Yes, that's pretty close to how I hear them. My pecking order would be:For me, ZSX has been getting a lot of use in the last three months. It is a very well-tuned in-ear for non-classical genres.
The reason the ZSX gets so much use (by me) is because I prefer its smoothness.
The CKX, like the ZAX in my estimation, has quantifiable improvements/refinement from top to bottom (treble, mids & bass) but, lately, I'm appreciating the less analytical tuning of the ZSX more.
It is worth mentioning that several days ago I was using the ZSX on a Samsung A30s and the midrange and treble had an uncomfortable bite. I immediately disconnected them from the smartphone and plugged them into my DAPs (Plenue 2 then Plenue R). The ZSX was buttery smooth on both DAPs. The "bite" vanished.
Be aware that it was the same exact file (320kbps-mp3) loaded on to both DAPs and the smartphone.
These were the tracks where the "bite" was present.
The bass was on point but the rest was slightly out-of-hand on the smartphone.
If the AST is in fact the BA10 tuning revisited then the AST should be well worth the money, even at its "relatively" high price for KZ.
The best way I can describe the BA10 to someone who has never heard it is as follows:
The very clean and punchy bass is the table on which all of the individual flatware, stemware and china is set. The flatware, stemware and china are the various instruments while the bass with its width and depth carry the weight or form the foundation for the presentation. The BA10 is a bassy in-ear but it is neither congested nor boomy. If the AST presentation resembles the BA10's then we're in for a real treat. Especially since the "s" line balanced armatures are employed. Those particular BAs are an upgrade over KZ's standard BAs. This is my direct observation independent of any claims the manufacturer makes in their promotional materials.
Whether one loved or hated the ASX/ASF you could clearly hear the performance improvement with the "s" line BAs. I was concerned that KZ might abandon using them since the ASX/ASF feedback was so unsettling. I'm glad KZ pushed forward and I'm looking forward to getting a set of silver ASTs. My expectation is that they wlll be a good addition to my collection.
"IF" this is true (that's a big if) then returning the ZAX unopened was the right move for me. I didn't care for the ZSN Pro. The upper frequencies were clean and clear but they just went over the edge for my ears. Within the basic sound signature shared between the ZSN Pro, ZS10 Pro and the ZSX, the ZSN Pro is on the harsher end of the scale while the ZSX is on the smoother end of the scale. The ZS10 Pro lay between the the two. I prefer the ZSX.
3. ZS10 pro
However for me the ZS7 is the winner, pity it's so hard to find. Come on KZ, let's have the ZS7 Pro or X or whatever!