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Knowledge Zenith (KZ) impressions thread

  1. Wiljen
    Lack of sub-bass extension I can see on the Zst but lack of bass as a whole I don't unless he just got a faulty pair. Usually mid-bass is very pronounced and the Zst is a pretty deep V shape sound signature.
    loomisjohnson likes this.
  2. kokakolia
    That sounds right up my alley. I should have ordered that instead of the ZSE. Seems like it would be easy to recommend.
  3. hakuzen
    Some samples of sources (no coupling caps, low output impedance) power pairing with KZ ZS5 v1

    (note: voltage and current are RMS; dB are SPL, except in graphs)
    reminding ZS5 v1 and ZS6 impedance and sensitivity..
    ZS5 v1 (4.8Ω @ 1kHz). sensitivity: ~122 dB/V (99 dB/mW).
    ZS6 (14.3Ω @ 1kHz). sensitivity: ~127 dB/V (109 dB/mW).

    Benjie S5
    Volume steps: 30
    ZS5 v1: maximum volume setting with "low" distortion: 10 / 25mV / 5.20mA / 90dB peak :heavy_multiplication_x:
    ZS6: maximum volume setting with "low" distortion: 15 / 78mV / 5.38mA / 105dB peak . :heavy_minus_sign:

    JDS Labs C5D (USB DAC+amp / amp)
    ZS5 v1: maximum volume setting with "low" distortion: 117mV / 24.4mA / 103dB peak :heavy_minus_sign:
    ZS6: :heavy_check_mark:

    (USB DAC+amp)
    Volume steps: ~20 (2.5dB/step, except first steps) .
    ZS5 v1: maximum volume setting with "low" distortion: ~14 / 257mV / 53.6mA / 110dB peak :heavy_check_mark:
    ZS6: maximum volume setting with "low" distortion: ~17 / 618mV / 43.2mA / 123dB peak :heavy_check_mark:

    xDuoo X3
    (DAP, rockbox)
    ZS5 v1: maximum volume setting with "low" distortion: ~75% / 310mV / 64.6mA / 112dB peak :heavy_check_mark:
    ZS6: :heavy_check_mark:

    Considering this info, many sources provide enough power with low distortion to drive ZS5 v1.
    The only ones which can't drive them properly are cheap DAPs like Benjie, or many smartphones, or weak amplifiers (and they are just fair with ZS6).
    JDS Labs C5D can reach acceptable sound level (~103dB peak, let's say 90dB), but not enough if you like very loud volume.
    SMSL iDEA / Sabaj Da2, and XDuoo X3, don't have any problem to drive ZS5 v1.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017
    CoiL, RomStar, djmakemynight and 4 others like this.
  4. zozito
    Thank you very much, mate!
  5. Slater
    The problem I found when wearing up an NOT swapping the channels is that it muffles the sound in a weird manner). The reason for this is that the nozzles are angled, so when you wear them up AND swap the channels, the nozzles still point in the correct direction (ie towards your ear drum). If you wear them up and do NOT swap the channels, the nozzles angle the wrong way (away from the ear drum).

    Sure, I could still hear it, but it was so much clearer when they were angled the proper way. I guess it was reflecting off my ear canal on the way to my ear drum, which is what was causing the muffled sound. Maybe your ear canals are angled/shaped differently, which is why it sounds OK when you don't swap the channels?

    If the 3.5mm jack ever goes bad, I was planning on reterminating them with the channels swapped in the plug. That way, I can wear them up and swapped (for fit), but the L/R channels will actually be correct.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017
    oyobass and HungryPanda like this.
  6. Slater
    I can verify that the ZS5 v1 sounds great with the xduoo X3. It sounds significantly better when the FiiO E12A Mont Blanc is added into the mix. But I often roll without the amp, and in those cases I am more than happy with the sound of just the X3.

    On that same note, I despise how it sounds straight out of my iPods (Classic 5.5, Nano 6G, & Touch 5G), as well as my iPhone SE. Very harsh and thin, with a lot less bass.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017
  7. bsoplinger
    You've perhaps seen me commenting in different threads about my troubles finding tips that fit whatever IEM comfortably and gave decent sound so I wouldn't be surprised in the least that something about my ear canals are different from typical. When I get a good fit and seal the Xiaomi stick out my ear in a very odd way so I understand what you mean about not getting them to fire down your ear canal but into the side. That's why I made sure to mention that at least some other people had fit issues so as not to give the impression that upside down and not swapped was a solution for everyone. Both brands suffer from a fit and comfort issues in their choice of an atypical design or shape.

