KZ - Zsr

Rating:
4.25/5,
  1. Cinder
    KZ ZSR Review: Balancing Your Budget
    Written by Cinder
    Published May 12, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Price-to-performance, cable quality, treble extension, responsible bass response, decent bass extension, excellent midrange tonality, good midrange detail retrieval
    Cons - Mild blurring in the 4-6KHz region
    [​IMG]
    KZ ZSR Review: Balancing Your Budget
    KZ is a budget IEM brand based in China. Their aggressively valued products are often viewed as a staple of the Chi-Fi market, and as such, are fairly well known. While I’ve had my disagreements with choices they’ve made stylistically in the past, they seem to have differentiated themselves enough from their competitors for me to set aside my qualms. So, without further ado, here’s my thoughts on the ZSR!

    You can find the ZSR for sale here, on AliExpress, for about $30! There’s a multitude of color options, as well as the option to add on a microphone. My version does not come with one.

    About My Preferences: Heads up, I’m a person! As such, these words are my opinion, and they are tinged by my personal preferences. While I try to mitigate this as much as possible during my review process, I’d be lying if I said my biases are completely erased. So for you, my readers, keep this in mind:

    • My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, mid-bass.
    • I have a mild treble sensitivity.
    Source: The ZSR was powered like so:

    HTC U11 -> USB-C adapter -> earphones

    or

    Hidizs AP100 3.5mm out -> FiiO A5 3.5mm out -> earphones

    or

    HiFiMAN SuperMini -> earphones

    or

    PC optical out -> HiFiMe SPDIF 9018 Sabre DAC 3.5mm out -> earphones

    All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC.

    Tech Specs
    • Sensitivity: 107dB
    • Resistance: 22Ω
    • Connectors: 3.5mm, 2-pin (0.78mm)
    Sound Signature
    Sonic Overview:

    The ZSR is a V-shaped IEM. It makes use of both an elevated mid-bass and treble, though the treble is notably more prominent. The midrange is recessed but doesn’t take on a soft tonality that is often a result of such a tuning. Sub-bass is about 2dB less prominent than the mid-bass.

    Treble: Songs used: In One Ear, Midnight City, Outlands, Satisfy, Little One

    Treble is boosted by a considerable degree. This is an artifact of both the deliberate decisions made by KZ when they tuned the ZSR and a natural result of using the two BA drivers that they chose. Thankfully this boosting doesn’t do too much damage to cohesion. There are no blatant disconnects in the sound, nor are there particularly offensive peaks.

    The ZSR’s treble retrieval in the treble is pretty substantial, especially for an IEM of this price point. It easily beats out my previous “under $40" staples in this regard. Furthermore, it does so without causing too much distortion or blurring in any particular set of frequencies.

    Treble tonality is good, relative to its peers at this price. High-hats and cymbals sound distinct at all but the busiest parts of a song. Extension is very impressive as well, as there isn’t a noticeable degree of treble roll-off.

    Sibilance is only a minor concern with the ZSR. The vast majority of my songs were easy to listen to, even at higher volumes. Satisfy didn’t fair too well though. The ZSR errs on the side of faithfulness to the recording, so take that in what way you will.

    Midrange: Songs used: Flagpole Sitta, Jacked Up, I Am The Highway, Dreams, Too Close, Little Black Submarines, Do You Really Like Being Alone

    The midrange arguably the strongest point of the ZSR. While it is recessed, it remains so while maintaining sonic integrity to a degree I can’t say I’ve heard many other IEMs reach at this price.

    Instrumentals are a blast to listen to. The weighting of acoustic guitars is as satisfying as the crunch that accompanies electric ones. Strings and drums sound equally as good. Following from these traits is a very cohesive and pleasing tonal profile for acoustic instruments in the midrange.

    Vocal intelligibility is above average, even when compared to more expensive IEMs. A small spike in the 1–2KHz range is responsible for that, as well as an accompanying spike from 4–5KHz. The ZSR favors male vocals though, not quite hitting that level of “sweetness” that I prefer in my female vocals.

    Bass: Songs used: Moth, Gold Dust, In For The Kill (Skream Remix), War Pigs (Celldweller Remix)

    The ZSR’s bass is not meant for “bassheads”. It’s meant for listeners who want a semi-visceral experience from the lower register but still demand sonic integrity from the rest of the sound spectrum. As such, the mid-bass hump is emphasized, but not to the point of being aggressive. The ZSR’s single dynamic driver does a good job balancing bass volume and bass quality, only failing to deliver good low-end performance in the most demanding of songs like In For The Kill.

    All things considered, I still had lots of fun listening to my bassy songs through the ZSR, and all my drops were still punchy and weighted well. Just don’t expect your skull to shake once the bass drops.

    Packaging / Unboxing
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Build
    Construction Quality

    [​IMG]
    The ZSR looks like polished black stones. “Left” and “Right” are printed stylishly on the shells denoting which side they should be used on. The finish is good and doesn’t seem like it will come off any time soon.

    [​IMG]
    On the top of the shells, we’re greeted with recessed 2-pin connectors. The recession is clean and the connectors are firm. No complaints here.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The cable is of standard stock. It gets the job done and isn’t in any immediate risk of failure. It is made from twisted red and white inner strands coated with a translucent grey rubberized layer. There is some friction across the surface, but not enough to get caught on the edges of your clothes. Microphonics are about as negligible as one can really ask.

    The ZSR’s cable is terminated with a 3.5mm jack, and like the rest of the cable’s components, it is housed in a matte black plastic. The stress relief is adequate.

    Comfort

    As with all earphones, your comfort will vary according to your body’s unique aural anatomy. So while these are my impressions, there is a change that you may come to a different conclusion.

    I had no problems wearing the ZSR for any duration. Whether it was during a bike ride for an hour or at work for three, I had no problems with the ZSR, even while using the eartips that came in the box.

    It also features memory wire ear-hooks which definitely help keep it on my ears while I’m moving around.

    Accessories
    [​IMG]
    Inside the box you’ll find:

    • 2x pairs extra silicone eartips.
    The sparse offerings of the ZSR accessory wise would be pretty disappointing if it weren’t for the already-aggressive pricing of the device. The build is better than average for its price point, as is the sound. The corner had to be cut somewhere, and it appears that was with eartip offerings/cases. That’s fine by me though, since a good pair of eartips is quite literally $2, and a makeshift case can be fashioned from basic household materials if you are trying to be that frugal.

    Comparisons
    1: Brainwavz S0 ($50)

    The S0 and the ZSR trade blows. While the ZSR offers much more detail retrieval in the upper-midrange and treble, the S0 counters with a more cohesive sound signature. The S0 is more sturdy, but that comes at an addition $20 in price. Furthermore, the S0 features a larger mid-bass hump than the ZSR and has a warmer midrange which really makes it a separate beast altogether, at least on a sound-signature level.

    2: Alpha and Delta D3 (~$35)

    The D3 feels like a more extremely tuned version of the ZSR. The ZSR’s midrange is noticeably more expressive, and offers more treble extension. The D3 touts a powerful and dynamic bass response that coexists well with its lower midrange. It also boasts class-leading construction, though it does cost more as a result.

