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Knowledge Zenith (KZ) impressions thread

  1. Slater
    I just got my purple/silver ZSN.

    I have to say, I am beside myself. The ZSN is the best KZ I have heard to date.

    The build quality is impressive, the cable is excellent (the best stock cable I’ve seen from them hands down).

    Wow has KZ come a long way. And for $11. THIS is KZ in a nutshell; a culmination of their years of tiny refinements. Simply amazing.

    Granted, I don’t have their fancy pants flagships (ZS10, BA10, AS10), but with the ZSN I have absolutely no desire to get any of those. I can’t imagine spending $60, $70, or $80 on a KZ when $11 will get you an IEM of this caliber. And all this with a basic TWO driver hybrid. Not 4, 5, 6, 7 blah blah peeing contest.

    The sound is so clean. Deep bass that is super tight and fast, without being boosted. Crisp clear mids, that are more forward and balanced than their more V shaped IEMs like the ZS4. Treble is just right IMO. Not piercing, not sibilant, not too bright, not too forward/boosted.

    The comfort is excellent, even more comfortable than the ZS3/ZS4.

    I did swap the stock tips with Starline tips right OOTB though (my go to). I will try the included stock tips later.

    Unfortunately I couldn’t remove the back and take a peek inside. They are using the smallest Torx crews I’ve ever seen. My current set goes to T4 (which is ridiculously tiny), and these are even smaller than that haha. I’ll have to get a kit with even smaller bits.

    Anyways, if you want to introduce someone to ChiFi, and specifically to the KZ brand, the ZSN is the IEM to do it. It’s super affordable, very premium, and the sound is not offensive.

    It is an all-rounder, and an ideal daily driver. It will satisfy most bassheads, without being a ‘basshead’ IEM. It will satisfy most treble heads, without being a ‘treblehead’ IEM. It will satisfy most people looking for a neutral IEM, without being perfectly flat and neutral. It’s got plenty of detail that would satisfy most people, without being so micro-detailed and analytical that it doesn’t let you enjoy the music.

    It lives in that “just right” Goldilocks position. It’s not warm nor cold sounding - it’s just a pure, uncolored musical output.

    And no, this isn’t flavor of the month hype or a honeymoon phase. I just went thought my extensive KZ collection last night, so it’s all fresh in my mind. The ZSN is the real deal (for a KZ).

    I do have a black/black one on the way, which I’ll compare to the purple/silver one.

    Also, I am using it with my xduoo X3 and FiiO amps (A5 and also E12A). I will try it out later with my iPhone and just X3 (without amp) to see if there’s any difference.

    My only complaint is there’s no L/R markings on the shells. There is on the cable though. That’s so minor that it’s hardly worth mentioning. But nothing is perfect :)
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
  2. eclein
    Well I did it..up 4 sale are my 64audio U4SE’s....
    Between the BA10’s, newly cabled ZS5, the ZSN and my V80’s (that was the final nail), if sold I’ll find a new DAP.... I still have an original fiio x1 and other stuff thats laying around, Sleek SA6’s....

    So whats next weeks new KZ Model, maybe the KZ4ME or KZNN, KZATBAT.?
    DocHoliday likes this.
  3. mbwilson111
    Not exactly. The stock ZS6 is rubbery and I have something else on mine. The one I have on the ED16 is actually from my husband's ZSA which had the angled connector but it is not as big as the ones that fit the KZR etc so you have to choose carefully I believe that any KZ6 cable should fit the ED16. That connector is straight as is the stock ED16 cable.


    So my cable for the ED16 is similar to that but has the strange smaller ZSA angled one

  4. mbwilson111
    Wow... if I had said all that earlier this week would you have believed me? :) It is a wonderful surprise. I am very happy I decided to get it.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
  5. dondonut
    Raving review Slater, your enthusiasm is infectious. I'm very curious as to how you think the purple and black compare, as well as how they sound driven by a smartphone. I'll make sure to keep an eye out for an update.
    Slater and LaughMoreDaily like this.
  6. LaughMoreDaily
    1. I believe it was "Mybutthurts" that said the Tyrian Purple (on Gearbest) had a black back vs the silver but as I noticed looking at buyer photos it actually has the regular silver back.
    So I wonder what the fourth model is that they have called Viola Purple? It looks like some mislabeling is going on on Gearbest.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
  7. mbwilson111
    Yes, I am confused by that .. I searched and searched but could find no photos of a black on purple version. If they want to add another color, do something entirely different.. Like red on red.
    ShakyJake and LaughMoreDaily like this.
  8. LaughMoreDaily
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
  9. Bartig
    BE8D1AFA-036B-4A9A-8171-0467DA4C33D0.jpeg Can't wait for the KZ ZSN to arrive, but I can already say it will have tough competition from this sub 10 dollar earphone. The brand new EZaudio D4 is excellent! :)
  10. Slater
    Yes, of course. I trust your opinion just as much as anyone’s!

