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Knowledge Zenith (KZ) impressions thread

  1. Mellowship
    In most cases I also dislike using foams on over-ear IEMs. Take the ZS3, you have to press and roll the foam tip, to insert it fast before the foam rebounds and then to give that slight rotation in order for the shell to sit perfectly on your ear. And then, to push the cables over your ears. Many times I stalled in the middle of the street, changing my belongings from hand to hand, just to take care of the correct fitting... Or when someone insists on talking to you, and you have to take a shell off to insert it again.
    The only foams I can use with ZS3,4 are a smaller size harder foams that I can push in and rotate without pressing and rolling.
    I don't have that problem with the ZS5 though. Maybe because it has a shorter nozzle or because it doesn't need to fit as snuggly as the ZS3,4... or to rotate to its "natural" place...
    LaughMoreDaily likes this.
  2. randomnin
    Well, they did measure the cyan one, not the allegedly different sounding purple one, but I liked ES4 better than ED16, so a more comfortable ES4 with slightly more prominent highs is a win to me. Also, if I remember correctly, antdroid's graph of the purple one was similar to this, except the bass boost was nearly non-existent and flatter. Anyway, I ordered the purple ZSN and a black ZS4, and hope that the great sound quality difference between the two won't make me walk around with shiny IEM :D Isolation and comfort will also play a role here, but, please, ZS4 win! :confounded:
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
  3. randomnin
    Is the part I bolded an oxymoron? :D Or just conflicting terms?
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
  4. TLDRonin
    I was talking about IEMs that require you to run the cable "over your ear", rather than cable down. I had a gut feeling someone would call me out for that but I'm pretty sure I've seen others reference it that way.
  5. randomnin
    Well, sorry about the inconvenience then, but, if that's the case, we have confusing terminology here. Or a case of me being unreasonably slow.
  6. Mellowship
    My take on the KZs I have (or had), in decreasing order of preference:

    AS10: formidable in almost everything. I wish the shell was finished better or had different materials in order to better translate the intrinsic qualities of this all-BA IEMs. Fast snappy lively bass, great resolving mids, silky but present highs, an imaging that is somewhat in-your-face presentation but, with some concentration, it gets easy to focus. The most "different" KZ of them all, with a truly new sound signature. Not very source-demanding, but sounds better with good DAPs/AMPs.

    ZS5v1: big soundstage, great presentation, gets congested easily with weaker sources but scales up incredibly well with good amps and DAPs. Great textures on the bass - it's about quality here - but has enough sub-bass to enjoy too. The mids need power to excite, and when they do, male voices come alive. Treble is best tamed with foam tips to avoid sibilance.

    ZS4: snappy happy strong fun bass with a great range and reduced bleed on other frequencies. As a result, the mids, although recessed, are present and very resolving. Treble needs foam tips as it is sometimes piercing. Fit, comfort and isolation are top-notch.

    ATE: it's still up here with the big brothers. The old ATE (first version) has such a personality that it is not easy to forget. It is "human" in its flaws and qualities. The female voices are rendered with the right timbre. Bass is always present, although for some tracks it gets messy. Treble is rolled off but still there, still making it's point. The "analogic" nature of the ATE is something I still value. The cable is rubbery and sticky.

    ZS3: not every ZS3, but the first version, mate finish, without the foam in the nozzle, with stainless steel grilles, with copper KZ cable and with the perfect silicone large tips from Rock Zyrcon. This is the only way they will sound great, although V-shaped. Strong, thumping bass. Shy mids. In-your-face treble. Great soundstage. Great comfort. Great isolation. Some fun to carry around. Original cable is bad. They need low impedance source with lots of power. Don't even think of connecting it to the KZ BT modules. They will become turds.

    IE80: the wildcard. Very well built imitations of the Senns. The bass rocker really works and raises low frequencies by some small notches when turned clockwise. Easily congested with louder music, but very "elegant" with less stressed environments. Mids are crystal clear. Original cable had inverted poles - had to buy a third-party Sennheiser-plug cable. Fit is a mess, only possible with foam tips or with shallow insertion wide silicones. I really like the IE80, but they are not for everyone.