    [​IMG]
    Summary
    The KZ ZSR, like many of its siblings, offers a very good price-to-performance ratio. It forsakes having a wide variety of often redundant eartips to eek out as much sonic fidelity as it could, and such a bet pays off. While it doesn’t offer the refinement you can get at higher price points, for $30 you’d be hard-pressed to find an IEM that offers a better overall value.

    As always, happy listening!

      DocHoliday likes this.
  2. DocHoliday
    Micromanaged mastery.......to a fault.
    Written by DocHoliday
    Published Mar 2, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Comfortable
    Detailed
    Detachable cable
    Inexpensive
    Cohesiveness
    Cons - Nozzle size (for some)
    No lip on nozzle
    Transition from mid-bass to lower-midrange (fuzzy definition)
    2018-03-19 02.04.46.png
    Ever since I purchased my first set of Rose Red ZS6's, every other IEM in my collection has been ostensibly relegated to fly coach. I should probably refrain from uttering statements of this severity but.... nonetheless, there it is. When the Knowledge Zenith ZS6 reached my doorstep, my attention remained undivided.

    Acoustically, I feel like the guy who "WAS" a serial dater, but when the ZS6 arrived I was suddenly ready to commit. It's combination of micro-details, vivid midrange and clean deep bass have seduced me to no end. So much so that I've started a small collection of the original release colors (rose red, emerald green & obsidian black) in their original iteration.

    The question then becomes "what possible virtues could the ZSR have that would lure me from my beloved ZS6?"

    10073905.jpg

    Well, George at GearBest provided me with a ZSR sample for review purposes so we'll take a long hard listen and see if the ZSR can hold it's own, against not only the esteemed ZS6, but also the growing sea of sub-$30 Chi-Fi IEMs.

    Since we're on the subject, a huge thanks to George for providing the sample.

    Full disclosure: I've no affiliation with GearBest and receive no remuneration for the review other than retaining the review sample.

    You should also know upfront that I own and enjoy each of KZ's hybrid IEMs (ZST, ES3 & ZS6) and I have no issue with the treble present in any of the three models. I mention this because those of you who are sensitive to forward treble would be wise to keep in mind my preferences and properly absorb this review through the filter of your own preferences.

    About me:
    I tend to prefer a relatively neutral sound signature with a slight emphasis in both bass and lower treble, which is basically a mild "U" shaped sound signature where midrange frequencies are left intact and unaffected. I find that an absolute neutral sound signature usually lacks enough energy for the genres I enjoy most, which are Classic Trance and Progressive (early Tiesto, Markus Schulz, Otello, DT8 Project), Chill Out, Breakbeat (Hybrid & Burufunk Remixes) and 80's & 90's (New Order, Secession, The Cure, Siouxie & The Banshees, Depeche Mode). Sure I listen to Verve Remixed, Sade, Bach, Ella Fitzgerald and everything in between, but as of late the bulk of my listening pleasure is focused on the aforementioned genres.

    About IEMs:
    Take note when you read IEM reviews that when the reviewer gives his/her opinion regarding the sound that there are many factors that shape the final sound an IEM delivers to one's ear.

    Those factors include:
    1 - Shape & size of reviewer's ear canals. (shallow/deep, wide/narrow)
    2 - Shape & size of eartips (round/cone, single, double or triple flange)
    3 - Materials of eartips (silicone/foam)
    4 - Shape of IEM (and/or angle of nozzle) can cause fitment issues for some.
    5 - Source (quality of DAC in smartphone, laptop, digital audio player)
    6 - Source (power rating) is it amplified/unamplified.
    7 - The IEM itself (driver flex/trapping air in canal causing muffled sound.
    8 - The Reviewers ability to hear all frequency ranges (age plays a factor).

    Most consumers are unaware of how much weight each of these factors hold in rendering a final verdict. This is why there is such a wide variance in not only ratings, but the description of an IEMs sound. An unaware consumer purchases a perfectly fine IEM but has difficulty keeping the IEM in the ear or he/she does not satisfactorily seal the ear canal with the included silicone eartips (this is a common occurrence) and the consumer summarily dismisses the IEM as sub par. Another consumer purchases the same IEM but experiences a perfect fit and seal and has nothing but praise for the same IEM. Sealing the ear canals AND HAVING THE EARTIP FIRMLY AFFIXED to the IEM nozzle is the only proper way to use in-ear monitors. I can think of no audio equipment that is subjected to such praise or ridicule as the in-ear monitor. As if that's not enough, there is no "one-size-fits-all" when it comes to IEM eartips.

    Materials (silicone/foam) have different dampening effects on final sound.
    Shape of the eartips (olive-shaped, cone-shaped or other-shaped) can have different dampening effects on final sound based on how much space is between the IEM nozzle and your eardrum and how well the eartip has sealed the ear canal.
    The aperture of the eartip's opening (wide-bore/narrow-bore) will have dampening effects on the final sound.

    The easiest way for you to experience the different effects I am discussing is to take your current on-ear headphones or over-ear headphones, pick a song full of energy, put the earphones on and let them sit naturally over or on your ears. Listen to the music for two minutes. After two minutes, using your hands, slightly press the headphones closer to your eardrums. Notice the change in the sound. Is there more/less bass? Is there more/less treble? Did the vocals slightly slip forward/back?

    Consider that on-ear and over-ear headphones have a driver that sits approximately 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches from your eardrums and by pressing the headphones 1/4" closer to your eardrums the sound changed. Now consider that an IEM driver sits anywhere from 3/4" to 1/4" from your eardrums and the slightest changes (angle, depth, shape, material) can have up to three times more of an effect due to the proximity of the IEM to the eardrum.

    For this reason, I think it is wise to invest a nominal dollar amount on different eartips to find an eartip that works well for your particular ear's anatomy. This way you experience everything the earphone tuner intended for you to experience. Some IEM manufacturers supply multiple sizes (S/M/L) and/or materials (silicone/foam) of eartips to increase the odds that the consumer achieves a satisfactory seal, but even this is not foolproof. If this information holds any interest for you, there are a plethora of aftermarket eartip brands to look into, such as "JVC Spiral Dots", "Spinfits", "Comply Foam Eartips" or "Znari Foam Eartips", "Creative Aurvana" and others. If you really want to fine tune things, then you might find yourself doing what I do, which is scouring Amazon for inexpensive earphones that appear to have silicone eartips that have a shape that typically work well with my ear's anatomy.

    The Knowledge Zenith ZSR:
    ZSR mono.jpg

    Hot on the heels of Knowledge Zenith's extraordinary "Bang-for-buck" quad-driver ZS6 is the new 2BA+1DD (per ear) ZSR. When you first set eyes upon the ZSR you may just mistake it for being a variation of KZ's most comfortable model yet, the ZS3. Under closer inspection though, you'll find there is quite a difference between the two IEMs.

    The ZS3 housing is more compact than the ZSR housing. In particular, the ZSR dome-like faceplate offers quite a bit more space under the hood and the nozzles, which have no lip, are some of the largest I have seen on an IEM.

