| 4x Balanced Armatures | 10 mm Dynamic Driver |
🎧 We are reviewing the KZ ZS10, the most insane budget headphone that KZ has ever created. With their five hybrid drivers, the KZ ZS10 sets a new unimaginable world for budget audiophiles and audio enthusiasts that dreamt of such a premium setup at an absurdly low price.
The KZ ZS10 features 5 drivers that consist of 4 balanced armatures and 1 dynamic driver; to be more precise 2x 50060 balanced armatures, 2x 30095 balanced armatures and a 10 mm dynamic driver. The penta-driver hybrid configuration of the KZ ZS10 is designed to grant a tri-frequency separation, dividing the sound reproduction in 3 main ranges (lows, mids and highs) and filtering each range to a specific driver – the 3-way sound separation is done with an internal crossover. By doing this, Knowledge Zenith concedes the drivers of the KZ ZS10 to be specially designed and tuned for an exact audio range which should permit them to perform more efficiently and answer back with a higher level of sound quality for hi-fi music reproduction.
If you have read our announcement of the KZ ZSR you must have found out that KZ had been teasing a 10-driver hybrid earphone for several months, but most rumors indicated that the KZ ZSR was supposed to be that model; instead, the KZ ZSR resulted to be a triple-driver earphone. Nonetheless, Knowledge Zenith kept their promise by releasing the KZ ZS10 with 10 drivers (five per side).
The KZ ZS10 durability is solid with housings that are constructed in the same excellent quality of the KZ ZSR, KZ ES3 and KZ ED12 and share a similar form-factor with the KZ ZST and KZ ZST PRO but with a bigger footprint. The housings are transparent, which lets you see their inner components and the cables connections make use of detachable cables with a bi-pin connector (specifically the 0.75 mm angled version of KZ cables). KZ took a different approach with the inner components design and placement, the four balanced armatures inside the KZ ZS10 are fitted in the main housing’s compartment and not placed in the nozzles section like with the KZ ZS6, KZ ZS5, KZ ES3 and KZ ZST, also the inner housing’s face has 3 vent holes.
The cables included with the KZ ZS10 are newly designed, with a chain-like braided arrangement and bronze-colored, they have a sort of KZ Silver-Plated Cable or KZ Gold-Plated Cable style but with a twin double helix – the quality is fantastic as well as the finish and aesthetics; these are the first KZ earphones to have this new cable. Other new design details include the cable bifurcation section, which is now thicker and larger but made of the material as the KZ ZS6; the 3.5 mm plug is L-shaped and, also, larger and thicker than on previous models.
Knowledge Zenith has been raising the bar of advanced budget in-ear headphones for a couple of years already and since 2016 they decided to enter the territory of premium hybrid earphones with the KZ ZST. Since the KZ ZST, Knowledge Zenith continued launching a huge number of outstanding headphones – within their latest generation models available to this date you can find the:
- KZ ED15 – Latest hybrid super budget model released at the same time of the KZ ZS10
- KZ ZSR – Triple hybrid driver
- KZ ZS6 – Quad-driver hybrid metal headphone
- KZ ES3 – Dual hybrid driver
- KZ ZSE – Dual dynamic driver
- KZ ZS5 – Quad-driver plastic headphone
- KZ ZS3 – Single dynamic driver
- KZ ZST PRO – Dual hybrid driver
- KZ ZST – First dual hybrid driver from KZ
The complex 5-drivers system of the KZ ZS10 is something that, until now, had been exclusive to high-end premium in-ear monitor with prices that can easily reach $1000 and still there are not many models with this quantity of drivers – some in-ear headphones with five drivers are the AKG N5005, Westone UM Pro 50, Westone W50.
Not even 1MORE (one of the first brands to offer budget headphones with 3-drivers and 4-drivers) has yet been capable of extending their line above the quad-drivers configuration (1MORE Quad Driver and previously with the 1MORE Triple Driver) nor the high-end SHURE brand has gone beyond their top of the line SHURE SE846 quad-driver or Audio-Technica with the Audio-Technica ATH-LS400iS. In the Asian affordable world, some in-ear monitors that offer 5 drivers are the: LZ-A5, MaGaosi K5, Rhythmos Super SD7, TONEKING MusicMaker Shockwave III, CTZ 5BA, Yinyoo HQ5 and Yinyoo H5.
