Current testing methodology is v1.2
March 27, 2019
As one of the first IEMs that offer good value for little money, the KZ ZSN series is well-known and loved by the CHi-fi community. I tried the KZ ZSN Pro about a month ago and it didn’t disappoint as it offers excellent quality and sound for just around $20.
I recently got the KZ ZSN Pro X, which should be an upgrade of the ZSN Pro, so I expect it to be better, if not as good. In this review, we’ll find out if it lives up to my expectations.
Let’s get to it!
KZ ZSN Pro X
A similar animal but a different beast
The KZ ZSN Pro X is a budget-friendly IEM from the brand KZ and it’s part of the ZSN series.
Although the ZSN series is known to have a V-shaped sound signature or “the KZ house sound”, the ZSN Pro X steps out of the norm with its bright sound signature. It took me a while to adjust to its sound since it’s a big step away from the usual KZ signature.
While the sound quality is good, I realized after testing that the ZSN Pro X is less versatile compared to the previous models.
- Driver: 10mm Single Dynamic Driver + 30095 Balanced Armature
- Cable: 3.5mm angled plug/ 0.75 mm 2-pin cable
- Frequency: 7-40,000Hz
- Impedance: 25Ω
- Sensitivity: 112±3db
What’s in the Box?
- KZ ZSN Pro X Earphones
- 4 x pairs of silicone ear tips (S, M, L)
- 2-pin detachable cable
- Instruction Manual
Stuff I like
- Natural tonality
- Works well with the more vocal-focused genres
- Good clarity and detail retrieval
Stuff I like less
- Thin-sounding mids
- Metallic timbre
- Prone to sibilance
Comparable products to consider
Retailing for around $20. the KZ ZSN Pro has an excellent price-to-performance ratio which makes it popular in the audio community.
The KZ ZSN Pro X is packed inside a white-sleeved carton box, which is typical KZ packaging. The box features some graphics on the front and some product information on the back. The packaging is nothing special.
The ZSN Pro X follows the design elements of the ZSN Pro with some minimal changes to its appearance. I do like the design of the ZSN Pro X since they feel better in the hands and they also seem lighter.
The accessories are just the basics – consisting of a detachable silver-plated cable and a few extra pairs of silicone ear tips of varying sizes.
The KZ ZSN Pro X bears a similar construction and materials used with other ZSN earphones. It has a resin shell with a zinc alloy faceplate, slightly resembling that of the ZSN Pro but with some minimal differences.
In terms of build, the ZSN Pro X is an improvement over the ZSN Pro as it has a better metal finish and overall feel. It’s also lighter than the previous model.
The includes ear tips are also an improvement. The ZSN Pro X also comes with three extra pairs of silicone ear tips, which are a lot more comfortable to wear compared to the ear tips included with the ZSN Pro.
As for the cable, it’s the same 2-pin 0.75mm detachable silver-plated cable.
Fit and Comfort
The KZ ZSN Pro X is very comfortable since it’s light and has a universal shape that would fit most ears. Since it didn’t stray from the usual ZSN shell shape, it has a similar fit, which is phenomenal.
They’re one of the most comfortable IEMs I’ve worn. Apart from the earphones themselves being light, the molded ear hooks on the cable were also comfortable and I have no issues with how tight they sat on my ears.
If you have a previous experience with the ZSN Pro, then you’ll have an idea of how the ZSN Pro X fits.
Regarding the sound, the KZ ZSN Pro X has a relatively thin overall presentation. This wasn’t what I expected since the ZSN and the ZSN Pro have a V-shaped sound signature with a little more emphasis on the bass.
The ZSN Pro X resembles a bright sound signature, with vocals highlighted much more than the other elements in the tracks. The bass is also significantly less prominent in the mix, with a very minimal bass rumble in its presentation.
The bass presentation of the KZ ZSN Pro X differs significantly from its predecessor. Its bass is much more subtle and not as prominent in the mix, unlike the past models.
The sub-bass has a very shallow extension resulting in a much more subtle rumble. Conversely, the mid-bass remains punchy and tight on its own but in the context of a mix, the other frequencies can easily throw it behind.
