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  1. nxnje
    ZSN PRO - New budget KZ Strenght
    Written by nxnje
    Published May 21, 2019 at 4:05 PM
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Great SQ
    Immersive due to the great dynamic
    Super comfortable and great isolation
    Well built and great design
    Price
    Cons - Cable prone to tangle
    Bass could be more authoritative and visceral
    Hello everyone!
    After so much time reading about the ZSN hype, i’ve received a very discounted sample (0.18$) of the ZSN Pro by AK Audio Store (which i keep recommending because of their amazing customer service and products prices) in exchange of a honest review.
    Disclaimer: i do not have the ZSN in order to compare it with the ZSN Pro, so everything is just based on my personal listening experience with the ZSN Pro.

    [​IMG]


    Just wanna precise that my impressions are subjective and that listening experience can change depending on source, tips and so on.

    Test were made on:
    – Galaxy S7 Edge Smartphone
    – Presonus AudioBOX iONE connected to my PC with no Enhancements actived
    – AGPTEK M30B/Benjie S8 DAP
    I even connect my Fiio A3 when i need it if i hear some earphones need a little more power.

    Technical specs:
    Drivers: 1 DD + 1 BA
    Sensitivity: 112dB
    Impedance: 24ohm
    Frequency Response: 7 Hz – 40000 Hz
    Cable lenght: 1.2m Detachable (0.75mm PINs): cable connectors are different from normal ones. Connector here is female one, while other KZ cables are male ones, you’ll see in the cable section.
    Plug Type: L-type

    PACKAGING
    Classic KZ carton package. You’ll find IEMs, cable and eartips (4 pairs: 1 soft pair + 3 Starline classic tips pairs).
    No carry case included (as usual). KZ please, listen to us: include a carry case!!!

    [​IMG]

    CABLE
    Cable is really similar to the one that KZ has been selling as upgrade cable, and i think it’s the same one that’s featured with the CCA C10, except for the connectors, which are approached in a different way. As you can see the connector here has 2 female pinholes while the standard KZ cable has male PINs.
    This seems to be the new standard KZ wanna follow.
    Cable is prone to tangling but pre-made hooks are so comfy compared to the memory wire hooks. The cable is not bad in any case, i love it if we compare it to the old ZS6/ZS5/ZS3’s one.

    [​IMG]

    CONSTRUCTION AND INTERNALS
    Fantastic build. The faceplate is made of metal while the rest of the shell is made of high quality plastic. Everything is well assembled and feels very solid. I think this is one of the best KZ products in terms of build quality.
    There is a vent just behind the dynamic driver which should help giving it some air for a better performance.
    There’s the usual nozzle grill with an appreciated nozzle lip. Everything seems very well assembled even in this part of the IEMs.
    1DD + 1BA makes them another hybrid setup in the KZ line.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    COMFORT AND ISOLATION
    Awesome comfort: the rounded and smooth shape of the ZSN Pro makes them very comfortable even for long listening sessions. I’ve tried a 4hrs listening session and i personally forgot i had them in my ears, i was just enjoying the music and i seriously didn’t even think they were still in my ears.
    Isolation is very good, i tried to use them in a very busy zone of my city and i didn’t have to turn up the volume in a strong way, medium level of listening was pretty ok, even with stock starline tips that i'll put just below.

    [​IMG]

    SOUND
    Let’s get into it.
    Now the critical factor that decides if something has to be tried or not: how do they sound?
    I mainly listen to EDM subgenres, Dupstep, Future Bass, Euphoric Hardstyle, Bass House, Midtempo and downtempo, darkwave, drum’n bass, but i even listen to many vocal tracks, moreover female ones.
    I always search for IEMs that have a little bit of emphasis in the lower region, and can sacrifice mids with some recession if they still sound clear and natural. I love vivid and sparkling highs if they‘re not at a headache level.
    V-shape signature is my favourite one.

    Lows: I love the way these are tuned in the low region. Sub-bass is there, controlled and balanced in my opinion.
    Bass is emphasized with great texturing, but lacks some authority that i usually pretend by a dynamic driver.

    Mids: I would say slight recessed. Male voices do not have the warm timbre of the CCA C10 but still sound well reproduced. Female voices sound delicate, fresh and intimate without sibilance.
    Synths are a bit laidback but that’s intended in the V-shape signature of the ZSN Pro.
    I really like how does the midrange sound with great resolution and natural tonality.

    Highs: Definitely bright, but not in a bad way. Highs are not sharp like ZS6 or V80s ones, but brilliant in a very good way. Treble sensitive people will not have many problems, but i can understand they can sound fatiguing after some time. Upper treble has good extension making the ZSN Pro sound with plenty of air, while lower treble is emphasized with a lot of energy.
    Detail retrieval is pretty good considering the price range.

    Soundstage is good, wider than deep and with good height. Instrument separation is great, moreover if we consider how much we’re paying for the ZSN Pros. Imaging is not bad at all being another plus for the ZSN Pro.
    At first listen, great dynamic was the first thing i got and i still think these are extremely fun even because of it.

