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Knowledge Zenith (KZ) impressions thread

  1. young59
    Can someone list the things we need to look for from highest to lowest priority for a sub 100$ Dac+Amp/Amp.From what was posted by vector
    1.Low output impedance
    2.Coupling caps
    Please quote this message and I will add or make a list of your own.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
  2. RomStar
    Wow that's explains so much now. Ok let me clear things up for you then. What I really wanted was a better audio experience with portability. And from what other said , I thought I should use an amp since I was low on budget.

    Now I realized I don't really need portability at all, so I was thinking just get the best bang for my buck. My pc is a cheap notebook for university and work, so it's got a close to trash dac. Now I'm thinking a good dac isn't a bad idea as well.

    My phone on the other hand has a much better Dac. It's not powerful enough to drive my kz I think and Philips sound dull even at max volume. I was lucky to get the wolfson Dac on my note 5, it is a non-us variant with warm sound. For comparison it's equal or better than iPhone 6s dac. I don't own iPhone 7 so I can't comment (had iPhone 6)

    Now I honestly don't know if the items mentioned above are better than my phone dac or not, but I was mostly looking to amp stuff. (I guess it's better than my phone dac?)

    Also I did look at Fiio amps, like mont blac e12 and others. Sadly most are above $100 :frowning2:

    Now what would you suggest I do? Increase budget or stay in this range? I think maybe amp+dac would be good because then I can use headphones with my computer and at home. I would appreciate a name, I just want to buy one at this point, I also have no idea what coupling capacitors are, and looked for them in specifications as well... Still can't find them :frowning2:

    Edit:@vector84 the q1 mk2 are around 150$, and getting them from USA is more expensive. Do you have any recommendations below 100? Just as @young59 said, I would like an amp+dac I guess now. Let's see if I can find something at this range
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
    hakuzen likes this.
  3. vector84
    It depends largely on what you need, these are very much needed with regards to the ZS5(v1):
    Coupling caps have a calculable roll-off effect, the lower the headphone impedance, the more problematic it is - ZS5(v1) at 4.8 ohms is a big problem.
    Low output impedance is necessary when input impedance varies wildly (to prevent coloration) - ZS5(v1) varies from 4.8 to... something very much larger, again a problem.

    In general, for IEMs you want very low output impedance, though some specific IEMs don't like it, those are the exception, not the norm. Coupling caps can be sized to be workable for in-specs applications, but the ZS5(v1) will never be an in-spec application until you get into amps in the $200+ range, so you would do better to avoid them on budget gear.

    As a comparison, if you wanted to drive a set of 600 ohm cans, you could abide by up to around 60 ohms of output impedance comfortably, and coupling caps would be the last of your worries. But you'd need way more actual power output from your output in that case - far more than any of the things that are suitable for driving the ZS5 can provide.
    hakuzen likes this.
  4. hakuzen
    measured again zs6 with different tips, trying to match same distance between BAs and mic (~2.55cm). used 192kHz 24 bits this time.

    noticed differences between a narrow foamie and a bigger one; the narrow cuts off less 11kHz peak than the wider.
    following @xrk971 hypothesis ("An 11kHz peak would imply something at 1.55cm deep - which may be the hard leading edge of the silicone earplug tip. So changing to foam tips may remove the 11kHz peak") which seems to explain the foamies effect, maybe more surface or more compacted foam in the wider ones help.

    anyway, based on last measurements i got, have tried some simple EQ settings for silicone, small and big foamies. and i'm enjoying the zs6 very very much.

    -2.5 dB 8000Hz q=6.0
    -9.0 dB 11000Hz q=4.0

    foam S
    -6.0dB 11000Hz q=4.0

    foam M/L
    -4.0dB 11000Hz q=4.0

    if you don't have a parametric equalizer, you'll get similar eq by using a band equalizer, if you can access to 11kHz band (and to 8kHz for silicones).

    you can play with your desired gain (the above gains provide a bit more treble than zs5, but that's my preference), and with the frequency offset.

    EDIT: due to different insertion and singular characteristic of each ear, the peaks can be located at different frequencies. in order to extend the tolerances, it's better to use lower Q than 4.0; this way you'll catch the peaks better wherever they are.
    This is the last eq i've tried with foam tips (L size), which includes lows taming (bass bump is huge for my taste), and forwarded mids:
    low shelf filter: 400Hz, Q:0.2, -8.0dB (bass taming)
    peak filter 4: 800Hz, Q:0.4, +1.5dB (mids forwarding)
    peak filter 6: 8200Hz, Q:4.0, -2.0dB (highs taming)
    peak filter 7: 11300Hz, Q:2.0, -4.0dB (highs taming)

    (click to enlarge)
    ZS6 tips FR.png

    EQ filters action:

    ZS6_L TLk CSpA EQ.png

    foam S:
    ZS6_L TFs CSpA EQ.png

    foam M/L:

    ZS6_L TFm CSpA EQ.png
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2018
    c4rb0n, tvou88, xrk971 and 4 others like this.
  5. RomStar
    I think I understand what you mean, I need something with very low impedance and no coupling caps at all. So i know this may be very silly to ask at this stage, what do you recommend to be used with the Zs5 V1? Can you name the amp/dac? I'll try and buy them used. So for the record cheap gear won't be able to drive the zs5?

