Thank you Linsoul Audio for letting us give our honest take towards the KZ ZS10 Pro. Given that the review unit is from Linsoul audio and is free of charge, it doesn’t affect the honesty and integrity of this review.
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Direct store: https://www.linsoul.com
Knowledge Zenith which is more infamous as “KZ” has been the king of sub 1000 php ($20) IEMs in the Philippines for at least 3 years. It is a china based company that produces Single dynamic drivers IEM up to 8 Balanced Armature drivers (8 BAs). They are famous not because of its phenomenal sound quality but for being bang for the buck. As we surf the internet, KZ doesn’t have their own website and rely towards online shops such as aliexpress and gearbest.
The KZ ZS10 Pro
The KZ ZS10 Pro looks like the ZSN Pro, it has a metal face plate and under that is a plastic that dictates the color option of the product, in my case I got the purple one, even the pattern of the plate that resembles a zigzag looks pretty much the same. It has 5 drivers per side, 4 BAs and 1 DD, the packaging and inclusions looks like the CCA which is understandable. The shell feels like rigid enough and same goes to the 2 pin connection, I’m a bit disappointed that they are still using such connection that the recession is on the male 2 pin, it would be really great if they adapt the connection of BQEYZ where the female socket is the one that’s recessed. Build quality is average for me, it is behind the Tin Audio T3 and BQEYZ BQ3 but is definitely a step up from E1000.
- Impedance: 24 Ohms
- Driver Configuration: 4 BA + 1 DD
- Cable Length: 1.2 m
- Connection Type: 0.75 mm 2pin and 3.5 mm
- Sensitivity: 111 dB
- Frequency Response Range: 7Hz-40000Hz
Of course, like what I’ve said it has the same white box as with the KZ shares the same box and packaging. The photo of the ZS10 Pro is printed above it. Underneath is a transparent plastic teasing you to open it and use it ASAP. You’ll get 3 pairs of silicone tips, a copper cable and some paperworks, I’m quite disappointed because there’s still no carrying pouch or case like the BQ3 but that’s fine, I’m not expecting it from KZ or CCA.
Fit and Comfort
Fit and Comfort is the same with the CCA C10 but it’s a bit edgier and with small ear tips it is a bit painful when used for a long period, the C10 and ZS10 Pro almost have the same mold thus giving the user good sound seal. The sound doesn’t bleed outside and the outside noise doesn’t barge in while you are listening unless you are in a very crowded and chaotic place. Using Final audio eartips, I was able to get a nice fit, it feels more comfortable than BQ3. It feels lighter too as compared to T3 and BQ3, but a bit heavier making it a good choice for long commuting.
I love IEMs and earbuds with mid-centric to flat sound signature as I really love listening to vocals rather than instruments. My genre ranges from heavy rock, alternative rock, pop rock, acoustic, pop, jazz and folk. Majority of my test tracks are in 16 bit – 44 khz and 24 bit – 48 khz FLAC file and here is the list of my common test tracks.
- Reese Lansangan – For the Fickle (background, female vocals and upper mids)
- Foo Fighters – Bridge Burning (Imaging, Layering, Coherence, Sub bass and Mid bass, Mids, Treble)
- Jensen and the Flips – Come Closer (Mid Bass, Mids)
- Ed Sheeran – Dive (Mid bass, Lower Mids)
- Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why (Upper Mids and Instruments)
- Paramore – Hard Times (Imaging, Layering, Coherence, Sub bass and Mid bass, Mids, Treble)
- Utada Hikaru ft. Skrillex – Face My Fears (Imaging Layering, Bass, Mids, Treble, Coherence, Quickness)
- Passenger – Coins in a Fountain (Mid bass, Layering, Imaging, Instruments, Lower mids, Treble)
- Tori Kelly – Hollow (Background, Upper mids)
- Ariana Grande – Raindrops (Background, Upper mids)
Starting with the sub basa depth, it is moderate it doesnt reach that deep I think the roll off starts at 70 Hz, texture is very audible it doesn’t sound smooth despite having mediocre depth. Quantity is moderate and as I said, it has excellent quality which I prefer more, sub bass greatly affect the overall signature of an IEM, even if it has moderate mid bass, if it has forward sub bass, it will sound bassy and warm. Mid bass is kinda neutral, compared to BQ3, T3 and C10 the bass of ZS10 Pro is much more gentle, tight and fast. It is rounded and quite resolving, it has moderate punch and impact, with bass heavy songs it is present but never prominent. The bass department is very good, it isn’t a bass canon but the texture is awesome!
Lower mid range is a bit recessed compared to the upper mid range and bass. It’s few steps behind the neutral positioning, male artists like Dave Grohl sounds a bit far but it’s not cupped, it’s clear and quite transparent, there’s a tinge of warmth just to give it enough body, therefore it doesn’t sound thin nor dry. Going with my favorite part, the upper midrange is neutral to slightly forward which I really liked, it sounds very clear and transparent, Sara Bareilles sounded very calming and sweet. Texture of the midrange is very good, it is very resolving and it isn’t sibilant at all. My only gripe here is that the tonality and timbre is still not that natural, though it improved massively compared to the KZ ZS4 but still I’m still hopeful hearing a natural sounding pair from KZ.
The treble of ZS10 Pro is sparkly but not too much, It isn’t forward, I’d even say that it shares the same positioning as the bass. Treble is quite airy and doesn’t sound aggressive at all. It has decent extension, it doesn’t have very good extension but at least it doesn’t sound rolled off. Decay and attack speed is kinda good too though it is a bit splashy, it lacks control especially when subjected to complex tracks like Asphyxia resulting to slight congestion. Resolution is good but I think that the bass ane midrange are more resolving and packs more texture than the treble. There’s almost no noticable dips which is very good, I really liked the tuning here because it is neither too smooth no too aggressive.
