well but I don’t find the bass extremely detailed or layered correctly. In general, the elevated give the AS06 a warm, lush sound, but nothing exciting.


    The mids barely exist on this IEM. They are really messy. I found the significant drop in the mids to really hurt this IEM. There’s about 10 dB drop off slope in the mids followed by a steeper drop in the upper mids, and then a spike up as you head into the treble region. This is classic V-shaped sound but not executed well. I’m wondering if the sharp second drop is due to poor cross-over between BAs.


    Male vocals are the most troubling. I found both male and female voices to sound extremely compressed, with males being worse. Tonality is completely off and distant. Higher pitched string instruments can sound very forward and piercing occasionally due to the elevated treble peak.

    KZ AS06 IDF FR.jpg

    An example? Let’s listen to “Dreams” by the aforementioned Fleetwood Mac. Stevie Nick’s haunting distressed voice just doesn’t come out with the emotion I expect to hear on a better IEM. Her voice seems distant and flat – compressed and missing energy. Instead the drum beat and cymbals dominate the mix. The focus of the music isn’t where I think it should be.


    On a song like “Marbles” by The Knife, this IEM is a mixed bag. The deep bass notes sound great, and the “marbles” dropping is realistic, but the high screams from Karin and the high frequency cymbals do get a bit piercing at times.


    I imagine this IEM will do better in house and dance music, though probably something more along the lines of deep house or bassier music. Anything with extreme highs (and many EDM tracks are, and are extremely distorted and compressed) may not do as well.


    The AS06 does provide good imaging, and a wide sound stage which is engaging. Details can be a little scattered as mentioned previously, but overall, the BAs do a good job overall with these three areas.


    ZSN in detail:

    P1020734.JPG

    When I first put on the ZSN, I think my jaw dropped and I was giddy with smiles. This was because up until this point, every KZ IEM I’ve heard had exaggerated bass and treble which didn’t really match my personal preferences. While the KZ ZSN still has some peaky upper mids, as characteristic of every KZ IEM I’ve listened to, it does not boost the bass much at all, to my surprise.


    The ZSN has clean unadulterated bass, which I really enjoy. It’s doesn’t bloat into the mids and has enough there to give the IEM a slightly warm signature. For the price point, the bass is good enough. It’s a little lacking in the details and texture, but in general, it does its job sufficiently.


    The ZSN mids are recessed but nowhere near how they are in the rest of the manufacture’s product line. Instead, the ZSN has a slightly dry sound that compares to the how recessed the mids are in one of my favorite headphones – the Hifiman HE560. The mids in both are just south of neutral before peaking up in the upper mids. The ZSN, however, peaks up more. This gives them an exciting upper range energy that can sometimes be piercing in poorly recorded tracks or songs that emphasized the higher vocal registers.

    KZ ZSN - FR - IDF Compensated.jpg

    A few other things before I do a comparison between the two: The treble on the ZSNs is a little uneven, but doesn’t roll-off significantly, which is a surprise at this price point. In terms of soundstage, I find that the ZSN to have a nice medium to wide stage, and imaging is good, especially at this price (repeat theme here).


    Overall Comparison

    Obviously, these two KZ products differ quite a bit. The ZSN is closer to neutral than any other KZ I’ve had a chance to listen to, and leans slightly bright. The AS06 is also closer to neutral than a lot of the other KZ products, but leans darker, while still retaining a general V-shape signature. It takes a much more laid back, euphoric approach.


    The ZSN and AS06 both can run into sibilance and harsh periods, especially if mastering or bitrate is poor, due to steep slopes from the recessed mids to upper mids and treble. I found both to have some unevenness throughout the treble region, with the ZSN winning due to the cleaner transition between the mids and treble. The AS06, in comparison, sounds quite veiled and compressed through the mids – to the point of sound very low-fi.


    The AS06, however, excels in the bass region. It has good low end extension, quality and quantity. If you are looking for something that can shake and bump and overall pleasantly warm, the AS06 does well for its $45 price. The ZSN just can’t match in this department, however, it provides a more audiophile neutral bass response that is cleaner and does not accidentally bleed over and mask vocals with heavy bass lines.

    Real Comparisons

    KZ AS06 vs KZ AS10

    KZ AS06 vs AS10 IDF.jpg

    This is the real comparison. The AS10 sounds more detailed and airy compared to the AS06, and this is probably due to its extended and increased upper mids and treble. The AS06 sounds more veiled and compressed instead. I prefer the AS06 in the bass department though, as it does not bleed as much, and feels more controlled in general than the AS10.

    The AS10 and AS06 share similar housing and therefore fit should be exactly the same. There’s an approximately $15 gap between the two models, and it’s a tough call. I personally would take the AS10 over the AS06, but in general, I wouldn’t buy either for myself personally.


    KZ ZSN vs Tin Audio T2


    KZ ZSN vs T2.jpg

    These two IEMs share a lot of commonalities. They are generally neutral sounding budget IEMs that have a sharp peak in the upper mids (3-5KHz) region that can be prone to sibilance and harshness. The general difference, however, is that the T2 does have better treble extension, but a much leaner bass response. The ZSN has a slightly warmer sound due to having about +3dB more bass response, which I think many will enjoy, myself included.

    I had slotted the T2 as one of my favorite budget IEM kings, and the ZSN is going to surpass it as one of the best value to performance IEMs on the market. This isn’t something common for me to bestow on Knowledge Zenith, as I’ve never been a fan of any of their IEMs until now. The ZSN is a really good choice, and a great all arounder with small coherence issues and upper harshness that can occasionally rear its head. Those things are rather small for the $20 asking price though.

    images

    1. KZ AS06 (Driver Matching).jpg
    2. KZ ZSN - FR.jpg
  5. thelittleaudiophile
    KZ ZSN
    Written by thelittleaudiophile
    Published Dec 27, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Well-detailed trebles, Visceral, thick Bass with great extension, Build Quality is fantastic for the money
    Cons - Some occasional sibilance (especially with female vocals), Y-split hangs a little low
    [​IMG]

    Specifications:

    Driver: 1 x Dynamic + 1 x Balanced Armature

    Impedance: 25 ohms

    Frequency response: 20 – 40,000 Hz

    Sensitivity: 104 dB

    Connector: 0.75 mm 2-pin

    Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with KZ in any way and do not benefit monetarily or in any other form for writing this review. I purchased this in-ear monitor with my own resources and I am simply giving my honest review of the product!

