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Knowledge Zenith (KZ) impressions thread

  1. Superluc
  2. JayceOoi
  3. Slater
    OK, so I've spent some serious time working on ZS6 mods.

    Note that for all of these mods, you 1st use a sewing needle and gently pop off the stainless 'cheese grater' nozzle screen by poking the needle in 1 of the 'cheese grater' holes and lifting it right off. Carefully set them somewhere out of the way where you won't lose it. I recommend setting them on wax paper (sticky side down). It will keep the adhesive portion sticky, and won't let the adhesive get contaminated by dust or dirt while you are working. When you are done with your mods, just use tweeers to put the screen back in the center of the nozzle, and very gently push the screen down with your finger to make the adhesive stick.

    Here's the mods I performed or attempted to perform:

    1. "Folding foam" in the nozzle method

    While this did cut the treble, I didn't really like how it affected the rest of the sound. It veiled the mids and boosted bass too much. There are better mod options available (read on). It did knock down the treble around ~3dB**, which is why this is a valid modification option. The advantages are that this is a quick fix, super easy to perform, and 100% reversible. I didn't test the "foam stuffed in eartip" variation of this mod, but I suspect the results will be extremely similar.


    2. ZST foam mod to BOTH BA drivers in each shell (ie 2xBA). Let's call this mod "Double BA Foam Mod"

    This is the mod outlined here: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/kno...essions-thread.698148/page-1167#post-13480650
    I followed those instructions to a T, including the size of the foam piece. As an alternative, you could use the foam plug from the ZS3 nozzle (don't cut the foam; use exactly as removed from the ZS3). The result was about approximately ~4-5dB** cut in treble. I liked this mod much better than the "foam in nozzle" mod (ie #1), as the mids and bass were not affected, and all other characteristics of the ZS6 remained the same (soundstage, etc). However, the treble lost some airyness and sparkle quality. That tells me that there are other treble frequencies that the foam is affecting. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad mod. It's very easy to perform, and like the "foam in nozzle" mod it's 100% reversible. So I urge you to try this mod before you try the next mod (which is NOT reversible).

    I also could have done additional testing with the SIZE of the foam (ie smaller foam), as well as the TYPE of foam (or even a piece of paper towel). I may still do so (just not today as I've been working on this for hours and need a break).


    3. Lazer Bond fill of ONE BA drivers in each shell (ie 1xBA). Let's call this mod "Single BA Fill Mod".

    What is Lazer Bond? It's one of those cheesy as seen on TV products, but this one actually works. I use the crap out of Lazer Bond, and hardly ever use super glue anymore. It dries in a few seconds using UV light, is perfectly clear, and it is somewhat removable if need be.

    I especially use it for headphone mods. It's perfect for filling vent holes (partially or completely), and for gluing shells back together (use along the outside at the shell seam, such as after taking apart an IEM shell like the ZS3, ATE, etc). The result is you can't even see where it was glued if you do it right. It needs UV light to cure, so you couldn't use it inside of an opaque material and expect it to dry. But for transparent or translucent IEM shells, or bass vent holes, etc it's perfect. It's dirt cheap, lasts forever, doesn't dry out, and has a very precise "needle-like" applicator that allows the perfect amount to go where you want it to go.

    See the applicator? This is what makes it so easy and effective for mods:

    Screenshot 2017-11-14 at 5.57.31 PM - Edited.png

    It also doesn't give off fumes or a 'craze' film (ie whitish film) like super glue, which is important because this film not only looks bad but craze vapors can deposit on speaker drivers and possibly cause unwanted/unpredictable effects.

    Here's a photo of Lazer Bond (you can get it anywhere - drug stores, as seen on TV places, Amazon, ebay, etc).

    lazerbond.jpg

    I wanted to use this because the Lazer Bond applicator is exactly the size of the BA nozzle, so it is basically idiot proof. You barely need a drop - just enough to "fill" the nozzle on 1 of the BA drivers (doesn't matter which one). Just squeeze a drop in the BA nozzle to fill/seal it up, then use the UV light to dry it for 10 seconds. Done.

    You could also use quick drying 2-part epoxy and a toothpick, or even something like Elmer's white "school glue" and a toothpick. You just need to fill 1 of the BA nozzles so it is totally sealed, but not so much that it drips out and makes a mess in the nozzle. Literally 1 drop is plenty.

