KZ ZSN Pro X: Misled

Greetings!

Today we’re checking out another new release from KZ, the ZSN Pro X.

This newest lineup of releases from the brand finally seems intent on somewhat unifying the sporadic naming schemes of old, adding an X somewhere in the name; ZST X, ZSN Pro X, EDX, ZAX, etc. I’m all for this, especially if it results in genuinely new products. As a fan of the brand, I removed myself from their last batch of releases since they really offered nothing new.

Right now I have the ZST X and ZSN Pro X on hand, with the EDX and ZAX on the way. The ZST X is a wonderful new product and a welcome step up from the aging ZST with a more refined sound in pretty much every way. I was hoping the ZSN Pro X would do the same thing for the ZSN Pro, especially given all the marketing hoopla that’s so proud to point out the “new” drivers, but alas, the Pro X is just the same thing with new colour and with a single ohm added to the impedance. As a result, this review will follow suit and act as a reskin/reorganization of my old ZSN Pro review, with some minor updates to address the few changes that exist.

Let’s go!

IMGP4579

What I Hear The ZSN Pro X was an eye opener at first thanks to it’s initial “wow factor”, but that wears off quickly. The resulting earphone is a fun, v-shaped product that in my opinion is less ‘Pro’ than the more balanced ZSN it is based off of. That said, you’re still getting plenty of earphone for your 20 bucks.

Treble sees a hefty bump over the original ZSN giving the ZSN Pro X quite a sparkly, bright presentation with good detail and lots of space between somewhat lean notes. At low volumes it is quite nice since it retains a bouncy, high energy feel, though that gets pretty tiring at higher volumes where it can be somewhat too aggressive. The presentation is pretty capable overall, though it feels like the treble boost was put in place more to justify the ‘Pro’ moniker than provide a legitimate bump in clarity over the original ZSN. Note that for the longest time I thought the ZSN was brighter than the Pro version, but then I sat down and really compared the two. At low volumes the original ZSN does have a bit more lower treble energy, but as you increase the volume the ZSN Pro X’s upper ranges really kick in and overshadow the ZSN.

The mid-range is more forward than on the original ZSN. Being that it is fairly prominent, especially for a v-shaped signature, I never found vocals lacking or being drowned out by the added treble and mid-bass. Males and female vocals are well-represented with female vocals seeing the most benefit from the added mid-bass. They’re warmer and more intimate and overall sound more natural. Guitars and other instruments sound like they should and display a satisfying amount of texture. I would like a bit more bite on grungy electronic effects, but the ZSN Pro X doesn’t leave me wanting too much. Except in one area. Sibilance. It can be quite unpleasant and intrusive at times. That extra brightness in the signature combined with those forward upper vocals makes some vocal heavy tracks hiss and sizzle quite prominently.

Bass on the ZSN Pro X is going to please those that like it bold and forward. The added mid-bass hump heard here gives the Pro X’s low end tons of body and warmth. The dual-magnet setup helps keep hits controlled and quick, though it is lacking texture and at times can come across slightly bloated. Extension is excellent and sub-bass notes provide a deep, visceral rumble. With less mid-bass, the ZSN Pro X’s low end would be absolutely killer. As is it’s still quite good.

The ZSN Pro X’s sound stage is larger than what you’ll find on the original ZSN, most notably in terms of width, despite the listener by default sitting closer to the performance. The extra treble and resulting air allows sound to move further to the sides and in my opinion is a bit more immersive. Imaging is just a good with accurate movement from channel to channel and no vague zones. Layering and separation are similar too with the ZSN Pro X having a very mild edge.

KZ ZSN Pro vs. ZSN Pro X

Compared To A Peer (volumes matched with Dayton iMM-6)

CCA C10: The C10 and ZSN Pro X are similarly tuned with warm, bassy signatures, however, the ZSN Pro X is the brighter and more energetic of the two thanks to it’s more prominent upper treble. This also gives the ZSN Pro X an edge in clarity and detail top to bottom. The C10’s midrange is warmer and slightly less forward with it setting the listener further from the performance as a result. This also gives it the impression of a larger sound stage, though I found effects to travel about the same distance, though with more precision on the ZSN Pro X. Layering and separation are slightly more prominent on the Pro.

KZ ZS10 Pro: The ZSN Pro X and ZS10 Pro share some qualities, though the ZS10 Pro is superior to my ears. Treble on the ZSN Pro X is even more exaggerated and not as well controlled, in addition to losing out on detail. The ZS10 Pro’s mid-range is a bit cooler and absent of sibilance, except where it is already present in a track. The ZSN Pro X adds sibilance where there is none. Bass on the ZSN Pro X is more mid-bassy verses the ZS10 Pro which skews things towards sub-bass regions. Speed and control is similar with the ZS10 Pro showing more texture and no mid-bass bloat. The ZS10 Pro’s sound stage is wider and deeper. Imaging, layering and separation are all just a little better on the ZS10 Pro.

In The Ear The ZSN Pro X is built the same as the original ZSN Pro. The same quality acrylics are used for the main body while the face plate is made from the same heavier, thicker zinc alloy material versus the ZSN’s aluminum alloy, with new colour choices. That said, I still prefer the original ZSN face plate by a pretty wide margin. The Pro X’s version still looks more plastic than metal, less so in the Gold colouring of the model I purchased, with the soft, raised ridges lacking the precise cuts seen on the original ZSN. The reduction in the number of screws holding it down also leaves the design looking somewhat barren. The transparent black acrylic of my Gold ZSN Pro X looks just as nice as the transparent black used on my ZSN. The 2-pin ports are screwed in place just as they were on the original ZSN. The metal nozzles see a return as well, and are back to the Gold colouring seen on the original ZSN. All together, the ZSN Pro X ends up looking somewhat cheap, even though it in no way feels cheap.