    Review by: “Charlie” from The Little Audiophile

    KZ ZSN Retail Price (at time of writing): S$25

    TLA Score
    Physical Attributes
    Comfort: 8/10
    Durability: 8/10
    Ease of Wearing: 8/10
    Noise Isolation: 7/10
    Microphonics: 7/10
    Value for Money: 10/10

    Sonic Attributes
    Bass: 8/10
    Mids: 7/10
    Trebles: 7/10
    Sound Stage: 6/10
    Separation & Imaging: 8/10
    Source Matchability: 9/10

    Another day, another product from KZ. KZ releases so many earphones so rapidly that I have honestly lost track on what their latest offerings are. Today we’ll be looking at the KZ ZSN, which is not KZ’s flagship model, yet, is no pushover either. Coming in at just SG$25, I am thoroughly impressed with the ZSN.

    THE BOX
    The ZSN comes in the typical KZ white packaging with hasn’t changed since it’s earlier models. It provides some specifications on the back of the packaging and that’s pretty much it. For the price, I can’t fault KZ’s decision.

    [​IMG]

    Inside, you’ll receive the earphone itself with one set of generic medium ear tips already attached followed by an array of S, M and L sized “Starline” ear tips. No carrying pouch or hard case is provided. The earpiece sits loosely inside the box, so do take some caution when unboxing them.

    [​IMG]

    BUILD AND DESIGN
    Housing
    KZ has had many variations in their design – from the CIEM shaped ZS3 to the ZS5 and ZS6, which looks reminds me of an IEM from some other manufacturer, to the transparent ZS10 and AS10 which flaunts the earphone’s circuit board.

    The ZSN’s design is disruptive, to say the least. It is housed in an attractive metal faceplate with a plastic inner face. The nozzle is made of copper or aluminum alloy, depending on your options. I personally dig more minimalistic designs, but this one is an exception. There is this youthfulness to the design which gels well with the sound signature. The ZSN is available in black, silver or cyan. The unit I am reviewing is in the gorgeous black color.

    [​IMG]

    Going back to the nozzle, the bore is on the wider side, such that you might have some difficulty using hard-cored tips as they just wouldn’t stay on securely. I had a hard time fitting on the Final Audio Type E and Sony hybrid tips.

    Surprise, surprise – KZ has once again changed their 2-pin connector system, bringing the revision to a version C. This is a welcomed improvement, as it makes the connector system feel more robust and durable. Connector wobble is virtually eliminated and would reduce wear on the connectors in the long run. Do note that the pin diameter is 0.75mm, so you’ll probably have to turn to KZ for replacement or upgrade cables. Apart from the smaller diameter, the cable polarity has to also be considered.

    [​IMG]

    Lastly, this IEM would last you a few years or more if you take decent care of them. The addition of a removable cable can only work to its benefit.

    Cable
    The 1.2m cable that ships with the ZSN are a definite upgrade over the older KZ models. KZ has decided to lose the memory wire and has opted for a heat-shrink which to me, is much more comfortable than it’s predecessors. The cable is also not a tangle-fest, unlike the one on the ZSR which was a low-key anger management class every damn time I had to unravel it. Definitely, a thumbs up for me!

    [​IMG]

    Good Bye Tangela!
    Source: Wikipedia

    One small gripe I have with the ZSN’s cable is just how low the Y-split sits. I don’t see how this is detrimental to the overall user experience, except that having two separate cables for such a length looks a tad bit messy. The split and jack is typical KZ stuff, so take it or leave it I guess.

    [​IMG]

    COMFORT
    The ZSN, like most other models from KZ, fit comfortably in the ear. The inner face of the ZSN is completely smooth and contours to my ear shape wonderfully. The bore length is average, while the width is above average. I have medium to slightly large ears and these fit me without any discomfort or whatsoever, even after hours of wearing them on end.

    Hot spots or pressure points did not develop even after extended wearing.

    [​IMG]

    I had no issues with noise isolation either. I was on the Mass-Rapid Transport (MRT) on a weekend with children playing and quite honestly screaming around the grab poles. Above the music (which I don’t listen loud by the way), I could not hear much of and be bothered by the chaos and anarchy that was raging on in front of me. Everything was muted to something of a whisper. Sometimes, ignorance is indeed bliss, get yourselves a ZSN for the commute!

    SOUND QUALITY
    Note: Sound Quality was tested mainly on my Huawei Nova 2i with AKM 4376A DAC

    Out of KZ’s lineup, the ZSN impresses me the most in terms of sound quality. The sound that these earphone expels quite literally leaves me in awe everytime that I plug these in and hit the play button. I just cannot comprehend how these cost a mere SG$25.

    The ZSN sports a dual driver configuration – one dynamic driver for the lower frequencies and a balanced armature driver for the higher frequencies. After putting the ZSN through its paces, the changes in sound were either too little for me to discern or there was simply no changes after burn-in, and thus I’d consider burn-in unnecessary. Despite the relatively high sensitivity of 104 dB/mW, I did not notice any hiss even when plugged into the smartphone.

    [​IMG]

    Soundstage, Separation and Imaging
    To start off, the soundstage is just average. It is smaller than that found on the ZSR that I reviewed previously and in the limited soundstage. There is more width than depth to the soundstage and layering is fairly good. Imaging and separation are commendable and I found that the positions of vocalists and instruments to be very precise.

    Sound Signature
    The ZSN carries a V-shape sound signature with a fantastic balance of bass and treble quantities. The ZSN presents a great amount of detail without sounding artificial or overly boosted in the upper regions, which is unlike some other chi-fi earphones in the same price category. The mid and upper mid-range takes the foreground while the bass takes a step or two to the rear in terms forwardness, which is quite a unique experience, considering it is a V-shaped earphone. This overall makes for an intimate-sounding earphone which I rarely see on earphones in this price category.