    SUMMARY
    KZ did it again. The ZSN Pro are going to be the budget king now, moreover if we think about the hype train that ZSN started.
    I think there are a few products that can compete with the ZSN at this price. Maybe the TRN V80 (if found at the same price) can be a good contender, but they’re actually in another league considering the V80s are more balanced than the ZSN Pro along the spectrum.
    The ZSN Pro are simply great, comfortable, well built, fun and fresh.
    You could not ask for more at this price.
  2. Nimweth
    KZ ZSN Pro: Alternative Reality
    Written by Nimweth
    Published May 17, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Well-balanced sound
    Near neutral bass and mids
    Extended treble response
    Comfortable fit
    Cons - Slightly shallow soundstage
    Some bass bleed
    Occasional sharp peaks in the treble
    The ZSN Pro is one of the latest models in a new series of IEMs from KZ (Knowledge Zenith) featuring metal faceplates, revised drive units and a new type of connector. The ZSN Pro is an update to the original ZSN and like the earlier model, is a dual-driver hybrid (1DD + 1BA). The dynamic driver is a new 10mm dual magnet design which is claimed to be equivalent to a 14-15mm unit. It is the same as that used in the new KZS10 Pro and the CCA CA4 and has a field strength of 1 Tesla. The balanced armature is the familiar 30095 unit which has been extensively modified.

    The packaging is the usual KZ small white box with an outline drawing of the IEMs on the front and some specifications printed on the back. Inside, the earphones are presented in a cut-out with the words “Hybrid Technology Earphone, Classic Upgrade” printed below. Under this cut-out you will find the detachable cable, a set of three Starline-type tips and documentation. A further set of soft silicone tips is pre-fitted on the IEMs.

    The ZSN Pro has an alloy faceplate which has three embossed chevrons on its surface and looks futuristic in design. The shape is similar to that of the CCA C10. The body of the earphone is made of a clear acrylic through which the components can be seen. The words “ZSN Pro, Classic Upgrade” appear on the side of the earpieces. My particular example came in a fetching purple colour and looked very attractive.

    The detachable cable is of a new design, following that used on the above-mentioned ZSN. It has a clear plastic female connector (known as “Type C”) with the pins being situated on the body of the IEMs. The cable itself is a braided copper-coloured type and has a very long section between the chunky Y-split and the earpieces and as a result is somewhat prone to tangling. The plug is a right-angled plastic 3.5mm type.

    The earphones were left burning in for over 50 hours before testing and included tracks of white and pink noise, glide tones and other audio conditioning tracks. After this I used a Hifi Walker H2 DAP with a Fiio A5 amplifier for evaluation.

    The ZSN Pro was tested using the supplied cable and the pre-fitted tips, which resulted in a very comfortable fit. The seal and isolation were above average. Sensitivity was fine, with adequate volume achieved on various devices, including a Moto G3 smartphone, but I found the sound balance preferable when run through the DAP via line out with a headphone amplifier.

    The recent series of IEMs released by KZ’s sister company CCA have adopted a more neutral sound, excepting the latest CA4, which I found to have a more V or W-shaped profile. Conversely, the ZSN Pro, rather than exhibiting a strong V-shaped character in traditional KZ style, displayed a more balanced, shallow V-shaped response. In this respect I found it to have some of the qualities of both the CCA C10 and the more ambitious C16.

    Bass

    The bass was more mid-bass focused compared to the CCA CA4, which had a more sub-bass emphasis. As a result the overall balance was slightly warmer than neutral, and resembled that of the CCA C10. Sub-bass was present where it occurred in the recording, but was not overdone. In Rachmaninov’s “Symphonic Dance No.1” performed by the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Eiji Oue, the bass drum had good impact and depth with a crisp initial strike. Decay was fairly quick resulting in a clean quality in this part of the spectrum. There was good weight to the orchestral climaxes. The deep synth bass underpinning Andrew Forrest’s “Unveiling Eternity” from his album “One” enhanced the atmosphere of the piece rather than dominating, producing a very natural balance. The appropriately mechanical sounds of the bass accompaniment in Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine” were suitably menacing, providing a perfect backdrop to the guitar chords and vocals.

    Mids

    The lower midrange had a warm character due to a little bass bleed which gave an attractive bloom to this area, again somewhat similar to that of the CCA C10. Generally, the midrange was a little recessed, but it did rise close to the boundary with the treble, giving good impact and immediacy. The bright energetic quality of E.J. Moeran’s “Serenade in G” performed by the Northern Sinfonia under Richard Hickox was a perfect example of this. Brass had appropriate shimmer and bite and percussion hit hard. The syncopated rhythms were beautifully articulated and produced a very attractive performance. Vocals were well delineated. Anne Murray’s voice in “You Needed Me” sounded great. Her clear diction and phrasing delivered all the emotion of the song, with the ambience of the recording venue nicely rendered. Supertramp’s “Know who you are” was another good example with Rick Davies’s light and expressive voice soaring over the accompaniment of guitars and strings to great effect. There was not as much detail from the ZSN Pro as the ZS7 or the CCA C16, but then I frequently had to remind myself of the price of these IEMs when hearing how well these acquitted themselves in this respect.

