KZ ZS10PRO: Muscular sound at anemic price! KZ done it RIGHT!!

KZ ZS10 PRO Review :

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SOUND: 8.5/10
ACCESSORIES: 7/10
CONSTRUCTION: 8.5/10
DESIGN: 8.5/10
VALUE: 9/10

THE PLUS:

  • Revealing and energic sound
  • Tigh thumping bass that do not drown mids
  • Fowards mid range
  • Good sturdy construction
  • Price Value

THE SO-SO:

  • Primitive and rather rough timbre
  • Small soundstage (aka congested)
  • Treble lack sparkle and decay
  • Metal back plate is easily scratchable

I’m quite know fromaudio community as a KZ hater, but that wasn’t always the case as I was a KZ praiser at the begining of my budget audiophile journey. EDR1, ED9, KZ ATE was all praised by me (and lot of other too). And then, supreme joy happen, the KZ ZS5V1 appear and man, was I impress as ever! This is where I begin dreaming about incredible sound value potential of Chifi and begin to be neurotically active on headfi, creating the ‘’Best SUB-100$ budget earphones’’ thread and having for goal to create a reference list that will help people without money to make the best choice possible.

Then, KZ ZS5V2 stole the place of V1 and I hate it, then ZS6 appear and it was pure peaky violence to my ears and then ZS10 and I was out. I say : i’m done with KZ, they don’t know how to achieve a natural musicality and just love to throw BA in bigger and bigger housing, they are mad.

But i’m back on the KZ track! Is it because my expectation was abysally low that I find the ZS10 PRO quite great? No, because I still can hear some KZ ackwardness there and there, but they are way less problematic than before and at this price, I see one of the greatest Chifi achievment in term of price value since the Tinaudio T2. Well, T2 still kick the ass of the PRO, but they are 2 very different sounding iem that can complete eachother (why not mix them please?).

So, there you go, KZ ZS10 PRO is another multi drivers Hybrid with 1 dynamic drivers and 4 balanced armature in its body. It is extremely competitively priced and can be found for around 35$ on Aliexpress and such. There is a bunch of ackward sound chifi multi BA hybrid out there,will the ZS10PRO be an exception? Let’s see in this review!

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You can buy the KZ ZS10PRO from AMAZON or Aliexpress if you wanna wait 2 months.

As well, I use the TRIPOWIN C8 upgrade cable for most of this review, this is an excellent silver copper mixed cable and I really suggest you upragde you PRO or other new KZ model with it.

DISCLAIMER: As one would think, i do not buy KZ earphones anymore (this might change tough), so I wanna thanks TRIPOWIN for giving me the chance to review and appreciate these nice ZS10PRO. This came out of the blue, and I have no affiliation with Tripowin or anyone on this planet earth. My views are fully objective in their subjectivity.

ACCESSORIES, CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN :

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UNBOXING is as boring as every KZ earphones I have, well, presentation is nicer than 2 years before where it was just throw in a cheap box. Still, you have nothing more than 4 pairs of cheap silicone eartips (i do not use them) and a cheap cable (i do not use it). I would prefer KZ to just sold the earphones without cable to be honnest, as we always need to upgrade it anyway…but the price is so cheap that I only complaint about the fact i’m invade with vain coppers KZ cable that take dust, please make a recyclable version at least!

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CONSTRUCTION is very similar to the CCA C10, with a more futuristic metal plate design wich have the benifit to make them more singular and appealing to the eyes, but have the drawback of being easily scratched due a fragile mirror aluminium back plate. In fact. Mine even came pre-scratched, so it say alot about how prompt to scratch they are. But I don’t really care as im not very coquettish with budget earphones anyway, this little issue do not interfer with durability and the ZS10PRO feel very sturdy due to the thick plastic of other part or housing (again, the same as ZSN or C10). As well, its pretty small for a 5 drivers iem, wich is surely better for fit than proper sound rendering (how can air flow in this overcrowned shell?). MMCX connector will piss off some people as its the same as ZSN and the cable of CCA will not fit the ZS10PRO, in fact, for perfect fit you really need the very same type of mmcx female connector.

DESIGN is very comfy and will fit most ears, its near 2 times smaller than the KZ ZS10-AS10 or CCA C16. This is a uiem that is made to be wear over ear. The nozzle are righly done and long enough to go deep for good fit. As well, there no hard angle or corner that will make the ZS10PRO uncomfortable for long listening session.

ISOLATION is average and will cut enough noise relatively to volume level you listen to, but the sound leakage is quite notable due to 3 hole in back venting. Anyway, i never consider this as a big downer for my personal use.

