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Knowledge Zenith (KZ) impressions thread

  1. CoiL
    While I`ve experienced some burn-in cases, I don`t think ATR nor ATE will improve much with burn-in time.
    I`ve had many many ATR`s and ATE`s on my hands and ears, no certain burn-in effect to my ears.

    With ATR most important is to use right tips and littlebit amping!
    ATE is just about same and good with everything, just use wide bore silicone tips and remove nozzle grill to get slightly more details.
     
    Vidal likes this.
  2. Dark Helmet
    Just got the ZS3 and after some time with it I felt the medium tips (The size I typically use) made the ZS3 sound a tad bloated. After reading a through review on Amazon, I tried the small tips as recommended by the author and it totally tamed the bass, gave it more mid punch and balance overall. I also bought the upgrade cable for it. What a fantastic sounding IEM. The comfort and fit are awesome as well.
     
    mono-type and peskypesky like this.
  3. ezekiel77
    Wow really? For me burning them in for 100 hours tightened up the bass somewhat. Very enjoyable fella for the price.
     
  4. Slater
    Hey, to those with the ZS3. I found a new mod tonight.

    It has been previously posted by a few people that removing the red screen on the very end of the nozzle affects the sound. Removing it reduces the bass quantity slightly (while simultaneously removing the muddiness), and also improves the midrange.

    Well, I found a different mod that makes further improvements.

    BEHIND the red screen is a small piece of black acoustic foam. It's stuffed in the very tip of the plastic tube (the color of the plastic tube might be red or blue). It's exactly like the piece of foam stuffed inside of the shiny gold ED9 filter. Anyways, you REMOVE this piece of foam by just grabbing it with the tip of a sewing needle. You'll need a flashlight to assist seeing down inside of the nozzle to where the foam is. Carefully set aside the foam - they're extremely small and easy to lose. You can store the foam pieces in a small ziplock baggie like the one that many silicone eartips come in.

    The change is a very noticeable improvement - the boominess that the ZS3 had is now gone, upper mids are less recessed, and the treble is sparkly and clear. They kind of remind me of an improved ATR, but I need to A/B them with the ATR to verify. Synthesizers, pianos, & guitars sound great.

    It's tuned much more towards neutral with the mods, but there's still plenty of bass when called upon. It just isn't boomy and muddy like it was stock. Don't get me wrong, I think the ZS3 is a pretty good in-ear (especially for bassheads). I just know a lot of people are turned off by its overpowering bass that dominates the whole listening experience. This mod corrects that.

    It's up to you if you remove the foam yet put the red screen back, or remove both the foam and the red screen. It's easy enough to try it both ways and see which you like better. I settled on removing both after trying it both ways. Just keep an eye on ear wax buildup inside the nozzle if you run with no red screen (remove ear tip every once in a while and carefully clean out any funk).

    The mod is very easy, takes less than 30 seconds total, and is totally reversible.

    You use the sewing needle (or small straightened paper clip) for removing both the red screen and the black foam. Gently pry the edge of the red screen using the needle and it will pop right up. It's just held on by a ring of sticky adhesive around the edge. I stuck mine to a piece of wax paper to save for future keeping, as it sticks right back onto the end of the ZS3 nozzle if you ever need to put the red screen back (instead of wax paper, you could use anything non-stick - plastic wrap, sandwich baggie, or the slick paper backing from a peeled-off sticker or vinyl graphics.

    Here's photos of the red screen so you know what to expect:

    ZS3-mod4.jpg ZS3-mod3.jpg

    The following interior diagram will show you everything that you need to know (you don't actually open the shell for the foam mod - the interior diagram is just to illustrate where the foam is located):

    ZS3 mod final.png
    UPDATE: I found a camera lens and settings that would allow me to get a good shot of the foam. It's impossible to gauge the depth in this photo, but that foam is located about 1/4" down inside the nozzle:

    ZS3-mod5.png
    Here's what the piece of foam looks like after you've removed it with the needle (it gets more compressed once inside the plastic tube):

    ZS3-mod2.jpg

    Also, while you're at it you may as well use the sewing needle to verify that the vent hole is open and not blocked. Just poke it with the sewing needle (or the tip of a thumbtack) and make sure it's not blocked with glue.

    One more thing - even if you don't plan on removing the foam, I would strongly recommend that you at least peek under the red screens of your ZS3. Something that has always bothered me about 1 of my pairs of my ZS3 is that 1 side never sounded quite right. Well, low and behold I found that the foam on the 'never quite right' side was not even in the plastic tube, but just floating around freely inside the nozzle directly under the red screen. So at a minimum, looking under the red screens will allow you to make sure both of your foam pieces are inserted properly into the ends of the plastic nozzle. There have been reports of sound mismatches on 1 side. Early batches of the ZS3 had a crushed sound tube. Those were recalled a long time ago, so if you have a relatively recent ZS3 and you have something odd going on with 1 side, it could be that the foam isn't situated in the tube properly.

