Review: KZ ZST In-ear Monitors

“They’re only $18.99?!” Yep. They are really that affordable. With a price point like that, I felt comfortable dipping my toes into high-fidelity audio and something a bit better than your run-of-the-mill earbuds. Knowledge Zenith (KZ) is an affordable Chinese audio manufacturer…

 

Ah, jeez. Where to start? I subscribe to r/headphones over at reddit.com–a site where I spend a significant amount of time–and this hardware came up in a discussion a week or two ago. Intrigued, I took a moment to look the ZST’s up on Amazon.

“They’re only $18.99?!” Yep. They are really that affordable. With a price point like that, I felt comfortable dipping my toes into high-fidelity audio and something a bit better than your run-of-the-mill earbuds.

Knowledge Zenith (KZ) is an affordable Chinese audio manufacturer that I had never heard of, but quickly learned of their reputation. Going in, expectations were low. Most things that I had previously ordered from across the water with non-popular names were of a lesser quality and ended up disappointing me. But let me tell you: these did not disappoint. Let’s look at a couple of things…

Style | I personally got the purple/blue set, as those are two of my favorite colors. The pair comes with a braided, copper, detachable MMCX cable that is roughly four feet long. Overall they look fantastic. KZ sells a silver version of the same cable that I ordered afterward, wanting to see what it looked like with the monitors themselves. The detachable element is nice as it allows you to switch cords on the go to match clothing, or to replace a cable should you do something foolhardy and ruin it.

Sound | While the ZST’s will not offer you the best sound available in the high-fidelity market, their trueness and clarity for $19 is absolutely flooring. I nuzzled these into my ears, hit play, and my jaw dropped. Within only a couple of seconds, there were sounds within songs I know well that I had never heard before. I’ve been taking the time to listen to most of my music library over again with these IEMs (in-ear monitors) as everything sounds so much better. Harmonies are extremely defined and differentiated. With robust, but clear midtones and crisp treble, as well as just-enough-bass, the ZST’s are wonderfully balanced and easy to work with in an equalizer (EQ). They are not heavy on the lower end, so if you are a basshead then these are probably not for you. That said, if you are a basshead you probably want to pick up a good set of over-ear cans anyway. Otherwise, these are a fantastic set of in-ear monitors to suit many needs.

Price | Okay. $18.99. Need I say more? Well, I will. There is better sound on the market, but you will not find comparable sound without spending significantly more money. The next-best in-ear monitors are supposedly the SE215-CL’s from Shure audio and run about $100 on Amazon. I’d recommend saving the eighty or so dollars and picking up the ZST’s.

So what do I listen to using these monitors? A wide array of music is the most accurate answer. A small sampling of genres includes; various electronic genres, pop rock, rock, metal, alternative, soundtrack, and choir/choral, as well as others.

Do you need anything else for these? The short answer is no, not really. I picked up a cheap headphone amplifier that I have been testing as well, but it is not required with most devices. I also grabbed various sizes of memory foam tips to ensure I get the best possible seal in the ear (which provides the best sound). Overall these are crisp and full monitors that have proven to be worth more than their purchase price within the first week of listening. I rated them at 4.5/5 on Amazon and highly recommend them. If you want to know more about my experience with the KST’s, send me a message! Otherwise, I’d love to hear about what hardware you use to listen to your music in the comments below. We’ll see each other next time! Happy listening,

~ Griff


Knowledge Zenith is the ”largest American retailer of KZ earphones and accessories,” according to their Facebook page. They manufacture and sell dynamic driver, hybrid technology, and balanced armature in-ear monitors. More information about Knowledge Zenith can be found on their website: https://knowledgezenith.com/ 

Author: griffethbarker

Griff is a manager of IT, consultant of IT and management, and continuous student of organizational development. His hobbies and interests include games of all types (video, board, dice, card, tabletop, etc.) as well as listening to music, photography, and writing. Find him on LinkedIn!

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