Sound Stage and Resolution
The sound stage is commendable eveything is above average, it has good width, depth and height it expands very well with every tracks that I play. It’s not as wide as HPs or earbuds but for an IEM that has the best seal amongst the three, this is very good. Separation, imaging and layering are more than what I expected, I never heard bass bleeding to lower midrange nor upper midrange to treble. Resolution, again is above my expectation KZ has been releasing multiple driver IEMs so I didn’t thought that they’ll make it right, this time I can confidently say that the ZS10 Pro packs a lot of details for the asking price.
Sound signature and Synergy
The sound signature of the ZS10 Pro ranges from U shaped to neutral, there’s a very slight recession on the lower midrange but was immediately eased by the upper mid range. It has a transparent overall presentation rather than being velvety smooth, it packs a lot of details too. With this kind of signature I think pairing it with neutral source would give justice to this pair, I mean the U-ness is very subtle and using a neutral source is the best gamble or else you have to find a midcentric DAP which is kind of hard thing to do.
Shanling M3s ranges from warm to neutral with fantastic mids that has good balance between lushness and transparency. The whole review was written using the Shanling M3s as a source. The bass is placed neutrally, has a very good resolution, tight and punchy presentation and has nice decay speed. Midrange is kinda mixed but the upper midrange actually dominated the lack of forwardness of the lower midrange, if you love jazz with female artist then this pair is very good. Treble is not that controlled, it can be easily fixed with a balanced cable, it has moderate sparkle and smoothness, it isn’t aggressive and it has above decent speed and extension.
Smartphone (Huawei Mate 10)
The Huawei Mate 10 is kinda neutral to bright for my ears. As expected, the dynamics, resolution and sound stage took a reduction compared to M3s. The bass and midrange became slightly thinner. Treble seems to be less smooth and a bit brighter. Lower mids still sounded recessed and the transparency of midrange almost remained the same. Of course details are reduced so the bass and midrange sounded a bit smoother.
The ZS10 Pro sounds cleaner but a but more fatiguing. The bass seems to be equally good, the C10 has more edge in terms of weight and depth while the ZS10 Pro has more texture and is quicker. The midrange goes to ZS10 Pro with better transparency and clarity, the C10 sounds warmer and fuller but it has more natural timbre than the ZS10 Pro. Treble goes to ZS10 for me, it is more detailed and refined, it also extends better. On the other hand the C10 never showed harshness, it is quite airy too so it’s just a matter of preference. Separation and details goes to ZS10 PRO while the Sound stage goes to the C10.
Tin Audio T3
The T3 sounds slightly warmer than the ZS10 Pro, they almost have the same depth and quantity while the texture is slightly better on the ZS10 Pro. Mid bass is slightly heavier than the ZS10 Pro but the resolution is almost equal so it’s a tie. Lower midrange goes to the T3, it is neutral to forward with good transparency and texture, on the other hand they almost have the same positioning and transparency of upper midrange but T3 sounded sibilant with some of my tracks so I’m giving the midrange department to ZS10 Pro. The T3 gives off more air on the treble region, it is more controlled too, on the other hand I hear more sparkle with ZS10 Pro, nonetheless I’m giving the win to T3 because treble control is very important. I can say that they almost have the same Sound stage, both extends well and has very good imaging and layering. The KZ ZS10 Pro is slightly more resolving than the T3 but the T3 has better timbre than the ZS10 Pro.
Bass easily goes to the BQEYZ BQ3, it sounds full, controlled, punchy and quick it is a bit forward but that’s fine because it has good texture and it doesn’t overshadow the midrange. On the other hand, I liked the resolution of KZ ZS10 Pro better but still, I prefer the coherence of BQ3. Midrange goes to ZS10 Pro, it is more transparent and less thick than the BQ3, the BQ3 sounds smoother and more natural in comparison but I’m choosing the better techincal performer which is the ZS10 Pro. Treble as I said, sounds smooth and recessed with the BQ3 it is controlled but it lacks sparkle and extension, on the other hand the ZS10 Pro sounds crisp but sometimes it is not well controlled, but it is too detailed not to win so ZS10 Pro won the treble department. Sound stage is slightly better with the BQ3, it sounds deeper and more open, it is very coherent too especially when I’m using an upgrade cable. Resolution goes to the ZS10 Pro because the BQ3 is tuned to sound smooth.
With the Satin Audio Kraken and Final Audio eartips, the bass depth became deeper and has more texture in it. Lower midrange became slightly forward and lastly the treble became a bit brighter and has better control. Timbre became slightly more life-like.
KZ was my gateway to this hobby, I was very amazed with how the KZ ZST sounded 3 years ago. But as they release new unit monthly I was disappointed because they are literally applying “trial and error” type of tuning. With the KZ ZS10 Pro it feels like it is in a different league with their previous releases like the AS06 that doesn’t have anything special with them. The KZ ZS10 Pro boasts a very detailed presentation with good transparency and more than decent sound stage. My only gripe is the timbre, it doesn’t sound as natural as my other gears but that’s not a big deal because it isn’t severe like the KZ ZST, they improved and if they follow this path of tuning they might create a natural sounding product soon. Will I buy the ZS10 Pro? Hell yes, it is on par with my favorite IEMs like the BQ3 and T3 and it actually beat the two in terms of resolution.