The KZ Zax are an 8-driver in-ear monitor for less than 70 bucks. What the…
So a lot of you know that for many years, I have sold in-ear monitors, and used in-ear monitors, and have a lot of opinions about in-ear monitors. The KZ Zax is one of those in-ear monitors in that sub-100 IEM bracket that was just something that I had to try, released early, I think, last year with 7 balanced armature drivers and one dynamic driver all for less than 70 bucks and the price really hasn’t changed that much.
So a lot of people have been following the Linsoul DUNU kind of range that’s been, Shenzhenaudio, just kind of floating around out there. And you’ve done reviews. You’ve got opinions. You’ve bought some stuff and some of you own pretty much everything they’ve ever made. I was most interested in the Zax because by now I think they should have really been sorting their sound signature, tuning out, really understanding how to work their balanced armatures. And so with this hybrid of the dynamic driver and the balanced armature, I thought, for sure, I have to get a hold of those, have a listen, and tell you guys what I think.
So let’s start with the basic tech specs.
- You’ve got a sensitivity of 113 dB.
- You’ve got a 24-ohm resistance.
- You’ve got a frequency response of 10,000 to 4,000 kHZ.
- You’ve got a 3.5 mill 1.2-meter cable with a .75 mill two-pin plugs on the top. The beauty of that obviously is that you can change this cable out at any time you like.
The cable is OFC, silver-plated copper, so oxygen-free. It’s a braided cable, and it’s nice and light, and a really good length at 1.2 meters. So, off the bat, specs sound perfect for those of you who probably have an iPhone or an Android phone as your primary source. Very easy to drive these with those or maybe any kind of DAP or a digital audio player that you have would easily drive these no problem even off the side of your laptop, etc.
How do they look?
Well, I actually think they’re incredibly well-made in terms of the quality. Now this cable can also have an optional mic if you want that. I obviously went for the pureplay, just the braided. But as you can see up close, the finish on this, I went for the turquoise. You can get this in about four different finishes. It’s just really well machine. Zinc alloy plate on the outside there. Very light and easy to fit in your ears. The depth of the earplug is it looks quite long but actually it just kind of naturally fits in the ears. So in terms of comfort and the ability to wear these long-term, no problem whatsoever. I’d pick these up for a trip and take them with me in a heartbeat. In terms of size and comparison, not that size matters, they’re actually quite small. So just holding up obviously these next to my custom IEMs. These have eight drivers in them. These obviously have seven in them. Seven plus one which is eight. So these are both eight driver configurations. This is my custom obviously and this is not. But clearly you can see the size on these is really quite significantly different, and especially in the ear, it feels so…
I was really hoping to avoid during this saying, “For the price, they’re really good. For the price, the sound quality is okay,” because I think that if you’re going to sell a 7BA 1DD hybrid driver IEM at less than $70, then you really should be putting something forward that’s pretty impressive if you’re going to bother packing in or of that hardware, keeping in mind obviously that that’s 8 drivers in-ear. The good news is I don’t really have to say that very much at all for anything to do with these. And any criticisms that I have and that I’m about to give you should be balanced with the fact that holistically these are a fantastic little unit for the price, but they’re just a fantastic little unit. They’re comfortable, they’re well-made, and they sound great.
So let’s go through the sound signature and really where I think it’s lacking and where I think the strong points are for this. Is there lots of bass? Yes. Is there lots of sub-bass? Yes. Is there lots of mid-bass? Yes but sometimes the sub-bass feels a little detached but only on certain genres. So if you’re listening to some dubstep, if you’re listening to some heavy house where generally you’ve got that separated, deep, heavy bass track just kind of flattened down at the bottom, boom, boom, hitting hard and heavy, sometimes it can feel just a little bit separated from the rest of the sound signature. The bass is there. You know, I actually put on the SVS subwoofers. I’ve put out a Spotify list of tracks they think really represent bass well, so I put on a couple of those.
And these things, you know, they got down there, it wasn’t super tight, and it wasn’t super punchy for a 10 hertz, bottom-end kind of expectation of the frequency. I’m not really sure… I didn’t dislike it and it was there, but again it just feels sometimes a little bit detached. Fast-forward to another genre like hard rock or heavy metal, all of a sudden, there’s a lot more of that kind of guitar frequency from the mids flowing through deeper with some bass guitar, and then you’ve got, sort of, some floor tones and bass kick. Again, right down the bottom-end there, it’s certainly there but maybe not as tight or as punchy. But definitely still quite impressive for, you know, what you’re getting… I did it again, didn’t I? For the price, it’s pretty impressive.
Now, where these start to shine is those vocals, those guitars, the piano, the airy moments, all around that nice kind of mid-range is just really quite delightful. It’s not sharp and attacky. It’s quite natural, but I don’t think it’s particularly warm either. So I think it’s just very nice. I think you could listen to these for a long time without experiencing a lot of fatigue in the sound and in the sound listening. So whoo, whoo! That’s pretty awesome, right? Now, the treble, the highs, they’re also certainly there. Not lots of sibilance. Not particularly sharp. Sometimes I find the DUNU range can be just really sharp. It’s like nothing and then it’s like screeching in your ears. With these, it’s just a natural curve to the highs and I wouldn’t particularly say that I felt a lot of roll-off. So, yeah, again, non-fatiguing, you could listen to it a long time. Certainly [inaudible 00:07:02.193] well-connected to the mids.
It’s hard not to like them. It’s hard not to want to wear them for long periods of time, and it even left me saying, “Well, do I pick up my Here audio, you know, by the Wizard who’s now Noble. Do I pick up my Westone W60s, my UM Pro 50s? You know, what am I picking up to take out if I go out with me?” Now, you know, if I was going on a trip and I wanted to take something that I didn’t mind getting a little bit knocked around, I’d probably really seriously consider picking these up.
For live views, I think these are a no-brainer. For anybody that’s doing vocals, keys, guitar, no problem whatsoever. Drums? Absolutely. You know, go for it. Put these behind your ear. Your midtones are going to sound wonderful. Your snare’s going to sound nice. Your floor tom and kicker are going to be there. As a vocalist, if you just put a kick and snare in your ears, you’re going to get enough impact out of these two to make it work for the price for sure.
Packaging is tastefully done. It’s just a nice, simple box with a logo on the front. You open that up, and the earphones are found left and right in there with a nice, little, kind of, very light, stainless steel plate in there. There’s a little embossed thing over here that says, “Don’t forget the original intention of using earphone is to enjoy music.” Underneath the foam, there is, you know, some more ear tips for small and large. Medium comes by default. And actually probably one of the best little booklets I’ve ever got with a pair of earphones.
In closing, 70 bucks, sounds great, can’t say no. You might have tried the ZS10. You might have tried many of the Linsoul DUNU, Shenzhen range. You might already have your favorites. I would say that this would be a great in-ear monitor universal for just most people without a doubt for that price. Now, if you need to go lower to $50, there’s obviously lots of other alternatives. I can put some in the links below, but if you can stretch, then, you know, these will quality, the detachable cable, the multiple array of drivers, I think these will probably keep you happy for a long time and probably last quite well as well.
Hope it’s helpful. If you like to hear about any of the other under sub-100 IEMs, then I would certainly be happy to give you my thoughts on those. Obviously, there’s a lot of commercial ones as well. We’ve got a list of the top 10 on the site that you can read, which we update every year with whatever is coming to market.
So have a great day. Stay safe out there. Look forward to talking to you in the comments.
Bye for now.