Knowledge Zenith (KZ) impressions thread
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sino8r

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You’re welcome. Everyone around here is helpful. This place is indeed great.

You’re welcome.
Everyone around here is helpful. This place is indeed great.
I agree, it's downright pleasant on this forum. The internet can be really nasty and not in a fun way. Some of my other favorite forums make me nervous sometimes for the new guys. Can be vicious!
 
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PSA:

I’m seeing some reports on Aliexpress that some of the new KZ 8-core dual-color cables are wired out of phase.

So as usual, always check your cables and IEMs for phase issues as soon as you receive them.
 
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BadReligionPunk

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Today was take your friendly TRN V20 to work day. Another legend in the game. A 1+1 hybrid like the ZSN, but I think its main KZ competitor is the ZSA. Both the V20 and the ZSA are V shape, with the V20's bass being a little tighter and a bit faster. Both have pretty good impact and slam, with ZSA being a bit bigger and a bit looser. On the other end of the spectrum, I think the ZSA has a much more bright and vibrant treble. There is a bit more sparkle and detail retrieval is better on the ZSA then the V20, however for me personally the ZSA can be fatiguing if listening too long. For this reason I prefer V20.
As far as the mids go. ZSA sounds much more scooped then V20 due to the bass being bigger and the treble being brighter. It also has a more energetic presentation that makes things sound livelier. In a lot of ways I can see similarities between how ZSA and ZSN are tuned. Their seems to be a definite progression here.

Anyways just posting thoughts that nobody asked for. Would like to get more involved in learning how to write down and convey my thoughts with more detail in regards to headfi. So bear with me. :)
 
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PSA:

I’m seeing some reports on Aliexpress that some of the new KZ 8-core dual-color cables are wired out of phase.

So as usual, always check your cables and IEMs for phase issues as soon as you receive them.
Dual color meaning the Copper/Silver mix cables?

How do we tell if it's out of phase? I'm not even sure what that means...
 
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mbwilson111

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Slater

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Dual color meaning the Copper/Silver mix cables?

How do we tell if it's out of phase? I'm not even sure what that means...
Yes, the newest copper/silver 8-braided cables. The ones that look similar to the new TRN cables (although they are different from one another).

C97BF280-38E7-4A1E-A855-F3EB3C0BBD4F.jpeg B0A9879C-2194-42F0-91B7-5AF13F858C2B.jpeg

Out of phase means 1 driver’s + and - is wired opposite the other driver. So the drivers are basically moving in opposite phase to one another. Like if you had a 4WD car, but the front wheels were going forward and the rear wheels were going reverse. It wouldn’t drive properly.

Also, I’m not saying they’re bad. Being wired out of phase is a QC thing, and can (and does) happen to all manufacturers from time to time. The key is testing all cables/headphones ASAP so you can get a refund/exchange right away.

You should also always test that the channels are correct (and not switched).

There’s a few ways to test it:

1. There’s tests on audiocheck.net

https://www.audiocheck.net/audiotests_stereo.php
https://www.audiocheck.net/audiotests_polaritycheck.php

2. This is a great test:


3. I created my own MP3 file that can be loaded onto any phone of DAP. Like the video I linked in #2, it tests the channels AND phase in one swoop. I also made matching cover art, which visually follows along with the music for easy identification as to what it’s testing. I don’t have anywhere to post it, but anyone interested can PM me and I’ll send it to you.

When it’s out of phase, it sounds like the music is “outside” of your head, like there’s a speaker on each side of your ear, about 10 feet away. It just doesn’t sound right. When it’s in phase, music sounds like it’s “in” your head, or like there’s a speaker on each side of your ear about 1” away. You’ll know the difference when you hear it.
 
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Enough about KZ cables and back to what's really important...

upload_2018-11-28_19-21-23.jpeg
 
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Of course, there's a statistically most popular signature and it's not at all strange that graphs look alike, especially ones of the same manufacturer's gear. But I still wanted to specifically argue that ZSN, ES4 and ZS10 have the same 10mm DD tuned the same. That's how identical parts of the graphs I pointed out are, not to mention that that's the hypothesis that can raise more hell and discrepancies and polarization and stuff, which is always fun.
Well according to KZ, the ZS10 is a in house developed driver.