    Treble

    The high frequencies on these were well-extended with a brightness somewhat north of neutral, reminding me of CCA’s C16 (a far more costly model). The treble was generally smooth but there were some sharp peaks occasionally, especially at higher volumes, and with sibilance only occurring when actually present in the recording. This extension endowed the treble with air and sparkle. Andrew Heath’s “Headland” from his album “Soundings” is an ambient piece with numerous tinkly percussive elements which shone out nicely over the gentle synth background. The atmosphere of the piece was very well conveyed. “Wunjo” is the title track of Giles Reaves’s debut electronic album which is inspired by the Nordic runes. The quick, incisive and percussive synth accompaniment was clear and precise and drove the track along with a sense of urgency. The delicate acoustic guitars in Dan Fogelberg’s “Longer” had plenty of character and were spread attractively towards the boundary of the stereo image, forming a perfect foil for the poetic vocal line.

    Soundstage

    The ZSN Pro’s soundstage displayed good width and average height, but depth was a little shallow, resulting in the image being pushed slightly forward. Instrumental positioning was fairly good, though there was some flattening during climaxes. There was plenty of “air” in the stereo image which was stable and solid. The ambience of recording locations was well-presented and helped to create a believable, although reduced, space for the music. Benny Andersson’s “Piano” is a beautifully-recorded album of solo piano pieces with a fairly intimate acoustic. The ZSNs rendered this with a somewhat close perspective, which focused on the instrument rather than the recording space. Vangelis’s “Antarctic Echoes” also displayed a reduced soundstage and a little of the spacious quality of the piece was lost as a result. However, these criticisms only apply when compared to substantially more costly models.

    Conclusion

    The ZSN Pro presents an alternative sound picture to the recent CCA CA4 which employs the same drive units and cable and is a direct competitor. It is a question of balance. The ZSN Pro has a more neutral and arguably a more natural tuning, warmer mid-bass and lower mids, and a fairly energetic treble. The CA4 has a more lively, entertaining V or W shaped profile, more prominent sub-bass and a larger three-dimensional soundstage. The CA4 is the more immediately impressive of the two but the ZSN shows its merits after more extended listening. A worthwhile evolution of the KZ hybrid line possessing further refinement, the ZSN Pro represents great value with its well-balanced sound, comfortable fit and robust output.

    Note: I would like to thank Gina from Senlee at Amazon.com for her excellent service and communication and for providing this review sample at no cost to me.

    Product link:

    https://www.amazon.com/Earphones-Fi...ywords=senlee&qid=1557841061&s=gateway&sr=8-2



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  3. msz87
    colored bass heavy iem with good build quality
    Written by msz87
    Published May 17, 2019
    2.5/5,
    The KZ ZSN pro ships in a standard kz box with non serrated tips, but provides a set of small medium large serrated tips, im not exactly sure if they're silicone but some polymer because they reek of something unholy.

    cable : a bit underwhelming but will do the job, the memory-earpiece plastic is nice and tight around my ear with no play when tugging on the cable.

    comfort : maybe just me, but they stick out more than I'd like and sometimes they end up pushing out over-time but im sure this is a case-by-case basis.

    sound : this is where it loses most of the points. The sound is a combination of a U and V sound signature with the latter being at the treble. The zsn pro offers a good sensitivity for those without an amplified source. Every song sounds likes its mastered by the same engineer, yea its colored to the point of unenjoyment for myself. Isolation, Soundstage, imaging and sound extrapolation are reasonably good.
    --bass : its strong, its punchy, its a bit maddening; its colored and does not provide an accurate presentation and cieling.
    --mids : the low-mids are eclipsed by the bass, and the crossover of the treble, they are short in length and offer very little resolution.
    --upper mids and highs : although clinically bright, they offer some nice analytical depth and texture, expect to be dissapointed with unbalance with some recordings, but overall not too problematic for me and is the highlight of the sound if anything, but note they are BRITTLE.

    I see a lot of people recommending these for edm and bassy genres, I'd fair better with acoustical elements because of how butchered the low-end sounds and how emphasizing edm is with bass frequencies. But then again, the mids arent fantastic either so pick your poison.

    Im giving this a low score because I cant use these given how colored they are, I'd rather use a less revealing IEM with less resolution and sound extrapolation as long as its less colored and has more mid definition. I think a lot of people can/will enjoy these for the 20 dollars, but im not one of those people, let the studio mastering engineer do his job and give us more MIDS. I may have been a BIT harsh on my review as they are pretty tolerable eqing down the bass and ever so slightly boosting lowmids, but eqing wont help this iem much. I have faith that KZ will deliver us the godsound in a budget package one day. :_)
  4. B9Scrambler
    KZ ZSN Pro: Side Step
    Written by B9Scrambler
    Published May 16, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Nice build - comfortable - Isolates well - Generic but capable tune
    Cons - Does nothing to warrant 'Pro' in the name - Tangly cable - Sibilant
    Greetings!

    Today we're checking out one of KZ's newest models, the ZSN Pro.

