Review: KZ ZSA Budget Hybrid IEM's

Firstly I would like to thank Linsoul for this sample.

*disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of writing a review, no incentive was given to write a favourable review. All opinions expressed are my own subjective findings 

Gear Used:
Audio Opus 2 / iBasso DX200 / Yulong DA10 > ZSA


Tech Specs:
Driver type: 1 x 8mm dynamic + 1 x Balanced Armature
Audio Jack: L type 3.5mm
Pin Type: 0.75mm
Cable Length (m): about 1.2m
Frequency response: 7-40000Hz
Impedance: 18ohms
Sensitivity: 101 dB/mW

https://www.linsoul.com/product-page/KZ-ZSA-Earphone

Packaging, Build Quality and Accessories:
Like all the cheaper KZ models the packaging for the ZSA is very basic, yet I have no problem with this due to the price. A simple white box with specs on the back and the model on the front with a simple picture. Inside it is all plastic yet everything fits in and is well protected during shipping.

The build quality is really quite impressive, for the price you pay you get a 2-pin detachable cable (although the less common 0.75 pins), along with a braided cable and metal housings. The housings are well finished and put together, and even the plastic nozzle feels sturdy, the cable has good strain relief and the overall build feels excellent for the price.

Accessory wise you get S/M/L silicone tips, that's it. No case or pouch, but again you really cannot complain when they cost this little and are built this well.


Comfort and Isolation:
The housings are small and fit really well when you find the right tips, the cable has a section of memory wire which is something I personally dislike. Luckily the memory wire is easily removed if you are patient with a craft knife. Overall I really like the fit, the housings do have some sharp edges that you sometimes feel upon initial insertion but they don't actually touch your ear when in use so they don't cause discomfort. The cable is soft and flexible so no issues here either.

Isolation is just above average, they have a vented housing which means they are not quite as isolation as fully sealed BA based IEM's, but they isolate more than enough for most usage including commuting.

Sound:
Split into the usual categories with a conclusion at the end.

Lows: The ZSA use a dynamic driver for the lows and it punches with good authority and weight, yet without sounding too bloated. The lows are a little slow at times but they do a very good job of staying in their place overall. In more complex mixes the lows do have a tendency to become a little muddy, but the overall quality and quantity is actually quite impressive. They don't bleed into the midrange too much, and they have good extension down in to the sub-bass. They give the sound a slight warmth and body, but I would not call them a bass heavy IEM.

Midrange: The midrange is well separated from the lows, with very little bleed warming the lower midrange. There is however a bit of a focus on the upper midrange, making male vocals and lower guitars sound a little laid back. This is quite track dependent and during slower acoustic and jazz this isn't as noticeable. Female vocals are quite forward, and the slight rise in the upper midrange can bring out a bit more sibilance in recordings, but I would not say they are overly sibilant.

Highs: The upper midrange/lower treble rise does bring out a lot of energy in the highs, it then dips a little and spikes in the upper treble again. The highs can be a little harsh at times, with a couple of peaks that may be fatiguing to those who are most treble sensitive. The highs do however have good detail, and if you feed them slower and well recorded music it really showcases what they can do. They are at times a little unrefined and splashy, but for the most part I quite enjoy the treble response of the ZSA.

Soundstaging is faily good, with the stage being a little wider than most IEM's, the separation is good until tracks get busy where they have a tendency to become a little congested and muddy.


Conclusion: The ZSA are a $20 earphone, and they put a lot of other models at this price to shame. They even put some other higher end KZ models to shame, the ZSA have a very likable signature with good bass response that digs deep yet also stays well controlled for the most part, a fairly clean midrange with a slight emphasis on the upper midrange, and treble that is a little peaky but not annoyingly so. The build, coupled with the engaging and fun sound signature make these a really good buy.

Sound Perfection Rating: 9/10 (considering the price, these are a no-brainer)

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