    Bass
    The bass region on the ZSN is thick and visceral. This is paired with a fantastic sub-bass extension and presence which never leaves you wanting more if you are listening to pop or other bass-heavy genres. There is a greater emphasis on mid-bass than sub-bass which I can appreciate – too much sub-bass would devolve into becoming unnatural and quite nauseating for me.

    There is, however, a general lack of resolution in the bass. The bass is a little loose and decay isn’t quick. Some transient smearing can translate into a loss of details in the bass region. That said, the slow decay isn’t too prominent, but is noticeable. No doubt, I love my bass, and the ZSN does not disappoint, especially for the price.

    Mids
    The mids on the ZSN is sweet as honey and is not muddied by the wholesome bass response. For some weird reason, I found that the vocals on the ZSN to be very intimate, especially when using shorter ear tips. Vocals are wonderfully articulate and organic with a hint of graininess. Vocals at no point sound thin or “telephonic”, due to the elevated bass presentation. Take the track “Mixed Signals” by Ruth B. from the album “Safe Haven” for example. The ZSN is able to convey her emotions and voice beautifully.

    In other instruments (and most noticeably in guitars), however, does not have the same magic that works for the vocals. In comparison to the vocals, instruments seem to sound a little veiled and less intimate, although in no way a deal-breaker for me.

    The biggest gripe I have regarding the mid-range is the upper-mids sibilance which does show itself on certain tracks. On the ZSN, I found that female vocals tend to be much more prone to this effect. Take “Havana” by Camila Cabello for example. If you are listening on slightly higher volume, the parts where she goes “oooOOooOOOo” displays some of this, and can sound somewhat harsh.

    Trebles
    The ZSN’s treble is well defined and pretty resolving. I found that I was able to pick out micro-details, although it isn’t especially crisp or clear. The treble, however, has this airiness and separation from the rest of the frequencies that enables it to stand out. This region is quite smooth with no severe peaks that make for a non-fatiguing listen overall. Treble attack and decay are very quick, as the drivers employed here are balanced armatures. Overall, a very resolving treble region.

    PAIRING
    Select Alternative Ear tips
    Though this review was done with the stock KZ “Starline” tips, I did tip roll a little and found that it ear tips did change the sound of the earphone noticeably. I found the KZ ZSN to pair especially well with the iBasso short ear tips. It improved the overall clarity of the ZSN and I have been using it with this earphone ever since.

    [​IMG]

    Just look at the difference!

    [​IMG]

    I have not found any other ear tip that improved the sound signature of the ZSN while being able to retain its grip on the nozzle.

    CONCLUSION
    The ZSN embodies the phrase “bang for your buck”. I was pleasantly taken aback when I first put these on. If I had no frame of reference, I probably would have guessed that these earphones cost 80 dollars, or possibly even slightly north of 80. Good isolation and ergonomics, paired with a commendable build and sound quality make the ZSN a no-brainer decision if you are looking for an earphone for under 50 dollars. In my opinion, this earphone can stand up to the Audio Technica ATH-LS50iS in terms of both build and sound quality, no problem.

    The energetic, fun sound signature is great for an EDC earphone that you can chug into your bag (just an expression, but please don’t do that) and get along your daily business. The ZSN is also easily drivable with a smartphone, so no problems with matchability here.

    I am truly impressed with the ZSN and I hope that KZ would recognize its success with the ZSN move in this direction and improve on the ZSN in future releases while finding a design language that becomes the symbol of KZ earphone. I’m very satisfied and I look forward to what else KZ has to offer in the future!

    Do check out our WordPress site at https://thelittleaudiophile.wordpress.com/ for more reviews!
      EDG67 likes this.
  6. Wiljen
    KZ ZSN - Also known as the ZsT version 2.0
    Written by Wiljen
    Published Dec 17, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Exhibits better control than typical of KZ models, good build quality
    Cons - Treble is still more aggressive than need be and can be sibilant at times, semi-proprietary cable.
    ZSN-FEATURE-800x445.jpg

    I received the Kz ZsN from Kinboofi US in exchange for reviewing it. Kinboofi has recently opened an Amazon store so shipping times are now greatly reduced for those of us in the USA and Canada.

    Unboxing / Packaging:

    The ZSN comes in the same white slipcover box that we have all grown familiar with from KZ. Inside the slipcover you have the clear plastic top which shows off the earpieces in the standard black plastic tray. Under the tray the extra tips (S&L – medium is pre-installed), cable, and instructions are hiding. For whatever reason, I always have the desire to grab a set of markers and color in the earpieces on the front of the box to match the earpieces. I suspect all this would accomplish is to show off my lack of artistic talent.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    Build/Fit:

    For those familiar with the Kz product line, the ZsN is very much an updated ZsT. I say this not only because the shells are very similar in shape and size, but because the driver configuration is very similar. The ZsN uses metal faceplates and nozzles as opposed to the ZsT’s plastic versions. The faceplate has 3 vents in it with a 4th vent on the inside of the shell immediately over the dynamic driver. Nozzles appear to be brass with a large lip for holding tips firmly and adequate length for fairly deep insertion of tips into the ear canal. The metal components are well fitted to the plastic with no obvious gaps or glued areas. The faceplates are beveled and well polished with no sharp edges anywhere. One cannot talk about the build without mentioning the connectors. While I like the design in some ways (it protects the pins and is less likely to get bent), it is basically a proprietary modification of the standard bi-pin connector that means you either buy cables from Kz or you have some work cut out to modify either the connector or the cable to fit. I experimented some with putting a 2.5mm balanced jack on the Kz cable and it is possible to do so (although the jack may well cost you more than the ZsN did to start with). Hopefully KZ will come out with a balanced cable for this style connection soon and this will be a non-issue, but for now, know that you have to use the provided cable or be up for some DIY to make others work. Isolation is average as the ZsN sits in the ear and insertion is deep enough to block a good bit of external sound but the ports allow some sound in.