    During the last quarter of 2018, KZ dropped the ZSN which was more or less an updated ZST. Higher quality acrylics, a more capable signature, and other quality of life changes brought their original hybrid release into the modern age. I quite enjoyed the ZSN for a number of reasons, from the premium feeling build to the new 2-pin connectors, to the more refined but still v-shaped sound.

    The ZSN Pro doesn't veer far from what made the original ZSN popular. It still has a metal face plate, metal nozzle, the new 2-pin connectors KZ is converting to with newer releases, and a single dynamic, single balanced armature (1+1) hybrid setup. The price is only a couple dollars higher too.

    So what did they do to make the ZSN go “Pro”? Let's find out.

    Disclaimer:

    A huge thanks to Lillian with Linsoul Audio for arranging a sample of the ZSN Pro for the purposes of review. The thoughts here are my own subjective opinions based on time listening to the earphone. They do not represent KZ, Linsoul, or any other entity. At the time of writing the ZSN Pro was retailing for around 20 USD. You can order yours through Linsoul or their AliExpress store, DD Audio.

    https://www.linsoul.com/product-page/kz-zsn-pro-iem

    https://www.aliexpress.com/store/pr...l?spm=2114.12010612.8148356.12.735b386cA0FIaG

    Personal Preferences:

    I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. My preferences for earphone tuning are quite relaxed and as such their is no one signature I look for. The HiFiMAN RE800, Brainwavz B400, and Massdrop x MeeAudio Planamic are examples of earphones with wildly varied signatures that are enjoyable for different reasons. I generally listen at very low volumes, so keep this in mind when perusing my thoughts on how an earphone sounds.

    Sources:

    Mobile: Shanling M0, Shanling M0 + FiiO uBTR, ZiShan DSD

    @home: TEAC HA-501 with Shanling M0, ZiShan DSD, or Asus FX53V acting as a source

    The ZSN Pro is easy to drive. No amping needed.

    Specifications:
    • Sensitivity: 112dB
    • Impedance: 24 Ω
    • Frequency: 7-40,000Hz
    P1020219.JPG P1020223.JPG P1020230.JPG

    Packaging and Accessories:

    The ZSN Pro arrives in the same style of packaging as the majority of KZ’s modern offerings. The white exterior sheath features a wire frame like image of the ZSN Pro’s ear pieces as well as model info, while on the back you find specifications as well as locations and contact information for KZ. Sliding off the sheath reveals the ZSN Pro's ear pieces set within a paper covered foam insert protected by a clear viewing lid. Lifting it all out you find the accessories below. In all you get:
    • ZSN Pro earphones
    • 0.75mm 2-pin copper braided cable
    • Starline silicone tips (s/m/l)
    • Single flange silicone tip (m)
    • Manual and warranty card
    This is a very standard accessory kit from KZ. Nothing new here. I always like seeing ‘Starline’ tips included. They're made from a very durable, flexible, high quality silicone and for most models in their lineup pair very well and provide a good seal. As always, it would be nice of them to include a case or carrying bag, but for the price I can’t be too disappointed.

    Build, Comfort, and Isolation:

    The ZSN Pro is built pretty much the same as the original ZSN. The same quality acrylics are used for the main body while the updated face plate is made from a heavier, thicker zinc alloy material versus the ZSN's aluminum alloy. That said, I prefer the original face plate by a pretty wide margin. The Pro's version looks more plastic than metal, with the soft, raised ridges lacking the cut precision seen on the original ZSN. The reduction in the number of screws holding it down also leaves the design looking somewhat barren. The blue acrylic also doesn't look quite as nice as the transparent black used on my ZSN, though others might feel otherwise. The 2-pin ports are screwed in place just as they were on the original ZSN. The metal nozzles see a return as well, swapping the gold colouring for a more subtle silver. All together, the ZSN Pro ends up looking somewhat cheap, even though it in no way feels cheap.

    The cable should also be familiar to any fan of the brand at this point. The brown copper cable is neatly braided with the usual VSonic-esque, angular hardware at the 90 degree angled jack and y-split. Heading up to the earpieces we see the same excellent preformed ear guides and more durable 'Type-C' plugs KZ introduced with the standard ZSN. I personally am a fan of the cable despite it being quite easily tangled above the y-split. It's light, it doesn't transmit a lot of noise, it is very flexible, and memory of bends and kinks isn't an issue.

    Comfort is outstanding for me. This ear piece has been a staple across a couple brands in my experience with mild tweaks being made to the nozzle angle and quality of the plastics. With the ZSN Pro, it fits perfectly with little to no effort required to get and maintain a good seal. The preformed guides hold the cable securely around the ear resulting in an earphone that is stable under pretty extreme movement, even despite the weight of the steel face plates. If you have little ears or they're a particularly odd shape you might have issues with fit and comfort, but I expect everyone else to find these a pleasant product to wear.

