It’s happening again, folks! The KZ (Knowledge Zenith) masters are back in their bid to take over planet earth. KZ has released another IEM in their X-series: the KZ ZSN Pro X. The Pro X has been upgraded over the already highly successful Pro model in 4 key areas, including an improved dynamic driver, the inclusion of a 30095 balanced armature driver, a silver-plated copper (SPC) upgrade cable and new, brighter colours. In this review, I’m going to try to help you determine whether you need the ZSN Pro X in your life. Let’s get started.
Disclaimer: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.
KZ ZSN Pro X
Detachable SPC cable
Great build quality for the price
Punchy, controlled bass
Detail retrieval and clarity
Value for money
Treble might be bright for some
Package and Accessories
The KZ ZSN Pro X comes in the usual KZ packaging. It’s a small white box with an image of the earphones on the front. Inside is the earphones, the detachable cable and 3 pairs of silicone eartips.
Design, Comfort & Noise Isolation
Those familiar with the ZSN Pro will immediately recognize the shells of the ZSN Pro X. On the outside, they are essentially identical except the X comes in new colours (black, gold, and royal blue). The acrylic shell body is transparent and gives you a clear view of the earphone’s internals.
The faceplates are aluminium with a clean matte finish and patterned ridges on the surface. Considering the price, the ZSN Pro X has excellent build quality and in my opinion, it looks pretty sweet too.
Internally, the ZSN Pro X has a single 30095 balanced armature driver and a single dynamic driver. The dynamic driver has supposedly been improved and I can attest to it being more controlled but whether or not it sounds better is still subjective.
Just like the earlier models, the KZ ZSN Pro X fits comfortably in the ears. The acrylic body of the housing is smooth with rounded edges and feels natural, filling the concha area. There is no pressure buildup or “cabin noise”. Noise isolation is about average and depends largely on how good a seal you get with your selected eartips.
The included cable is the upgraded 4-core KZ silver plated copper version. It handles quite well and is less prone to tangling than the older brown cable in my experience. At the top are the hooded, transparent 2-pin connector housings, followed by heat-shrink pre-formed ear guides.
The Y-split and right-angled 3.5mm plug are both made from lightweight translucent plastic. It’s a fairly supple cable and doesn’t have any significant cable noise, so I’m happy to see it has become the new standard for KZ’s current product lineup.
The KZ ZSN Pro X has a clean presentation that is on the brighter side of neutral. It’s still V-shaped but is certainly more balanced than the Pro. This new variant has a milder bass and a more forward midrange. It still has a prominent treble but there are significant improvements there as well.
Compared to the ZSN Pro, the Pro X bass is less emphasized and more controlled. It doesn’t have the same authoritative sub-bass gusto as the original but is now more refined and the bass is more in parity with the midrange. Technically, it would be hard to argue that this isn’t a better bass but part of me misses the old thunder.
The sub-bass has a smooth rumble and ZSN Pro X has a controlled mid-bass punch. It’s quite a fast bass with a fast decay and the quality of it is really impressive for such an affordable IEM. Listening to OSI’s “Enemy Prayer”, I can’t help being impressed by how this new dynamic driver performs.
In this new version, the KZ overlords have made the midrange more forward than it was on the original ZSN Pro. This was achieved not so much by boosting the mids but by slightly attenuating the bass (compared to the older models).
As a result, vocals and midrange instruments are less recessed and the overall sound signature is more balanced. Because of the tighter bass and better treble control, there’s now more midrange detail, bringing to ZSN Pro X closer to the performance of the ZS10 Pro.
The first thing I noticed about the Pro X highs was that the treble is noticeably smoother and more even than the old Pro. This is a sweeter, wetter sound than the scratchy KZ treble of old and it makes a big difference in the overall audio quality.
ZSN Pro X has detail retrieval that puts some much more expensive IEMs to shame but comes at the cost of having a brighter and more prominent treble. For the most part, the treble is non-abrasive. however, in some songs like Do Or Die’s “Do U”, the sound can get a little strident.
The soundstage is average in size and slightly wider than it is deep. Vocals and the general stage position are forward, putting the listener close to the action. Stereo imaging is solid and layering is moderate. The instrument separation is good for a budget IEM, as is detail retrieval but overall resolution is par for the course.
KBEAR KS2 ($24)
The KBEAR KS2 (review here) has the same dual-driver setup (1BA+1DD) as the ZSN Pro X. It has acrylic shells while the KZ has an aluminium faceplate. The KS2 has a warmer sound with better bass extension and low-end authority. Both of these IEMs have a healthy amount of bass but the KS2 hits with more impact.
Pro X’s midrange has more clarity which comes from its brighter treble. Transients are faster and percussion instruments have a sharper attack. The KS2’s treble is not as forward and not as bright as the Pro X, which you will appreciate if you’re treble sensitive.
KZ ZST X ($16)
The KZ ZST X (review here) has the same dual-driver configuration as the KZ ZSN Pro X. It has a very similar tuning but with less treble emphasis. Of course, the different shape and materials of the acrylic housings make a difference too, but it’s still clear these are of the same ilk.
ZSN Pro X bass feels a little faster, perhaps due to better resonance control from the aluminium faceplates. Both IEMs are similar in bass quantity but because the ZST X mids are more recessed the bass feels for extended.
In the midrange, the ZSN Pro X is more forward, smoother and fuller. The ZST X stage position is further back, making it feel a bit more open. The ZST X treble is more laid back and smoother than the ZSN Pro X. Those who are treble-sensitive might appreciate the ZST X more for this aspect.
The KZ ZSN Pro X doesn’t promise to be anything but an upgraded and improved version of the ZSN Pro and that’s exactly what it is. That is not a criticism by the way but just an observation. There’s no doubt that this is a great earphone for the price and you can be sure, it will be another success story for KZ. If you’re on a tight budget and looking for some good earphones, you should definitely check these out.