    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]



    Internals:

    The ZsN uses a 10mm titanium coated diaphragm dynamic driver that KZ lists as developed and tuned in house along with their customized 30095 balanced armature that has become a mainstay of their recent product line. The impedance is listed as 25Ω with a sensitivity of 104dB making the ZsN a fairly easy earphone to drive from smartphones or tablets. Titanium coated dynamics have a reputation for needing some time to burn-in so the ZsN may sound somewhat different after 100 hours or so than it did new out of the box. (I know this is like talking politics as some insist burn-in doesn’t exist while others swear by it. I think the truth is somewhere between the extremes).

    Cable:

    As previously mentioned, the cable is the subject of some controversy. It is well made with a 4 strand braid below the splitter and twisted pair above it. The splitter itself continues the odd trend of being way too low on the cable and no chin-slider is provided. This makes the cable entirely more tangle prone than it should be and would be easily cured by moving the splitter about 8 inches further up the cable toward the earpieces. (If anyone at KZ is listening, please, please, please move the splitter up!). The Jack is the standard 3.5mm TRS 90º connector standard on all KZ cables these days. The other end of the cable sports pre-formed earhooks with clear hooded bi-pin connectors. My sample does not have the mic, but that option exists for those who prefer one.

    [​IMG] [​IMG][​IMG]





    Sound:

    Bass:

    Sub-bass is good in both depth and quantity with good quickness and decay too. It does not have as much rumble of some other Kz models (Zs6) but instead exhibits better control over what it does have. Mid-bass is well controlled as well and is slightly forward of the sub-bass but again not nearly as much as some other Kz models. Bleed is minimal and provides a little warmth to the signature but without obscuring details. The thing I appreciate most about the mid-bass on the ZsN is the texture and control. This is a first for Kz.

    Mids:

    If there is one thing the KZ house signature is known for, it isn’t mids. Imagine my surprise when not only does the ZsN have mids, the lower mids are actually mildly forward and the presence region gives vocals a bit of a lift as well. The lower mids manage good clarity even with some minimal bass bleed while the true mids drop back to near neutral level without feeling greatly recessed or distant. Upper mids begin to climb forward and give vocals a bit of extra push which is nice but at times can make them feel somewhat unnatural in the process. While the mids are definitely improved over the ZsT, some recent models are a bit more natural sounding (As10, ES4)

    Treble:

    Treble extension is good and treble is pushed mildly forward as well which gives a nice sense of air at the top end, but the 30095 driver used does have some tendency toward sibilance and that is still on display in the ZsN. Cymbals are sharp and well rendered but are borderline metallic sounding and tracks that have a tendency to be sibilant will almost certainly display it when played on the ZsN. Overall, the treble would have to be described as moderately aggressive as compared to the Zs6 which would be outright aggressive to most listeners.

    Soundstage / Imaging:

    The ZsN exhibits good layering and imaging with enough space between instruments and very little tendency to get crowded as tracks get busy. This is admirable in a 2 driver design as many 4 and 5 driver models dont have the imaging accuracy displayed by the ZsN. Soundstage is much wider than it is deep probably due to the arrangement of the vents on the shell. It can be described as sitting 10 rows back from a stage that is 40 feet wide and 10 feet deep.



    Comparisons:

    [​IMG]

    ZsT: Well seeing as the ZsN could be thought of as the ZsT v2, the obvious question is did they improve it? The answer is, “it depends”. Shells are essentially the same with a slight edge going to the ZsN with its metal faceplate. Isolation is a bit better on the ZsN (somewhat surprisingly). Both share a similar V signature but the ZsN has better control and is a bit smoother than the ZsT.

    ES4: To me this is the closest model to the ZsN when looking at the KZ line. Both have good bass thump while maintaining good control and both have mids unlike a lot of the Kz line. The differences are primarily in the upper registers where the ZsN is a bit better extended but the ES4 is slightly more polite.

    Yinyoo V2: The ZsN has a bit better low end extension than the V2 while the V2 is a bit better controlled with a bit better texture in the mids. The V2 is avoids stridency at all costs while the ZsN is a bit sharper around the edges.

    BQEYZ KB1: Similar sub-bass but mid-bass is more forward on the KB1 and mids are more recessed on the KB1 when compared to the ZsN. The KB1 has an overly polite treble and lacks extension compared to the ZsN which has better high-end extension but is a bit more harsh and aggressive.

    [​IMG]

    Thoughts / Conclusion:

    The sub-$20 market has gotten awfully crowded lately and KZ alone has been responsible for a good bit of that with no less than 7 models currently listed on their website in that category. Many of these models overlap to a point that makes me question whether we need one more. Having said that, the ZsN is in many ways a departure from the norm for KZ. They stepped up their game when it comes to shells and cables and produced a product that looks and feels more expensive than it is. Then they tuned it to be more controlled and better behaved than previous generations of Kz. This shows KZ is learning and improving and gives me hope that we will see even better offerings next year. The ZsN represents one of the 3 best efforts of KZ to date in my estimation (Zs5v1 and AS10) and despite a treble that could still be described as slightly hot, is a big step in the right direction. For awhile there it looked like KZ might be losing its stranglehold on the sub-$20 market, the ZsN once again claims that territory for KZ.
      archdawg, DocHoliday and B9Scrambler like this.
  7. SweetEars
    Mostly good but not without flaws
    Written by SweetEars
    Published Dec 14, 2018
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Good layering , positional and instrumentation with sound.
    Cons - Steely Treble . Vocals and airyness could have been better.

    The following words can be used to desribe the KZ ZSN.

    Accurate
    - The music is unaltered by the recording or playback equipment. Ideally, to sound identical to the original music.

    Aggressive - Forward and bright sonic character.

    Analytical - Highly detailed.

    Articulate - Intelligibility of voice(s) and instruments and the interactions between them.

    Attack - The leading edge of a note and the ability of a system to reproduce the attack transients in music.

    Bright - A sound that emphasizes the upper midrange/lower treble. Harmonics are strong relative to fundamentals.

    Brilliance - The 6kHz to 16kHz range controls the brilliance and clarity of sounds. Too much emphasis in this range can produce sibilance on the vocals.