    The 6mm nozzles may have difficulty accommodating eartips with relatively narrow collars but interestingly enough I found tip-rolling to offer some subtle changes to the overall presentation. The eartips from my BVGP DM5 gave the ZSR a more diffuse presentation while my Rock Zircon eartips seem to offer more focus on the midrange and/or vocal presentation. Be sure to try different eartips at different insertion depths. You'll find a combination that suits your particular bent if you invest a little time in fine tuning things with your favorite eartips (wide-bore vs narrow-bore vs foam, etc). The included eartips are great but not everyone agrees about that, so.......

    KZ was one of the first Chi-Fi manufacturers in the sub-$20 price bracket to offer it's IEMs with detachable cables and the ZSR at it's sub-$30 price point is no exception. The cable is connected to the earpiece via a 0.75mm 2-pin connection. Of course the benefit of detachable cables is that when the cable fails (and over time it will) you can simply replace the cable and extend your IEMs useful life. Though it's not necessary for you to follow suit, every KZ in-ear monitor set that I own (that offers detachable cables) has an upgraded cable connected to it, mostly for aesthetics and comfort.

    kz_ed10_5_1024x1024.jpg
    Be aware that the days of KZ's well made shield-shaped cases with fitted foam cutouts for the earpieces are long gone. It's a sparse and barebones affair nowadays. You get small, medium and large eartips with KZ's basic but durable detachable cable. My $12 KZ ED9's and ED10's were packaged with pride which conveyed a sense of quality in the product, but KZ has abandoned this practice. They were able to do it at $12, but I suppose it's just impossible to do now that prices and profits have.......increased(?)

    At any rate, the ZSR is KZ's first 3-Driver hybrid IEM featuring one 10mm dynamic driver for lower frequencies, one treble focused balanced armature and one midrange focused balanced armature. To my eyes, the ZSR took it's inspiration from the iBasso IT03 design with it's semi-custom moulding which fits perfectly in the concha of my ear and while the ZSR may not seal the ear canal as well as the ZS3 does it certainly provides a satisfactory seal for my ears.

    Comfort:
    20180222_131204.jpg

    The most comfortable fitting IEM in my collection is the KZ ZS3. The ZSR comes in a close second and once I fitted them with my silicone earhooks the ZSR simply doesn't budge. Looking at those faceplates and considering the fact that I have shallow ear canals you would think that discomfort is a foregone conclusion, but you'd be wrong. Well.....at least I was wrong. I fell asleep for approximately 6+ hours on two occasions with them in and suffered no discomfort. I was actually surprised that the bulbous faceplate didn't push the IEM further into my ear canals when my head hit the pillow.
    Hmmm, that's a +1 for comfort.

    Treble:
    To my ears the ZSR treble is well judged. It is full of micro-detail and sparkle, but juuuust rolls off the edge in order to keep things from getting too hot. Like I said, well judged. While listening to The Cure's "Close to me" the lower-treble comes through clean and clear while the upper-treble comes through with just enough polish to make things vivid and transparent. But let's test a track that has enough action up top to draw your attention away from the rest of the track from time to time. Typically, I'd go with something from Michael Jackson's Thriller album, but let's do something a little different. Let's listen to Toni Braxton's "He wasn't man enough". On my ZS6 it is entirely necessary for me to lower the volume when testing this track. On the ZSR there was no need to lower the volume and those triangles still came through with just enough energy to keep things lively.

    Hmmm, make that another +1 for comfort.

    Midrange:
    The ZSR's midrange seems to keep the theme of less is more. Vocals and strings have enough presence and weight to keep things fluid and alive with juuust a touch of restraint, avoiding any hint of strident behavior in the upper-midrange. A good track to test for a shouty upper-midrange is Louis' trumpet solos in Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong's "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You". It's great to hear the trumpet come through crystal clear without the harshness.

    A lover'ly track for testing midrange timbre and weight is James Taylor's "Fire And Rain". Both the guitar and Taylor's voice come through beautifully vivid on the ZSR.


    Bass/Sub-bass:
    This is the one area where things can be a bit tricky. On my ZuneHD, which is power-efficient, the lower frequencies, while deep, seem to be limited in presentation and weight. However, playing the exact same track on my Fiio X3(i) the bass just kicks things into gear with a sobering amount of depth that is sorely absent on my ZuneHD. This can be a typical occurrence with multi-driver IEMs and is something one should consider if your main source is a smartphone or power-efficient DAP. If your device has a relatively high output impedance (greater than 2.0) then you may not get the best that the ZSR has to offer. On the other hand, if you own an Android-based DAP like a Fiio X5iii or something equivalent, listen to how clear and airy that treble and midrange is on the Nelly Furtado track, in spite of the copious amount of bass. Very impressive.

    I will say that it was easy to recognize the omission of the additional 6mm driver found in the ZS6. There is a discernible absence in the definition of the mid-bass to upper-bass transition.



    Soundstage/Imaging/Layering:

    Listening to the ZSR and ZS6 back to back I can hear that the ZSR is not as adept at layering and has slightly less defined imaging, but I'd bet that this has more to do with sonic reflection due to the amount of space under the ZSR's dome-like faceplate. All those acoustics dancing about inside the ZSR's spacious housing would have a slight effect on diffusion and focus. That's conjecture on my part but it makes sense when you consider how much more open the ZSR is to KZ's own ES3 which shares two of the ZSR's drivers (10mm DD & 1BA). The upside to that dome-like faceplate is that the ZSR's soundstage is quite wide and deep, yet you can still pinpoint each and every instrument on the following tracks.




    It could be said that the ZSR has a face that only a mother could love, but KZ seems to have correctly chosen to go with function over form, so I won't peep and mutter, though I'm tempted to do so. I've considered purchasing several sets of ZS3's to put their housings to use with other driver configurations, even though I know the compact form of the shells will likely result in a somewhat limited soundstage. Perhaps I should be looking at the ZSR as well.
    If and when the flash-sales occur for tbe ZSR then I would be wise to take advantage of the opportunity because Knowledge Zenith has a bevy of new models that are soon to be released. Swapping and mix/matching drivers and shells could be a whole new thing for me in the near future and the fact that KZ's are so inexpensive makes it all possible.

    In the meantime, how does the ZSR stack up against KZ's current flagship IEM, the ZS6?

    To my ears the ZS6 and the ZSR are two separate tools on KZ's continuum.

    The ZS6 is an IEM that you must be prepared for. The presentation is full-on from top to bottom and it's best to spend some time with the ZS6 to fully appreciate it's many virtues. The ZS6 is the equivalent of taking that low-slung high-octane sports car on your favorite stretch of winding back road (Pacific Coast Highway here in Northern California) and no matter how hard you try you just can't wipe that silly grin from your face.

    The ZSR is an IEM that is altogether capable, but is more the silent strong type. It is the equivalent of taking a powerful luxury coupe for a cruise. Instead of competing with the athletic types, the ZSR just wafts you around in comfort with little fanfare or ceremony. It's a very capable IEM that focuses mainly on getting the job done and doing so in comfort.

    "Nothing is overdone" might be a debatable statement for me to make depending on your sound signature preference, but very little is underrepresented. To some owners of the ZS6 the treble is a bit too much. I, on the other hand, really appreciate the ZS6's crisp micro-detail in the upper-treble. It appears that KZ has taken the treble concerns on the ZS6 to heart and have micromanaged the "hot" areas (upper-treble and upper-midrange) on the ZSR so the presentation is fluid, fatigue-free and coherent. In other words, for less than $30 the ZSR will breathe life into your music so you can enjoy your favorite tunes in supreme comfort. That's a winning combination as far as I am concerned and I find myself congratulating Knowledge Zenith on a job well done yet again.