    Does this also apply to the shp9500?
  6. vector84
    Q1 MkII just showed up on (US) Amazon at $77 fulfilled by Amazon actually...
    But I went with an original Q1 personally - I picked one up a few weeks ago for $60. Might be able to get one even cheaper with 11/11 just around the corner. It's a known and well regarded product, the MkII is brand new, and while most reviews are glowing, a few have noted EMI problems, which is not what I want to hear about an amp for use with streaming music, personally. :wink:

    And cheap gear won't drive the ZS5 within specs - but this whole discussion is about how to drive them well enough without staying in specs :wink:

    I don't own them, but based on specs, I think they would suffer more from power/current concerns? Sabaj D2 / Fiio K1 might suffer considerably on that front. Original Q1 would probably be better than Q1 MkII for them? but again not a personal experience, just from specs.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
    RomStar likes this.
  7. hakuzen
    from what i know (the stuff i own), two samples of very versatile amplifiers + DAC/amp with very good quality, which you can use as pure headphones amplifiers when needed (no DAC), or as DAC+Amp when needed are:
    iBasso D14 (198€ now at https://headphoniaks.com/tienda/ibasso-d14-bushmaster/, for example.)
    JDS Labs C5D (189€ now at https://headphoniaks.com/tienda/jds-c5d/, for example).
    none of them uses coupling caps. C5D output impedance is 0.62ohm (i'd wish even lower for zs5, but it is ok). D14 output impedance is near zero, and also has got optical inputs (and line out).
    i have to test them with zs5 (will do it now), but probably they are more than capable to drive them and your phones.
    yep, i know, they are 2 x $100 each, but consider to aim to these kind of amplifier / dac / dac+amp (all in one). maybe only one item is able to satisfy all your needs (pc, smartphone, DAP) and you are saving money at last..
    RomStar likes this.
  8. RomStar
    Thanks for the great feed back. So let me see if I understand

    I can use the fiio q1 mk1 with the zs5 to gain improvements right? But it also depends on how well it's used right?

    And thanks for also commenting on the Phillips, so the q1 should also do a decent job of powering it? If it's a yes, then I'm getting the Q1 for sure :)

    Here is the issue, most products from Amazon us don't ship to Australia. And Google search and top results are all from eBay and have a price tag of 150$ :/
  9. RomStar
    Ah thanks for the reply,

    That's a better option than wasting $100, let's see if I can grab a pair of them used or around 130$ during 11.11

    Maybe I'm hoping for too much, but if I see a good deal I'll jump on those :)
  10. hakuzen
    wow, the fiio Q1 mkII seems to fit your needs, @RomStar, and it is not expensive at all. now you have some items to stalk for..
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
  11. RomStar
    Yayay, u dunno how happy I am lol

    I was looking at jd labs c5d prices, it's a minimum of $320, and can't find them used. Only one is from eBay and are priced USA 220+190tax.

    So as @vector84 said, is the Q1 older good enough? Or do I need the Q1 Mark 2?

    Still happy I don't have to break my bank with those $400 amp+dac yet. Still too new to venture that far haha

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
    hakuzen likes this.
  12. vector84
    They're really just pretty different despite both being called Q1.

    MkII has half the battery life and less than half the power output in SE mode, but offers more input formats including native DSD, balanced outputs, an iOS certification, and I think a slightly lower noise floor?

    EDIT: Oops, also digital volume on the MkII = better channel matching at the lowest volumes.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
    hakuzen likes this.
  13. hakuzen
    be patient, you've found there might be some options, q1, q1 mkii, d14, c5d, but also xduoo xd-05, and many others.. time to stalk for after-market units, discounts everywhere..
    the problem was that there are not specs about driving 4.8ohms multi-BA phones, from makers, but neither from people analysis.
    @xrk971 confirmed a class A amplifier is needed, i tested some cheap daps to find they weren't suitable. when i get some time, i'll test zs5 with these amp+dac+amp units (C5D and D14, for example), but surely they'll be more than enough.
    xrk971 and vector84 like this.
  14. vector84
    That list there covers pretty much everything I was looking out for deals on besides: Oppo HA-2SE and Fiio E17K. :p
    hakuzen likes this.
  15. young59
    Would using an impedance adaptor the ZS5 widen our potential options?

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