ZS10.jpg

The KZ ES4 has a graphene film.

es4.jpg

And the ZSN has a titanium film.
zsn.jpg

Sound wise. ZS10 has a some what soft bass that extends down pretty good, but lacks impact. Its also a bit loose and bleeds a bit. Good for almost anything.

ES4 is big and boomy. Slow and lumbering. Good slam and good impact. Bass quality not great, but who needs great for bass heavy genres? Really fun for Reggae Dancehall, Trap, Dubstep, ect. Overall Signature to me is a warm and smooth L shape.

ZSN digs deep and is tight and fast. Good response and bass details are awesome. Good impact and decent slam. Almost no bleed. Very addictive. I would describe this sound sig as a slightly warm above neutral W shape due to its elevated bass, forward mids and extended bright treble. I know the graph doesn't show that, but that's how I hear it. Hehe.
 
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Just got my ZSN's in. The are excellent powered off of my S8+. They even stand up to the Sennheiser H58x in some respects. The only obvious differences are the more closed in presentation, less airy, and less crisp. But, I enjoy these a bit more when I need some warmth and bass for genres such as Rap and Jazz.
 
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Well according to KZ, the ZS10 is a in house developed driver.

The KZ ES4 has a graphene film.

And the ZSN has a titanium film.


Sound wise. ZS10 has a some what soft bass that extends down pretty good, but lacks impact. Its also a bit loose and bleeds a bit. Good for almost anything.

ES4 is big and boomy. Slow and lumbering. Good slam and good impact. Bass quality not great, but who needs great for bass heavy genres? Really fun for Reggae Dancehall, Trap, Dubstep, ect.

ZSN digs deep and is tight and fast. Good response and bass details are awesome. Good impact and decent slam. Almost no bleed. Very addictive.
While diaphragm material isn’t the only thing that determines a driver’s sound, I do prefer the speed and snappiness of titanium coated drivers. I can usually tell a positive difference on headphones and IEMs with titanium drivers. It provides a good balance of low weight and stiffness, that not many other materials have been able to match.

I have a chart somewhere that shows the different coatings as they pertain to driver diaphragms. I’ll post it if I find it.

DLC (diamond like coating) is supposed to be the holy grail titanium-killer for driver diaphragm coatings. I don’t have any DLC drivers yet, but I am looking forward to it when they become more common.
 
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What in-ears or headphones do you enjoy most? What sound signature are you specifically
after?
I am a bass-head. To say "I don't like sibilants" means to say nothing.
 
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So, ZSN benefits from amping - "wakes up" the dynamic driver, balances out BA or dynamic upper mids/lower highs?
Yes, the ZSN does seem to benefit from amping. That's what I observed yesterday. I'm testing further.

Previously the ZSN was connected directly to the Cayin N3 as I thought the Cayin is more than enough. And the N3's warm character nicely pairs with the ZSN with wide-bore silicone eartips. I did notice that I had to up the volume level compared to say, the ED16.

Vocal sibilance is an unpleasant tonal harshness that occurs with consonant syllables (like S, T, and Z), caused by disproportionate audio dynamics in upper midrange frequencies. An inherent characteristic of human speech, it can be found in recordings despite studio engineers' best efforts in suppressing it.

It was surprising I no longer perceived it from Rebecca Pidgeon's voice when I added the Topping NX4 to the chain, half-expecting the sibilance to be reproduced even more. As an amplifier the NX4 is neutral and does not color the sound. It also has low output impedance, low distortion, very low noise and lots of dynamic headroom. Its numbers on these are markedly better than the Cayin's, a DAP. Perhaps that's why Spanish Harlem sounds so good, fuller with more body through the Topping. Spanish Harlem does sound glorious using the same DAP-Amp combo with the HiFiMAN HE-400i (actually my husband's but then anything he has is mine to use so...) so I'm quite familiar with this track's sonic qualities—the bass, the shaker, that voice.

The ZSN may have something to do with it, too.

On the other hand, it may just be expectation bias—my brain convincing me the ZSN will indeed sound better with a good amp. :wink:
 

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