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KZ ZS10 Pro Review – Cannibalized

Tested at $40

Our Score

Hi there PAR fam. Today we’re doing the KZ ZS10 Pro review, one I know many of you have been waiting for. The ZS10 Pro has 5 drivers per side (1 dynamic + 4 balanced armatures) and features polished chrome faceplates. That’s right, KZ did away with the previous housing and instead have chosen to adopt the ZSN style body. Has it paid dividends? Let’s find out.

This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.

Pros
  • Tried and tested housings
  • Great build quality
  • Energetic, clear signature

Cons
  • Same old tangly brown cable
  • Aggressive sound will not suit everyone
  • Sound and performance almost identical to the cheaper ZSN Pro

Package and Accessories

Have you unboxed any recent KZ earphone in recent times? If so, you can skip this part but if not it will just take a minute. The outer sleeve of the box has a colour image of the earphones on the front plus the model number and driver configuration below. On the back is a list of specifications and company information.

Removing the outer sleeve reveals the earpieces secured in a paper-covered foam insert, which is covered by a protective, transparent plastic sheet. Beneath the foam are the included accessories which include a detachable 2-pin cable, 3 pairs of Starline silicone eartips, one pair of generic silicone eartips and a user guide/warranty card.

KZ ZS10 Pro package contents

Build Quality and Design

Available in 3 colours: black, blue and purple, the KZ ZS10 Pro adopts the familiar housings that we saw on the ZSN, ZSN Pro as well as the CCA C10, CCA C16 and probably some others which I’ve forgotten about.

The one physical feature that sets the ZS10 Pro apart from the other models is its faceplates. They are identical to the ZSN variants except this time they’ve been polished to a mirror finish which look quite stunning, at least in my opinion.

We can see the same zigzag pattern that was present on the ZSN, as well as the 3 torque screws and 3 vents. The weight and rigidity of the faceplates makes the earphones feel a lot more premium than their price tag would suggest.

The shells are made from a transparent resin, giving you a view of the single dynamic and quad BA drivers within. A single tiny vent is situated towards the rear of the inner shell. The aluminium nozzles are gold in colour, have a proper ridge for securing your eartips and of course, the protective metal grill which keeps that nasty ear wax from penetrating the housings.

KZ ZS10 Pro scratched faceplates
The polished faceplates are very easily scratched.
Comfort and Noise Isolation

For my ears, the KZ ZS10 Pro are very comfortable and I could wear them all day long. The shells have a rounded smooth finish all over and fit naturally into the concha. One thing to note is that the edges on the faceplates are very straight-edged and might dig into your antitragus or antihelix (Tragus of the ear on Earth’s Lab).

KZ ZS10 Pro 2-pin socket
Cable

Once again KZ has supplied their famous brown-coloured cable. This one comes with pre-formed ear guides which I much prefer over memory wire. The same transparent slot-design 2-pin connectors are present again, and I must say, I really like this implementation. Sadly, the stupidly placed Y-split that regularly makes the cable a tangled mess has not changed.

A right-angled and rubberized 3.5 mm plug is the final component of the cable. All things considered, it is a reasonably high-quality cable but I personally switch it out for a third-party option as soon as possible.

KZ ZS10 Pro socketed 2-pin connectors

Sound

Gear used for testing includes the Sony NW-ZX300 and Shanling M5s as portable sources. On the desktop, I plugged the ZS10 Pro into my Arcam irDAC-II which is connected to my PC via USB. The KZ ZS10 Pro is easy to drive and does not require extra amplification. It will work just fine straight out of a smartphone or DAP.

Let me say right off the bat: if you’re treble sensitive then don’t even bother. The ZS10 Pro’s sound is very up front and in your face. It’s pretty aggressive from top to bottom from the slamming bass to the ardent treble. It is a detailed sound and has excellent clarity too, along with instrument separation above and beyond what you would expect from a budget IEM.

KZ ZS10 Pro frequency response
Bass

The ZS10 Pro doesn’t hold back when it comes to bass quantity; it’s there in spades and boosted way north of neutral. Although it is extremely vigorous it’s also a really well-controlled and high-quality bass. Sub-bass rumble gets physical and will shake things up when you need it.

The mid-bass will punch hard on demand too. It has a reasonably fast attack with a slower decay giving it weight while maintaining control. I found it sounded great on most recordings and excessive on some but even when the amount of bass seems unbridled, the quality of it is always impressive.

Mids

The lower midrange is a touch recessed due to the influence of the powerful bass but the upper midrange gets boosted and is well forward in the mix, surpassing even the exuberant treble. Like other recent KZ models, the vocals are free of any graininess and are delivered with clarity, although it might be said the lower mids are a bit on the dry side.

Treble

ZS10 Pro’s treble is spirited and lively, coming well forward in the mix and lending to the V-shaped signature. Despite being heavily emphasized the treble is reasonably smooth. But it’s going to be a test for anyone who is sensitive to brightness.

Any sibilance inherent in a recording will be present but the treble is fairly even and without unruly peaks.

Soundstage

The soundstage is moderate in size with a rounded shape. Width and depth are comparable in terms of perceived distance while vocals are fairly close to the listener and therefore more intimate. Instrument separation is above average for a budget IEM and positional cues are good as well.

KZ ZS10 Pro transparent shells

Comparison

KZ ZSN Pro

Tonally these two earphones are near identical. In fact, it’s quite remarkable how similar they sound. The ZSN Pro has a hint more presence at 5kHz, making it more prone to sibilance but apart from that there’s hardly anything else worth mentioning in terms of tonality.

The ZS10 Pro has a bigger stage, better imaging and maintains more space between instruments. Because of its ability to keep things separated it presents a more 3D stage where instruments occupy their own space more, rather than being another part in a wall of sound.

Considering how very close these earphones are in sound presentation it would be hard to propose spending twice as much for the ZS10 Pro. The only way I would recommend it is if you really love the tonality of the ZSN Pro but want slightly better technical performance.

KZ ZS10 Pro profile view

Conclusion

The KZ ZS10 Pro is a good performer in the budget earphone segment. However, it is very aggressive in nature from top to bottom without much in the way of subtlety or nuance. On its own, it is really a good value earphone but for half the price you can get almost the exact tonality and performance from the ZSN Pro, making the ZS10 Pro hard to recommend.

Specifications
  • Sensitivity: 111dB/mW
  • Impedance: 30 Ω
  • Frequency: 7-40,000Hz

Reader Score
[Votes: 4 Average: 4.3]
Founder of Prime Audio
  1. Good review, Crabbos. As posted elsewhere my set drove me nuts during the first 200 hours but finally things started to fall in place and now they have the most natural treble of any of my xz KZ hybrids (which doesn’t necessarily mean too much, lol).

    Keep it up!

    1. The ZS7 has more bass. Its bass response follows a similar curve like the ZS10 but there’s simply more of it. As a result, its lower midrange has more body and fullness too. The ZS7 also has an extra bump at 4kHz which gives vocals a little more presence. Because of the extra bass and lower mids bleed, the ZS7’s overall tonality is warmer.

    1. AS10 has less sub-bass and more mid-bass. It has a warmer tonality with less clarity but is less bright and has a more laid back treble. For more detail, ZS10 P is better but if you want more relaxing and musical then AS10.

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