Our KZ ZS10 tests and measurements will reveal if this beastly spec-packed earphone is a new gem from the brand or not.
You can buy the KZ ZS10 in:
The KZ ZS10 can be bought with or without an inline microphone and remote; the KZ ZS10 mic/remote is compatible with Android and Apple devices. The price will be marginally lower for the KZ ZS10 mic-less version.
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KZ ZS10 Review
Tests & Scores
KZ ZS10 weight in Ounces and KZ ZS10 weight in grams. The values below show the KZ ZS10 housings weight and KZ ZS10 housings + cable weight.
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Accessories & Packaging
The KZ ZS10 unboxing results in 3 pair of eartips and the newer version of their detachable bi-pin 0.75mm cable. Everything comes inside the classic KZ white rectangular packaging that has been used in the very latest generation of KZ earphones models and which is very similar to Xiaomi headphones packagings.
Bass & Sub Bass
The KZ ZS10 bass is very well resolved with punchy mid-bass but never boomy and sub-bass is profound but that does not get out of control. Their overall bass is greatly balanced with a rich and fun tuning but not an overblown style – still, expect an full-of-energy bass response that is far from conservative or humble.
Applying an EQ, their mid-bass will obtain an “energy bump” and sub-bass will go through an absolute makeover with monumental depth.
Knowledge Zenith has highly refined their sound in every one of their latest models; full and energetic bass is something that they have always nailed. The KZ ZS10 is a superior earphone in this audio range, being able to provide energetic and full-bodied bass without getting unrealistic.
During our extreme bass tests the KZ ZS10 handled up to 40% of a Fiio E12 Mont Blanc maximum power while set to high gain, bass boost on and setting a custom basshead EQ. As a result, the KZ ZS10 became outrageously profound and punchy with even basshead rumble and impact above the Xiaomi Mi Pro HD but behind the Top Ranked Basshead In-Ear Headphones like the: Sony MDR-EX800st, Sony MDR-EX650, Pioneer SE-CX9, Pioneer SE-CX8, KZ ZSR, Senfer 4in1, BlitzWolf BW-ES1, Xiaomi Mi In-Ear Headphone Pro, Elecom EHP-CA3580.
The 9.25/10 score for the bass response of the KZ ZS10 does not represent a basshead-styled lower frequency or a stronger impact than the previous models but for their excellent balance, not invasive and still punchy and deep mid-bass and sub-bass. We are aware that many of our readers like to believe that a higher score in our “Bass & Sub-Bass” category means stronger bass but this is not always the case, as we explain in our Earphones Scores Comparisons Page.
Vent blocking effect: Fully blocking the 3 vent holes of the KZ ZS10 they will transform them into a super energetic and impacting sound with a humongous mid-bass and sub-bass. If you want to spicy up the sound signature of the KZ ZS10, without using an EQ, you can block the vent holes.
If you want the details: by blocking the vent holes, the KZ ZS10 will empower all the lower frequencies up to 300 Hz with, approximately, +3dB at 100 Hz, +3.5dB at 60 Hz, +4dB at 40 Hz, +4.5dB at 30 Hz and +5dB at 20 Hz – head down to our frequency response curve section of the review to see both frequency response graphs (with the vent holes blocked and without blocking them).
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Mids & Vocals
The KZ ZS10 mids are clear and enjoyable, with alive and present vocals that extend well from male up-to female vocals range. Mid-bass does not bleed into lower mids nor onto lower vocals and there are no muffling or muddiness problems. Upper mids are certainly not rolled off, instead they are crisp but take into consideration that if you crank up the volume or depending on the track’s higher mids intensity it will introduce harsh peaks.
Many times when brands try to simulate a pseudo-audiophile sound signature, they just cut-off bass making them sound thin, bass-anemic and also lacking warmth on the mids and vocals frequencies. On the rave of the Beats-hating trends, more demanding listeners have associated that strong bass is “bad sound” and that weak bass, cold and thin mids represent professional-level audio quality; which is a very misinterpreted concept of a monitoring flat sound signature. Flat signature does not equal to thin, cold mids and lacking bass response and seems that KZ has understood this by creating in the KZ ZS10 frequency response a respectable flat response that extends from the lower end range up-to most of their mids (besides higher mids), while not lacking body nor warmth. This flatter lower to middle frequencies may make normal listeners that are used to popular earphones (already boosted and too pre-eqed/pre-tuned earphones) perceive them somewhat recessed, truly they are an amazing gem with a great flat starting point to be fine tuned. To achieve their refined sound quality they might need some user-intervention, therefore, we expect some differing opinions sparking among experienced vs fresh listeners.
