KZ ZSN PRO X: a beer-priced earphone with champagne taste.
Updated: Jan 30, 2021
Hey everyone, it’s Your Friendly Neighborhood Reviewer with InToit Reviews. We’re looking at the KZ ZSN Pro X. In my opinion, this IEM has too many descriptors: “Pro” or “X,” make up your mind KZ! So needless to say, it can be confusing to say. But does it sound confusing as well?
Let’s get InToit!
To begin, let’s start with a disclaimer for the sake of transparency. I was provided with the KZ ZSN Pro X by KeepHiFi for the price of 11 cents, but I am not being influenced by them to say anything specifically, and all opinions and recommendations are my own.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the build of the KZ ZSN Pro. This definitely feels somewhat cheaper than the KZ ZAX that I just reviewed. The cable, which initiates in a QDC connection, looks the same, but feels slightly stiffer, less soft to the touch, and is more prone to kinking than the ZAX cable. The Y-split is also longer, as are the preformed ear hooks. In some ways, when I wear this cable, it reminds me of being a kid, and wearing baggy clothing that was too big for me. However; the microphone was nice when tested in calls and on discord, and the sound is functionally the same as the ZAX cable despite the mild aesthetic differences.
The shell is composed of a transparent, smoked plastic material, the nozzle is on the larger side, and comprised of a gold metal material, and the faceplate is a gold, plastic covering with raised hash lines and a small vent hole towards the bottom. It is very comfortable in my ears, and rests flush with my pina. The fit here reminds me of the Z10 Pro, but slightly less chunky, and even lighter weight as well.
In the box they come with one set of standard, medium, rounded, black silicone tips. These tips sounded mostly fine, but offered a slightly leaner and sharper presentation than the KZ Starline Tips that I preferred on this set. Given the price of this earphone, I will note that you are kind of getting a lower quality package here than some of KZ’s other current offerings, including something like the KZ ZST X which came with a slightly softer cable, although Starline Tips were included in both boxes, which is a nice addition by KZ here.
Having said that, the sound of these is particularly striking for the cost. The soundstage here isn’t the widest at all, but it has tremendous depth and dimensionality within its stage. In terms of KZ’s, this is the layering champ. They image strikingly well for their cost, both with regard to image distinction and separation. If I had a criticism of the imaging, it would be that its placement is less left to right, and more front to back. Because of these characteristics the ZSN Pro X exceled not only with music, but with other media as well. For example, these have been my go-to IEM as of late to watch programing on Netflix.
So what’s wrong with the ZSN Pro X? Well its timbre won’t be for everyone. These have what I would call “Marshall tone.” They produce a dry, somewhat flat, warm, dull, and compressed sounding sound signature that is reminiscent of a solid state Marshall guitar amplifier which would have been produced in the 1980’s or 1990’s. While something is most definitely “up” with the tonality here, its not really that offensive either, and its tonality does make it less fatiguing to listen to over the course of a day.
*Gold Note DS-10 available at: https://gestalt.audio/
The resolution of the ZSN Pro X isn’t the greatest either, and, in general, I noticed that it is a pretty sensitive IEM. However; I will also point out that, perhaps because of this, the KZ ZSN Pro X does scale tremendously with amplifier quality. For instance, it sounds so, so on my phone, decent on the Centrance DACport HD, and practically blows my mind on the Gold Note DS-10 Plus using an iFi IEMatch as an intermediary. With the right amplification, details are surprisingly great for the price. Transients, decay, and micro dynamics are also particular strong-points for this IEM. Macro dynamics were decent, without being overbearing, but it does lack some impact, and large-scale shifts in dynamic range were simply average.
The low-end here is primarily reliant on a mid-bass presentation. There is some sub-bass here, but also noticeable roll-off. The bass is neither particularly loose or tight, and is somewhere in the middle, but it also doesn’t resolve as quickly as I would like, and there is some notable mid-bass bleed into the midrange if I am being picky; but as a theme, I will again not that this wasn’t particularly offensive either. Overall, I would describe the low-end as mildly loose.
The lower mid-range is less prominent than the upper mid-range, but this is also a somewhat thick, and full-sounding IEM; and, again, with the theme here; I did not find this overly offensive either.
Treble was relatively smooth for the price, and extended decently before a noticeable roll off. It handled male vocals better than female vocals because of this, as female vocalists are noticeably fuzzier and more restricted in range in comparison. Nevertheless, albeit rather warm and dry, there is also a mildly airy characteristic to the upper register here, but significantly less than in, say; the CCA C10 Pro, which I also recently reviewed.
So, in the end, I can’t really recommend the KZ ZSN Pro X for everyone. You’ll have to be able to tolerate its warm and dry timbre, limited stage width, and balanced armature sensitivity. Having said that, it also offers an enjoyable listening experience, with limited listening fatigue, and is easy to wear over the course of a day. It was also particularly great for streaming TV, video, or other media due to its strength in layering. Furthermore, it scales with amplification more than any $12 earphone rightly should. And with that, I’m out, for now!
*Gold Note DS-10 available at: https://gestalt.audio/
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