    Numerous people have been saying how good the ZSN is. That’s why I pulled the trigger and ordered it a few weeks ago.

    Let’s put it this way, I’ve been extremely picky as choosy about what IEMs I buy.

    I have been waiting for that something ‘special’ to come along; the diamond in the rough. I would know it when I saw it, and the ZSN is that model.

    Other than the ZSN, the ONLY 2018 KZ I’ve bought (since the ZS6 came out) has been the ZS4. And that was only because I’ve been waiting for the ZS3 to be upgraded since the ZS3 came out 2 years ago.

    I’ve passed up all of the following 2018 KZ models:

  11. Slater
    Unless the 11.11 fukubukuro mystery bag comes with it, I won’t be getting the D4. I have a stupid number of IEMs, and I’ve been trying to reign in my lack of self control :)
  12. Zerohour88
    Agreed, if I actually wanted the best I've heard, I'd save up a bit more and just get the CA Andromeda myself and be done with lurking around. But even a friend who doesn't read head-fi much asks me "dude, what's the FOTM now, itching to try something else" and I end up also being curious. We just know that even if we get the absolute best now, we'll just get the itch to try something else later. Might as well accept that fact and go for big value items for the added "getting a bargain" feel.
  13. Slater
    Ok, so on the cell phone (specifically, the iPhone SE), the difference is very minimal:

    1. I can hear very minor micro details on the X3/FiiO combo vs the iPhone by itself. I have to listen very carefully to hear them, and if I didn’t even know they were there, I wouldn’t ever miss them.

    2. The sound from the iPhone is a tad smoother overall, but it is more noticeable in the upper region vs the lower region. With the DAP/amp, the sound is a bit crisper and clearer with regards to clarity and resolution. But just like #1, the difference is minimal.

    (Anyone who needs specific examples in songs, let me know).

    So imagine a tall glass of pure distilled water - that’s the X3 with amp. Now take a dropper and put 1 drop of milk in the water and stir it up. The clarity of the water will be just barely lessened. But if you didn’t know the drop of milk was in the water, most people wouldn’t even know.

    Or think of your car windshield, and imagine it with a light dusting of pollen or maybe a handful of water spots. The windshield is still clear; just not 100% perfectly clear like it would be if it was meticulously cleaned.

    In other words, if the sound of the ZSN on the X3 with amp was rated at a perfect 10.0/10.0, then the sound of the ZSN on the iPhone would be a 9.8/10.0.

    How much of the difference is due to the processing of the audio in the iPhone’s DAC chip vs the xduoo X3’s DAC chip, voltage smoothing by the amp, or changes introduced by the FiiOs Muses02 op amp is impossible to tell.

    If I had to guess, both #1 and #2 sound like the difference is related to the BA driver. So my guess is the BA is somehow driven slightly better or more energetically on the DAP/amp combo. Or maybe it’s related to a difference in output impedance or output voltage. I’m not an engineer, so I can only speculate.

    The bottom line is that the ZSN can be driven from a phone (at least the iPhone SE) “just fine” :)

    Contrast this with IEMs such as the ZS5 v1 or ZS3, which sound like crap from a phone and significantly better when used with the right DAP/amp combo.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
    josesol07, 1clearhead, Bartig and 3 others like this.
  14. LaughMoreDaily
    I'm sorry to hear that... the ED16 is awesome. :wink: You missed one diamond in the rough!

    PS: I watched a video today where the audiophile said the TRN v20 is better than the ZS4.
    josesol07 and mbwilson111 like this.
  15. mbwilson111
    It is not too late for him to get one:) I will still love my ED16.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
    1clearhead and LaughMoreDaily like this.

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