    Anyways, what about the sound? The result was about approximately ~4dB** cut in treble. I liked this mod much better, as the mids and bass were not affected, and all other characteristics of the ZS6 remained the same (soundstage, etc). The remaining treble had sparkle and airyness, just like in the totally stock ZS6, it's just that the total LEVEL (or amplitude) of treble was lowered some. However, this mod really made me appreciate how powerful even ONE of these high-frequency BA drivers KZ used are. If you were REALLY treble sensitive with the stock ZS6, this may still be too much for you. Even though it has a LESSER AMOUNT of treble, it's the TYPE of treble that is still there - still very bright, high frequency, and some could still call it sharp (not OVERLY sharp, as with the ZST, but definitely has an edge to it).

    The only real disadvantage to this mod is that it is NOT reversible. If you are worried about the reversibility of this mod, stuff the nozzle with small blob of bluetac instead (which will accomplish the same thing, but WOULD be reversible).


    4. Removal of 1xBA in each shell

    Yeah, that ain't gonna happen. I tried this multiple ways, and there just isn't enough room to work with. The BA drivers are located way down in the nozzle. They're stuck to one another pretty darn good. The ZS6 nozzle does not come apart as easily as the ZS5 nozzle (I think the nozzle is press-fit into the shell, not glued in like the ZS5). And if you try to remove the nozzle with force, or try ripping out a BA with pliers etc, you seriously risk really ruining your ZS6. Even if you can remove 1 of the BAs, you still have to deal with the wires. Don't waste your time with this mod. The "Single BA Fill" mod will accomplish the same thing, carries almost no risk, and won't affect the total impedance like removing a BA driver will.


    5. Lazer Bond fill of ONE BA driver in each shell (ie 1xBA) PLUS the ZST foam mod to ONE BA driver in each shell. Let's call this mod "Single BA Fill + Single BA Foam" Mod

    This is literally just a combination of #2 and #3 above. The only difference is that you follow #3 (the "Single BA Fill" mod). And if the treble is still "too much" for you to handle, you do the "BA Foam" mod from #2 to the ONE BA. It is still a very easy mod to perform.

    As expected, this provided the most reduction in treble. I estimate ~8+dB cut in treble. The mids and bass were not affected, and all other characteristics of the ZS6 remained the same (soundstage, etc). The foam in the 1 BA does cause the treble to lose some airyness and sparkle quality (the foam must be affecting other treble frequencies).

    This is the best mod if you are looking for the maximum treble cut.

    If you do this mod and for some reason you don't like it, the foam can be removed, reverting this mod to #3 above (ie the "Single BA Fill" mod). Another option to get some sparkle back, is to leave the foam in place, and just use EQ to boost the treble range by a couple of dB.

    I also could have done additional testing with the SIZE of the foam (ie smaller foam), as well as the TYPE of foam (or even a piece of paper towel). I may still do so (just not today as I've been working on this for hours and need a break).


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

    ** Note about the treble cut figures - They were approximated by A/B comparing to an unmodified ZS6, which was then cut using Rockbox's EQ at 10k until the unmodified and modified ZS6 both sounded the same. So for example, if I had to cut the unmodified ZS6 by 5dB at 10k for it to sound the same as the modded ZS6 (with mod X applied), then mod X reduced treble by 5dB. Make sense? Obviously, this isn't scientific, and using the EQ allows the manipulation of very specific frequencies, whereas mods such as foam can affect a wider range of frequencies. Please keep that in mind if down the road someone with proper measuring equipment performs these same mods and publishes the results (in other words, all ears are different, YMMV, I'm only human, etc).


    Final Verdict of all of the mods:

    The bottom line is that tips are easy to play with. I would mod the ZS6 if you are really treble sensitive and unhappy with it's sound. If you LOVE the ZS6 as-is, consider leaving it alone and just play with tips. I would encourage you to burn-in for 10-20 hours and see if it helps. Also, try a few different sources to see if you notice any differences (laptop, phone, DAP, iPod, whatever). Maybe you'll be happier with 1 source vs another.

    The mod I settled on was #3. I think it's the best compromise between knocking the sharpness of the treble down a few notches, but still leaving intact the very personality that makes the ZS6 special. However, you could also forgo the #3 mod, and just use foam tips (wedge or ball) on the bone stock (unmodified) ZS6. It's kind of up to you.

    Now, if you are one of the folks that is REALLY bothered by the ZS6, your best option IMO is #5 in combination with foam tips (wedge or ball).


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

    Read on for more information about tips plus the modifications...