DRIVEABILIY is super easy, making the PRO a good choice for those not having powerfull DAP or portable amp, the PRO are fully pushed whatever sound source I use, wich include Audirect BEAM dac-’’amp’’ that isnt powerfull at all. In all my more than 50 earphones collection, the one that are very easy to drive are very rare (PMV A01 MK2, Zhiyin Z5000, Brainwavz B400), so to me this is a Big plus.

SOUND IMPRESSIONS :

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So, out of the box I like how the ZS10PRO sound, what hit me first in all sens of the term its the thick punchy mid bass and fowards mid range, sure, it wasn’t particularly refined in its timbre and a big grainy, but the clarity and separation was there. KZ choose a very muscular sound presentation where everything is throw with weight and hurry, we aren’t in delicate and gentle territory here, wich perhaps its why they sound that good with abrasive rock too.

One could think it is ironical that a PRO version sound that much entertaining, its because while the W sound of KZ is well balanced as a whole, its sure is very coloured and pround of it.

CABLES have used for the PRO aren’t the original one but the Tripowin 8cores balanced cable, wich pair very well with my Xduoo X20 and give clearer tigher sound, even if subtle, its notable. It kinda do the same with the Vsonic 4 cores SPC cable (3.5mm) I use, but balanced way make it little more clear in the background.

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SOUNDSTAGE is wide but still quite intimate, but do not feel stock in your head even if it do not have lot of deepnest to it. Were in ‘’stereo tapestry’’ like spaciality here due to warmish low and mid range of the KZ.

IMAGING too isn’t the best, but a sens of close layerings compensate the lack of air in the KZ body overcrowded with 5 drivers. Instrument placement are not very precise and will benifit from super clear audio source.

BASS extend well and have great control, the lower end is less emphased than mid bass wich is very well rounded and proeminent, what impress here its that it do not overly warm the mid range and just add a hint of extra body to it. Sub bass have good texture too, for the price range, because in term of tonality it isn’t particularly accurate and little shadowed by authoritative mid bass presence.

MID RANGE is nicely fowarded, slightly bright but without the upper mids sibilance one would expect from that level of clarity in a bassy earphones. Timbre is a little rough, but I think KZ achieve to extract the best that cheap Bellsing balanced armature could give, it do not sound overly shouty or unatural, just with some THD in its timbre ADN. Nonetheless, the mid range is rich and have smooth brightness wich lean towards dryness, but how say, in a okay way! The attack and decay is fats and give good definition to violin, less so for piano that lack some body but still have a clear presentation. When it come to vocal, perhaps it isn’t the more natural one, but again, level of presence is quite high wich make never sound recessed the signers.

TREBLE is very extended and coloured, in the sense its not particularly linear and have little push in low-mid-upper highs, nevr in a too sharp way tough. This make the ZS10 very detailed without sound too harsh, even if the highs ar emore crunchy than super crisp or sparkly and lack decay due to small soundstahe and lack of air. Again, the limit of balanced armature potential used is show here and lack of refinment in timbre of instrument will disappoint hardcore critical listener….but I do not review a TOTL earphones here and I consider layering of all this details quite nice and most importantly immersive.

SUB : 7.5/10
MID BASS : 8.5/10
MID RANGE : 8/10
TREBLE : 7.5/10
ATTACK-DECAY : 8/10
CLARITY : 8/10
SOUNDSTAGE : 7/10
IMAGING : 7.5/10
TIMBRE : 6.5/10

COMPARAISONS :

VS TIN AUDIO T2 (30-50$) :

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Considered by a lot of budget audiophile like the unbeatable SUB-50$ earphones, the T2 are dual dynamic drivers with incredibly well balanced musicality that show all what it got in its lush mid range and wide imaging. Could the KZ ZS10 beat this legend?

Well ZS10PRO is a very different beast, that sacrifice some musicality for energic technicalities, one thing sure, level of clarity and imaging is better with the PRO even if SOUNDSTAGE of T2 is way wider and feel more airy too.

SOUNDSIGNATURE of T2 is more linear towards neutral than W shape of the PRO, this make it for a more laid back and musical rendering that sound less fatiguing as the vivid and fowards PRO. As well, brighter is the pro, smoother is the T2 even if both have rather rich timbre.

This is due to BASS of T2 wich is more sloppy in lower end and lack attack and grip in mid bass, while the PRO is very tigh (and bassy) in both even is less elevated in sub bass than T2. KZ is way punchier and lively in bass region than more relaxed, thick and warm bass of T2, wich perhaps extend lower but not in a controled way. This elastic bass presentation of T2 make it good for jazz and classical, while the PRO win in anything else, should it be electro, rock or pop.

