IEMs?

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So I have a fairly nice audio setup on my PC... an Objective Headphone Amp + O2 DAC combo driving Sennheiser HD650 cans. I've had this setup for a number of years now and am very satisfied with it. For on the go audio, my goto IEMs have always been Ety ER4-Ps.

Recently though, I decided to try out and play around with some Chi-Fi IEMs, primarily because they are getting a lot of attention on various audio forums and reviewers of late. Seems this is due to advances in tech they employ and because they are also relatively cheap as far as IEMs go (~$50). Lots of folks are saying that certain models are now equaling IEMs from big name audiophile brands costing several hundred of dollars.

I was skeptical, but still curious, so I went ahead and picked up a handful of various brands that have gotten good reviews, specifically the KZ ZSNs, Tin Hifi T3s and KZ ZS10 Pros.

Well, I have to say that I am blown away by the KZ ZS10 Pros. Damn but do they sound good! They are seriously giving my HD650 Senns a drubbing as to overall sound quality and bringing a sense of serious "fun" back to listening to music. They incorporate 4 balanced armatures and a 10mm dynamic driver in each earpiece, so a hybrid design. Supposedly the KZ ZSXs are even slightly better, but I am so blown away by the KZ ZS10 Pros that I haven't bothered investigating them yet. Has anyone here tried these out yet? While I wouldn't call them dirt cheap as they run about $44 on Amazon, I am very, very impressed by what they are capable of.

kz_zs10_pro.jpg
 
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Forget chi-fi IEMs, for $6 you can get the Sony MH755 which tracks the Harman Curve very well. According to Crinacle's list he puts it right up there with the Shure SE846 ($999) and Ultimate Ears UE7 Pro ($850), Hifiman RE2000 ($2000!) and even the JH Layla ($2725!)

https://crinacle.com/ranking-list/
 
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Forget chi-fi IEMs, for $6 you can get the Sony MH755 which tracks the Harman Curve very well. According to Crinacle's list he puts it right up there with the Shure SE846 ($999) and Ultimate Ears UE7 Pro ($850), Hifiman RE2000 ($2000!) and even the JH Layla ($2725!)

https://crinacle.com/ranking-list/
Interesting... so I take it you are speaking from having ZERO experience with nor any personal exposure to the KZ ZS10 Pros? What IEMs do you use? What do you use to drive them with? I went ahead and ordered a couple MH755s since they're dirt cheap... will report back once they arrive, but I seriously doubt they'll even remotely compete with these particular KZs. I also noticed that this Crinacle guy hasn't tried any of the latest KZs (ala the ZS10 Pro or ZSX) which are the most recent model I'm referring to. They are also getting pretty good reviews from others as well: head-fi.org soundphilereview.com thephonograph.net

Yes, lots of chi-fi IEMs are rather forgettable, many are even junk or horrid treble screechers from my past personal experience, but I have these KZ ZS10 Pros in my ears and to me they sound fantastic! :)
Seriously, rather then telling me to forget about them, perhaps you should try them? I own a pair of Senn HD-650s and Etys here as well with which to compare... and those aren't exactly considered "junk" when it comes to audio gear.
 
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xmadror

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If you can get a good seal with your ear I'd assume the Sony MH755 would be good.
But from looking at it I doubt they'd work for me.
I never found an iem set that I liked which is why after trying a few I went with a bluetooth on the ear headphone for my portable need (akg bt50).
Whiles the sound is far from being as great as my HD-6XX it is still good enough when at work or on the move.
 

noxqzs

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I picked up a pair this week and can confirm that they do sound amazing for the price. Fit is pretty good, but I can see them being too big for some. On my iFi DAC, I can overpower them, but bluetooth portable amps work well. Im still trying to figure out how they are making cash of the things but they can keep my money.
 
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I picked up a pair this week and can confirm that they do sound amazing for the price. Fit is pretty good, but I can see them being too big for some. On my iFi DAC, I can overpower them, but bluetooth portable amps work well. Im still trying to figure out how they are making cash of the things but they can keep my money.
Are you referring to the MH755's above or the KZ ZS10 Pros?

I've since purchased a pair of KZ ZSXs as well. They are very, very similar... like an ever so slightly more refined version of the ZS10 Pros. Same sound signature, just a tiny bit little more laid back. I still stand by my first post though. For less than $50, the Pros absolutely rule. Especially for rock and metal. Have them paired up with my new DAP (Cowon Plenue D2) and they are sublime.