    At $28+/- the ZSR is a steal and given KZ's track record, that's no surprise.

    Great job, KZ.....again!

    The KZ ZSR is currently available at GearBest.com for $24.87.

    https://m.gearbest.com/earbud-headphones/pp_1512917.html
    2018-03-19 02.17.43.jpg

    *** UPDATE 6/5/18 ***

    After spending some time with the ZSR I prefer using it with a DAP that leans toward a brighter presentation. I found that DAPs with a warmer presentation tend to slightly blur the lower-bass. A brighter DAP will keep the low end a bit cleaner.

    Keep in mind that I am a micro-detail addict and I tend to seek out fatigue-free IEMs with as much micro-detail as possible so those of you that are treble-sensitive should pair the ZSR with a warmer leaning DAP.

    I've said this before on the KZ Thread and my thoughts haven't changed. I think KZ should have employed the ZST's 8mm DD instead of the 10mm DD employed in the ZSR. KZ's 8mm dynamic driver with it's quicker response would grace the sound signature with more air while the lower frequencies would still retain sufficient depth and impact.

    That said, the ZSR is a very good IEM, despite the missed opportunity for a bit more air in the presentation.

    *** END UPDATE ***
    1. harry501501
      Great review... ridiculous title lol
      harry501501, Apr 3, 2018
  3. B9Scrambler
    KZ ZSR: Getting their hybrid bearings
    Written by B9Scrambler
    Published Feb 19, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Clarity - Sound stage - Price for performance
    Cons - Housing and nozzle size (large) - Typical KZ cable
    Greetings,

    Today we're checking out the ZSR, a new hybrid earphone from budget kings Knowledge Zenith (KZ).

    Prior to 2016, KZ had not released a single earphone that was using anything other than dynamic drivers. That all changed with the ZST which brought hybrid tech to the masses at a truly affordable price, and it sounded pretty good too. Since the ZST, KZ has gone all out with hybrid models releasing the ZS5, ZS6, and ES3 along with the ZSR and other rumored models on the horizon.

    The ZST and ES3 are 1+1 hybrids with one dynamic driver (DD) and one balanced armature (BA) per side. The ZS5 and ZS6 are 2+2 hybrids rolling with two DD and two BAs per side. The ZSR bridges that gap with two BAs and one DD per side. Is it just another hybrid, and just another KZ rolling with the same signature we've heard revised over and over in the ZS and ED series of earphones, or does it do anything different enough to warrant it's existence. Let's find out!

    Disclaimer:

    I purchased the ZSR from Gearbest for 24.62 CAD during one of their many, many flash sales. I'm not associated with Gearbest, or KZ, or any other entity meaning the thoughts within this review are my own. There was no financial incentive provided to write this review.

    Below is a link to the ZSR on Gearbest but as with most KZs you can find them for sale all over the place including Penon Audio, AliExpress, and others: https://www.gearbest.com/earbud-headphones/pp_1512920.html

    Edit: Changed score from 4.5 to 4 stars to reflect thoughts in comparison to the ZS10.

    Source:

    For at home use the ZSR was powered by a TEAC HA-501 desktop amp or straight out of my Asus FX53V laptop. For portable use it was paired with an LG G5, HiFi E.T. MA8, F.Audio S1, or Shanling M1, all of which brought it up to listening volume without any effort.

    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, MacaW GT600s, and thinksound On2 offer examples of signatures I enjoy.

    Specifications:
    • Sensitivity: 107dB / mW
    • Impedance: 22 ohm
    • Frequency response: 10-40kHz
    DSC02817.JPG DSC02818.JPG DSC02820.JPG

    Packaging and Accessories:

    Given their low price and in line with other KZ's you're not getting a ton of stuff for your dollar. The ZSR comes in the same shock-white packaging KZ has been using since moving away from the VSonic inspired boxes they were shipping with early ZST and ZS3 models. It is very clean and simple with a wire frame image of the earphone printed on the exterior sleeve. Side that off and the ear pieces are laid out under a transparent lid and set within a basic plastic tray embossed with the KZ logo.

    Lift all that out and you find an instruction manual and some little plastic bags holding the spare ear tips and the removable 0.75mm 2-pin removable cable. In all you get;
    • ZSR earphones
    • 2-pin cable
    • 3 pairs of single-flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
    KZ gives you all you need to get going and nothing more. That said, I want to make note that they include their “Starline” tips which are one of my favourite tip options on the market. They're durable, comfortable, and seem to pair well with pretty much everything I throw at them. There's a reason I bought six extra sets back after I first tried them with the ZST.

    DSC02823.JPG DSC02825.JPG DSC02828.JPG

    Build, Comfort, and Isolation:

    The ZSR, like the ZS3 before it, has a custom iem inspired design. Whereas the ZS3 which borrowed from StageDiver, the ZSR takes inspiration from iBasso's IT03, though looking closely they've got enough differences to be far from a 1:1 take on each other. Good thing they avoided Campfire Audio this time around or people would have really flipped their $#!&.

    The plastics used feel dense and durable, at least as good as the ATR's plastics, and are wonderfully molded without any sloppy lines. The only negative I could find was that on my left ear piece, the two halves of the shell just don't line up quite as well as they should so on the back there's a teeny little ridge that sticks out a fraction of a mm. I doesn't touch my ear or cause any discomfort, but it's there and if you hunt for it, you'll find it. The right ear piece is flawless. While I normally like it when Left and Right indicators are the entire word printed in cursive, admittedly it just doesn't on the ZSR, at least on the version I have in black. I get a feeling it'll look best in the white model that's coming out....eventually...which I will be all over when they're on the market. Lastly, above the nozzle you find printed “ZSR Hybrid Technology”. Everything is printed cleanly and clearly, though I know it'll wipe off eventually.

    The openings to the larger than normal nozzles (6mm in diameter) are protected by a very fine metal mesh. There is unfortunately no lip to hold tips on which combined with the massive opening is going to limit options for tip rolling.

    The cable is typical KZ; slightly sticky and plenty flexible with good strain relief. It is also saddled with memory wire which I detest. At least KZ does memory wire right, using material that stays in the position you set it. All they need to start including now is a chin cinch and you're good as gold.

    Despite the excessive size, the ZSR is actually quite comfortable, rivaling the ZS3 which I liked a lot more at first. The ZS3 sits deeper and more flush with my ear but there's a process to getting a good seal that requires twisting it to the right position. The ZSR slots right into place effortlessly though it doesn't quite disappear the same way the ZS3 does. The ZSR's improved consistency in fit is a big plus in it's favour. The only negative is that memory wire, which is why I swapped out to my original angled ZST cable which uses weights, ala. ATE/ATR instead of memory wire to keep the cable securely around wrapped your ear.

    Despite ample ventilation (one vent for the DD and two more at the bottom rear) the ZSR isolates really well. I was quite pleased with how effectively it could block out the sound of vehicles driving by, people chatting next to me while I enjoyed a delicious “high quality” Tim Horton's coffee, and other obnoxious sounds. I'm sure if I bothered to take the time to fit some foam tips, they'd be even better.

