KZ ZS10 Pro-The Z goes Pro

KZ ZS10 Pro-The Z goes Pro
Written by ngoshawk
Published 1 minute ago

Pros – Z goes Pro.
Price.
Good bass and texture.
Build.

Cons – No case.
Cable better, but still too sticky.
Too many KZ models?…
Tough price point.

KZ Z10 Pro ($45)- The Z goes Pro. The 3.5/5 rating is not a result of anything sound-wise. No, it is a result of the cable and packaging. I REALLY wish they included a case, and that cable is getting better, but still not what I would expect. And, I do thoroughly enjoy the Z10P, the sound fits my listening pleasures very well.

[​IMG]

Thanks to Lillian from Linsoul Audio for the sample. This is the “pro” version of the Z10, a moniker, which KZ uses fairly regularly now.

Linsoul: https://www.linsoul.com/product-page/kz-zs10-pro-iem

*As per standard for me, after an initial listen to ensure all is well and good, the unit in question was set upon my Shanling M0 for 100-150 hours, as I see fit to give the reader a look down the line. One that may occur 6 months or 2 months after purchase. There may be no change, but I do it anyway. Believe what you want. *

[​IMG]

Intro:

The Z10 is along with the BA10 line, the mid-priced flagships from KZ, a company that seems to be putting out new IEM’s like there is no tomorrow. Sometimes when this happens, the lineup can get lost in the dust. But, to me KZ has done a respectable job at keeping the line separate, and distinct enough to where there shouldn’t be complications. I have had the honor of reviewing many KZ’s, and consider the AS10, one of my niche favorites. Others may disagree, but it really is a fine sounding unit; and an unsung one as well. And with each upgrade, KZ seems to mold the IEM closer to what they are looking for sound-wise. The Z10 Pro would not be different.

In looking at the specs below, you can see that the Z10P is easy to drive, and quite sensitive. I did not at any time hear excessive noise, or hiss in the background. While not the blackest of backgrounds, it does match the price-point well (as in matches others in this price).

[​IMG]

Scores:

Packaging – 4/10
Accessories – 4/10
Build Quality – 7.5/10
Bass – 8/10
Mids – 7.5/10
Treble – 7/10
Soundstage – 8/10
Imaging – 7/10
Layering – 7/10
Microphone – 7/10

Average – 6.7/10

*As you can see packaging and accessories bring down what is a decent offering overall. As such, sound is worthy of the C-range. Pleasant and vibrant, this would be a good commuting unit.


Specs:

Model Number: KZ ZS10 Pro
Driver: 4BA+1DD
Impedance: 24ohm
Sensitivity: 111dB
Frequency Response: 7Hz-40kHz
Length:125cm
Plug Type: 3.5mm Plug
Color: Black, Purple, Blue
Mic: Optional

Configurations
2*30095 high frequency
2*50060 mid frequency
1*10mm double magnetic dynamic


[​IMG]

Gear used/compared (prices USD, unless noted otherwise):

TinHiFi T3 ($70)
Simgot MT3 ($70)
BQEYZ BQ3 ($60)


Shanling M5s
XDuoo x10t ii/iFi Pro iDSD
Macbook Pro/Burson Fun



Songs used:

Coldplay-All I Can think About Is You
Coldplay-A Message
Coldplay-White Shadows
Dona Onete-Sonos de Adolescente
Los Lonely Boys- Heaven (en Espanol)
twenty one pilots-Trees
twenty one pilots-Car Radio
twenty one pilots-Heathens
Damian Marley-Everybody Wants To Be Somebody
Damian Marley-So A Child May Follow
Damian Marley-The Struggle Discontinues
Ziggy Marley-Lighthouse
Ziggy Marely-See Dem Fake Leaders
Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado


The new twenty one pilots album, Trench
The new Mark Knopfler album, Down The Road Wherever


Dick Dale-Misirlou…just because.


Unboxing:

In typical KZ fashion, you get…a small rectangular box, about the size of a deck of cards. And, wait for it…no case. I have come to expect that and keep a stock of cheap round and rectangular cases on hand. Whatever. With specs on the back, and a nice color picture on the front, the presentation is decent. Sliding the cardboard cover sleeve off, you are presented with that clear plastic cover, which highlights the IEM. And I will say that I dig the industrial look of the Z10P. With machined slots, giving definitive shapes, they counter the round shape of the shell. That along with the angular shell cover make for a decent looking IEM. And it isn’t garish either. A plus.