    Coloured - Having timbres that are not true to life. Non flat response; peaks or dips.

    Definition (or resolution) - The ability of a component to reveal the subtle information that is fundamental to high fidelity sound.

    Euphonic - An appealing form of distortion that generally enhances perceived fidelity, often ascribed to the harmonic elaborations of some valve amps.

    Focus - A strong, precise sense of image projection.

    Forward(ness) - Similar to an aggressive sound, a sense of image being projected in front of the speakers and of music being forced upon the listener.

    Grip - A sense of control and sturdiness in the bass.

    Imaging - The sense that a voice or instrument is in a particular place in the room.

    Pace - Often assoc. with rhythm, a strong sense of timing and beat.

    Presence - A sense that the instrument in present in the listening room. Synonyms are edge, punch, detail, closeness and clarity. Adequate or emphasized response around 5 kHz for most instruments, or around 2 to 5 kHz for kick drum and bass.

    Shrill - Strident, Steely.

    Snap - A system with good speed and transient response can deliver the immediacy or "snap" of live instruments.

    Timing - A sense of precision in tempo.

    Let me start off by stating my personal preferences: Airy and depp soundtage, sparking highs and deep subabass with V shaped signature

    My initial impression of the KZ ZSN is that it sound similar to budget higher priced $50 IEMS but not quite there. The ZSN has better separation and positional sound presentation than many in its price category. But there is a bit more shimmer in the mid treble than sparkle. The bass is around the right amount, not too little nor excessive. it has a mild V shaped signature but more forward vocal signature. The mids are in front of u , There is a good surround effect but the the whole sound signature is more forward than with an emphasis on a V shape mid and sub bass. To some , the whole sound signature may look strange or convulated.

    The sub bass is adequate...the mid bass is average. the sound is is separated and positional but however has less musical quality than some IEMs because of its soundstage transparency and its shimmering treble. The ZSN is bright but not truly airy unless with high quality sources. It lacks a crystallization brightness and has a more has more shimmering brightness and less sparkly. Zsn has clarity but lacking in transparency slightly but also being transparent in its own way int he sense that the soundstage seems ot be playing at the back of the mids. The vocals are forward and distinct the soundstage but lack energy or detail or being thin.. The soundstage as more vertical expansion than horizontall. In terms of articulation , overall excellent layering , clarity and positional characteristics..

    However their major flaws as mentioned earlier is in the sound characteristics particulary the highs. They tend to sound steely and lacking airyness.The soundstage could do better with more depth and height.The biggest flaws come in the form of sound characteristics mainly the mids and treble which are dry. The vocals may lack some quality to them. Overall its good or the best $20 can buy now. If u want something that is of budget value get this zsn as alternative or side upgrade. Overall they are average but could have been better.
  8. DallaPo
    KZ ZSN | Rating: 8.3
    Written by DallaPo
    Published Dec 13, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - many details
    clear sound
    great bass
    good workmanship
    improved cable
    Cons - Emphasis on the Sibilants
    sometimes sharp trebles and strong peaks
    INTRO
    KZ ZST was Knowledge Zenith's first hybrid model and one of the company's best when it comes to neutral sound packed into a V-signature.
    KZ also seems to have recognized this and told themselves why not fall back on tried and tested solutions and try to optimize them. The result was the ZSN, but was the optimization successful?

    HANDLING
    The housing is similar to that of the ZST in terms of shape. However, a metal plate would be integrated and also the nozzles are made of gold-plated metal, which makes the ZSN somewhat heavier, but also much more robust.
    Everything seems to be of one piece and of very high quality.

    KZ has finally answered our prayers and delivers a cable which is comfortable to use. The annoying metal reinforcement has given way to history and a PVC reinforcement, which is already pre-bent. We already know this proven method from many other manufacturers like TRN or BQEYZ. KZ introduces a new connector which has 2 pins but is no longer compatible with other KZ models. This also represents an upgrade, as it offers a more secure hold of the cable to the headphones.

    As with almost all KZ models, the insulation is in a good range and can be further improved with foam tips. As with the ZST, the wearing comfort is excellent!

    SOUND
    KZ remains true to its sound with its newer models, which means that if you have a problem with harsh highs, you should generally not resort to a KZ -In-Ear (an exception is the ZS10, for example).

    The bass is really convincing and finds a good balance between sub-bass and mid-bass. It reacts quickly and precisely without slipping into the midrange. It's really fun, as it not only punches well, but is also very accurate tonally, which benefits demanding bass lines.

    The mids are extremely clear, detailed and well balanced, which means that they neither move too far into the front (vocals) nor are they too far back. Admittedly, they are one of the ZSN's greatest strengths, together with the strong bass performance, even if the sibilants are already emphasized quite strongly, which is also song dependent (voice of the interpreter).

    The highs, on the other hand, are a compromise. On the one hand very detailed, with a wonderful three-dimensionality, separation and extension, on the other hand sometimes very sharp and fatiguing! Of course, this is not the case with all genres, but with rock it is very significant. Here you should not exaggerate the volume too much if you like your ears. It's a bit like Jekyll and Hyde in terms of highs.

    OUTRO
    Compared to the ZST there is an improvement in the bass and midrange, as well as in the workmanship. With the treble it is in the eye of the beholder and also what hearing habit one has. In order not to misinterpret it, I would like to relativize the highs a bit, because the peaks are not as strong as with the ZS6, or ED15. They are more similar to the ED16/ZS7. For almost 16 € this is definitely an established hybrid that can compete with the many other 1*BA & 1*DD hybrids on the market and stands out due to its great design, richness of detail and wearing comfort. Thanks KZ for the new cable and the sound quality, which is offered here for the small thaler.

    BUY IT HERE: VS AUDIO STORE
    ___________________________________________________________
    More reviews: https://david-hahn.wixsite.com/chi-fiear
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CHIFIEAR/
  9. Johnny Mac
    Knowledge Zenith ZSN Realview.
    Written by Johnny Mac
    Published Nov 17, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Great overall sound coherence, solid build, great price-to-performance ratio.
    Cons - Does nothing exceptional.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Here we are again and those that got to reading this realview is either an owner of the Knowledge Zenith ZSN or waiting for it to arrive or seriously considering getting one. There is already no way of finding out the naming scheme KZ uses and finding it out probably won’t give any information as to how a particular model sounds, like how could you do that when you’re a company that just won’t stop pumping out products.