    I just started some serious listening to the SoundMAGIC E10M I got from Massdrop for $21. I don't know typical retail but they're surprisingly full bodied sound. Standard dynamic driver instead of a balanced armature hybrid so a different sound signature but its a possible substitute @kokakolia
    kokakolia likes this.
  8. Slater
    Yeah, pretty sure I remember reading you having issues with tips (foam tips getting squished I believe).

    Anyways, I'm glad they work for you as-is. I wish I didn't have to swap channels to get mine to fit and sound good. Just shows you how different everyone's ears are.

    BTW, I used to have the SoundMAGIC E10. I agree they are really good for an older IEM. The cable is very fragile though, and mine didn't last long. Hopefully they revised it or yours lasts longer.
    kokakolia likes this.
  9. oyobass
    If you can find it, there is a version of Stadium Arcadium around that was mastered for vinyl. Night and day difference, although there is still a bit of audible distortion on bass drum hits in places. That version removes most of the torture of listening to the great music on the album. The hack job mastering the album for CD should be a criminal offense.
  10. TheVortex
    Finally managed to get my ZS6 to accept the 2 pin. I prefer the sound signature of my ZST's and ZS5 V1's over the ZS6, the treble is too much and sounds un-natural.
    CoiL and loomisjohnson like this.
  11. CoiL
    I don`t remember who here had "issue" with ATR and ATE sounding bad but I got my latest pair of ATR + ATE and I absolutely love them.
    ATE seems to be same as my last 5th gen ATE with red drivers inside, golden "grills" inside shells, gold/black metal cable reliefs, golden cable weights, code of shell is RQ:018NBM.
    Didn`t do A-Bing with ATR atm but with short listen I can tell they are almost same sounding as ATE but with less bass and slightly more clarity/highs details and slight soundstage difference.

    But I absolutely love the sound coming from ATE 5th gen (red nozzle grills removed + wide bore silicone tips (tips edge on level with nozzle) ).
    Still my #1 dynamic IEM from KZ, especially with FF-modification. Atm, listening Lucid Planet - EP & Seven Impale - Contrapasso 16/44 FLAC, just great SQ - hard hitting tight detailed bass, liquid detailed mids with weigth/warmth/naturalness in vocals and smooth but detailed highs, great soundstage with good frontal depth and stereo separation and layering. Just great.

    I think some ppl here hating ATE & ATR have issue with proper quality source, amping and file quality or just have very different SQ preference.

    For information, I use HW&FW modified DX50 for those impressions.

    Littlebit amping, removed red nozzle grills, custom cable, open back grill-mod, breathing hole adjustment and nozzle change these turn into "mindblowing" DD that slap ass of many cheap hybrids out there imho belive it or not ;P
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017
    Slater likes this.
  12. Slater
    Listening to Californication right now. You're right, it is a compressed mess - it sounds like a 128k MP3 rip. I always thought it was the lossless rip I did (sometimes settings can cause wonky results), but I listened to the CD source and it sounds the same.

    Man, what a tragedy. I hope someday they release a remastered version (and I mean a PROPER remaster, not some of the junk remasters that are simply money grabs).
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017
  13. Slater

    My modded ATE (same mods as yours minus the nozzle tube change you did) is one of my top single-DDs in my collection. It was only recently bested by the UiiSii CM5 in overall single dynamic performance, but I still think the modded ATE sounds more natural. It's the next best thing to being live in concert.

    Simply amazing for an $8 IEM and 15 minutes worth of mods.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017
    HungryPanda likes this.
  14. CoiL
    True. Only other thing I have same way close to "live" natural sound is my desk setup (modified Aune T1 with Siemens E88CC goldpin) + Fidelio X1 (custom cable).
    While I enjoy KZ ZS5v1 very much, putting modified ATE into my ears makes me always smile and drown into music without thinking/nitpicking on SQ :)

    But I should try UiiSii CM5 then too, if You say it is so good :wink:
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017
    djmakemynight and Slater like this.
  15. Slater
    What wide bore silicone tips are you using BTW? The KZ turbo/whirlwinds? Or something else?

    I think the 2 biggest problems with the ATE that are likely the source of people's dislikes are 1. the terrible stiff gel foam tips and 2. the nozzle screens.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017

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