| 8 mm Driver | 6.8 mm Driver |
? The KZ ZSE are a double dynamic driver in-ear headphone from Knowledge Zenith which has been recently launched. The KZ ZSE belong to the newest earphones from KZ, along with the:
- KZ ZS5 (Hybrid 4 driver earphone with 2 dynamic drivers and 2 balanced armatures)
- KZ ES3 (Hybrid earphone with 1 dynamic driver and 1 balanced armature)
- KZ ZST (Hybrid earphone with 1 dynamic driver and 1 balanced armature)
- KZ ZST PRO Colorful (Hybrid earphone with 1 dynamic driver and 1 balanced armature)
- KZ ZS3 (Single dynamic driver earphone)
Knowledge Zenith has also launched the KZ ZS6, their newest and latest model that looks like an updated version of the KZ ZS5, also with a 4 driver hybrid configuration but with metal housings and can already be bought at these links
Ok, enough with the news updates and let’s get back into the KZ ZSE review. The KZ ZSE holds inside their housings an 8mm dynamic driver and a 6.8mm dynamic driver, with this 2 DD configuration the earphones are capable of using each driver to reproduce different audio frequencies. The 6.8mm DD will take care of higher audio frequencies while the larger 8mm driver will handle the lower end range (for example, mid-bass and sub-bass). The housings of the KZ ZSE are mainly made of plastic with the addition of a metal grid that goes along the outer section which adds an aesthetic detail and could suggest an open back design. The construction quality of the KZ ZSE is robust with plastics somewhat similar to the KZ ZST and KZ ZST PRO. The housings are transparent and allow you to easily see the inner guts of the in-ear headphone. The cables are rounded and substantially rubberized like most of KZ Earphones but have a more reddish coloration than the copperish classic KZ cables. There is an inline microphone and 1-button control which allows you to play/pause music, skip songs and answer/reject calls. The KZ ZSE with their 2x dynamic driver configuration, non-detachable cables and design looks to us like a follow up model of the KZ ZS1 and KZ ZS2 line even more than the KZ ZS3 was, as the KZ ZS3 added the feature of detachable cables but abandoned the 2x dynamic drivers and opted for a single dynamic driver configuration. You can buy the KZ ZSE with or without the inline mic/control; the mic-less option will save you up a bit of cash.
MORE: KZ ZS5 Review
SEE ALSO: KZ ZST PRO Review
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KZ ZSE - Review
Tests & ScoresW
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Accessories & Packaging
The KZ ZSE shares the exact same packaging of the latest KZ ZST, KZ ZST PRO, KZ ZS3, KZ ED12, KZ ATR, which is a very small box with a transparent plastic front. Regarding accessories, you will get 3 pairs of eartips.
Bass & Sub Bass
The bass of the KZ ZSE is very punchy and deep right out of the box with fun and rich mid-bass and sub-bass that can cover any type of bass demanding genre without any struggle. It is worthy noting that their mid-bass is boosted and can become strongly boomy and shows a strong mid-bass bleed onto lower mid frequencies and vocals. Using an EQ, mid-bass got strongly enhanced and sub-bass got insanely deep. Putting the KZ ZSE through our standardized extreme bass tests with a Fiio E12 Mont Blanc Amplifier set to high gain and with it’s bass boost turned on (using a custom basshead EQ too), they were able to handle up to 42% of the Fiio’s maximum power. The results of this test was an exponential increase of their punch and depth reaching a strong basshead rumble and impact way above the KZ ATE and almost knocking to the door entrance door of the Top Basshead In-Ear Headphones Chart.
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Mids & Vocals
Mids of the KZ ZSE are very warm and exhibit a strong mid-bass bleed onto lower mids and lower vocals making them somewhat congested and distant. Higher mids are noticeably rolled off and do not show any hint of harshness. Vocals (from lower up to higher frequencies of vocals) might lack some energy for most listeners looking for clear sound. People that prefer mids that are warm, harsh-free and do not care about their less detailed performance could find them fit to their liking. With an EQ, higher mids can reach harsh peaks. Lower mids clear up significantly with a less distant and congested sound and an important reduction of mid-bass bleed while remaining free of tinny or boxy sound; still their lower and middle mids will not be the clearest your money can buy.
Highs & Treble
The highs of the KZ ZSE are recessed, resulting in a dark sounding style and exhibit almost no detail. There are no piercing highs and sibilance is neither a problem with these earphones. Treble sensitive people will like the absence of piercing highs and sibilance of the KZ ZSE. Applying an EQ, there is an important addition of brightness and added detail but still they have an overall dark sound signature. Sibilance arises a bit and may show up with sibilant-prone songs but does not reach an unbearable level. Regarding fatiguing highs, even after an EQ they do not become piercing.
The metal grid on the rear section of the housings of the KZ ZSE suggested an open-back design, despite being something that we have seen before on other KZ earphones (KZ ED9, KZ ED7, KZ EDR2, KZ ED4) that then resulted to be just an aesthetic detail and not a true open-back, this time the KZ ZSE clearly implemented an open-back design. The sound that leaks out of the rear section is noticeable and even if you place them reversed (metal grids on you ears and nozzles pointing out of your ears) you will hear with almost the same clarity and definition the audio coming out from them.
Noise isolation is very good, surrounding noises will get highly attenuated while wearing the KZ ZSE even while using a low or moderate volume.
The pill-like form factor of the KZ ZSE gives them a very easy to handle ergonomics and outstanding fit and comfort. The fit is secure and tight while remaining absolutely free of discomfort. Moreover, they fit almost flush with the ears making them perfectly usable for under-the-helmet usage or at bed.
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Response to Equalization
The response to custom equalization was great on the lowest audio frequencies (mid-bass and sub-bass) resulting in a strong increment of punch and a crazy enhancement of depth. Mids and vocals were able to clear up noticeably and reduce their strong mid-bass bleed without falling into boxiness. Highs gained some brightness and detail but some slight sibilance showed up.
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KZ ZSE Frequency Response
|Double Dynamic Driver
|8mm + 6.8mm DD
|Y-type, round cord
|Stereo mini plug
|2x Earphone tips