My only beef with the KZs is that their stock cables suck somewhat. While they sound fine, they are very tangle prone. Fixed that right up with these for $20. Really nice that the cables can be swapped out so easily.
 
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The cable upgrade was worth it to me. Still amazed at how a less than $50 pair of IEMs can sound this crazy good.

Oh, and got the MH755s in. Yes, they are nice for the price, but the bass is a tad bit bloated and the treble falls off way too soon. They also need to be re-cabled as they come with some really wonky lopsided cables - so there's that hassle with them. I'd rate them at above average for headphones as they sound... comfortable. But they don't hold a candle to the KZs, which are stellar sound all around in comparison... especially the tight bass and clear highs.
 
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I had a similar revelation about a year ago. Prior to that I only used over ear headphones (MDR7506, ATH M50, T50RP) but they were getting a little beat up since I commute with them on. I read about some of the Chi-fi IEM's on headfi and decided that it couldn't hurt to throw $20 at a pair and give them a try. I started with the ES4($24 shipped) and I was absolutely floored. 4 drivers each side, crossover network to split the signal appropriately, and the isolation was several orders of magnitude greater than even the best of my full size cans. I've since gone higher and lower in the product range (ZS10($34), ZS4($15), ZST($14), and ZS6($31)) and been blown away at every point. For more than I was expecting given the price. In most cases they don't need an amp when I'm playing from my phone, the bass extends nice and clean, treble sings, and the mids are very present. I'll never claim to be an audiophile or have any kind of golden ear, but again, I spent years listening to full size cans exclusively, and given the level of portability and price these are absolutely winners.

I have 2 issues with them. First is that the ZST's have fallen apart. The two halves of the casing separated after ~8 months. My second would be the tips. If you go this route, order some memory foam tips in the size that fits you. They're cheap as chips on ebay/aliexpress/gearbest and the seal and security they give is incredible.
 

capt_cope

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I'd been thinking about getting IEMs for a while, based on this thread I decided to snag the KS Z10 Pros over the weekend - figured for ~$40 I wouldn't be too upset if they were terrible. I have to say I'm impressed, they don't *quite* have the soundstage that my open-back cans do, but I'm guessing that's to be expected with anything "in ear." My only "serious" complaint is the gaudiness of the polished/plated exterior plate - they sound damn good. Sure the cable is a bit short and tangles up easily, but that doesn't really impact the sound. I don't have any "quality" IEMs to compare these to, so I'm not going to claim they're "as good or better than xyz" but they're certainly better sounding than any other sub $100 headphones I've bought, and have replaced my dt880s at work.
 
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I'd been thinking about getting IEMs for a while, based on this thread I decided to snag the KS Z10 Pros over the weekend - figured for ~$40 I wouldn't be too upset if they were terrible. I have to say I'm impressed, they don't *quite* have the soundstage that my open-back cans do, but I'm guessing that's to be expected with anything "in ear." My only "serious" complaint is the gaudiness of the polished/plated exterior plate - they sound damn good. Sure the cable is a bit short and tangles up easily, but that doesn't really impact the sound. I don't have any "quality" IEMs to compare these to, so I'm not going to claim they're "as good or better than xyz" but they're certainly better sounding than any other sub $100 headphones I've bought, and have replaced my dt880s at work.
Have to agree with the soundstage being a bit narrower - IEMs are simply not going to be able to match what a good pair of over the ear cans can deliver. But on the other hand, good IEMs are going to bring out a lot more micro detail that easily gets lost with cans. I will say that cosmetically the KZ ZSXs are much nicer - no mirror finished fingerprint magnets or shiny plates that get easily scratched up... but hell, it's all about the sound though, right? :D
 
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xx0xx

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I have the budget-level KZ ATEs and I was extremely impressed at their performance, I liked them far more than Shure SE215, MEElectronic's offerings, and some other budget IEMs.

I've been interested to find out how KZ's products scale (If a ZSK or Z10 Pro is worth the upgrade over the ATE, etc)
 

thesmokingman

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I've owned Yamaha EPH100s, Sony's Z5, my share of KS ZST and the newer CCA aka Z10 Pro. Lmao, Sony has updated their IEM's with the stupidly priced Z1R (supplanting the XBA) to match their headphone lineup. I suppose the IEM Z1R is a deal when the headphone MDR Z1R is $2,000 ish. I also own a handful of cans, MDR Z7 (heavily modded), MDR F1, MDR MA900, Hifiman Planars, and lastly Monolith M1060.