    ZST: I wish I could love them more. Never really had the chance to profit from their signature. Everytime I listened to them I had the feeling of missing something. Maybe it was because I never liked the faux-carbon printing on the shells. Maybe they never got along with my FiiO X3II. But then I painted them shells black and use them with the KZ BT cable and they are a lot of fun.

    ED9: (with the golden nozzles, obviously) are great. A heavy chunk of metal, beatifully finished and with a great relaxed sound signature. Not as "magic" as the ATE, but still with that "analogic" lushness. A very good implementation of a single dynamic driver indeed.

    ZS3: later version, Slater-modded to remove the foam and grille. Even with the mods - which indeed made them slightly better, they don't stand a chance to the older ZS3. More V-shaped, slightly hollow presentation.

    ZSE: forward mids. Good soundstage. Easily congested treble. OK bass. Bad isolation. Cable microphonics - a lot. Nice vintage mid-80's looks though!

    EDR2: well built until the back grille falls off. Great textured bass. Sticky cable. A great and fun signature and cheap enough to be a great introduction gift to those who don't know the brand. Price/performance, these rule!

    EDSE: like the EDR2, almost the same sound signature but with more intrusive bass that makes them sound less defined.

    ED7: (large shell) woodies goodies, with a one-note bass. They are detailed in the mids, if you can ear them... I always look at them and think about that silky wooden sound, but then I put my VJJB or DZAT and easily forget the ED7 exist. They are not bad at all, but will not get lots of use...

    ATR: dull. Gave them away. Linear? No. Dull.

    HDS1: very small, a problem to get them to stay in my large ears. Had to wear them upside down with cable behind the ear. Weird sound signature. Mids too upfront. Bass with low texture. Wife wears them at the gym with Sansa player. Not my favourite microdriver...

    ED12: the worst of them all. Hollow annoying mids that covered the whole spectrum. Very badly built. Mine had the colour codes inverted, with red to the left and blue? (it was purple...) to the right. Shell cover was not fixed well. Had to glue it down with a dab of epoxy. Awfull experience in every aspect.
  7. CoiL
    Well... the problem is still Your hearing or bad fit with stock tips. Probably latter one. ES4 definitely has more than enough sub-bass. It doesn`t extend very far but sub-bass is certainly there.
    Listen to NIN - Hesistation marks , sub-bass is there.
    I also listened to my ZS5v1 today after long time listening with modded IT01 and... they still are the best KZ I have heard to date and sound actually eery similar to modded IT01 in general sound signature - but SQ due to graphene DD is another level with IT01 - much more detailed and more coherent. But v1 excels in soundstage size being more "holographic" and tad more stretched into width.
    But I have to note again that I`m powering my v1 with 80mA/3V per channel - it need loads of juice to sound fantastic, I mean FANTASTIC! ;P
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
  8. Mellowship
    I hesitated when I put the AS10 on top of the ZS5v1. I think it was because of the novelty. They are different flavours of KZ.
  9. loomisjohnson
    i've actually gotten used to the c631. however, i still can't abide the urbanfun, which has that ridiculous juvenile logo and horrible green color--as a result i rarely pull it out of the drawer despite excellent sonics. call me shallow.
  10. loomisjohnson
    outstanding--now you got me curious about the ba10. if you want to do a temporary swap for obsessive completion's sake, lemme know.
  11. BadReligionPunk
    I do. ES4 has quite a lot of low end. Its a bit loose and sloppy and bleeds quite a bit into the mids, which are natural and warm. Treble relative to the mids are balanced and a bit dark. The ES4 sounds really good to me for bass heavy genres, but things get to muddy when sped up. I know others describe ES4 diferently but I hear the IEM as a L. Overall presentation to me is slightly laid back and smooth.

    Basically the exact opposite of ZSN LOL
    LaughMoreDaily and 1clearhead like this.
  12. Deveraux
  13. 1clearhead
    Really good to know! After reading other reviews outside of head-fi, I held back thinking exactly as you stated on their sound signature. Personally, I won't be getting the ES4. I have a stash of other models with a similar signature.

    Thanks! ...Good looking out! :smile::thumbsup:
  14. mbwilson111
    I am happy with the tips that came with my ZSN.
  15. 1clearhead
    +1 Me too...:ksc75smile:

    ...Never tried them with comply or foam tips, yet.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018

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