    We know that tips can also be used to effectively tinker with the ZS6 sound. If you missed the unmodified ZS6 tip rolling post, its worth a read because I talk about how each tip affects the sound.

    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/kno...essions-thread.698148/page-1669#post-13848607

    WITH the mods, the sound is still affected basically the same way, there's just LESS treble to try and force the tips to "deal" with.

    I went back and re-tested a few of my favorite tips after modification of the ZS6 using #3 and the #5 method. The #3 method gave me the sparkle and airyness I like with the ZS6, so I could use the tips to really fine tune the sound with the tips. With the #5 method, I used tips to try and get back some of the 'extra' lost treble.

    So with that said, here is where I rate the 'best' tips in combination with the modifications:

    Modification using the #3 method only (ie "Single BA Fill" mod):

    Treble sensitive:

    1. "Ball" style foams - cuts the most treble cut. These are your the droids, er, I mean tips you're looking for. Overall smooth sound. Very "quiet" environment in your head, like you're in the recording room with the band (call it 'extreme isolation', which really allows you to concentrate on the music).
    2. "Wedge" style foams (ie generic Complys) - "Goldilocks" tip, depending on ear fit/length they may need to be cut down shorter for deepest insertion. Sight cut in treble (a good thing if you're in this category). Overall really laid back smooth sound. Treble sounds REALLY good. Just right IMO. I REALLY like this combination.
    NOT Treble sensitive:
    1. "Wedge" style foams (ie generic Complys) - "Goldilocks" tip, depending on ear fit/length they may need to be cut down shorter for deepest insertion. Sight cut in treble (may or may not be your thing, but worth a try even if you don't mind the ZS6 treble). Overall really laid back smooth sound. Treble sounds REALLY good. Just right IMO. I REALLY like this combination.
    2. Dual-Flange Silicones - Adds a tad bit of soundstage, more sub bass. No change in treble/brightness.
    3. KZ Turbo/Whirlwinds - Adds bigger soundstage, bumps midrange, a tad brighter but adds a hint of graininess to the sound.

    Modification using the #5 method only (ie "Single BA Fill + Single BA Foam" mod):

    Treble sensitive:
    1. "Wedge" style foams (ie generic Complys) - "Goldilocks" tip, depending on ear fit/length they may need to be cut down shorter for deepest insertion. Sight cut in treble (a good thing if you're in this category). Overall really laid back smooth sound. Treble sounds REALLY good. Just right IMO.
    2. "Ball" style foams - cuts the most treble (too much when used with the "Single BA Fill + Single BA Foam" modification combination IMO). If you need this much treble cut you may want to consider finding another IEM; seriously. Overall smooth sound. Very "quiet" noise floor, like you're in the recording room with the band (call it 'extreme isolation', which really allows you to concentrate on the music).
    NOT Treble sensitive:
    1. KZ Turbo/Whirlwinds - Bigger soundstage, bumps midrange, a tad brighter but adds a hint of graininess to the sound. The only valid way to "add" some treble back with using this modification method (ie "Single BA Fill + Single Foam method). A better option is really to consider the "Single BA Fill" mod instead; trust me.
    2. Dual-Flange Silicones - Adds a tad bit of soundstage, more sub bass. No change in treble/brightness.
    3. "Wedge" style foams (ie generic Complys) - "Goldilocks" tip, depending on ear fit/length they may need to be cut down shorter for deepest insertion. Sight cut in treble (may not be your thing since the mods already cut a lot of treble). But still worth a try even if you don't mind the ZS6 treble, because the overall sound is really laid back and smooth sound. A really good tip option.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
  4. Sebilion
    I just want to share my experience with the ostry os300. I bought it for my kz zs6 to calm the treble a bit. I think it changes the sound signature a lot. It adds bass and takes a lot of the treble out. I think I should have gotten thw os200 instead because these are too harsh even for me. I would recommend the ostry but better try the os200 and not the os300. Hope this helps anyone who is thinking about getting the ostry tips for kz zs6. :)
     
    nkramer and Slater like this.
  5. Slater
    Thanks a lot for trying these tips. The community appreciates it!

    How do they fit ZS6 nozzle in general? Do they sometimes come off in your ears when you remove the ZS6? Some tips can do this if they don't fit super tight on the ZS6 nozzle.
     