The higher end KS are well rounded and definitely a steal for the measly 40 bucks. You can't go wrong with them however for me they're a bit uncomfortable with the wire loop. They have a ton more bass presence than the Yamahas though the Yamahas have a great midrange with some soundstage. I still end up using the Yamahas because they are really comfy and easier to grab and go. The KS also don't need to be amped unlike Sony's XBA, which is a deal breaker for me because that's one less thing to carry/strap around with.

And second the sweating lol. If I could I'd use my Z7's all year long but the heat is unbearable unless winter is coming...
 
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You can't go wrong with them however for me they're a bit uncomfortable with the wire loop.
Neglected to mention this, took a couple weeks for the wire to settle into a natural curve without adjusting it every time I put them in. Re-iterating my previous post, the bang/$ is nigh untouchable.
 
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Still love the KZ ZS10 Pros I originally recommended, but after "splurging" a bit more and some heavy listening/comparison sessions, I've finally hit my end-game as to my absolute favorite IEMs.

So, over the past couple of months I've explored all of the following "new" IEM purchases:

  • ER4-P (Actually old, but just had them serviced/replaced by Etymotics for $130 + shipping... so basically brand new and adding them into the mix)
  • KZ ZSN
  • Tin HiFi T3
  • KZ ZS10 Pro
  • Sony MH755
  • BLON BL-03
  • TRN V80
  • KZ ZSX
Here's the ranking order I stack them up in from best to worst given how they ultimately sound and perform for me:
  1. KZ ZSX
  2. KZ ZS10 Pro
  3. Etymotics ER4-P
  4. BLON BL-03
  5. Sony MH755
  6. TRN V80
  7. Tin HiFi T3
  8. KZ ZSN
Just to add, none of these lower end of the scale selections are necessarily "bad" - they just aren't as good the ones above them.

So, this is my current IEM end game - the KZ ZSX with NICEHCK 16 Core High Purity Copper Cable (Model C16-3) and SpinFit CP145 silicon tips. These things simply rule!

KZ-ZSX.jpg
 
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Morphes

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just got a pair of KZ ZS10 Pro's, fucking amazing IEM's. I couldn't believe they sound like this, just bought the upgraded cable, but even the stock one is fine. I just have to know, everyone keeps raging out these WITH the fancy cable.
 
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just got a pair of KZ ZS10 Pro's, fucking amazing IEM's. I couldn't believe they sound like this, just bought the upgraded cable, but even the stock one is fine. I just have to know, everyone keeps raging out these WITH the fancy cable.
Glad you like them! Ya, it really is a shocker the first time you put them on and begin listening... It's like going around and not knowing that you needed glasses. If you use earbuds, stepping up to these is like going from a Toyota Yaris to a Supercharged Z06. :)

Audio tech in IEMs has really come a long way in the last few years. What's also nice about them is that they are very easy to drive, so they sound great with pretty much any source, be it a phone or a high end digital audio player. The cable upgrade is primarily aesthetics/convenience though (those stock cables tend to tangle up way too easily).
 

Morphes

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I was just about delve into the world of portable DACs and portable amps but honestly.... Not sure if I care enough lol

They sound great as it even from my phone. what are your thoughts? anyone running a crazy mobile dac solution for these?

lol just caught your z06 reference
 

Lateralus

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Still love the KZ ZS10 Pros I originally recommended, but after "splurging" a bit more and some heavy listening/comparison sessions, I've finally hit my end-game as to my absolute favorite IEMs.

So, over the past couple of months I've explored all of the following "new" IEM purchases:

  • ER4-P (Actually old, but just had them serviced/replaced by Etymotics for $130 + shipping... so basically brand new and adding them into the mix)
  • KZ ZSN
  • Tin HiFi T3
  • KZ ZS10 Pro
  • Sony MH755
  • BLON BL-03
  • TRN V80
  • KZ ZSX
Here's the ranking order I stack them up in from best to worst given how they ultimately sound and perform for me:
  1. KZ ZSX
  2. KZ ZS10 Pro
  3. Etymotics ER4-P
  4. BLON BL-03
  5. Sony MH755
  6. TRN V80
  7. Tin HiFi T3
  8. KZ ZSN
Just to add, none of these lower end of the scale selections are necessarily "bad" - they just aren't as good the ones above them.

So, this is my current IEM end game - the KZ ZSX with NICEHCK 16 Core High Purity Copper Cable (Model C16-3) and SpinFit CP145 silicon tips. These things simply rule!