    Unlike the ZS10 Pro which has an isolation rating of 26dB, I haven't been able to find anything for the ZSN Pro. That said, it's got to be similar based on my time with the two products. Any differences are hardly noticeable, if present at all. With no music and a Linus Tech Tips video playing on my laptop in the background at my normal listening volumes, everything was still audible and I could follow along, but just barely. Using them in my local coffee shop was much the same experience. The noise and chaos around me was audible, but significantly decreased in volume. Bringing music into the equation makes all that outside noise a non-issue. These are more than suitable for use on public transit, even more so if you commonly use foam tips.

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    Sound:

    The ZSN Pro was an eye opener at first thanks to it's initial “wow factor”, but that wears off quickly. The resulting earphone is a fun, v-shaped product that in my opinion is less 'Pro' than the more balanced ZSN it is based off of. That said, you're still getting plenty of earphone for your 20 bucks..

    Treble sees a hefty bump over the original ZSN giving the ZSN Pro quite a sparkly, bright presentation with good detail and lots of space between somewhat lean notes. At low volumes it is quite nice since it retains a bouncy, high energy feel, though that gets pretty tiring at higher volumes where it can be somewhat too aggressive. The presentation is pretty capable overall, though it feels like the treble boost was put in place more to justify the 'Pro' moniker than provide a legitimate bump in clarity over the original ZSN. Note that for the longest time I thought the ZSN was brighter than the Pro version, and than I sat down and really compared the two. At low volumes the original ZSN does have a bit more lower treble energy, but as you increase the volume the ZSN Pro's upper ranges really kick in and overshadow the ZSN.

    The mid-range is more forward than on the original ZSN. Being that it is fairly prominent, especially for a v-shaped signature, I never found vocals lacking or being drowned out by the added treble and mid-bass. Males and female vocals are well-represented with female vocals seeing the most benefit from the added mid-bass. They're warmer and more intimate and overall sound more natural. Guitars and other instruments sound like they should and display a satisfying amount of texture. I would like a bit more bite on grungy electronic effects, but the ZSN Pro doesn't leave me wanting too much. Except in one area. Sibilance. It can be quite unpleasant and intrusive at times. That extra brightness in the signature combined with those forward upper vocals makes some vocal heavy tracks hiss and sizzle quite prominently.

    Bass on the ZSN Pro is going to please those that like it bold and forward. The added mid-bass hump heard here gives the Pro's low end tons of body and warmth. The dual-magnet setup helps keep hits controlled and quick, though it is lacking texture and at times can come across slightly bloated. Extension is excellent and sub-bass notes provide a deep, visceral rumble. With less mid-bass, the ZSN Pro's low end would be absolutely killer. As is it's still quite good.

    The ZSN Pro's sound stage is larger than what you'll find on the original ZSN, most notably in terms of width, despite the listener by default sitting closer to the performance. The extra treble and resulting air allows sound to move further to the sides and in my opinion is a bit more immersive. Imaging is just a good with accurate movement from channel to channel and no vague zones. Layering and separation are similar too with the ZSN Pro having a very mild edge.

    DSC_0887.JPG

    Select Comparisons (volumes matched with Dayton iMM-6):

    CCA C10: The C10 and ZSN Pro are similarly tuned with warm, bassy signatures, however, the ZSN Pro is the brighter and more energetic of the two thanks to it's more prominent upper treble. This also gives the ZSN Pro and edge in clarity and detail top to bottom. The C10's midrange is warmer and slightly less forward with it setting the listener further from the performance as a result. This also gives it the impression of a larger sound stage, though I found effects to travel about the same distance, though with more precision on the ZSN Pro. Layering and separation are slightly more prominent on the Pro.

    KZ ZS10 Pro: The ZSN Pro and ZS10 Pro share some qualities, though the ZS10 Pro is superior to my ears. Treble on the ZSN Pro is even more exaggerated and not as well controlled, in addition to losing out on detail. The ZS10 Pro's mid-range is a bit cooler and absent of sibilance, except where it is already present in a track. The ZSN Pro adds sibilance where there is none. Bass on the ZSN Pro is more mid-bassy verses the ZS10 Pro which skews things towards sub-bass regions. Speed and control is similar with the ZS10 Pro showing more texture and no mid-bass bloat. The ZS10 Pro's sound stage is wider and deeper. Imaging, layering and separation are all just a little better on the ZS10 Pro.

    P1020076.JPG

    Final Thoughts:

    With the ZSN Pro I am reminded of TinHifi and what they did with the T2 lineup. The original T2 was beautifully tuned with a signature that did a lot more right than it did wrong. Tagging on the 'Pro' moniker resulted a product that was slightly more capable, but at the expense of balance and general listening enjoyment. With the ZSN Pro, the increase in treble brings with it a larger sound stage and more detail but it gets quite tiring. The mid-range also becomes more sibilant hindering any gains to be found there. The extra bass just further throws off the balance, even if it is handled reasonably well.

    While the shell, ergonomics, overall build, and wearing experience remain virtually identical from the ZSN to the ZSN Pro, the changes to the face plate design are, in my opinion, a step back. The softer edges and protruding accents look kinda cheap, even it if all feels fantastic in the hand.