Under is the good-looking cable (I like the looks), which does tend to tangle a bit. If there is one constant with KZ it seems to be the copperish-colored cables. Come on KZ, change things a bit! I do like the tactility and lack of microphonics of the cable, and it is the right length. With a right-angle plastic 3.5mm jack on one end and nice sub-90 degree 2-pin clear housing on the other, the cable is good and sturdy. Strain relief is good, and the bend of the memory plastic is just stiff enough to hold in place, without applying a tourniquet to your ear…

Three sets of tips (one mounted) are included, along with a basic warranty card. That’s it. The $ goes into the IEM…period.

[​IMG]

Fit-n-finish:


Much like Thomas (aka @b9scrambler), I have come to appreciate the looks of the KZ line up, save maybe the BA10. While the BA sounds good, the looks put me off. Not here. Again, understated industrial with a touch of historical look in the bronzish cable (copperish, bronzish…). Much like the other KZ’s the Z10P is all plastic and acrylic. That industrial shell covering is chromedish plastic (in the same pattern as the less expensive ZSN). With a clear housing, you can see the innards, highlighted by the dynamic driver. Something other Chi-fi manus are doing as well. Not bad mind you, and per my likings understated. Even the chrome look of the shell cover is not that bad. The only qualm I have is the nozzle. While it is sufficiently wide with a lip to hold tips, the gold looks out of place in the overall scheme. Luckily, the tip covers it and that part will be inside your ear. No big deal, really.

I have another much more expensive IEM inhouse right now (think 10-20 times more…), and the KZ has better build quality overall. This shows that KZ is serious. In all of their models I have reviewed, the finish has been quite good, belying the cost. Another plus. I would state that you get what you pay for, and this is pretty much right there.

[​IMG]

So…and?…

Well, when presented with something the sort of this, you need to reacquaint yourself with the brand, and the price range. I will admit it does take me a bit to adjust to the different price-points. Except here. From the off, I noted how this seems to have that typical KZ sound, which has good textured bass (if a bit muddy on some tracks), vocals that are present in sufficient detail to keep you going, and treble, which is not grating nor sibilant.

Paying Mark Knopfler’s Just A Boy Away From Home (which has the exact same music as You’ll Never Walk Alone, from Liverpool…I swear it does…), the drums are in the back, supporting the National Steel guitar, while tambourine picks a spot to the left. Mark’s vocals give a good range of deeper baritone (I think?) and thrust. If there were any misplaced notes here, the distortion would be heard and felt. None are…

I can discern the taming of this sound from the ZS10 as well. In taming the bass, KZ opened the hood, and tweaked the engine so to speak. The Pro breathes a bit easier, making more horsepower, errr…a more open, energetic sound I mean. Knopfler’s Good On You Son, is a throwback to a fast moving disco song (one I actually like…), and here you can note that bass is a bit tamed, but present in a more mature form. This is not the bass of your father’s car, err… IEM. No, this is resilient as it supports the slightly forward mids, and that added sparkle.

[​IMG]

This would be like building a character in a role-playing game and you have a certain amount of points you can disseminate between characteristics. Taketh awayeth from the bass, addeth to thyne treble fine sir. This is a hearkening back to the initial Chi-fi sound to me, which seemed to be an “in your face” sound, but not screaming. Some did, of course. But no. Here the Pro is a bit more forward and as mentioned energetic, but in an adult-type manner. It is almost like KZ is reaching adulthood and their first job coming out of college. A “time to get to work,” attitude. And it isn’t bad either.

It’s almost like KZ is trying to branch out further, with that more mature sound. I’m not against this and appreciate their willingness to modify an arguably popular-classic. They do have their rep to keep in profile. But maybe that affords them the right or ability to do just this. Maybe I completely missed the mark, and they just wanted a fresh look at the ZS10…anyway it is a bit different. Plus, as someone who appreciates a good bass rumble (think Campfire Atlas…), this is quite acceptable.

Isolation with the silicon tips is good. For once, I did not try foam tips, since none were included. The medium worked for me, and this is par for the course. Layering of the instruments is average, as is sound stage. Not too big, not too small, but better than others at this price. I take that as a “technological improvement.” The technology is improving so fast, that it quite often does improve what is going on.

[​IMG]

Comparison/Source gear:


KZ ZS10 Pro ($45) vs TinHiFi T3 ($70):

Not to beat a dead horse, but the T3 is what the T2 should have been from the first place. I find its capabilities to be the best of the iterations, including the T2 Pro, which I labeled as what the T2 should have been. Where KZ refines signatures, TinHiFi redefines. And to me that isn’t always good. Mature something along the way, not redefine. That would be like taking a classic Mustang and putting a middling v6 into it the next generation…oh wait… Anywho, the T3 is a capable IEM, which can be worn up or down. The soft, subtle cable is one of the best stock cables in an under $100 IEM I have afforded to use. Clean, multi-coating (silver/copper), even braiding. This is business as it should be. Throw in a quite good-looking jack and sensible, sturdy mmcx connections and this is built for the tough stuff. Plus, with its industrial good looks, there is a certain masculinity about it, that just seems right.

