I recently read a quote that said “the problem with being a connoisseur is that you start to notice the faults in everything’. I say that because sometimes as an audiophile I feel we can complicate our experience of things by analysing too deep. With that said, the summary of this review is that these are a very good set of IEM’s, period. And now I’ll contradict myself and provide a detailed review. 🙂
A solid performer with a warm but accurate sound profile. The comfort, price and sound quality make these a great choice for budget audiophiles, musicians and dare I say, audiobook lovers.
To be clear, when I review these KZ Zax, I am comparing these with two extremes of the scale and many in between units. At one end I am comparing them to my Heir Audio 8.0 which have 8 x Balanced Armature drivers in each ear piece. These were designed by ‘The Wizard’ (John Moulton) who now owns and creates Noble IEMs. They cost almost $1500 USD when new.
In between these two I have the Westone UM Pro 50, Weston W60, Shure SE215 and all the models in between from those brands. I have also owned the Sennheiser IE 800 and some no-name IEMs.
I’m going to try really hard to not say ’for the price’ for the duration of this post because it’s too easy to make excuses with terms like that around budget IEM. KZ, Linsoul, BASN, Dunu all get a lot of praise for making affordable earphones so I think we should ignore the price as much as possible and evaluate these on their own merits.
Cable is nice, doesn’t have an incredibly solid feel but there is no reason to doubt that it’s tough enough for anything you’re going to throw at it. A lovely silver coated braided cable. The length is perfect for personal listening use, not so much live stage use. The cable allows you to run it down you back and into your phone in your pocket. This leaves little slack which is great as you’re not going to accidentally catch it on things or have it hanging out of your jeans etc.
2 Pin connectors have a really nice machined feel when you plug them in. Like a glove they just plug in beautifully. Really excellent moulding and machine work on the whole unit.
The units themselves are surprisingly small but show excellent craftsmanship and are attractive to look at. They really are smaller than I expected which is a good thing. The colour is nice.
Packaging is lovely. Really simply but well executed. This punches above it’s price and you feel like you’re getting value for money.
Zero complaints about the comfort using the flexible silicon tips that come standard with this unit. The cable is light and sits nicely behind the ears. I do wish there was a tightening sleeve on the cable to tighten these behind your ears, this is pretty common on more other IEM’s including Shure, Heir, Westone and similar.
A little trick I sometimes use is a very small rubber band, as it has some grip, put around the back and looped over itself until it’s nice and tight and then using that as a tightener behind your neck. IEM’s down the front alway just feel wrong.
Fit is everything with IEMs so make sure you try all the tips and find the best for you. Any leaks and you’re not going to get the best out of these.
These sound cohesive. There isn’t a frequency that sits out of line and the sound signature is effortless to listen to. I can picture listening to these for long periods without feeling any fatigue. The sounds signature isn’t soft around the edges but it isn’t harsh either. It’s not overly warm although there is some warmth in it; meaning it isn’t clinical.
My concern when I got these is that these might suffer the same fate that others in this price point suffer and that is, highs that make things a little painful. I’ve experienced this mostly with Dunu and was concerned these would also suffer the same but – not at all. There is a nice connection between the mids and treble so they connect well. Upper mids could be a little stronger but you won’t feel you’re missing too much in the sound signature to bother you.
The mids are lovely – they present vocals and acoustics really quite well. I like a little sibilance in my mids and highs which these don’t have but these really are impressive enough for the price (oops I said it). They could sit a little more forward in my opinion for what I like but they are really as close to perfect as you expect.
Bass get’s in the way a bit. It’s not as tight as I would like. It’s wide and deep enough but might get lost in noisey environments. Sub bass isn’t over the top and really low frequencies might disappear a little but you won’t find yourself saying that these lack mid Bass to much. The bass that is there isn’t super tight but it’s also not too wooly – like listening to it through cardboard. It’s impressive enough
What have I thrown at these.
Try a track like I’m not Mad by Halsey, these really shine with the floor tom sounds – lovely.
I haven’t spent a long time with these in noisy environments. I did use them in the office which is quite loud but not as loud as a train. You might find the silicon rubber tips are not as isolating as foam tips so consider looking for third party foam tips – it might also tighten up the bass frequencies a tad.
If you believe in burning these earphones in then I believe these will only improve. I sometimes think people warm to their IEM’s over time as they get to like the sound signature – it gets familiar and they start to appreciate the positives of the sound they produce. So over the course of this KZ Zax review, I’ve warmed to them.
Now finally I can say, for the price these do punch way above their weight. I would be happy to recommend these with anything else I’ve reviewed in the up to $500 price point and don’t tell anyone I said this but if I was going to go on a week long trip tomorrow I’d take these before I’d take my $1500 Custom IEMs…no, they don’t have the same sub bass or crisp separation in the sound signature, overall they don’t sound as good, but they are light and easy to travel with, are more comfortable over long periods and sound great. The fact that I am here comparing a high-end CIEM with an under $60 universal IEM is staggering enough.
There are certainly some gaps in the sound signature but after about 10 minutes of listening these become less pronounced.
Don’t go our telling everyone that these are better than your mates $1000 UE Pro’s or JH Audio 13’s – have a listen and decide for yourselves but you can colour me happy enough.
If you’re looking for a respectable, comfortable and affordable set of IEM’s for live playing or just enjoying music then I’d recommend these without hesitation. Look for the best when you listen to them and you can find it, burn them and in and give them chance and they’ll start to shine.
Endless hours of experimentation, professional work, and personal investment in Home Theatre, Hi-Fi, Smart Home Automation and Headphones have come to this.
Former owner of Headphones Canada, a high-end headphone specialty retailer.
This post was last updated on 2024-02-19 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.