    In all the ZSR is fairly well constructed, the cable is going to be a “love it” or “hate it” type affair, and isolation is pretty impressive for something so well-ventilated. Comfort should also be good, just keep in mind both the housings and nozzles are larger than average so those with small ears/ear canals be warned.

    DSC02830.JPG DSC02831.JPG DSC02833.JPG

    Sound:

    Tips: I really felt no need to move from the stock tips given I like them so much and feel they pair well, but alas, curiosity got the best of me. After swapping through the few tips I have on hand that would fit those beefy nozzles, I settled on those tips from the Auglamour RT-1 and haven't gone back. Not helpful, because I don't think you can buy those tips separately.

    In my experience, KZ's hybrids have been mostly composed of a thinner presentation with dazzlingly prominent treble, a recessed or uneven mid-range, and elevated bass. The ZSR is similar to past hybrid offerings from the brand, though with a few much needed alterations. These, in my opinion, make them the most consistent hybrid in KZ's lineup.

    The ZSR's treble is elevated, more so than the ZST but less than the ZS6, giving them an energetic and vibrant presentation. Like the ZST, it's peaks seem to roll off before they become overly aggressive or irritating as can be the case with the ZS6. Could just be me though, as I'm not particularly sensitive to treble. My only issue with the ZSR's treble lies with it being slightly loose and with a hint of splashiness, particularly evident with cymbals which lack definition. It's not significant enough to ruin the experience for me though, unlike on older KZ's where this quality was much more prominent.

    The ZSR makes some significant steps forward with it's mid-range, bringing in some warmth and thickness lacking on other KZ hybrids. It's quite reminiscent of the classic ANV here actually, though not as prominent. While it is still slightly recessed compared to the treble and bass, it physically sits more forward (closer to action) in the overall presentation which does a good job of masking the minor recession. This is the best of KZ's hybrid bunch when it comes to vocal-centric music to my ears, sounding more natural with both male and female vocals. Instruments seem to have more weight and body to them as well which really helps out with guitars and other instruments.

    The low end on the ZSR is reminiscent of the ZS3; slightly mid-bass focused and darkish with good depth and weight. There is a touch of bleed into the lower mids, though throwing on tips with a slightly wider bore negates that. It's more punchy and textured than what you get from the ZS5(v1) but not quite as good as the ZS6. The slightly softer presentation matches well with the detailed upper ranges and full-bodied mid-range, though, and really serves to tie the overall presentation together.

    The ZSR's party piece is a round, wide, and deep sound stage that has an airiness to it I've not heard from a KZ since the ANV, nor many other earphones for that matter. They give you a true sense of space with effects skittering off into the distance. Listening to movies with these gives you a true sense of the scale they can portray and makes for a killer experience.

    DSC02835.JPG DSC02836.JPG DSC02838.JPG

    Select Comparisons:

    (Volume matching completed via the Dayton Audio iMM-6)

    KZ ZS6 (price varies wildly): The ZSR and ZS6 are equals in my opinion, but for different reasons. The ZSR has more low end presence, a larger sound stage, a more natural mid-range with additional warmth and thickness, and overall sounds more even and coherent. The ZS6's technical abilities are a step up with a more layered and well-separated sound with improved imaging accuracy, along with slightly better detail retrieval. The ZS6's low end is slightly more textured too, but it lacks the visceral punch of the ZSR. The ZS6 is also brighter. Not a problem for me, but this may pose issues for others if forums and the comments sections on youtube and Reddit are any indication.

    The ZS6 is undoubtedly the better built of the two, looking and feeling much more premium with it's well-crafted aluminum shells. I actually find them equally comfortable, with the ZSR's ear-forming shape making it more conducive for use while active. That said, forming the ZS6's earguides properly keeps them securely in place, so it's almost a wash there too.

    Audbos DB-02 (47.99 USD): The DB-02 is a 1+1 hybrid from Audbos, and an earphone you might better know under the brand name Magaosi. I personally find it's wood and aluminum, shallow fit ear pieces gorgeous to look at and extremely comfortable. I suspect they're probably going to sit well with more ears than the ZSR's massive shells. The DB-02's cable is pretty poor; thin, delicate, sticky. KZ's is a big step up imo.

    The ZSR's treble is slightly more prominent and with greater extension. The DB-02's mid-range is slightly more prominent and forward, but less organic and slightly dry. The DB-02's low end is punchier and more textured, but it rolls off earlier and lacks sub-bass rumble. The ZSR is more detailed in the treble and mids, has a much larger sound stage and in general it feel it is easily the better sounding and more engaging product.

    thinksound ts03+mic (119.99 USD): The ts03 is a single dynamic, wood bodied earphone with a warm, bassy signature. It has a very traditional barrel-shaped housing versus the ZSR's shapely, ear hugging shells which gives the ts03 a more universal fit. I also prefer it's materials which are a mix of wood and aluminum giving the ts03 a simple, but timeless look. The ZSR is not in the same ballpark in terms of visual appeal, to me at least. Neither earphone has a particularly fantastic cable, though I'd take KZ's over thinksounds. It is more flexible, thicker, more memory resistant, and it better relieved.

    In terms of sound, the ZSR is notably more treble heavy, but in terms of mids and bass are quite similar. The ts03's bass is tighter, punchier, more textured, but the differences aren't as vast as the price would suggest. The ZSR's presentation is more open and spacious, slightly more visceral, and on the deepest notes gives you more physical feedback. The ts03's mid-range is similarly placed, but given it has a more balanced sound comes across more prominent. I'd say the ZSR's mids are more textured and detailed, but not quite as natural, something the ts03 excels at. In terms of treble, the ZSR is again more detailed. The ts03 is smoother though, lacking the sharpness the ZSR portrays at times.

    Final Thoughts:

    To my ears, the ZSR is Knowledge Zenith's more successful attempt at a hybrid yet. It's not the most technically adept of the group, a title which probably goes to the ZS6, nor will it likely have the mass appeal of the more relaxed ZST, but upon listening to all their hybrids back-to-back, the ZSR gets my vote because it sounds the most coherent and mature in it's tuning.

    If you're in the market for a budget hybrid and were considering one of those from KZ, pending you've got the ears to hold them and are not absurdly sensitive to treble, the ZSR is easy to recommend.

    Thanks for reading.