    We all have our own 1st impressions when seeing a newly released product and when I saw the ZSN, I noticed how nice the clear 0.75mm 2-pin male housing was and the aggressive IEM design it had. Priced at $18, I had a hunch that this piece would again be the talk of the town barring how it sounds overall. Linsoul/DD Audio provided the sample unit in exchange for an honest review. You can get a pair from their dedicated Amazon and AliExpress shops.

    The ZSN is a dual driver hybrid featuring a 10mm KZ-developed dynamic driver which uses titanium film on its diaphragm or so I’m told and a 30095 customized balanced armature. The ZSN is also spec’d out with a 20Hz-40000Hz Frequency Response, 25 Ohm Impedance and a 104dB Sensitivity. It is also light at just .05 pounds which is notable against the KZ BA10’s estimated .10 pounds weight. Will the ZSN’s aggressive and new design be enough to grip the $20 market for KZ once again or is just another random release bound to fail? Let’s find out.

    Packaging and Build Quality
    [​IMG]
    The KZ ZSN’s packaging is 90% identical with the ZSA’s minus the respective silhouettes of both being highlighted on the white glossy cardboard box with a smaller black container inside which features the IEM itself plus a set of KZ black single flange silicon ear tips (S, M, L) and 1 medium black silicon ear tips preinstalled as well as the 0.75mm 2-pin cable. The housing itself features a 2 piece faceplate and shell design with the shell being offered in 3 colors (Black, Cyan and Purple). The housing has a good ergonomic design which doesn’t hurt after long term use plus a gold plated nozzle with a silver metal mesh separate from the Resin housing. I indeed fancy the black shell which is really appears smoky in actual look since it enables an easier peek into the internal wirings of the ZSN which doesn’t suggest sloppy work and also has 2 vents directly over the where the dynamic drivers are. The faceplate itself is the same across all colorways offered and is metal with 3 angled lines as well 3 working vents and 3 faceplate screws, rule of thirds y’all. The faceplate and shell union shows no signs of weak bonds and is sealed clean and tight, at $18, that’s nice.
    [​IMG]
    The stock cable is still reminiscent of the ZSA cable except that the over ear guide is now devoid of the metal guiding mechanism and yet works better in terms of staying in place when used on the go. It is still a round braid copper cable with average tension and microphonics with the Y-split and the L-shaped gold-plated 3.5mm plug still the same with the ZSA, a mic’d cable is also an option for those who want it. The biggest difference the ZSN has over the other KZ products stock cable is the new 2-pin housing with more slot protection and is also aesthetically more appealing than the old black housings. Those who own other KZ cables need not worry as they still fit on the ZSN although not sitting too flush.

    Tonality
    [​IMG]
    Four KZ units reviewed and it’s safe to say that they’re showing a house sound that is warm sounding with the occasional struggle with the higher frequency implementation. The ZSN once again resides in KZ’s warm signature “signature” sound which at the $20 market is really standard. It is also the 1st time out of 4 KZ review units that the realview would be using the stock KZ ear tips which surprisingly works well with the ZSN silhouette. The Xduoo X3ii and Opus 1 as well as the Sony CAS-1 churning out 16/44 Flac files which would be mentioned along the realview.

    Lows
    [​IMG]
    Already being clearly a warm sounding set of IEMs, how the ZSN tackles the lows will clearly decide if it is at best worthy to get against its numerous $20 competition. The ZSN's lows was tested using Deadmau5's Deus Ex Machina track which has a load of sub bass and bass. The sub bass drops are indeed powerful on the ZSN and is sensibly and audibly felt while bass thumps are impactful and has great air giving a fat sound yet still not congesting towards the midrange frequency. This will satisfy basshead cravings.

    Midrange
    [​IMG]
    With the low frequency performance being the ZSN’s bread and butter, there is already good foundation towards a positive midrange performance. Norah Jones once again graces the midrange with her Don’t Know Why track. The vocal timbre isn’t off on the ZSN and although there’s a hint of being unnatural, female vocals still sounds lively with sufficient air and clarity. Lower midrange has great clarity as well, compliments with the bass thumps. This isn’t your laid back nor forward sounding midrange performer but instead plays safely on the neutral midrange sound.

    Highs
    [​IMG]
    While the lower frequency performance is the ZSN’s bread and butter while the midrange performance doing a decent job, KZ is once again put to the test on with the ZSN. Angela Bofill’s Angel of the Night track was used and there is immediate noticeable treble bite. Crash cymbal hits are articulate and surprisingly has good treble extension as well. The ride cymbals isn’t shrilly and has tolerable peaks. This IEM is surely borderline sibilant, I however tried using the Final Audio Type E ear tips which did great in taming out the highs.

    Soundstage and Imaging
    With the noticeable treble bite and extension as well as the sufficient midrange presence, the imaging aspect of the ZSN showed average yet distinct instrument placement identification and their interaction with each other is articulate enough to be a bit engaging. Soundstage is clearly benefitting from the 5 vents spread over the faceplate and the shell, it pans out wide instead of being intimate with good left to right and right to left tonal note transitions.

    Conclusion
    Knowledge Zenith did a pretty good job on the new ZSN release and they might be scratching their head as to why they have chosen to price this at only $18 or maybe they just want to keep the entry level buyers locked and then release a $30 to $40 IEM which I’m guessing wouldn’t do as good as the ZSN. Banking on an aggressive design, new 2-pin housing and a surprisingly good warm sound and capping it off with a price residing on the lower tier, the ZSN is my new KZ IEM favorite dethroning the ZSA.

