KZ ZS5 – Review

KZ ZS5


KZ ZS5

| Double Balanced Armature | 10mm Driver | 6.4mm Driver |



ūüé߬†We are reviewing the KZ ZS5, the latest and top of the line earphone from Knowledge Zenith. The KZ ZS5 is a pretty ambitious earphone with a quad driver configuration with double balanced armatures + double dynamic drivers and detachable cables, all purchasable at an ultra competitive price.

KZ has built up a respectable reputation by constantly developing highly featured and well designed products with extremely budget friendly selling prices. Some of the iconic earphones from KZ are the KZ ATE (which it could be said that is the earphone that raised KZ to their fame), the KZ ZS1 and KZ ZS2 (with their 2 dynamic driver configuration at KZ’s prices), the KZ EDR2 (the most sold earphone in Aliexpress), the KZ ED9 (with replaceable sound tuning nozzles), the KZ ZS3 (a detachable cables and custom design IEM), the¬†KZ ZST and KZ ZST PRO / KZ ZST COLORFUL (the first hybrid earphone from KZ that hit hard the market with gorgeous looks and insanely cheap price for an hybrid earphone)

… the KZ ZS5 is an hybrid earphone with detachable cables that hold inside 4 drivers per earpiece…

As we have mentioned before, the KZ ZS5 is an hybrid earphone with detachable cables that hold inside 4 drivers per earpiece; this quad driver earphone has: 2 balanced armatures which will be taking care of reproducing medium high to high frequencies and 2 dynamic drivers for the lower section of the audio frequencies. The two dynamic drivers of the KZ ZS5 have diverse sizes, the smaller is 6.4 mm and the larger one is 10 mm in diameter. Nowadays getting a big brand quad driver earphone with 2 balanced armatures and 2 dynamic drivers (for example the 1MORE Quad Driver In-Ear Headphones) would cost you a big chunk of extra money over the ZS5 but KZ was able to create this extremely premium featured earphone at a super budget price, setting the base price for a quad driver hybrid earphone.

… KZ was able to create this extremely premium featured earphone at a super budget price…

The balanced armature is a component that is usually better tuned and designed to reproduce higher audio frequencies while dynamic drivers (even more if they have fairly large sizes) have a construction that ease the physics for better reproducing lower frequencies, like bass and sub-bass. Hybrid earphones, in theory, should be able to provide a higher level of audio quality due to the fact that they have multiple specially designed components that specifically take care of some assigned audio frequencies.

The KZ ZS5 have nice looking housing that despite their substantial size they do not feel bulky or heavy, the earpieces are made of plastic which makes them lightweight but still sturdy. The plastics material is not (or at least does not feels like) the same of the KZ ZST, KZ ED12, KZ ZS3, KZ ZST PRO but conserves a good quality construction feel.

The KZ ZS5 is part of the newest generation of KZ earphones with custom like designs, detachable cables and around and above the ears cable fitting like the KZ ZS3, KZ ZST, KZ ED12 and the KZ ZST PRO / KZ ZST COLORFUL. The KZ ZS5 has a detachable cable like the aforementioned and shares the same type of bi-pin connection, the cable is dark blueish/grayish like the cable of the KZ ZS3 and not the copperish styled that can be found on the KZ ZST, KZ ZST PRO and KZ ED12. The end section of the cable near the bi-pin connection has a memory cable part that allows it to be molded to the shape of each ear and adds to the secure fit. We will talk more about the cables and their inter-compatibility among these models later on this review.

Right now there are some limited timed deals available for the KZ ZS6 and the KZ ZS5, you can get the deals by clicking the green button 

KZ ZS6 Flash Deal, Limited Time Deal

KZ ZS6 Flash Deal, Limited Time Deal

KZ ZS5 Flash Deal, Limited Time Deal

KZ ZS5 Flash Deal, Limited Time Deal

MORE: KZ Earphones Reviews

KZ ZS5
KZ ZS5

Cables are not the only thing that differentiates these models, looking at the KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST vs KZ ZS3 vs KZ ED12 vs KZ ZST PRO / KZ ZST COLORFUL; the KZ ZS5 is an hybrid earphone like the KZ ZST and KZ ZST PRO COLORFUL but instead of having 1 balanced armature and 1 dynamic driver it has 2 of each. On the other hand, the KZ ZS3 and KZ ED12 are single dynamic driver earphones.

