Another day and it seems another KZ earphone review. This time we have the Newley released ZS10 Pro model that is the latest offering from a Chinese company that consistently puts out great bang for buck IEM’s. The problem is that their lineup is starting to get very crowded and confusing for a lot of people. They seem to be pushing new headphones to ride hype waves and even at the price point of the ZS10 Pro’s they find themselves competing with lots of their models and their sub/sister brands like Triptowan and CCA. Still, I am very rarely let down when I hear a set of Knowledge Zeniths, so I’m interested to get down to this review.
Packaging and Accessories
The packaging remains the same as we find on most of the companies offerings. It's small simple and to the point with clean graphics and everyone tightly packed away on the inside. The earphones are nicely presented, and if keeping the packaging simple reduces the end price, then I am all for it. No complaints here.
The accessories are also pretty standard far for a KZ earphone and to be honest, it is pretty sparse. In the box, the only thing you are going to find is the obligatory useless warranty card, some ear tips and the cable which I will talk about later. There is no carry case included with the ZS10 Pro, and you might want to invest in some better tips like the Spinfits of Final Audio E-Series tips to get the best seal.
Styling and Build quality
The build quality is generally, and that is something I have come to expect from KZ. For the price, they feel very well put together with a plastic body paired up with a lovely metal faceplate. The more I get looking at them I notice that they seem just to be reusing the same design over and over with differing faceplates because this thing is very similar to their AS10, the CCA C16 and C10 and of course the Triptowin's.
It seems like they are just switching out faceplates at this point. I'm not really against it because again having a universal housing doing larger production runs is something that will keep costs down in the long term and as long as that is passed over to the buyer its not case for complaint.
The metal faceplate is more than just aesthetically pleasing it adds a lot of rigidity to the shell, and I suspect that these earphones will stand up well some rough treatment. I wouldn’t go stepping on them, but I think they should hold up to being tossed around in a bag or the occasional drop.
I should also mention that the new faceplate for the ZS10 Pro is the best looking of all of them. What I don’t like and can't understand their insistence on is the use of 2 pin connection plugs and even worse than that a proprietary design with a non-recessed 2-pin connector at that. This makes it a complete pain in the ass to find compatible aftermarket cables because you need that sheath to keep moisture out and prevent corrosion of the terminals.
It's a shame because the cable is very good for such a cheap earphone. It has good tangle resistance, it is supple, has good jack points and construction. KZ claim in their marketing bumf that their proprietary connector has a richer sound. I call BS. Just stick a MMCX connector on this already and make everyone's life a little easier when it comes to aftermarket options.
The choice of metal nozzle tips and grills is another thing that I greatly appreciate and stands up much better than the paper or foam filters we often see in the sub $100 category.
Comfort and Isolation
Having relatively healthy sized ears, I had no problems with getting a good fit. I found them comfortable to wear over long sessions, and the smoothed plastic that comes into contact with my outer ear cased zero irritation. My partner who has smaller ears and one of the girls from the office did however have double getting a good fit due to the size of the housing so I would have to say go for something else if you have small ears.
Isolation wise they were quite good and did a stable job of blocking out most unwanted noise and provided a significant decibel reduction in ambient sound. They are perfect everyday earphone to use when you are out and about, whether traveling or commuting.
The sound is as you would expect from KZ very good for the amount of money you will be paying for them. They are slightly V-Shaped with a boost to the lows a back from center midrange and some smooth but clear highs.
Its a very pleasant listen and one that I think will appeal to a lot of people, but for the money, I still prefer the E3000 by Final Audio (That is sound based only because the build and style of the KZ are way better).
The bass is big and in your face, but it's fast and articulate enough to keep pace with plenty of hectic EDM tracks and even more low focussed Classical tracks. It has some sub-bass rumble but holds back from being out and out bass monsters. It is tight and controlled and doesn’t head into the mids to swamp them. Zero mid-bass bloats or ingress to the lower midrange.
The mids are very inoffensive, smooth, and slightly warm. I prefer a bit more forwardness on them to bring out more detail, but I think if you are just getting into higher-end audio, this is a safe bet due to its inability to upset. Vocals, both male and female, has a good texture to it and it is decent though not spectacular decay and fall away from the stringed sections.
The treble is entirely safe. If you are someone who is averse to sibilance or doesn’t like having their earphones with a sparkly top end, then these are a good option. They are only slightly more prominent than the midrange but roll off far before they get hot.
Soundstage, detail retrieval, and imaging are all just decent. I say just decent like its a bad thing but the truth is that they are way ahead of what you would get at your local Best Buy or Wallmart on a dollar to dollar basis. Really, they are quite impressive, but as I mentioned at the start of this article, there are an awful lot of very good earphones to be had under $100 if you are willing to go the Chi-Fi route (Chinese Hifi). I think that needs to be taken into consideration.
Conclusion - KZ ZS10 Pro Review
The KZ ZS10 Pro is another excellent earphone from KZ, and it continues the companies practice of beating the snot out of tradition brands like Sony and Sennheiser on a pound for pound basis. The only thing is that they are competing against lots of other very good Chinese earphones right now. It's a crowded marketplace and the ZS10 hold their own but know that if the tuning isn’t for you, there are lots of great options out there.