    - B9Scrambler

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

    Some Test Tunes:

    Aesop Rock - Skelethon (Album)
    Daft Punk - Random Access Memories (Album)
    Elton John - Yellow Golden Brick Road (Album)
    King Crimson - Lark's Tongues in Aspic (Album)
    King Crimson - Starless and Bible Black (Track)
    Supertramp - Crime of the Century (Album)
    Infected Mushroom - Converting Vegetarians (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 Bone) (Album)
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Lifted Andreas
      Great review as always mate, I wonder how they would compare to the TRN v20 :D
      Lifted Andreas, Mar 21, 2018
      Bartig likes this.
    3. harry501501
      Bit worried that it looks the same fit as ZS3 (which is of a terrible build IMO), but if you say it sits a bit better I'm happy with that. Under £20 so why not!
      harry501501, Apr 3, 2018
    4. B9Scrambler
      @harry501501 They're actually a bit bigger than the ZS3 with a thicker nozzle and fit a little differently. The ZS3 I seat and twist into place. The ZSR doesn't require the twist.
      B9Scrambler, Apr 3, 2018
      Lifted Andreas likes this.
  4. Nymphonomaniac
    Tiny price for a big sound.
    Written by Nymphonomaniac
    Published Feb 13, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Good sound quality, wide soundstage, great details retreival.
    Cons - Lack of punch in mid bass and too much sub, not the must comfortable IEM, cheap annoying cable.
    KZ ZSR Review:

    P2130466.JPG

    SOUND: 7.5/10
    CONSTRUCTION: 7.8/10
    PRICE VALUE: 8/10


    KZ create a pair of new earphones about every month, the last ZS batch is axed on multi driver hybrid earphones, it begin with a 1 dynamic plus 1 balanced armature call the KZ ZST, and go 4 drivers (2DD+2BA) with ZS5 and ZS6. Now, with the KZ ZSR were in the middle of the game with a 3 drivers earphones made of 1 dynamic and 2 balanced and KZ decide to change the Campfire inspired design used for ZS5-6 for a more organic shell that thend towards universal custom molding.

    There were quite lot of ‘’urban legend’’ about this new KZ models and lot of people were expecting an upgraded ZS6 with even more than 4 drivers, for this people perhaps the fact that ZSR isn’t an higher end IEM will be a drawback ,but for the one not having any KZ earphones and searching for a special sound presentation with great resolution only possible with multi drivers implementation, perhaps this ZSR can be a big deal in term of sound value. Let’s check it out.


    INFO:

    • Brand Name: KZ
    • Function: For Mobile Phone,Monitor Headphone,Sport,For Internet Bar,Common Headphone,for Video Game,HiFi Headphone,For iPod
    • Active Noise-Cancellation: No
    • Model Number: ZSR
    • Resistance: 22Ω
    • Connectors: None
    • Line Length: 1.2m
    • Vocalism Principle: Hybrid technology
    • Control Button: No
    • Sensitivity: 107dB
    • Style: In-Ear
    • Is wireless: No
    • Wireless Type: None
    • Volume Control: No
    • Waterproof: No
    • Plug Type: L Bending
    • Communication: Wired
    • With Microphone: Yes
    • Frequency Response Range: 10-40000Hz
    • Use: Portable Media Player
    • Color: Black,G
    • Earphone Type: Hybrid drive unit earphone
    • Function: For Routine Office Work, Supports music, Portable
    • Time to market: 2018
    CONSTRUCTION & ACCESSORIES:

    P2130460.JPG

    Minimalist as always, you just got the basic with KZ to keep the price LOW, so its one 2 pin cable, 3 silicone eartips pair and a white box to use as a protective case if you want to.

    For construction.

    P2130441.JPG P2130442.JPG P2130444.JPG P2130445.JPG

    Firstly, construction is different and…..bigger than any KZ models! Yes, by a small margin but as ZS5 are quite already big its not a small aspect to take in account, especially if your into low profil IEM or you have small ears. Still, the ZSR are comfortable, but I would have prefer a smaller shell and perhaps not the plastic protuberance near nozzle, wich is suppose to fit universally but is prompt to put pression on my earlobe making it hard to use this IEM for extended listen before some pain occur. This type of discomfort rarely happen to me with IEM so it’s important to take in account, unfortunately its hard to tell if it will be a fitting problem without trying them.
    P2130450.JPG P2130453.JPG P2130455.JPG P2130456.JPG
    Second aspect is the cable, it look like KZ use somekind of new ‘’proprietary cable’’ only for the ZSR, another time, i’m not sure its a good idea to change the 2pin connection desgin for a female type when all other KZ iem use male 2pin wich make it easy to use upgraded cable that fit correctly, so, its the first time I will use the included KZ cable and this is only because I have no other choice. Cable isn’t of better quality, its all the same with rigid earhook and sticky cable, but it have a female 2 pin connection.

    P2130473.JPG

    Last different aspect is the nozzle, it was already quite big with ZS5 and now its even bigger and longer, wich make eatips fitting quite difficult and frustrating. No eartips are longer enough to really be push to nozzle housing base so you have to tweak it yourself and try to calibrate both tips so the free space between eartips hole and nozzle mesh is tall enough produce adequate sound pressure and presentation. Once you forced a eartips in place, it will stay still most of time, but there risk of displacement wich in my ‘’IEM dictionary’’ its a design issue.



    SOUND :
    P2130483.JPG


    Last KZ offering since the ZS5 aren’t know for sounding smooth and warm, and tend towards revealing brightness with wide 3d soundstage to give an exciting audio experience rarely heard in entry level price range, even if must of their multi drivers models tend towards slightly V shaped soundignature, none of them sound too boomy or not mid bloated, and ZSR is no exception even if sub bass became more proeminent. I would consider the soundsignature as W shaped, with emphasis on bottom low and bottom high, giving a muscular boom, without having lot of mid low impact, good clear trebly vocal and very detailed highs. Because of sub emphasis and non agressive kick, ZSR aren’t sounding as agressive as ZS6, but still, the highs are quite sharp and as with must KZ iem I would not suggest these to treble sensitive people, yep, even if they are less harsh in upper mids than ZS5-6. What explain this sharp mid and highs presentation is surely due to BA drivers placement that are stick behind nozzle mesh.


    SOUNDSTAGE is quite impressive, again, its very wide, tall and deep, with good but laid back instrument separation, wich are caress by dynamics drivers low frequencies.

    PRaT is just okay, not very fast dynamic timing, more a slow bass presentation and not lot of decay and impact, but still with good energy.

    Amping isn’t needed with this one, they are very easy to drive and I do not heard any upgrade in sound using portable amp.


    BASS is quite big and wide, due to a low end emphasis that make the sub very chunky to the cost of stoling some roundness to mid low. Kick lack some resolution and impact and can feel very light, dry or distant compared to the sub, I don’t really enjoy listening to electronic like D&B, IDM or Rap with the ZSR, but with jazz its quite interesting as well as with classical, acoustic bass and cello have good body and thicness, if not lot of grip and texture. Look like the dynamic driver is use for low frequencies in a warm way, and 2 BA give some extra texture to upper low and lower mids, sometime it work, sometime not.

    VOCAL is a little bright, very clear and easily hearable even in complex tracks, it lack body and texture and feel little ‘’nasal’’ sometime, but still are very enjoyable and feel more fowards than other KZ offering. With the great imaging of ZSR, mid feel at there place, signer being in the middle well separated from other instrumentation, but it stick in its place as a shy signer with a voice that rarely have echo or decay, this make mid fast sounding compared to the low and can be very good for violin or guitar line that need to have clear and well separated separation when playing with other instruments.

