KZ ZES Review!
- Controlled overall bass response without any instances of lacking.
- “Nearly balanced” sound signature.
- Rumbly sub-bass
- Clear mids for its rumored price.
- Sparkly and clear upper mids
- Good enough treble extension
- As any KZ IEM existed, this is very easy to be driven properly.
- Improved soundstage compared to the DQ6s
- Metal shelled IEMs with quite exquisite coating/finish.
- Design still has that “ZS” trademark to it, but better (subjective)
- 8-core stock cable. That's new!
- Decent imaging.
- Instances of upper mids peaks and slight sibilance will still appear on very sibilant prone tracks and on higher than usual volumes.
- Midbass bleed presence.
- Separation is already decent for its asking price but could be better to stand up against the competition.
- Packaging and accessories could be better but might be improved on the final product.
Good day! After 4 days of casual and critical listening, here’s my written review for the KZ ZES. This is the current peak KZ IEM, I think!
- Sir Jeff Yang of KZ Earphones sent over this unit to me in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. Rest assured that the following observations and findings will be away from bias/es as much as possible.
- As far as I know, this is still a prototype/test unit. The sound, design, and packaging may change/vary from the final product.
-The following remarks and observations shall be made and owned only by me.
-No monetary compensation is/was involved before, during, and after the period of creation of this review.
-Your mileage may (and always, will) vary.
Burn-in time: 5-10 hours per day, 4 days.
-Not-By-VE Avani Realtek Dongle
-Zishan U1 USB DAC (AKM Variant)
-Samsung Galaxy S3 (WM1811 DAC)
-Non-HiFi smartphone (realme 5i)
-Local Files via Foobar and Roon, YouTube Music, Deezer, and Qobuz with UAPP.
IEM and configuration: Stock medium eartips, stock cable, any form of EQ or MSEB off, 40-60% volume, both high and low gain.
Mild-V-shaped sound signature. Mids may recess more, depending on the pairing or setup paired with it. Unlike the DQ6s, this has lesser and much more controlled bass when compared.
Lows are elevated and controlled. Subbass is elevated in a greater quantity than the midbass. Subbass goes deep when needed. Bass is punchy and leans to a faster side of decay. For the most part, the lows on the ZES are controlled, nearly clean, and can manage bass-heavy and EDM tracks with ease. I like the lows of this as it does not present the bass too much to my liking.
The mids are slightly recessed on my observations but will recess even further when paired with a non-hifi source such as a smartphone, for example. Instances of midbass bleed are still present on the lower mids, but just adds a bit of warmth to give the sound some body or depth rather than “muddying” up the sound. Upper mids are elevated, clear, and airy, with some peaks on sibilant prone tracks, or turning up the volume rather than usual. Overall, the mids are serviceable and can cater any music from any genre at a satisfactory level for its rumored price.
As for the treble, it is elevated and well extended. It is much more extended compared to the KZ X HBB DQ6s but not by a very big margin. The ZES has a bit airier treble which also satisfies higher vocals when listened side-by-side. Detail retrieval is also slightly above average for its rumored price as I can hear the nuances clearer.
Soundstage, Imaging, and separation:
The soundstage is still just average, but with an above-average expansion. It is noticeably much wider compared to the DQ6s with also more depth. Separation is also very good but will get haywire when listened with very busy tracks. Imaging is also accurate for its rumored price but not technical.
KZ truly stick strongly to their slogan printed in the box which says “Don’t forget the original intention of using earphones is to enjoy music”, as the KZ ZES is a budget IEM meant to be an all-rounder for current genres. The KZ ZES appears to be on the right track in terms of manufacturing more competitive IEMs, especially on the budget side of audio, since not just KZ, but most companies in this price range tend to cannibalize their earlier products, rendering them outdated in a short period of time. The sound of the KZ ZES rendered prior models, notably the ZS5 through ZSX, and maybe even their much higher-priced offerings, such as the ASX, ASF, and AS16, to mention a few, outdated. If KZ continues to enhance their IEMs, particularly in terms of lowering peaks and sibilance, they will be able to attract more customers.
Thank you for reading!