KZ has made a controversial decision with the KZ ZS5 that is worthy informing so that you do not receive something unexpected. KZ has done 2 versions that differ in packaging and accessories provided, one is the more premium packaging with a a big magnetic closure box, the detachable cables and 6 pairs of eartips and the other is a simpler packaging version with a small box, 3 eartips and the detachable cables. The simpler packaging version usually is the one shipped to overseas buyers while the fuller one is intended for local buyers, the motivation behind this is supposed to be the optimization of overseas shipping logistics and possible custom problems avoidance with some international buyers.

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: KZ ZS6 vs KZ ZS5 Comparison

There is also an added variation, KZ initially used to ship a 3-button detachable cable with volume controls and then started shipping a 1-button detachable cable (like the one provided with the KZ ZS3). As you can see on the photos above our KZ ZS5 is one of the first units which were acquired during pre-sales so it was shipped with the 3-button control, but be aware that you will most probably get the 1-button control cable; if you have any doubts contact the seller from which you are buying them and ask him/her/them to confirm which cable they will be sending you.

You can buy the KZ ZS5 in grey color or blue…

When buying the KZ ZS5 them you will also have the option to choose a detachable cable with or without an inline control and microphone (if you get the 3-button control cable, the control is made of metal). Choosing the cable without the microphone an inline microphone usually saves you a bit of money.

You can buy the KZ ZS5 in:

FIND ALL: Earphones Scores Compared

MORE: KZ ZST PRO – KZ ZST COLORFUL Review

MORE: KZ ZST Review

MORE: KZ ZS3 Review


KZ ZS5 - Review

Tests & Scores

W

Weight

 

MORE: In-Ear Headphones Weight Comparison

SEE ALSO: Earphones Size Comparison


 

KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST vs KZ ZST PRO - KZ ZST COLORFUL
KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST vs KZ ZST PRO – KZ ZST COLORFUL

 

KZ ZS5
KZ ZS5

A

Accessories & Packaging

As we recently commented, there are 2 versions (lets call them “Locals” version and “Overseas” version) sold with different packaging and accessories. The “Overseas” KZ ZS5 version comes in the same style of package that you get with the¬†KZ ZST PRO,¬†KZ ED12, KZ ZST and KZ ATR; a small box with 3 pairs of eartips and a detachable bi-pin cable. The “Locals” KZ ZS5 version comes in a large premium looking box with 6 pair of eartips and the detachable cable. As there are 2 kinds of packaging/accessories versions we will not be weighting this score on the final average score.

7.5/10


B

Bass & Sub Bass

Before starting to talk about bass, sub-bass or any other audio frequency performance of the KZ ZS5 we have to highlight that the output volume of the KZ ZS5 was noticeably lower than the KZ ZST, KZ ZST PRO COLORFUL, KZ ED12 and the KZ ZS3. To level up the output volume and standardize the review results, we had to set the volume 30% higher for the KZ ZS5. The KZ ZS5 have nice bass with strong punch and a good amount of depth; bass is powerful and energetic with the ability to cover any bass requirement without any problem. The KZ ZS5 can provide fun listening sessions even with more bass demanding music genres.

The KZ ZS5 have nice bass with strong punch and a good amount of depth; bass is powerful and energetic…

Using an EQ, the KZ ZS5 responded with a noticeable increment of mid-bass punch and an insane extra sub-bass depth. Making a comparison of the KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST, both¬†have a similar bass response style, more or less inline regarding their sub-bass depth and mid-bass punch. Despite their similar response the KZ ZST’s bass is more basshead orientated (because of their basshead amplification potential) and presents a strong mid-bass bleed onto mid frequencies.

… the KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST, both¬†have a similar bass response style…

With a comparsion of the KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST PRO COLORFUL, the KZ ZST PRO / KZ ZST COLORFUL have less deep sub-bass and a bit lighter mid-bass punch. If you are interested in a direct comparison of the KZ ZST vs KZ ZST PRO / KZ ZST COLORFUL take a look at our KZ ZST PRO COLORFUL Review where we talk about it.