    HIGHS are there, everywhere! You got lot of details with this ZSR, especially in upper mids and highs region, the sub try to veil them a little but cannot due to the very extended treble. Now this is interesting for some type of music and help to give air to soundstage but this is where treble sensitive people will feel the W soundsignature peaks. Cymbals can sound a little metallic but not too splashy or shrilling, they are very hearable so percussions lover will not loose any hits. This sharp highs will give excellent details to acoustic guitar as well and would suggest the ZSR to somebody that listen to alot of classical guitar recording, as it will be a revealing presentation even if not the must musical. This treble push can too make some background hissing with bad recording, so I would not suggest the ZSR to ripped vinyl listener.

    P2130468.JPG P2130471.JPG

    COMPARED TO ZS5:
    Yep, soundstage of ZSR feel little larger due to a little bit more air between instrument, but strangely separation is better with ZS5 and feel more balanced. In term of bass, ZSR have more sub but a less thick and round overall presentation, its less punchy and little more loose while ZS5 is tigher and more punchy-chunky. Vocal are about the same bright one but little more spacious with ZS5. In term of details, both are very capable and I think ZSR is sharper in upper highs, giving more in your face micro details and brilliance where ZS5 feel more calibrate and linear.

    P2130475.JPG P2130476.JPG

    COMPARED TO ZS6 the ZSR is smoother sounding but less detailed and textured, soundstage is about the same wide but less deep too. Bass of ZS6 is more agressive with big sub bass but in a more punchy way than ZSR, treble of ZS6 is more sparkly and sharper and give a more dynamic energic sound rednering while the ZSR feel little dark in mids region, ZS6 is more harsh and cause more fatigue. Even if ZS6 feel more resolved and accurate, the ZSR feel more musical with a more relaxed rendering that still have a very detailed sound with way above average soundstage.

    CONCLUSION :

    Even if my all time favorite of ZS serie is still the KZ ZS5 V1, I think that ZSR is a solid offering in term of sound value and can easily compete with must sub 50$ IEM, beating must of them in term of soundstage and details. For musicality, its not the must inviting soundsignature and I think ZS5V1 and ZST are perhaps more enjoyable for closing your eyes and letting yourself go into music enjoyment. In term of design, ZSR aren’t perfect and KZ should learn from past error as well as not changing cable design from one model to another. With ZSR, KZ take some risk and try to innovate offering a new housing design, wich I respect in term of novelty and give me hope they will still work to achieve a real high end IEM that will sound seriously well balanced. KZ begin to really became masters of budget multi drivers IEM and with all this engineering experience should try to achieve a masterpiece, I still wait for it and still have lot of hope they will create it one day, there a lot of space in price range between 30 and 100$ to still compete in budget hifi IEM, so come on KZ, be a GENIUS and create a multi drivers MIRACLE like the ZS5 promise!

    The KZ ZSR can be found at Gearbest for cheapest price possible, these where on sale not so long ago and I ây 16$ on flash sale for my pair. Keep an eye open, but even at 25$ they aren't expensive!
    https://www.gearbest.com/earbud-headphones/pp_1512917.html

    images

    1. P2130459.JPG
    2. P2130462.JPG
    3. P2130443.JPG
    4. P2130474.JPG
      Bartig and hakuzen like this.
  5. Viber
    "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts"
    Written by Viber
    Published Feb 11, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Ergonomic design, similar to the design of the beloved ZS3 model.

    Tuning and design which help reveal every instrument in the song.

    Overall bang for the buck in terms of sound quality\sonic abilities.

    Versatile enough to handle all genres of music well.

    Loudness from weaker sources (i.e smartphones).

    Isolation

    Removable cable allows transforming the earphones into a Bluetooth set or upgrading to an aftermarket cable.
    Cons - Memory wire on the cable: We can remove it and some people like it, but I wish KZ would stop including it on their cables. They are too stiff and don't do their job well in my opinion.

    It would have been nice if the actual cable was more durable and less tangle-prone.

    It would have been nice to get some basic accessories included such as: a shirt clip, a pair of foam tips and a carrying pouch.

    Some cable noise exists when moving around so a shirt clip is recommended.
    Full disclosure: I got these earphones as a review unit from Gearbest.com.
    Specific product page*: https://www.gearbest.com/earbud-headphones/pp_1512918.html?wid=21?lkid=10690141

    *This link was not generated by me nor do i see any profit from you clicking on it.

    Now on to the review:


    Package\accessories:
    zsr box option.jpg
    zsr 1.jpg

    The ZSR arrives in a cardboard box surrounded by white paper wrapping. Inside you can find the earphones, a 2-pin detachable cable and S/M/L sized silicone ear tips.

    zsr 3.jpg

    Sound:

    Sound is a game of compromises. Consumers want Big Bass, they want every instrument and vocal part to sound rich and full and they want detailed, sizzling treble in one earphone, yet It's very hard to do all of that in one product – especially on a relatively small budget.

    The ZSR is trying to play that game by showing you the big picture which includes every instrument, but it will not show you 100% of every specific instrument.

    It seems as if the Dynamic Driver is acting as a subwoofer while the Armature Drivers are trying to include all the other instruments in a narrow, precise manner.

    zsr 2.jpg

    Bass:
    The subwoofer effect…It seems as if the Dynamic driver is in charge of this section and acts as a separate subwoofer. This means that the ZSR are very fun for genres such as Hip-Hop or Trance, yet not much of the Bass bleeds into other frequencies in more traditional genres.
    Grade: 5/5


    Midrange (500hz-2.5K):
    The Mids take a bit of a backseat to the Bass and Treble, this area sounds a bit dark on the ZSR, yet filled with a satisfactory representation of every instrument which is a clear step up from the ZS3.

    It's important for me to emphasize that the ZSR are not one-dimensional basshead earphones.

    In one of my favorite duets of all times, "Andrea Bocelli Featuring Sarah Brightman - Con Te Partiro" The ZSR does a fine job of representing these two amazing Vocalists without making them sound thin or harsh.

    More Bass seems to bleed into the mids in the piece "Downton Abbey OST: The Suite", but of course this adds a bit of emotion to the piece and the overall sound quality makes up for everything.
    Grade:4.8/5



    Upper Midrange (~2.5khz-5.2khz):
    This area is not harsh or cheap sounding so i'm giving it a near-perfect mark. Budget IEMs still have area to improve when it comes to performance at this region, but this is my standard until i'll do find a set of In-Ears with better midrange.
    Grade: 4.9/5


    Treble:
    Pretty much the same Treble found on the ZS6 only lowered by about -1db. The treble is also a bit less 'airy' because the ZSR feature more of a closed design.

    As stated before, the treble is at the front together with the bass and both of these regions create a nice synergy with each other.

    This area I probably the biggest step up from the ZS3 model, the treble is much more present and although some percussion instruments sound a bit thin you can still hear them clearly and they complete a full picture of sound.
    Grade: 4.8/5

    zsr 4..jpg

    Isolation and portability:
    The ZSR make use of a design similar to the ZS3 and thus the isolation is almost as good.

    This aspect makes the ZSR a better portable option than the ZS6 as it employs a sound quality which is similar to the ZS6 yet it leaks less sound and isolates much better.

    The ZSR nozzle and overall shell "sticks" much better to one's ear than the ones found in the ZS6.


    Verdict:

    As with the ZS6, it's hard to believe we can get this kind of sound quality for only 18$.

    I can listen to the ZSR for hours and I consider them to be my best portable set of wired earphones at the moment. The ZS6 are better sounding, but not as portable.