    The ZSN Pro is a fine earphone and worth the asking price, I just wish it didn't have 'Pro' in the name. The more balanced original ZSN is more worthy of such a title, and is still the one I'd recommend if forced to choose between the two.

    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)
      DocHoliday likes this.
  5. Slater
    Should you go Pro, Bro?
    Written by Slater
    Published May 16, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - -
    - Improved driver with noticeably wider dynamics
    - Wide soundstage
    - Easy to drive from any source
    - Excellent value
    Cons - -
    - Mid bass bleed
    - Male vocals somewhat recessed
    - Cable can get tangled without chin slider
    - Might be a side-grade depending on your current ownership
    4.jpg

    INTRODUCTION
    Our old friends at Knowledge Zenith (KZ) made waves in late 2018 with the release of the ZSN. The ZSN was a major upgrade from Knowledge Zenith's (KZ) very first hybrid IEM, the ZST.

    But to understand where we are now (the ZSN Pro), we need to look at where we came from (the ZST and ZSN non-Pro).

    The ZST was a single hybrid IEM, with 1xDynamic, 1xBalanced Armature per side. It had a medium-sized full acrylic resin shell, with a removable cable. It was a leap ahead of previous Knowledge Zenith (KZ) earphones, but it had serious flaws. The overall tuning was sloppy because there was no crossover. The treble was too sharp and sibilant for many people. So sharp, in fact, that I modified my BA drivers with a piece of acoustic foam (creating the 'ZST Foam Mod' on Head-Fi).

    Fast forward to 2018, when Knowledge Zenith (KZ) announced a major upgrade to the original ZST (called the ZSN). The ZSN was based on the ZST shell, and maintained a single hybrid design - 1xDynamic, 1xBalanced Armature per side. However that's pretty much where the similarities ended. Everything was redesigned and upgraded from the original ZST:
    • Revised shell, using better quality resin material
    • Aluminum IEM nozzle and rear faceplate
    • Revised 2-pin jack (now known as the Para C plug)
    • Upgraded cable (braided, thicker, no more memory wire)
    • Upgraded dynamic drivers (titanium plated)
    • The addition of a passive crossover circuit
    The ZSN was a major hit, and Knowledge Zenith (KZ) sold loads of them. In my opinion it was one of the best values in ChiFi for 2018. I still enjoy my ZSN to this day, and even handmade carbon fiber back covers for it.

    However, nothing is perfect, and ChiFi is always evolving. The biggest complaint some people had was the upper midrange could be harsh/sibilant at times, most noticeable with female vocals. Despite this minor flaw, I didn't think the ZSN was so bad that it needed emergency attention (quite the contrary in fact). This is why it was a surprise when barely ~6 months later Knowledge Zenith (KZ) released the ZSN Pro.

    So what's different about the Pro version, and is it better than the original ZSN? Let's dig deeper and find out.

    SPECIFICATIONS
    • Drivers: 1xDynamic (10mm), 1xBalanced Armatures (1×30095) per side
    • Crossover: Yes
    • Impedance: 24ohms
    • Weight: 29g
    • Sensitivity: 112dB
    • Frequency: 7-40,000Hz
    • Cable: 0.75mm 2-pin, removable, 3.5mm 90-degree plug, mic and no-mic versions available
    • IEM colors: Black, cyan, purple
    • Price: Roughly $14 (at the time of this review)
    • Purchase link: ZSN Pro at Miss Audio

    PACKAGING
    The ZSN Pro comes in a small cardboard white box that is standard if you are familiar with Knowledge Zenith (KZ) earphones bought in the last few years. It’s nothing special, but it’s perfectly adequate and serves its purpose. You buy IEMs to listen to, not because they have a great box, right? The inner box has a clear plastic cover that shows off the ZSN Pro shells. And I know it sounds trivial, but I appreciate the small lip cut into the cover for easy removal. The IEM shells are mounted in an EVA foam layer, providing protection during shipping. The accessories (cable, spare eartips, and paperwork) are located underneath.

    1.jpg

    ACCESSORIES
    The included eartips are all silicone type – 1 (pre-installed) pair of smooth silicone tips (black color, single flange, medium bore, M size), and 3 pairs of ‘Starline’ tips (black color, single flange, medium bore, SML sizes). Starline tips are one of my favorite tips, as the black ones are made of soft and flexible silicone, and they fit well enough for all day comfort.

    The cable is a removable design, with 4-wires in a braided configuration. The ZSN Pro is available with and without an in-line microphone (mine being the no-microphone version). The microphone version has a single control button, providing music and phone call control (but no volume control). The plugs that attach to the IEMs are clear plastic, with L and R indicators (very difficult to read). The termination uses a 2-pin (0.75mm) design, with a new raised design not seen on any previous Knowledge Zenith (KZ) IEMs. This new 2-pin plug type is officially referred to as 'Para C' or 'Paragraph C'.