    More realviews on http://audiorealviews.site/
      St3ven likes this.
  10. B9Scrambler
    KZ ZSN: $20 has never gone so far
    Written by B9Scrambler
    Published Oct 26, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Amazing build quality - Crisp, detailed sound - Price
    Cons - If you want to get picky, occasionally harsh in the upper mids and treble
    Greetings,

    Today we're checking out the umpteenth Knowledge Zenith (KZ) released this year. It's hard to get excited for a new KZ nowadays. Why? They release so many models in short periods, and there is a ton of overlap in specs and parts. Yet, somehow they continuously manage to refine, enhance, and in the end, impress. They impress me at least, this time with the ZSN.

    Let's take a look.

    Disclaimer:

    Thanks to Lillian with DD-Audio for sending over a complimentary sample of the ZSN for the purposes of review. The thoughts within this review are my subjective impressions and do not represent Linsoul, KZ, or any other entity. No financial incentive was provided to write this article.

    At the time of writing the ZSN could be picked up for 18-19 USD, depending on if you order with a mic or not: AliExpress link

    Source and Amping:

    For at home use the ZSN was powered by a TEAC HA-501 desktop amp with my Asus FX53V laptop sourcing music. For portable use it was paired with an LG G6 or Shanling M0. The Radsone Earstudio ES100 was also used over Bluetooth connected to the G6. The ZSN is very easy to drive so an amp isn't needed. A clean source is though, since it is quite revealing.

    Personal Preferences:

    I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures in my headphones I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even and natural mid-range response, with reduced mid-bass. The HiFiMan RE800, Brainwavz B400, and thinksound On2 offer examples of signatures I enjoy. I generally listen at very low volumes, so keep this in mind when reading my thoughts on how an earphone sounds.

    Specifications:

    Impedance: 25ohms
    Sensitivity: 104dB/mW
    Frequency Response: 20-40,000Hz
    Cable: 2-pin 0.75mm
    Weight: 23g+/-3g

    IMG_0014.JPG IMG_0015.JPG IMG_0016.JPG

    Packaging and Accessories:

    The ZSN comes in KZ's now familiar packaging. The white exterior sheath has a wire frame style image of the ZSN on the front with specifications and contact info for KZ on the back. Sliding the sheath off reveals a compact cardboard box with the ZSN's ear pieces secured under a clear viewing window within a plastic, KZ-branded insert. Underneath are the rest of the accessories. In all you get:

    - ZSN earphones
    - 0.75mm 2-pin cable
    - Single flange silicone tips (m only, preinstalled)
    - "Starline" single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
    - Instruction manual

    Outside of the plain single flange medium tips that come preinstalled on the ZSN, this is more or less the same kit that has come with KZs for years. I'm fine with this because their Starline tips are one of my favorites. On the other hand, it would be nice if they starting packing in a basic pouch to carry them in.

    IMG_0017.JPG IMG_0018.JPG IMG_0030.JPG

    Build, Comfort, and Isolation:

    The ZSN takes the ZST's shell and beefs up the build quality considerably. This is probably the most premium feeling product to come out of KZ in years, and this is considering the company of their aluminum bodied earphones like the ZSA, ZS6, and BA10.

    The rear half of the shell is tinted acrylic allowing you to see the drivers inside. Down near the nozzle you will find two vents, one of which for the dynamic driver has a small filter. The nozzle is a separate metal bore housing the balanced armature, protected by metal mesh. At the top of the housing protrudes KZ's new 2-pin setup. You won't have to worry about this one punching into the housing if you push too hard, an issue I had with one of my ZS3s, since you can clearly see the part is screwed in place. Awesome! The faceplate is now a solid hunk of metal giving the ZSN it's weighty, premium feel. In addition to the two vents on the inside, there are three more on the backplate.

    Despite all this ventilation, the ZSN's isolation is respectable, especially if you toss on some foam tips. Sitting in the office with the ZSN in place using the preinstalled medium silicones and no music playing, my colleagues chatting nearby, keyboards, and general murmur of an office environment was dulled significantly. Same thing walking around outside on a busy street.

    The cable has seen some welcome updates too, most notably as you lead up to the ear pieces. Gone is the memory wire, replaced by some flexible preformed guides. Some will undoubtedly still prefer just a bare cable but these guides work very well. Another improvement is the length above the y-split. This section has traditionally been longer than on most cables, sometimes nearly half the length of the cable. With KZ's new braided copper cable, this meant that they were exceptionally prone to tangling. The length has been shortened considerably, which combined with the new ear guides makes it much more manageable, though it still tangles if you're not careful. Lastly, KZ's new 2-plugs have the pins recessed into a deep cup that wraps around the receptacles on the ear pieces. This helps protect the pins from damage. For those who are worried, your old upgrade cables will still fit, they just won't sit flush against the housing like they do on other KZ products.

    All this comes together to provide a comfortable wearing experience. The weight is spread evenly throughout the ear. The soft, flexible ear guides wrap smoothly around the ear and do not cause any discomfort. There are no sharp edges or rough spots that would cause issues. The only thing that might be an issue for some is size, since the ZSN is bigger than your average barrel-shaped earphone.

    IMG_0020.JPG DSC05057.JPG DSC05062.JPG

    Sound:

    The ZSN continues KZs slow and steady movement in offering improved performance on each new release while maintaining an affordable price. It maintains their hybrid house sound which is a warm, v-shaped signature with a bright upper range. Unlike a number of their other releases, the ZSN reduces warmth to direct your attention to detail and clarity.

    Treble is emphasized with excellent extension, up to Hi-Res worthy 40K if you believe the specs. While there is decent shimmer and sparkle to the presentation, I suspect the lower treble regions get more emphasis than upper due to a very mild harshness that is present on some tracks, like the cymbals on Aesop Rock's “Kirby”. Either way, there is a fair bit of space and air to the upper ranges. It certainly helps with the ZSNs impressive channel to channel imaging accuracy and separation, and highlights that there is more width than depth to the sound stage.

    The mid-range is a little more forward than I'm use to from KZ's hybrids, such as the ZSA, giving vocalists lots of presence. As is normal for the 30095 balanced armature KZ has installed in the ZSN, mild sibilance is present. I didn't find it overly intrusive, unlike other budget hybrids or KZs own ED15 which competes in a similar price bracket. As much as I love the bass on that model, the sibilance can be quite extreme. I found timbre a touch on the breathy side and not quite as accurate as a number of other recent releases from KZ, like the BA-only AS10 and BA10, or the ZSA. It is an improvement over some older models though, like the ZST and ZS6.