With a custom EQ, higher mids can be perfectly smooth out, removing every trace of harshness without becoming rolled-off or loosing too much of their clear sounding style. The peaks of the KZ ZS10 are present in the 2.5 kHz to 3.5 kHz, you can diminish them by dialing down the EQ’s dB in that interval. Lower mids and lower vocals do not need a lot of intervention from an EQ but, if wanted, it can be applied and they will respond very well (be cautious and apply subtle modifications to this lower mids range)
Vent blocking effect: As we just explained in the “Bass & Sub-bass” section, the KZ ZS10 showed a tremendous lower frequencies change by intentionally blocking their vent holes. If, instead, you are unintentionally misplacing the headphones in your ears you could be possibly blocking most of the vent holes with your ear’s surface and this could potentially give a mid-bass bleed boosting or more congested sound.
Highs & Treble
The KZ ZS10 highs are bright and resolve a good amount of detail, you will not have to struggle too much to identify details of cymbals, violin’s and harp’s higher notes or from a piccolo. Piercing peaks can show up but sibilance is not a frequent issue – their peaking range, despite being an usual sibilance & harshness interval, it actually translates over some piercing peaks when extreme notes show in the lower treble range. Overall, their highs provide a satisfactory relation between brightness and a non-too-forward sound.
The same EQ that we just mentioned in the Mids & Vocals section can be applied to scale down any piercing appearance, moreover in the same EQ you can apply quite a lot of increment in the upper treble region and they will shine.
We find important to highlight that the KZ ZS10 have a very much higher volume output than previous KZ earphones, approximately 20% stronger than the KZ ZSR and KZ ZS6 and almost 40% to 50% more than the KZ ZS5.
The sound that leaks out of the KZ ZS10 is substantially under control, you will be able to listen to music at a moderate level and nearby people will not hear too much sound out of them.
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Noise isolation of the KZ ZS10 is noticeable, mostly if you are willing to set a moderate-high volume. At a low volume setting they will not be as efficient, they will provide a considerable amount of sound isolation that will be stronger than many average earphones but will not reach the isolation of headphones like the Xiaomi Mi Noise Cancelling Earphones, AUGLAMOUR RT-1, KZ ZS3, or Jaybird Freedom.
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The comfort and fit of the KZ ZS10 is fantastic, despite having a footprint larger than the KZ ZS6, they offer a similar comfort level to the KZ ZST with their smooth housing’s corners and curvy forms; there are no rough nor pointy edges. The KZ ZS10 can be used for long time without discomfort nor pain.
The superb cables of the KZ ZS10 have a memory cable section near the bi-pin connector that molds to be positioned perfectly behind and around the ears; this will make them extremely secure and snug.
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Response to Equalization
The sound of the KZ ZS10 could be custom tailored thanks to their efficient response to equalization. Sub-bass was able to reach extreme depth, mids totally subdued any harsh peaks and highs removed most of their piercing peaks.
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KZ ZS10 Details and Inner Components
The KZ ZS10 uses a detachable cable with a bi-pin 0.75 mm connector, like all the latest generation of KZ headphones. So far they made 2 variants of this connector, an angled one and a straight one; the KZ ZS10 uses the angled connector (also found in the KZ ZSR, KZ ZST, KZ ES3, KZ ED12, KZ ZST PRO and in the KZ Silver-Plated Cable, KZ Gold-Plated Cable, KZ Bluetooth Cable; the last 3 refer to the angled connector version)
Note: As you can read from the chart above, every KZ cable with a straight connector has a ❌✅ in compatibility, this means that the connector fits and works with the KZ ZS10 but the fit is not deep and tight, therefore we do not recommended it.
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KZ ZS10 Scores
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KZ ZS10 Frequency Response
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KZ ZS10 Technical Specifications
|Driver Unit||4 Balanced Armatures + 10mm dynamic driver|
|Cord||Y-type, round cord, detachable bi-pin|
|Plug||Stereo mini plug|
|Supplied Accessories||3x Earphone tips; detachable bi-pin cable with 0.75 mm connector.|
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KZ ZS10 Photos
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