    In case you aren't familiar with Knowledge Zenith's (KZ) 2-pin nomenclature:
    • 'Para' A is for ZS3, ZS3E, ZS4, ZS5, ZS6, ZS7 (& others)
    • 'Para' B is for ZSR, ZST, ZS10, ED12, ES4, ES3, CCA C16 (& others)
    • 'Para C' is for ZSN, ZSN Pro, CCA C10, ZS10 Pro (& others)
    Para ABC.jpg

    The cable itself is a good balance of being not too heavy/thick, but not too light/thin either. It’s brown in color, and has good strain reliefs at the Y-split and 3.5mm end. The 3.5mm end is a 90-degree L style plug. The cable also has pre-formed ear guides, which are secure yet flexible. This is a welcome departure from the annoying bendy memory wire Knowledge Zenith (KZ) has been using for years. Thank you Knowledge Zenith (KZ)!

    6.jpg

    It is one of the nicer ‘upgrade’ cables I’ve seen on a stock Knowledge Zenith (KZ)/CCA cable, and the pre-formed ear guides alone make the cable worth it. My only gripes with the cable are the lack of a chin slider and how low the Y-split is located, both of which can make the cable prone to tangling. I’d love to see a factory-applied chin slider at some point in the future, but for now you can add one of your own. A small rubber o-ring works well as a makeshift chin slider, which helps prevent tangles considerably.

    BUILD
    The Knowledge Zenith (KZ) ZSN Pro has an acrylic (polymer resin) shell that comes in 3 transparent colors – black, purple, and cyan. You can see the internals of the ZSN Pro through the shell, although the BA driver is located in the nozzle and can't be readily seen. The back cover is made of a zinc-aluminum alloy, and has a matte finish (silver or black depending on the shell color selected). The cover has 3 raised zig zag lines, 1 small bass vent, and 1 mounting screw.

    5.jpg

    The ZSN Pro a substantial and premium feel. The resin shell is very smooth, and there are no sharp edges. It’s very comfortable to wear, even for extended periods. The overall fit and finish is excellent, with no mismatched seams, gaps, or excess glue.

    The shells have no channel indicators, and the only thing written on the side is “ZSN-PRO Classic Upgrade". While it would have been nice to have channel identifiers on the IEM shells, here's a handy guide showing the correct orientation of the shells and cable:
    1. Hold up the IEM shell so that the 'pointy' part is facing down.
    2. Now look at what direction the nozzle/eartip is pointing.
    3. If the nozzle/eartip is pointing to the LEFT, then that's the LEFT IEM shell.
    4. If the nozzle/eartip is pointing to the RIGHT, then that's the RIGHT IEM shell.
    Final.jpg

    The ZSN Pro's nozzle is 6mm wide, and is what I would consider an average/medium length. This allows either a shallow or deep insertion, depending on the eartip used. There is a retaining lip on the nozzle, allowing the eartip to stay securely on the IEM nozzle with little risk of falling off or staying behind in your ears while removing the earphone.

    3.jpg

    SOUND
    The gear used for testing included: xduoo X3 (with Rockbox firmware), iPhone SE (with both headphone jack and Apple lightning adapter), and FiiO E12A Mont Blanc headphone amplifiers.

    The ZSN Pro was easy to drive with any source, and I did not really notice any improvement when using an amplifier. This makes it ideal to use on-the-go with nothing other than your phone.

    Bass
    The ZSN Pro uses a new double-magnet (tesla) titanium plated dynamic driver. KZ claims this improves the control as well as the dynamics of the driver. And I agree with this statement. The most obvious improvement with the ZSN Pro over the original ZSN is the sub bass. It both extends deeper and is more powerful than the original ZSN. If you listen to bass-oriented genres you'll definitely appreciate the change. The low end has a satisfying rumble, which you'll appreciate if you're a basshead. There is some bleed into the midrange however.

    Midrange
    Overall, the ZSN Pro’s midrange is pleasing and warm. The midrange is recessed, and as a result male vocals aren't as strong as they could be. However, this is no surprise given the ZSN Pro’s v-shaped sound signature. The upper midrange (~3kHz) have been somewhat dialed down and smoothed out compared to the non-Pro ZSN, which I feel was KZ's attempt to address the complaints of midrange harshness some people had with original ZSN. While I definitely notice the difference this tuning change made, I never really had an issue with the midrange tuning of the original ZSN to begin with.

    Treble
    Treble on the ZSN Pro is pretty bright overall, with some airiness. Knowledge Zenith (KZ) actually added some additional treble to the ZSN Pro (vs the non-Pro ZSN), which does a nice job to balance the increased low end of the new double-magnet dynamic driver. If you're extremely treble sensitive, you may have issue with the ZSN Pro. Otherwise, the increased treble adds extra clarity compared to the non-Pro ZSN. There is some minor sibilance, but I found it track dependent as opposed to being inherent in the drivers or tuning.

    Isolation
    The isolation is above average, which I attribute to the combination of the ZSN Pro's heavier zinc alloy rear cover and single vent hole (vs 3 vents for the non-Pro ZSN).

    Soundstage
    The soundstage is average in depth and above average in width, both of which are improvements over the original ZSN. Imaging and instrument separation are both good, especially given the ZSN Pro's price.