    Let me know if you have any questions.

    - Slater

    P.S. - To the advanced IEM builders/modders out there, as you can see from the exploded diagram this would be an excellent host for turning into a hybrid DD + BA. The shell is easy to open, it's comfortable as heck, and there's plenty of room inside for a crossover in the shell & a BA driver inside the nozzle tube. Looking at the above photo, it almost looks as if KZ was planning that all along, and it wouldn't surprise me if a "ZS4" comes out as a dual hybrid using this same shell as they already have the shell tooling. Also, it would be easy to swap out the plastic tube for a copper one, as the plastic is extremely thin (it looks exactly like a piece of heat shrink tubing that hasn't been heated/shrunk; or it could also be a piece of drinking straw). It's that thin & flimsy.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
    SoundChoice, KipNix, C2thew and 12 others like this.
  5. ezekiel77
    Thank you. That was very detailed and informative. Will try it out soon.
     
  6. Slater
    No problem.

    If you/anyone who does the mod could report back with your impressions, it would be appreciated.

    I have 2 sets of ZS3, so it's easy for me to A/B the sound changes and make sure there's no placebo effect going on. But it's definitely nice to hear others' impressions to further cement what I'm hearing.
     
  7. Slater
    Man, I wish MORE in-ears had this, as I'm not a fan of the memory wires! Those weights are like the best feature of the ATE.

    Anyways, if you have a Dremel and are REALLY careful, you could use a cutoff disc and remove the weights. Go SLOW & take breaks after 1-2 seconds of cutting so you don't build up too much heat. Also don't try cutting all the way through or you risk nicking the cable. If you're clumsy with a Dremel there's a 90% chance of disaster. I'm practically a Dremel master, & even I would be hesitant to try & cut off those weights. It's certainly possible though.

    Option 2 would be to open the ATE and solder in a replacement cable. The shells are really easy to open, and you can get genuine KZ replacement DIY cables for $2-$3 on aliexpress.

    I know neither solution is probably that great, but I would recommend giving them more time. You may find that you start to not even notice the weights.

    Something else to consider would be to pick up a pair of ATE-S. They are tuned with a little more bass than the regular ATE, they use the same shells, but they have memory wires instead of the gold weights.
     
  8. CoiL
    Dammit, now I gotta try out ZS3... though, I don`t need it.

    No need to cut anything! Just open ATE shells, desolder wires, split up weights by just pulling them apart with pliers, remove clamp that stops weights from moving and clamp at the soldering ends of wires, pull the weights over the wire and resolder wires, done.
     
  9. Vidal
    I'll have to give this ZS3 mod a try
     
  10. Slater
    To anyone who tries the ZS3 mod, I wanted to give a friendly reminder to make sure they are seated & sealed reliably while modding and testing.

    I've found that the ZS3 is one of those in-ears that can take a bit of fiddling to get set in the ears just right. During my testing & A/Bing, I removed & swapped them probably 30 times. And while they would feel like they were seated in properly, the sound was fluctuating occasionally, messing with my audio memory and making it take longer to evaluate changes I was making. I'd swear they were recessed here or were more forward there when I had them on a few minutes earlier. Then I'd fiddle with the seal, & boom they'd sound exactly like they should.

    I know this is common sense, but it's just something to be aware of. I've noticed it's more of an issue with silicone tips, as memory foam provides a more consistent seal from session to session. I just don't use foams on the ZS3, and I generally try not to evaluate mods with foams because of the way foams color the sound.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2017
  11. DeLuX
    While browsing Ali I came upon a seller called QKZ flagship store, it has all of the usual KZs but allso a lot of QKZ branded IEMs. Anyone know the relation between KZ/QKZ? Are the QKZs any good, if so which? Right now I'm loving the ZST & ZS3 School me please.
     
  12. Slater
    QKZ is affiliated with KZ. It's just a different line if products. Like GM makes numerous brands of cars (less now than before the bailout).
     
  13. Slater
  14. actorlife
    If they are a better ks1 V.1 Bass king then Maybe I'll consider them. Got enuff EP's.
     
  15. Keller2
    Now that's just cruel for them to not be on aliexpress yet... Sigh,... i guess i'll wait the extra day.

    Also keep in mind early revision tend to be a bit funky compared to later ones. I'm going in regardless tho since they actually dont look that bad compared to that horrendous image that was posted 10 pages back.
     

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