That said, I do believe I prefer the bass of the ZS10P. More of it, better reach and almost better control throw it for me. I am not a basshead mind you, but I do appreciate a good rumble. And here, the T3 cannot match the Pro. When we talk of clarity and cleanliness of signature, then the T3 pulls ahead. There is a decent amount of air for a $70 IEM, and that can overcome the lack of bass. Overall the T3 is a good, but different animal from the ZS10P, and I can see enjoying both.


KZ ZS10 Pro ($45) vs Simgot MT3 ($70):

The Simgot comes to me as a nice surprise and on the heels of the EM5 and EN700 Pro, which I very much liked. I found the EN700 engaging, robust and somewhat organic in sound. In other words, a nice warmish touch. The MT3 falls below the EN700 in terms of price and place in the Simgot lineup. Marketed as their budget IEM, it does take a bit of adjustment when switching from others. A cable that can be a conundrum to use (it tangles), combine with a very long ear guide; ending in a gorgeous IEM shell. With a slight pink hue to it, the silver bottom half of the cover matches nicely, giving a 50’s diner-type of look. I very much like how it looks.

And to me it has better control of the bass, with almost as much present. Control is quite good across the frequency range, with only a bit of shout up top. It does not bother me but does take to the front a bit. I would classify this as more open and airier than the ZS10P, and that really isn’t a bad thing. Where the ZS10P harkens back to the early Chi-Fi critters, which emanated treble at ungodly levels (but not in the ZS…), the MT3 has much better control. There is a bit of analytics in the midrange, to me. It feels like even “real” instruments sound digital in presentation. Not so in the ZS10P. So, if you had one qualm about the MT3, that would be my biggest. It is a very nice IEM at the sub-$75 price, and one, which crowds into an already crowded market.


KZ ZS10 Pro ($45) vs BQEYZ BQ3 ($60):

The BQ3 is my first offering from BQEYZ, and I love the look. That blue anodized look is gorgeous as well. With a bit of a cutout curve, I can see 50’s Chevy sedans in the shape. Not a bad thing in my mind. And as you might expect (maybe?) the BQ3 sounds quite different than the others here. With the most bass presentation of the four, this comes closer to my appeal than the others. There is a bit of rumble. Not as much nor as tight, succinct, or sharp of decay, it can get a bit tedious, and this is where I think the ZS10P controls bass better.

Midrange seems to be a bit withdrawn in the BQ3 as well. Not as clear, it almost hides behind to others, not wanting to put itself out there too much. Treble though is there in full force, but not sibilant or peaky. I sense a bit of roll-off, but not enough to squelch the ceiling or sound subdued and muddy. Overall the BQ3 is a decent offering, and one I would consider on par.

Using the Shanling M5S I get the whole sense of the ZS10P. On Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Tin Pan Alley, you get the whole. His guitar work alone runs up and down your spine, tingling the whole time. In this set up, the ZS10P shows the best bass of the lot listed above. Deep, rich, albeit not the cleanest, the bass matches the song perfectly. That down-low and dirty feeling you get. I like it. And this carries over (the like part, not the dirt) to other songs. The vibrancy with which Los Lonely Boys Senorita comes across is well worth it. A very nice set.

Moving up the food chain so to speak, the XDuoo x10t ii/iFi Pro iDSD (my current home go-to if you don’t know by now…) scales fairly well with the ZS10P. We are talking about a $45 IEM of course, so one should not expect much. I did enjoy the combination, and U2’s Unforgettable Fire sounded quite good. I appreciated that the ZS10P was willing to try.

Hooking through my iPhone XS Max, the microphone using the dongle worked, and calls came through reasonably well. I say reasonably, because pretty much any IEM with a mic works well these days. Isolation was good and call quality decent. This would work for on the go, and that is the point when including a mic.

[​IMG]

Finale:

I sit here listening to Bob Marley’s Rastaman Live Up! through the XDuoo/iFi combination during a thunderstorm. And I must say that it is good. Bass, which starts the process off, just enough treble up top to keep me going, and Bob’s voice. Bob’s voice. This is an excellent way to end the evening and the review. While obviously not meant as a $200-killer, the ZS10P is an excellent starter for someone who might want to move up into the portable audio world without breaking the bank. The mic works, the cable is livable (but puLEEZ, KZ change it, for it doeth tangle…) for this price, and the sound is just about what you would expect. Good. Take a look at it for your Smartphone. I again thank Lillian from Linsoul Sound for the sample, and faith in this humble reviewer’s “talent,” it is appreciated.

[​IMG]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s