    Sebilion likes this.
  6. Superluc
    Well...on the ZS5, but the ZS6 are affected by impedance output in reverse, as said by @hakuzen. If the DAP is good, with low impedance than the phone or laptop used, it may happen the contrary, as the treble may be more present on the DAP because of that.
    The all impedance talking was because an adapter can theoretically lower the highs of them without touching mids and bass, but no one have still try to determine around how much ohm could be the best option. Anyway, even with that and mods the real problem is the usual one: different sensitivity on those peaks, source and comfort with tips between all of us.
    I hope to try soon the 75 ohm adapter myself and add a little contribution, but i'm now incline to think that lowering EQ may still be the more personal and not risky option, without take away nothing after those peaks. Not every source have that and with a lot o bars, unfortunately, but every source sound different... damn you, audio's god ( could it be Orpheus ? )

    Anyway, even if I'm now not inclined to try those mods, thanks a lot :clap:
     
  7. Slater
    I see, that makes sense.

    I'm just happy that I found a way to easily "remove" one of the BA drivers (by filling with glue), without risking damage to the IEM. This has kind of been reported as the holy grail of ZS6 mods to correct all of the treble issues by the few that have done it.

    Now there are numerous options for addressing any complaints with the ZS5 v2 and ZS6 and getting the most enjoyment out of them - tip rolling options, different BA driver mods, foam mods, impedance adapters, EQ, etc.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
  8. Cruelhand Luke
    well...here it is people, we all wondered, how could @Slater be SO HELPFUL...what's his real game?
    He's selling lazer glue! Or maybe it's glue lazers?! I knew it was all a scam! Or possibly scamola!
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
    hakuzen, groucho69 and Slater like this.
  9. young59
    Hey @Slater could you tell me if this would work as a mod.

    So we block/remove the two BA and convert one of the DD into a full range driver by removing its resistor which I assume is used to create the crossover.
     
  10. Sebilion
    No, actually they are a perfect fit, just if they were made for the zs6!
     
    Superluc and Slater like this.
  11. Sebilion
    I also tried 2 different types of foam tips, but they were not as secure and didn't like them at all. They've didn't stay put long enough for me to put them in my ears like a earplug would. And they would get so dirty so quickly! Also, both of the pairs I tried were slightly too big for the zs6 and I didn't feel security while using them, the noise isolation was good but I was always afraid that they may come off and get stuck in my ears lol! So, I wouldn't recommend any foam tips, except of course if there are any expensive good ones that I haven't heard of yet.
     
  12. Trisse
    Could I damage my KZ ZS6 while using them with my asus Xonar STX on the 300 ohm setting?

    Edit: Except for the oblivious of having to high volym
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
  13. Slater
    No clue buddy.

    Why not just buy a dual DD IEM like the ZSE? It’s basically the same thing you’re describing and a whole lot cheaper (might even use the same 2 DD drivers). Also the ZS1, ZS2, and ZN1.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
  14. ivo001
    Gearbest has a KZ bluetooth upgrade cable on sale for $4,99 with code KZEP.
    https://www.gearbest.com/earbud-hea...utm_medium=shareasale&utm_campaign=shareasale

    But i'm kinda confused as if this one is suitable for the ZS5. It is listed on the 2nd picture, but denied in the FAQ multiple times. In the reviews I found on Page 8 somebody which says it works with ZS5, and on page 9 somebody says it sometimes unplugs with ZS5? Doesnt help that there is another variant available on the site which does not work with the code.
     
  15. bsoplinger
    Here's the one explicitly made for the ZS6 (and others)

    https://www.gearbest.com/earbud-headphones/pp_712240.html

    If you've not noticed that @Slater posts have a signature with a link and comment about making sure KZ cables fit. That's most likely why people had problems with the wire coming out.

    If you stare at the 2 different styles of Bluetooth cables you'll see that the difference is the ends that plug into the earphone. The one you linked is curved and the one I linked is straight. However I'm sure I've seen at least one person post in this thread post that they were able to use a curved end cable (don't remember if it was a regular or Bluetooth one but it wouldn't matter) just fine with a ZS5. Perhaps if you look for that post you can decide if you want to try.

    Lastly, the cable I linked to is on a general sale for $6.99 so it isn't very expensive now either. But I don't think people are too pleased with the Bluetooth cable from KZ regardless of end style so perhaps getting a more generic receiver might be a better option. Here's a link to what I mean. Don't own this, never heard it, know nothing about it. Just provided as an example

    https://www.gearbest.com/headphone-accessories/pp_1081306.html
     

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