ZEREST AUDIO KAGAMI+ Review: A promising debut

THE PLUS:
-Well balanced V shape
-Warm yet well resolve enough
-Natural timbre
-beautifull full bodied male vocal
-free of sibilance or offensive peaks
-versatile tuning

THE MINUS:
-Average technicalities
-not well define bass
-lack of attack snap and natural resonance
-poor imaging
-very poor construction

TONE: 8.2/10
TECHNICALITIES: 7/10
CONSTRUCTION-DESIGN: 5/10
SOUND VALUE: 7.5/10

ZEREST AUDIO is a new startup from Singapore. They have for now 2 IEM in their fresh IEM catalogue: the Kagami and Kagami plus. Today, i will review the Kagami plus which is more aimed for audiophile and promise a well balanced neutral sound with high resolution free of sibilance. The Kagami+ is a single Dynamic driver IEM selling for 65$.

CONSTRUCTION

While the sound have nothing to do with a cheap 10$ IEM, the construction did make you question the price of this earphones. Sure, Zerest is a small startup, but they better step up their game in term of housing material and manufacturing. Construction is all light cheap (ABS) plastic glued togheter unprofessionally. While it have the advantage of being light and quite comfortable, the plastic shell yeal fragility and are prompt to easy scratch, mmcx connector will surely get loose very fast if you connect disconnect cable alot.

Sorry Zerest, I need to underline this: this level of craftmanship quality is just not competitive enough at 65$. Accessories are minimal but their a big carrying pouch wich is a welcome gift. Cable is very basic too.

SOUND IMPRESSIONS

(source used: Xduoo LINK2, Xduoo X20, Xduoo XD05+)

TONALITY is stated to be neutral by Zerest, but it would only be perceive as so from mass audio enthusiast since it’s a well balance U shape with warm bass and mids and crisp upper treble peak. Lower Bass is the most boosted part of spectrum and tend to embrace whole tonality, it have good amount of lower mids and smooted upper mids. As stated, it’s free of sibilance and treble isn’t harsh yet deliver some intricate micro-details adding a bit of air on top of otherwise thick warm tonality.

TECHNICALITIES are decent, not mind blowing and seem all the talent is into treble speed attack, which are fast, snappy and sparkly. We have good extension at both end of spectrum, but not in a linear way. IMAGING is a bit veiled and imprecise especially from low to mids which are overly warm and lack micro definition. Resolution is average yet not too dark. Transparency is a bit fuzzy. Soundstage is intimate, average wide and lacking in deepness. Imaging is rather dark and imprecise.

BASS is the problematic part to my critical snobbish ears, it’s warm and a hint boomy and separation lack proper space and definition. Whatever hit of bass you get, digital or acoustic kick drum, it will kinda sound the same. It have a warm slam that feel very dark in resolution, lacking texture for proper grip. Kick presence is swallow by sub and mid bass and their some bleeding into lower mids, which can be seen as positive since it had body and breath to vocal and woodwind instruments. This type of bass benefit some electronic music like dub-techno from Azu Tiwaline, the boom is enjoyable this way since this music barely have no mids and is all about bass hit and highs sounds. Simply put, this type of ”slam obsessed bass” is good when it come to headbanging hit, but no for acoustic instrument or electric bass that need deep linear extension.

MIDS while just a hint more recessed than lows and upper treble, are very well done in term of tone and have a lean lushness to them, making it sound very pleasant for vocal and instrument that benefit from warm coloration. They are innoffensive and not very textured, free of sibilance. Female have hint of extra low harmonic that thicken the body with an appealing breathyness. Male vocal sound wonderfully full and bodied with presence focus. Instrument that need precise definition like piano or violin will sound a bit blend and thin. Yep, these are bipolar mids that is hit or miss depending of music genre, so i would not suggest to listen to classical, not piano jazz trio, but guitar jazz trio is quite good, folk too, still, the Kagami prefer pop music that doesn’t have too much instrument and speed.

TREBLE is quite good, its vivid yet not too agressive and avoid harshness and splashyness. It have hint of nice sparkle to it too which is a proof of good extension that permit to add a bit of air to overall sound presentation. This isn’t the richest treble, it do dig micro details but not the full picture of them, so violin in higher harmonic will sound a bit thin and boxy, while for acoustic guitar it will benefit brilliance and sparkle which is a plus. In fact, treble might be my favorite part of these IEM even if not very textured, round or fully extended. When both acoustic guitar and clavichord sound well define and lively enough in attack and decay, i’m sold.

COMPARISONS

VS MOONDROP ARIA (1DD-80$)

Well, what hit first is how more V shape and mid bass boosted is the Kagami, after its how warmer and less transparent-detailed it is. Let say it already, technically Aria is miles ahead, but tonaly it might be less appealing for some since it sound colder, leaner and more neutral and pretty light in mid bass punch too. Vocal, while cleaner and more textured-detailed are less dense and lush than Kagami too. Treble is notably fuller, more sparkly and resonant and extended with Aria. Soundstage is wider-taller and notably deeper and imaging way more precise, spacious and well define in separation. All in all, Aria feel from another league here, but we can give to the darker Kagami a more fun bassy tonality and lusher timbre.

VS TINHFI T3+ (1dd-70$)
Well, these two are more similar in tonal balance though T3+ is brighter and more V shape this time which make it for a quite agressive listen after being with warmer lusher and smoother Kagami. Kagami is more natural in timbre though less detailed and the attack si a bit more loose especially in bass where the punch isn’t as tight and weighty-punchy as T3+. Mye ars find the Kagami way more pleasant musically, and permissive of bad recording since it will not extract background hiss and artefacts as easily, but if i was listening to rock or music neading more abrasive treble and upepr mids the choice will be T3+. Vocal while being more fowards are more agressive too with T3+, making me prefer the one of Kagami. Soundstage is a bit deeper and imaging a bit more precise with T3+, but treble is less well balanced and attack a bit more shouty.
All in all, technically they are near on par while tonaly the Kagami is less fatiguing and have a more cohesive warm balance.

CONCLUSION

While the Kagami isn’t a king of technical performance, it offer a very well balanced and pleasant sound, rich and natural in timbre, lush in the mids, warm and weigty in bass that will please fan of Ibasso IT00 ,or Tinhifi T3+ searching for a smoother tonality.
The achille heel of the Zerest Audio Kagami it’s poor construction and design, which can’t be take seriously for 65$, so until this is solved it’s overall buying value will be in jeopardy.
Nonetheless, Zerest Audio is a young company with great potential that offer a very accessible yet good sounding first IEM.

—————-

PS: I wanna give a big thank you to Zerest Audio for sending me this sample after I manifest them my curiosity about their Kagami+ IEM. As always, i’m not affiliated nor pay to write a review of this product.
You can buy the Kagami and Kagami+ directly from Zerest Audio official website here:
https://www.zerestaudio.com/

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