MID RANGE now is very luscious, transparent and wide sounding with the T2, while the PRO have a fowards and intimate vocal presentation with brighter timbre that can give unatural presentation. With T2, vocal are star of the show when they need to, taking front seat and presenting themself with grandeur that do not interfer that much with layering due to transparence. PRO have perhaps clearer and more (artificialy) fowarded vocal, but with more grainy texture and unpleasant sharpness.

TREBLE is more extended with the PRO and dig more micro details as well as high give more sparkle and brilliance, this help for better accuracy of imaging where the T2 feel more delicate with extra presence in lower and mid treble. This make the T2 smoother and less peaky, wich to me is a plus as it give natural musicality while the PRO can sometime sound overly agressive as well as harsh with percussion being fowarded too much wich can result in splashiness.

One thing to note is the fact ZS10PRO are easier to drive, making them more versatile with low output source.

All in all, here, we have two excellent value iem, ZS10PRO win in term of details, imaging, bass and liveliness, while T2 win in soundstage, vocal rendering and musical cohesion as a whole.

VS CCA C10 (22-30$) :

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Another well seen budget iem, the CCA C10 score same number of drivers and look pretty similar to the ZS10PRO as well, but the C10 is about 10 dollars less than the PRO. If you look closely, you’ll see the drivers aren’t implemented exactly the same as well as the housing of CCA C10 is a little larger at nozzle end. Now let’s see how these compare.

SOUNDSIGNATURE is pretty similar, both have a W approach but the C10 is overall smoother and have less mid bass emphasis than PRO.

BASS is way punchier and lively with the PRO wich help to have a less boomy approach than C10 mixed up bass response, the accuracy is better and impact faster, wich surely confirm they do not use both same dynamic drivers. C10 bass being warmer and thicker, it will stole some clarity to the MIDRANGE, wich is more recessed than ZS10PRO.

Vocal of thePRO are more fowards as well as slitghly brighter, timbre have more textured to it and make the vocal feel veiled for the C10. Whole PRO midrange is energic and lively with fast attack and tigh (too tigh) decay, while C10 lack in imaging accuracy, but still do a good job in term of tonality and (dryish) transparence.

TREBLE is more extended and crispier with the PRO, while C10 is more unbalanced with highs, with slight extra mid highs presence that help to dig some details but without any sparkle or decay, its soft, and it begin to drop after its 12Khz peak.

All in all, ZS10PRO is more like a CCA C10 upgrade than a ZS10 upgrade (wich is a very different earphones that donot worth your attention), its a more energic, lively, punchy and accurate version of C10.

VS KBear F1 (30-40$):
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Yeah, sorry Kbear, thats kind of crual comparaisons I do here, but your really the iem in same price range that fall in my hands. I mean, I SEE your potential, really, there something here but its not ready to be lauch in the sun. KZ ZS10 PRO have some similarity with the F1, in timbre, wich perhaps confirm they use same bellsing drivers…..but man, KZ have 4 of them plus a dynamic too! And its well tuned in a fun, punchy cohesive way! So, yeah, BASS dig way deeper, have better separation and mid bass slam is incredibly lively and weighty compared to dry, shy, congested one of F1. MIDRANGE is a little similar in timbre but have better clarity, imaging and energy with the ZS10PRO. TREBLE extend further with the PRO and offer plenty of details that are well layered and have their own singularity even if the crunchy timbre of percussion or some instrument can sound slightly off. All in all, the PRO is from another league far above the F1 here and the punchy dynamic it have make it like comparing an hyperactive and muscular (but little primitive) athlete to a…..dead body.

CONCLUSION :

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With KZ we never know what is due to luck or talent with their audio implementation and tuning, sometime it can be a disaster other time great audio value. In all case, the drivers used make it for compromise in overall musicality, especially in timbre and tonality, but when your able to balance nicely as much drivers than the numbers we can found in the ZS10PRO and making the whole sound cohesive yet entertaining, energic and clear as well, I think we got here a great achievment.

Sure die hard audiophile and critical listener will find ZS10PRO lacking in refinement, and surely consider the tuning as immature and too bassy. Well, if so, why did they love Campfire basshead iem then? Perhaps because of lower harmonic distortion in timbre or more vivid sharpness of treble, still, at about 35$ I can say without a doubt that the KZ ZS10PRO is among best budget buy you can make if you are a music enthusiast that listen to pop, rock, rap, electronic and even jazz to some extend. This earphones will make you became a head banger as soon as drum kick begin and the bass will not drown you favorite signer even if bass is authoritative, nope, this type of sound isn’t possible with single dynamic driver.

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