    CONCLUSION
    The Knowledge Zenith (KZ) ZSN Pro definitely makes some improvements on the original ZSN. However, the improvements are not massive, but rather subtle and incremental. Whether or not you should get it depends on if you already own the original ZSN or not. If you don't own either, I'd recommend going with the ZSN Pro. It builds upon its predecessor, with an upgraded driver, improved dynamics, more treble clarity, wider soundstage, and better isolation. However, if you already own the original ZSN you may want to consider the ZSN Pro only if you're one of the people that felt the upper midrange was too harsh, or if you wished the ZSN had a more elevated low end.

    DISCLAIMER
    I would like to thank our friends at Miss Audio on Aliexpress for providing the Knowledge Zenith (KZ) ZSN Pro for my independent review.

    This review was originally posted at https://audioreviews.org.
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  6. Judge Buff
    Budget Fi IEMs
    Written by Judge Buff
    Published May 9, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Price, detail and frequency range
    Cons - Sibilance and plastic connections
    54ED8677-99E2-4244-9E91-5C3D479864B8.jpeg The folks at Yinyoo Audio graciously provided the ZSN PRO IEMs for this objective review.

    First, the IEMs are plastic with a metal plate, producing a solid feeling, comfortable weight earphone. The stock cables have angled pin connectors that slide over the protruding jacks on the phones. While the mating of these components seems secure, I can’t help but wonder about the durability of the plastic protrusions.

    Sound wise, the hybrid phones, consisting of a double-magnetic, dynamic driver and a balanced armature, produce a mid-bass/upper-mid focused stage with decent layering and detail. The published specs state the frequency range is 20 - 40k. The highs are somewhat sibilant and depending on the genre of music, listener fatigue could be an issue for some folks. While EQ can remedy any perceived issues to a certain extent, I would rather not need to do so.

    With this in mind, I swapped out the stock cable with a 2.5mm balanced one and accessed the balanced jack on my Hiby R3. WOW! Totally different soundstage! Sibilance basically disappeared, details and separation got cleaner, and bass tightened up. This speaks more to the source’s sound quality than the cable, but it does show that the IEMs are capable of better than the stock sound.

    These are inexpensive phones. Really cheap, actually, and they sound much better than their price. The plastic pin jack protrusions are the only concern I have about daily usage. They could be a great subway/bus/train set of IEMs if durability proves to be a nonissue.
  7. antdroid
    KZ ZSN Pro vs KZ ZS10 Pro Review
    Written by antdroid
    Published May 6, 2019
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Good detail for this price
    Cons - A bit too bright.
    Prefer the original ZSN over the ZSN Pro
    Cable is easily tangled
    [​IMG]


    This short review will cover two of the latest In-Ear Monitors from Knowledge Zenith: The ZSN Pro and the ZS10 Pro. They both were released last month at around the same time and share so many similarities, I won’t bother making separate reviews.

    The ZSN Pro is a dual driver – Single Balanced Armature and Single Dynamic Driver, while the ZS10 Pro is a five-driver setup with 4 Bas and 1 DD. Both are updated models from the previous ones released last year. I never had a chance to listen or review the ZS10, but I did really enjoy the ZSN as a budget pick with it’s neutral-ish sound signature that was only $20.

    So what’s new?

    Well, first off, the shell design on both is slightly changed. They both feature faceplates on their respective shells that are quite similar. The ZS10 shell faceplate actually looks like the ZSN original but in a reflective chrome color, while the ZSN Pro’s chevron marks are lifted off the faceplate, as opposed to the cut-out look on the ZS10 Pro.

    The accessories package is the same as before with the newer 2-pin cable and attachment style.

    The major difference, of course, is the sound tuning.

    [​IMG]


    For me, these sound almost identical except one thing: the ZSN Pro is brighter and I don’t really recommend it. The ZS10, however, is tuned to have less treble and that makes it more listenable.

    In general, both IEMs have similar bass and mid performance, and are improvements in that regard over the original ZSN. The bass is slightly elevated making the overall sound profile a tad warmer, and the mids are not as recessed as before. The upper-mids, which boosted on the ZSN original, has been tamed down, and the lower treble is more even on both IEMs. The ZSN Pro, again, has more treble in the middle to upper portions of the treble region, making them pretty bright.

    If you’ve listened to the T2 Pro and the T2, the ZSN Pro is similar to that tuning, albeit slightly warmer. The ZS10 Pro is closer to the T3, but tamer in the upper-mids and treble. Detail retrieval on the T3 seemed better, from memory, but that could also be due to the boosted treble.

    Quick Conclusions

    Again, this is just a quick review, as I do have large queue I am working through and I’d like to spend more time on other headphone reviews in the future. The ZS10 Pro is worth consideration. I would skip the ZSN Pro altogether, as I prefer the ZS10 Pro more and the ZSN more as well – along with a host of other budget IEMs like the Tin Audio T2, Final Audio E2000, and others.

    I’d like to thank Lillian for Linsoul for providing the KZ ZS10 Pro for review. I personally purchased the disappointing ZSN Pro myself from their Amazon storefront at LSR-Direct. They are also located at http://www.Linsoul.com if you are interested in either of these two IEMs.
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