It wasn’t enough to bring forward the bass frequencies even when running it through a more extensive power source, such as my VE Abigal Pro DAC dongle.
While listening to the test tracks, I noticed a recurring theme in the KZ ZSN Pro X’s presentation. Some aspects of the mid frequencies, such as instruments and vocals, sometimes sound thin and spiky.
The vocals frequently sound thin and lack body which makes them sound dry. The instruments such as guitars also have the same problem.
When I listened through some tracks with distorted guitars, the upper mids had a grainy texture which caused problems with the mids’ resolution.
The treble of the KZ ZSN Pro X offers excellent detail retrieval and produced some air and sparkle to the tracks. However, there were peaks and sibilance on certain tracks.
The treble also has a metallic timbre that sounds unnatural and can sometimes be fatiguing. The treble is on the brighter sound spectrum, resulting in a biting and gritty top end.
I’ve tested the KZ ZSN Pro X on different genres of music to get a proper understanding of how they sound and here are my findings.
- Metal / Rock – The overall presentation of the KZ ZSN Pro X for this genre is bright and thin, which didn’t cut it for me. The mix lacked body, the distorted guitars were piercing, and the vocals were very sibilant. Even though the mix was presented with clarity and details, the piercing nature of the tracks got fatiguing. I don’t recommend using the KZ ZSN Pro X for this genre. It lacked the body and tight presentation while having overwhelming brightness levels. Tracks used: I Don’t Love You (My Chemical Romance), All The Small Things (Blink 182), Ignorance (Paramore), Cold (Korn), Cliffs of Dover (Eric Johnson)
- Pop – The ZSN Pro X has a neutral tonality that worked well with presenting the vocals and instruments in this genre. For the most part, the bass and instruments remained well-controlled behind the vocals. The bass also didn’t cause any midbass bleed due to the nature of the tuning. Again, the vocals lacked definition on the lower mids, which resulted in a relatively thin presentation. Tracks used: Snooze (SZA), As It Was (Harry Styles), Yours (Maye)
- Hip-hop – The KZ ZSN Pro X’s aggressive and biting top end didn’t sit well with this genre. Since many cymbals were used for the tracks, they got fatiguing to listen to along with the snare hits. This IEM failed in supplementing the tracks with enough rumble to complement the sub-bass-demanding nature of this genre. The bass presentation had a more prominent mid-bass than the sub-bass. Tracks used: LOVE. (Kendrick Lamar, Zacari), sdp interlude (Travis Scott), I Wonder (Kanye West), Superhero (Metro Boomin & Future)
- R&B / Soul – The vocals were positioned very forward in the mix and stood out the most. The vocals had a natural timbre, although it suffered a bit from some peaks on the upper mids, which came off as harsh. The low end of the bass frequencies was far back in the mix than I expected, giving more emphasis to the mids and treble frequencies. The top end has a good mix of clarity and detail retrieval, revealing most of the micro-details in the mix. Tracks used: LA FAMA (Rosalia, The Weeknd), Blessed (Daniel Ceasar), Moonlight (Kali Uchis), Traingazing (Sam Wills ft. Honey Mooncie), Always (Daniel Ceasar)
The KZ ZSN Pro X strayed off from the usual tuning of a V-shaped sound signature as it features a bright tuning that focuses on its top end.
This can be a deal breaker for those who love and favor the colored tonality of the previous ZSN models. generations of the ZSN. However, this may be a welcomed change for those who want something different. Ultimately, it depends on musical tastes and preferences.
The KZ ZSN Pro X shied away from KZ’s house sound. While it’s great that the brand is experimenting and getting out of its comfort zone, they still have a lot of work to do with the ZSN Pro X.
Overall, this IEM is outdated and will have a tough time keeping up with the competition as it’s in the very competitive $20 market. While the KZ ZSN Pro X offers good value for its price, I wouldn’t recommend it firsthand since many IEMs out there offer better sound and quality for the same price.
A man of many interests, Querho is passionate about discovering new things that stimulate the mind. When he is not writing about the things he is passionate about, Querho can be found making music at his home studio.
This post was last updated on 2023-12-02 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.