Knowledge Zenith is one of the most well-known brands in the budget-fi category. A lot of their products, including the original ZSN and ZSN Pro have paved the way for newcomers to enjoy the hobby at a budget price point.
Now, KZ has refreshed several of its classic products with new cables and new tweaks to their tunings. In this review, we will be checking out the KZ ZSN Pro X. Find out if the latest revision of the ZSN Pro is still competitive in 2020.
The review unit was provided by HiFiGO. We would like to thank them for their support and for making this review possible. However, this does not influence our review in any way. Everything written here is my honest opinion.
Packaging and Accessories
The packaging of the KZ ZSN Pro X is pretty simple and the unboxing is straightforward. You get a small cardboard box with a picture of the IEMs on the front and the spec sheet on the back.
Inside the box, you get the shells, the cable, and some extra ear tips. Like most IEMs in this price range, there is no pouch. The cables aren’t preattached, so you get a clean unboxing experience with each item having their own compartment. The whole experience is pretty standard and similar to most KZ products.
Design and Build Quality
The ZSN Pro X’s shells don’t look too different from the ZSN Pro and the original ZSN. You still get that nice looking metallic faceplate and a clear view of the internals on the opposite side. The ZSN Pro’s design was a huge hit and didn’t have too many issues so keeping the design makes a lot of sense.
Just like most of KZ’s IEMs, the ZSN Pro X comes in a variety of different colors. Our review unit comes in an elegant looking gold finish, which seems to be a new color for the Pro X.
The gold color is well implemented on the Pro X. The faceplates match the gold nozzles. It is also the only color in the Pro X lineup that has a different colored faceplate.
Despite the gold color, the nozzles are actually made of plastic. They seem sturdy enough for changing ear tips, but you should still be careful since you may snap them off.
In terms of the build quality, the ZSN Pro X is similar to the rest of KZ’s earphones. If you haven’t owned a KZ IEM before, this basically means the build quality is alright and should survive your daily commutes. However, it isn’t the best since it is made of plastic.
I have seen KZ ZSN Pro’s split apart in the past, so I advise you to be more cautious with your IEMs by using a carrying case such as the Pelican 1010 or ddHiFi C-2020. You can learn more about carrying cases in our IEM Accessories Article.
My favorite addition to the ZSN Pro X is the new cable. KZ has finally ditched the old brown cable (also used by other budget IEMs such as the KBear KS2) that didn’t look too good and easily tangled. The ZSN Pro X now features a white cable that looks and performs better than the old one.
Of course, it still shares many elements with other budget cables such as the plastic connectors and plastic housing of the 3.5 mm jack. But overall, it is a step in the right direction and I hope KZ updates all of their budget offerings with this kind of cable.
The KZ ZSN Pro X continues to refine the ZSN Pro’s sound signature. However, this time, KZ deviates from the ZSN Pro’s V-shaped signature and goes for something more mature sounding. The lower mids and bass are now more neutral sounding and are more refined compared to the previous versions.
However, the notorious upper midrange and treble spikes are still present in this model. KZ does this to add character and to artificially give the IEMs better detail retrieval. Unfortunately, due to the limitations of its technical ability, this doesn’t always work out.
Given the V-shaped nature of the ZSN Series, I was expecting the bass to be prominent on the ZSN Pro X. However, that was not the case. Instead, I was greeted with a more subdued bass response that wasn’t constantly trying to steal the show.
In most cases, this kind of bass response would make me happy especially when listening to more mellow tracks. However, in this case, I found the bass to be a bit lacking.
It feels like KZ was playing it too safe with the bass. It lacks weight and isn’t giving enough body to the songs. But despite this minor complaint, there are no major issues such as bass bleed or muddiness.
The mids are positioned well on the ZSN Pro X. Since the ZSN Pro X doesn’t have a V-shaped tuning, vocals and instruments easily cut through and have plenty of room to shine. This is quite refreshing since most budget IEMs don’t put too much emphasis on the mids. However, the ZSN Pro X sometimes overdoes it in the upper mids and ends up being too hot for my taste.
Sure, it makes the mids more revealing. However, the KZ ZSN Pro X doesn’t have the technicalities to pull this off. And as a result, you get unwanted harshness without getting anything in return.
The same thing can be said with the highs. They are positioned well and sit nicely in the mix. They are revealing and give ample detail retrieval and extension. However, like the mids, they can be too harsh.
I can tolerate the highs but some may find it too hot to listen to. This has been an issue for a lot of KZ IEMs and I would appreciate it if they would at least tone it down in their entry-level models since they aren’t resolving enough to justify these treble spikes.
The soundstage is pretty average. Each instrument is well spaced out and never sounds congested. But you aren’t getting anything else more than that, which is expected given its price point.
One of our top picks in this price range is the KBear KS2 due to how well it executes its V-shaped sound signature. Compared to the ZSN Pro X, the KS2 has a warmer and more laid back sound. The treble isn’t as active as the ZSN Pro X and the mids aren’t as forward. However, the KS2 has a more natural and relaxing sound which some users may prefer.
Both IEMs have excel at their strengths which makes this comparison dependent on the user’s personal preference. If you dislike the sharp treble found on most KZ IEM and want a more laid back but still technically competitive IEM, then the KS2 is a great fit for you.
You can learn more in our full review.
Overall, I commend brands like KZ who continue to innovate and make great sounding IEMs that everyone can afford. The change in the signature is a welcome addition and separates itself from the rest of the competition.
The hot upper mids and trebles may not appeal to everyone, especially more experienced listeners. But for those who are just getting into the hobby, the ZSN Pro X gives a good glimpse into what lies ahead.
- Impedance: 25Ω
- Earphone sensitivity: 112dB
- Frequency response range: 7Hz-40KHz
- Plug Type: 3.5mm
- Earphone connector: 0.75 mm 2 pin connector
- Drive Unit: Hybrid 10mm Dynamic Driver + Balanced Armature
Albums Used For Testing
- Milet – Eyes
- Babymetal – Metal Galaxy World Tour in Japan
- Babymetal – Metal Galaxy
- Mamamoo – Reality in Black
- Nobuo Uematsu – Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy
- Pentatonix – Pentatonix Volume 2
- Lindsey Stirling – Artemis
- Moe Shop – Moe Moe
Stephen is a musician, cinematographer, and headphone enthusiast who is passionate about reviewing audio equipment. He has been playing guitar for at least a decade, which introduced him to professional recording equipment such as headphones and in-ear monitors. With the help of reviews and online content, he was able to learn the ins and outs of the hobby. His goal is to give back to the community by providing quality content to help others enjoy the beautiful (and expensive) world of audio.
Favorite Headphones: Sennheiser HD660s