    I think this product will be able to meet the demands of most consumers as almost every genre and song is enjoyable while using it.

    The ZSR are truly an example of the phrase: "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts".


    Final Grade: 5/5


    zsr 6..jpg
      Bartig, hakuzen and Andrzej Cichy like this.
  6. Wiljen
    KZ- Zsr - combine the best of the Zs3 and Zs6
    Written by Wiljen
    Published Feb 1, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Good build quality, Better fit than Zs5 or 6, Treble spike is tamed a bit, better mids than Zs3 or Es3.
    Cons - Build quality not as good as Zs6, bass can be a bit sloppy at times, upper mids are recessed and can leave vocals a bit thin.
    box1.JPG

    First off, a heart-felt thank you to George and Gearbest for providing these headphones. New gear is always fun and the opportunity to try out gear as it comes to market is indeed a privilege.

    https://www.gearbest.com/earbud-headphones/pp_1512917.html

    A short note about me: I am a music enthusiast, and audio hobbyist. I make no claim to have the level of experience of some here. I tend to be quite pragmatic and value oriented.. I am a lover of blues, jazz, and rock music and listen to a very broad range as I am always interested in what is new.


    Review:

    The Kz Zsr arrived in the typical KZ white box with the graphics on the sleeve. Inside is the a clear plastic top with a Black plastic tray holding the earpieces.

    contents.JPG


    Under the tray you will find the manual, extra tips (SML), and the cable. This pair shipped with a cable with microphone and remote. An option for omitting those is also available. The kit is a bit Spartan as it has minimal tips, no shirt clip or carrying case. The focus is very much on the earpieces themselves as the cable is little more than an afterthought as is typical of Kz products.

    For those who have not purchased a previous KZ Zs series product, the cable is a bi-pin design with a 45 degree L at the earpiece connector. They do have a memory wire encased in a black plastic strain relief for the first 3 inches below the earpiece which gives way to a length of cable coated in soft rubber with a hard rubber splitter at the Y. No chin slider is provided and single button remote/ microphone is on the right cable about 9 inches below the ear piece curl. At the opposite end, a TRRS arrangement 3.5mm jack with a 90 degree L shape terminates the cable. The cables are usable, but generally spending the $8 to get an upgraded cable makes for better microphonics and perhaps a bit better longevity. I usually replace the cable to be rid of the memory wire but others have simply cut the stock cable to remove the memory wires.

    jack.JPG splitter.JPG

    The earpieces themselves are a transparent green plastic in an ergonomic design based on modeling several hundred ears according to Kz. For me, fit was good, but not perfect and isolation was only average as a result. The nozzle have almost no rake and thus sit perpendicular to the body of the iem. The nozzles due have a slight lip to aid in tip retention and use standard size 5mm tips. The bi-pin female connector is recessed into the body and allows the cable to seat solidly. This is basically the same arrangement as is seen on the earlier Zst model. Inside the earpiece one can see two BA drivers in the nozzle itself and a 10mm Dynamic mounted inline with the nozzle in the main body of the iem. The wires from the bi-pin can be traced to the back of the dynamic and around the side of it but I was unable to see exactly how they connect to the BA as that was obstructed by the dynamic.

    ear1.JPG ears_b.JPG ears1.JPG



    Microphone/Remote

    The remote sits on the right cable about 9 inches below the earpiece and properly positioned the mic to be at mouth level for me. Due to its design the mic is still susceptible to noise from movement or wind. The remote is very minimalistic but did work to answer calls or pause music when used in combination with an I-phone or Android (7 and HTC m9 respectively) as well as the Cayin N3 DAP.

    remote.JPG


    Sound:

    As mentioned at the top, I am a lover of blues, blues/rock, classic rock, and anything with good guitar work in it. For that reason, I use the following as my test tracks. (artist, album, track, thoughts)

    Stevie Ray Vaughan – Texas Flood – Lenny (Guitar to die for but the thing I look for is the percussion.)

    Lindsey Buckingham – Fleetwood Mac, Best of - Go Insane, Live (Probably the most complicated simple song you’ll ever hear, all about nuance and subtleties with this track).

    Johny Lang – Lie to me – Lie to Me (Looking for tight bass, bleed over into the mids, and controlled sub-bass)

    Tedeschi Trucks – Let me get by – I want more (Female Vocals, backing brass band)

    The Blasters - Testament – Blue Shadows (Saxophone and piano with male vocals)

    Vintage Trouble – The Bomb shelter sessions - Blues hand me down (Looking at attack speed and decay especially in bass and sub-bass. This track gets muddy quick if the equipment can’t handle it.)


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    Bass: The bass on the Zsr is the focal point. The Zsr has good bass extension and good sub-bass. Mid-bass does have substantial emphasis and does produce bleed into the mids. Compared with other models in the KZ line, the Zsr is most similar to either the Zs3 or Es3. It has more sub-bass and bigger bass presence than the Zs5 or Zs6 at the expense of being a bit looser and a bit more bass bleed into the mids. For those that want a subwoofer in your iem, the Zsr does a good job of it.

    Mids: Mids do suffer from bass bleed but are more present than the Zst or Zs3. When compared to the Zs5 or Zs6 the mids are a touch more recessed particularly on the upper end of the range as you reach the treble. Bass light tracks do a good job of exposing the lower mids, which are slightly forward and generally well rendered. The lack of upper mids can make vocals seem a bit thin.

    Treble: The classic Kz treble spike is still present in the 7kHz range but is not as prominent as it is on the Zs5 and Zs6. When compared with the Zst, the spike is of similar size but starts at a lower frequency on the Zsr than on the Zst. To my ear the Zsr is in the 7kHz range while the Zst centers closer to 9kHz. Compared to the Zs6 the spike of the Zsr is about 4db below the Zs6 or roughly about ½ the size of the Zs6. The great news is that extra bit of treble energy gives the Zsr good sparkle and some top end air even without having great extension..

    Soundstage is larger than expected in a design with as little venting as the Zsr has and instrument separation is reasonably good but can suffer in the upper mids due to the previously mentioned thinning. Imaging is a bit odd as sometimes it seems to be spot on and others things kind of wander around the stage.


    Thoughts:

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    The Zsr is very much what one would expect when you look at the sum of its parts. It has the bass of the Zs3 or Es3 combined with the the mids of the Zs6 and the treble of somewhere between the Zs5 and Zst. The Zsr retains the house sound most Kz listeners will be familiar with (A big deep V tuning). The Zsr does show some evolution in that mids are better than the Zst or Zs3 and the treble spike that was so prominent in the Zs5 and Zs6 while still present is roughly ½ the level of the previous generation. If you were in love with one of the previous generations, you may find the Zsr to be a bit of a let down. If you liked the previous generations but wished they would alter the sound signature to bring the mids forward and the treble spike down a bit, you may really enjoy the Zsr as that is exactly what Kz has done. Now for that next generation, push the upper mids forward to match the lower mids and reduce that treble spike by ½ again and you might just have the best earphone ever made for $30.

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      Bartig, hakuzen, Strat Rider and 4 others like this.
    1. mrmoto050
      What no Bonamassa ! Nice review
      mrmoto050, Feb 1, 2018