    Bass is lovely with great extension and a satisfying balance between mid- and sub-bass. It is nice and quick with impressive double bass articulation as heard on Havok's “D.O.A”. Decay is snappy with just the right amount of decay on lingering notes. It doesn't have the impact of some other models in the lineup, instead displaying a more subtle and mature tune.

    IMG_5059.JPG

    Select Comparisons:

    KZ ZST: The ZST was KZs first hybrid and is still one of the best. How do you improve on hyper-budget near-perfection? Do the same thing but better. Shells are essentially the same but with the ZSN featuring improved materials, fit and finish, and the new 2-pin connectors. The ZSN somehow offers improved isolation better despite a trillion little vents everywhere.

    The ZSN has the same mild v-shaped signature of the ZST but refines the sound further. Treble is smoother and more precise with improved detail and control. There is also a touch more emphasis giving the ZSN some shimmer lacking in the ZST. The ZSN's mids are slightly more forward with extra clarity. Timbre is more accurate. Bass is quicker and more articulate with improved depth. The ZSN has a slightly more intimate sound stage as a result of it's more forward mids. Imaging, layering, and separation are all better on the ZSN though. The most notable difference is the detail and clarity. Just toss on some speed metal and the ZSN sounds significantly more crisp with individual instruments and effects being easier to follow. They're similar, but the ZSN clearly plays in a different league.

    TFZ Series 2: The Series 2 is one of the lower end offerings in TFZ's lineup and has garnered quite the fan base, myself included. It too shares basically the same shell as the ZSN, but with cheaper plastics and less impressive construction. The 2-pin cable systems are very similar.

    Sound is very similar too. The TFZ's bass is a bit more authoritative giving chugging basslines more impact. Drivers in both earphones are extremely quick and nimble, though I found the ZSN slightly faster giving it the edge in micro-detail and separation. The TFZ has a deeper stage giving track layers more space to breath. Treble in the ZSN has just a little more sparkle to it, and I found it sounded more accurate in the mids and timbre where the TFZ came across a little dry. Overall I find the ZSN's technical performance and more natural timbre to give it an edge over the Series 2. Plus, the build quality is miles better.

    TRN V80: The V80's all metal shells certainly feel tough but it doesn't look or feel anywhere near as premium as the ZSN. KZ's ear guides also feel more substantial, and their new 2-pin system much more durable. TRN's pins are completely unsupported so there is nothing to stop them from snapping if something bends the cable side to side. Ergonomics are better too, though the V80 isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination. Dunu did a good job designing that shell.

    The V80's dual dynamics are both quicker and more impactful with excellent separation, texture and clarity. The ZSN is close, but not quite as good. The V80's mids are slightly less forward and much leaner, though not as detailed. Same goes for the treble which is less well controlled and splashier than I prefer. ZSN has a larger sound stage with more accurate imaging. Separation and layering are slightly ahead on the V80. In summary, V80 has better bass but the ZSN is better nearly everywhere else. In my opinion, TRN still has a ways to go with their BA implementation before they catch KZ in the treble and mids.

    DSC05056.JPG DSC05059.JPG DSC05061.JPG

    Final Thoughts:

    The budget earphone market is a very congested and redundant place right now. There are tons of cheap hybrids and both single and multi-dynamic earphones from both new and established brands alike releasing every day, or at least it feels like it. Thankfully, we have KZ.

    I've been trudging around the budget Chi-fi scene for years now and own, have owned, or have tried literally dozens of earphones in the ZSN's price range. I still don't think there is any company out there that truly challenges KZ in this segment, and the ZSN further supports that. While KZ hasn't been lighting up the scene quite like they used to, at least not for the reasons you'd want (see ZS6 and Campfire Audio), they're consistent in the quality of each release. You know you're very likely to get something that is at least sounds decent and is always worth the price. With the ZSN you get a stunning looking piece of equipment with build quality that wouldn't be out of place heading well over 100 bucks. The sound quality is outstanding too, leaving like-priced products from Geek Wold, TRN, UiiSii, Remax, and others lagging behind. In my opinion of course.

    The ZSN is one of the easiest, condition free recommendations I have had the opportunity to suggest in quite a while now. If you simply want a great sounding, comfortable, well-built headphone that turns heads and costs next to nothing, you can save yourself the hassle of researching. Just get the ZSN. You're welcome.

    Thanks for reading!

    - B9Scrambler

    ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

    Some Test Tunes:

    Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Album)
    Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
    King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
    King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
    Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
    Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
    Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
    Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
    Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
    Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
    The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
    Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
    Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
    Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
    The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
    Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
    Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
    Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
    Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)
    Aesop Rock – Fishtales (Track)
    1. View previous replies...
    2. B9Scrambler
      @dondonut I personally like the slightly warmer ZSA more, but, I think the ZSN is the better earphone, mainly because the mids are more prominent. Fit is better too. And they look classier. Cable is nicer... I'm sure there are other reasons, lol.
      B9Scrambler, Nov 8, 2018
      glassmonkey and DocHoliday like this.
    3. dondonut
      @B9Scrambler thanks for your response, I'll take that into consideration and try to do some more reading between the lines
      ! I'll reconsider the ZSA as well, few more days to decide :), I like both designs equally tbh, nicer than the earlier KZ over ears imo (atr/ate/zst).
      dondonut, Nov 8, 2018
      DocHoliday and B9Scrambler like this.
    4. Split Brain
      Greetings from fellow ED9 owner. That so-called harsh iem destroyed my illusions about perfect balance, and made most of my collection obsolete. ZSN is on the way to me. We'll see if it's tough enough. KZ caused a lot of moaning over those big resonance peaks near 3 and 6 khz near the center of the speech sweet spot. The name of the game is exactly where to pump the energy in, and they figured it out IMHO.
      Split Brain, Feb 6, 2019
      B9Scrambler likes this.

Comments

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