View attachment 194890
The ZSX certainly seems to get good reviews online. Any idea how they compare to the AS10 that’s about the same price?

Seriously thinking about pulling the trigger on the ZSX since with coupon they are only 5 bucks more than the ZS10 Pros. I had the ER4Ps years ago, though I’ve largely gotten out of the IEM game since then. But I stumbled across this thread and now I’m intrigued... :)
 
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The ZSX certainly seems to get good reviews online. Any idea how they compare to the AS10 that’s about the same price?

Seriously thinking about pulling the trigger on the ZSX since with coupon they are only 5 bucks more than the ZS10 Pros. I had the ER4Ps years ago, though I’ve largely gotten out of the IEM game since then. But I stumbled across this thread and now I’m intrigued... :)
The ZSX is similar to the AS10 in that they both have 5 balanced armatures in each ear.. but the ZSX is a newer hybrid design that ALSO incorporates a 10mm dynamic driver. Brings in a lot more detail and more impactful bass. If you get the ZSX, go ahead an grab an upgraded cable for it at the same time. (The stock cable sucks in that it tangles way too easily.)
 

Morphes

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.....go ahead an grab an upgraded cable for it at the same time. (The stock cable sucks in that it tangles way too easily.)
Can confirm that the stock cable sucks. Its not even something you notice how bad it is until you get that upgraded cable. Worth every penny IMO. That upgraded cable NEVER kinks or gets tangles. Just wish you could have more color options lol
 

Lateralus

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The ZSX is similar to the AS10 in that they both have 5 balanced armatures in each ear.. but the ZSX is a newer hybrid design that ALSO incorporates a 10mm dynamic driver. Brings in a lot more detail and more impactful bass. If you get the ZSX, go ahead an grab an upgraded cable for it at the same time. (The stock cable sucks in that it tangles way too easily.)
Nice, thank you. Sounds like the ZSX is the way to go. So from what I can tell there have been three cables mentioned: the Linsoul TRIPOWIN, the Kinboofi KBEAR, and the NICEHCK C16-3. Which one are you guys recommending? And do I need the 2-pin connectors or the QDC (which also looks to have 2 pins, but is more oval/oblong shaped than round)? I'm guessing the 2-pin connector with the pins that stick out vs. being flush with the plastic connector, but just wanted to make sure.

More importantly, how does Fear Inoculum sound with these? :D
 

Morphes

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Zeos from youtube mentioned this cable: TRIPOWIN

That is also the cable that I bought and that Supercharged_Z06 bought

you are right, you do need the QDC connector, or at least thats what I ordered and it worked lol

Can't say about the other 2, but I'd imagine any of them would be better than stock. The stock one works fine but just gets tangled and doesnt feel great. If these are "8 core cables" then I guess the stock ones are 4 core?
 
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... And do I need the 2-pin connectors or the QDC...

More importantly, how does Fear Inoculum sound with these? :D
Yep, you want a cable with QDC connectors for the ZSX. The Tripowin cables I linked are really nice - I have those as well.

Oh, and Fear Innoculum sounds incredible on the ZSX. :) It has melted my brain via repeated playback at volume levels that would make any respectable audiologist shudder...

Just prepping for when I head out to see them live in Vegas this coming Jan!
 

Lateralus

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Thanks a lot, guys. I see what you mean about the QDC connectors. Massdrop actually has the ZSX on sale right now for $44 shipped and their pics (as well as Amazon's) show the connector in good detail. I just wasn't familiar with the various terminologies, and sometimes the product pics of the cables don't show the damn ends in close-up detail. :mad:

Speaking of cables, someone in the Massdrop comments section said that he got this HiFiHear cable, so that's yet another option to throw into the mix. :D They're calling the connectors "C-pin" rather than "QDC" to make everything even more confusing, but they look the same. I'll probably just go with the Linsoul Tripowin if I get these, since you guys went with that one and it's in the middle of the price spectrum. No real sense in spending more if that one's fine since it solves the main complaints about the stock cable and most people say there's no difference in sound anyway.

Appreciate it fellas! I'll post here with impressions if I get them.

I just realized that I'll be seeing them in Raleigh on Sunday; boy this month has gone by fast. I thought that was still a week or two out!
 

Lateralus

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I ordered the ZSX and the upgraded cable. Screw it, I want to see what all the fuss is about and the price of entry isn't too bad.

If you haven't listened to Tool's new album Fear Inoculum, do it now. It's a showcase and a treat to those who have decent audio equipment.
 
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