MORE: KZ ZST Review

MORE: KZ ZST PRO / KZ ZST COLORFUL Review

SEE ALSO: KZ ZS6 vs KZ ZS5 Comparison

We put the KZ ZS5 through our extreme bass tests with a custom basshead EQ and highly amplifying with a Fiio E12 portable amplifier set to high gain and with it’s bass boost turned on. The KZ ZS5 were able to handle 40% of the Fiio’s maximum power with a crazy amount of punch and depth added. Anything above the 40% amplification resulted in highly distorted vocals and mids, also bass overpowered mids and highs; this is something that we have heard in the past during our review and extreme bass tests of the Pioneer SE-CX9. In spite of presenting a big makeover, the KZ ZS5’s increment of their punch and depth, , was unable to provide basshead impact and rumble, they were not far below the KZ ATE baseline basshead level but they still could not enter basshead territory. If you are looking for true basshead experiences we recommend you looking for the Sony MDR-EX800st, Pioneer SE-CX8, Plextone X41M or the Xiaomi Mi In-Ear Headphones Pro or look for others at our Top Basshead Earphones Chart.

8.5/10

MORE: Earphones Amplification Power Comparison

MORE: Best Basshead Earphones

SEE ALSO: Best Fun Sounding Earphones Chart


KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST PRO - KZ ZST COLORFUL
KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST PRO – KZ ZST COLORFUL

M

Mids & Vocals

Mids of the KZ ZS5 are somewhat rolled off on the lower section with lower mids and lower vocals sounding a bit distant and lacking some extra kick to their energy. Higher mids are less recessed but still rolled off too, regarding harshness there is none. Despite the aforementioned, they do not sound bad or muddy but considering all the specialty drivers that they have they do not provide the clearest mids you can find around. Overall, the mids of the KZ ZS5 are warm and smooth without any type of tinny, boxy or thin vocals and will probably suffice normal listeners.

Overall, the mids of the KZ ZS5 are warm and smooth without any type of tinny, boxy or thin vocals and will probably suffice normal listeners.

Applying an EQ, lower mids and lower vocals clear up significantly and remove a big part of their recession with much lively sounding vocals. Higher mids, on the other hand, become harsh with high notes. Comparing the mids of the KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST COLORFUL, the KZ ZST COLORFUL lower vocals are less rolled off with more vivid sound and less distant feeling. Doing a comparison of the KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST, the KZ ZST exhibit way stronger bass bleed and a more forward higher mids sound.

7.5/10

 


H

Highs & Treble

Highs coming from the balanced armature of the KZ ZS5 have a good amount of brightness and detail with probably more detail than brightness. With very high pitch notes like a very strong note coming from a piccolo they can become piercing, sibilance is present too but not highly disturbing. Once again the KZ ZS5 do not earn the crown on this audio frequencies but still they are not bad by any means and will make happy most normal listeners. With an EQ, the KZ ZS5’s highs become very sibilant and very piercing while, on the other hand, they are able to provide a lot of added brightness.

KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST, the KZ ZS5 have clearly brighter and more detailed highs.

Looking at the comparison of the highs of the KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST, the KZ ZS5 have clearly brighter and more detailed highs with less piercing personality but more sibilant..

… KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST PRO / KZ ZST COLORFUL, both are able to provide a similar quantity of brightness…

Comparing the KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST PRO / KZ ZST COLORFUL, both are able to provide a similar quantity of brightness but still the KZ ZST PRO COLORFUL sound clearer and more spacious. Regarding piercing highs, the KZ ZS5 are less piercing and sibilance is similar between both models.

7.75/10


KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZS3
KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZS3
KZ ZS5 vs KZ ED12
KZ ZS5 vs KZ ED12
KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST
KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST
KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST PRO COLORFUL
KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST PRO COLORFUL

SL

Sound Leak

The sound that leaks out of the KZ ZS5 is subdued and mediumly hearable by nearby people, expect a performance on par with many average earphones. For normally noisy situations they can be used with no concerns, for library use it is advised to set low volume levels or you will get into trouble. One of the best earphones for library use is the KZ ATE due to their extremely contained sound leaking levels.

7.25/10


SI

Sound Isolation

The KZ ZS5 provide a pretty effective sound isolation without depending on the use of high volume to isolate you from surrounding noises.

8.75/10


C

Comfort

The KZ ZS5 fit easily and secure enough thanks to their housing’s form factor and cable wearing style. The memory cable section improves their fitting and custom positioning. It it fair to say that the housings are large but lightweight and can provide a very comfortable use if set correctly.