The cable is a straight upgrade from previous Kzs, including their similar looking silver-plated upgrade cable. The sheath is thicker, more plush, and less prone to tangling above the y-split. The silver-plated wiring within has a nice sheen to it too. It looks and feels quite nice. The hardware falls into the “same old, same old” category though. The VSonic inspired y-split and jack carry over from the ZSN Pro, as do the excellent preformed ear guides. Overall a great stock cable and pretty much the only upgrade in the package.

Comfort is outstanding for me. This earpiece has been a staple across a couple brands in my experience with mild tweaks being made to the nozzle angle and quality of the plastics. With the ZSN Pro X, it fits perfectly with little to no effort required to get and maintain a good seal. The preformed guides hold the cable securely around the ear resulting in an earphone that is stable under pretty extreme movement, even despite the weight of the steel face plates. If you have little ears or they’re a particularly odd shape you might have issues with fit and comfort, but I expect everyone else to find these a pleasant product to wear.

Unlike the ZS10 Pro which has an isolation rating of 26dB, I haven’t been able to find anything for the ZSN Pro X. That said, it’s got to be similar based on my time with the two products. Any differences are hardly noticeable, if present at all. With no music and a JerryRigEverything video playing on my laptop in the background at my normal listening volumes, everything was still audible and I could follow along, but just barely. Using them in my local coffee shop….hahaha. This activity no longer exists right now thanks to ye olde Macaroni virus which is still going strong. Instead, I;ve been using them for nightly walks alongside busy roadways. The noise and chaos around me remained audible, but significantly decreased in volume. Bringing music into the equation makes all that outside noise a non-issue. I’m sure these would be fine on public transit, just as the ZSN Pro was.

In The Box The ZSN Pro X arrives in the same style of packaging as the majority of KZ’s modern offerings. The white exterior sheath features a decent quality, coloured rendering of the ZSN Pro X’s ear pieces as well as model info, while on the back you find specifications as well as locations and contact information for KZ. Sliding off the sheath reveals the ZSN Pro X’s ear pieces set within a paper covered foam insert protected by a clear viewing lid. Lifting it all out you find the accessories below. In all you get:

  • ZSN Pro X earphones
  • 0.75mm 2-pin copper braided cable
  • Starline silicone tips (s/m/l)
  • Single flange silicone tip (m)
  • Manual and warranty card

This is a very standard accessory kit from KZ. Nothing new here. I always like seeing ‘Starline’ tips included. They’re made from a very durable, flexible, high quality silicone and for most models in their lineup pair very well and provide a good seal. As always, it would be nice of them to include a case or carrying bag, but for the price I can’t be too disappointed.

Final Thoughts If you have the ZSN Pro and were thinking of picking up the ZSN Pro X as an upgrade, congratulations, you already own it. Save yourself 20 bucks. If you were trying to decide between the ZSN Pro or ZSN Pro X, pick the one that is cheapest or offers the colour scheme you like best.

While the ZSN Pro X is a good earphone, I regret giving KZ my money this time around. I have contributed to deceptive rebadging which may encourage them to continue this behaviour in the future if the ZSN Pro X sells well, and it probably will. Soooo, my take is to pass on the ZSN Pro X. Stick with the regular ZSN Pro, or preferably the standard ZSN, or check out one of a million other, equally solid options in this price range like the KBEAR KS2, KB04, KZ ZS10 Pro, or maybe even the NiceHCK X49.

Thanks for reading!

– B9

Disclaimer I purchased the ZSN Pro X from Linsoul Audio while it was on sale for 20 USD for the purposes of review. The thoughts within this review are my own subjective opinions and do not represent KZ, Linsoul, or any other entity. At the time of writing the ZSN Pro X has settled on a final price of 21 USD. You can check it out here: https://www.linsoul.com/products/kz-zsn-pro-x

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 7Hz – 40kHz
  • Impedance: 25 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 112 dB/mW
  • Driver: Single dynamic + single balanced armature

Gear Used For Testing LG Q70, FiiO BTR3K, Earstudio HUD100, Earmen TR-Amp, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501, ADC Sound Shaper Two Mk II

Some Test Tunes

Supertramp – Crime of the Century

Slipknot – Vol 3 (The Subliminal Verses)

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid

King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic

King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black

Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma

The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy

Steely Dan – The Royal Scam

Porcupine Tree – Stupid Dreams

Fleetwood Mac – Rumors

Tobacco – F****d Up Friends

6 comments

  1. Thank you very much! When you do a review with the edx please try to include a comparison of it to the zsn pro x and the zst x. They are of course different as edx is a single dynamic driver but I think it would be helpful to the readers. Again thank you very much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome. I’m planning to compare with the ZST X but won’t be doing so with the ZSN Pro X. That model is, imo, a waste of time. I don’t appreciate the way KZ has marketed it as being all new, when really it’s just the original ZSN Pro with some new colours and a better cable. Not cool.

      – B9

      Like

    1. ZST X isn’t as aggressive in the highs. Otherwise, the two are very similar everywhere else. Personally, I’d skip both and get the EDX. Very similar tune and technical ability to the ZSN Pro X and ZST X, but with smoother treble yet again and less expensive than either.

      – B9

      Like

      1. EDX has slightly less detail. I think the Blon sucks so I’m biased and would take any of these three over it without hesitation. Blon is too muddy and bloated with a lack of detail. All it’s got going for it is timbre. EDX is good with rock. I use it quite a bit for DnB, metal, and classic rock. Never felt it was lacking.

        Like

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