9/10


EQ

Response to Equalization

The KZ ZS5 responded fairly well to the custom EQs that we applied, some clear improvements were noticed but also some undesired issues were introduced. Bass and sub-bass frequencies had the best response with a strong increase of mid-bass and outstanding empowering of their sub-bass depth. Mid frequencies removed the lower mids and lower vocals recession while higher mids started to show some harshness at times. High audio frequencies added significant brightness but piercing and sibilant highs became very strong.

7.75/10

MORE:¬†Editor’s Picks Earphones Chart

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BUY IT AT: 

Right now there are some limited timed deals available for the KZ ZS6 and the KZ ZS5, you can get the deals by clicking the green button 

KZ ZS6 Flash Deal, Limited Time Deal

KZ ZS6 Flash Deal, Limited Time Deal

 

KZ ZS5 , Flash Deal Limited Time Deal

KZ ZS5 , Flash Deal Limited Time Deal



CC

Cables Compatibility

If you already know our reviews you might wonder what this section is about as this is the first time that we are talking about Cables Compatibility. What does this mean? Well, all the latest generation of KZ’s Earphones are coming equipped with a detachable cable with a bi-pin connector that seems to share the same exact connector on every model. To this day the KZ earphones that have this connection are the: KZ ZS5, KZ ZST, KZ ED12, KZ ZS3, KZ ZST PRO / KZ ZST COLORFUL.

So, maybe you already own more than one of the KZ earphones that have these detachable cables, are wondering if you can switch cables between them and will still fit, work and/or provide any clearly perceivable sound differences. Here is where we step up; being that we own all of them, we have lively tested it attaching and detaching each cable, seeing if they were able to fit correctly and sought for any substantial alteration in sound. Consequently, we have built up the following chart to let you easily check the results.

KZ Cable Compatibility: KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST PRO vs KZ ZST vs KZ ED12 vs KZ ZS3
KZ Cable Compatibility: KZ ZS5 vs KZ ZST PRO vs KZ ZST vs KZ ED12 vs KZ ZS3

Note: The KZ ZS5 cable has a broader plastic end section that does not allow them to fit as deep and tight on the KZ ZST, KZ ZST PRO, KZ ZS3 and KZ ED12 connection but it is usable and tight enough.

MORE: KZ ZS6 vs KZ ZS5 Comparison


Scores Scores

KZ ZS5 Scores

FIND ALL OUR: Earphones Reviews / In-Ear Headphones Reviews

MORE: Best Earphones Charts


Buy it at:

Right now there are some limited timed deals available for the KZ ZS6 and the KZ ZS5, you can get the deals by clicking the green button 

KZ ZS6 Flash Deal, Limited Time Deal

KZ ZS6 Flash Deal, Limited Time Deal

 

KZ ZS5 Flash Deal, Limited Time Deal

KZ ZS5 Flash Deal, Limited Time Deal

MORE: Gearbest Coupons – Discounts – Deals – Promo Codes – Sales Deals


Frequency Response (raw)

KZ ZS5 Frequency Response

KZ ZS5 - Frequency Response
KZ ZS5 – Frequency Response

Specifications

KZ ZS5 Technical Specifications

Type Hybrid / 2 Balanced Armature + 2 Dynamic Driver
Driver Unit 2x BA + 10 mm DD + 6.4 mm DD
Sensitivity 106dB/mW
Power Capacity Unknown
Impedance 16 ohms
Frequency Response 20-20,000Hz
Diaphragm Unknown
Magnet Unknown
Cord Detachable with Bi-Pin connector
Cord Length 1.2m
Plug L shaped stereo mini plug
Weight (Without Cord) Approx. 40g
Supplied Accessories Overseas version: 3x Earphone tips. Local version: 6x Earphones tips

MORE: Hybrid Earphones Reviews

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FAQ

Photos

KZ ZS5 Photos

DISCLAIMER
We highly discourage anyone from trying to apply our testings to your own earphones, the risk of damaging or permanently breaking your iems is absolutely probable to happen. With our standardized equalization and amplification tests we push the limits of the earphones to the extreme. If anyway you decide to do so, we cannot be held responsible of the damage done to your equipment. Do it at your own risk.

KZ ZS5

KZ ZS5
8.4

SCORE

8.4 /10


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