The KZ ZS5 is Knowledge Zenith’s latest enthusiast in-ear-monitor and third in the company’s ZS range. It is also the most advanced of all IEMs ever released by KZ. When I first saw the ZS5 in the pre-order section at Banggood, I immediately ordered one. The specs on the product page was simply too exciting to ignore — boasting four dynamic and four balanced armature drive units. This brings the total number of drive units to four on the ZS5, covering a wide range of frequencies.
Having bought two other KZ IEMs in the past (ZS3 and ZST), I knew KZ had came up with another winner in the ZS5. Four drive units means a higher level of complication and a more difficult IEM to design and tune. Get the design wrong and the IEM may turn out to be a flop. However, I had confidence in KZ based on its past track record of producing very competent products.
- Design: In-ear with or without built-in microphone and answer button
- Driver Unit: 2 Dynamic Drivers / 2 Balanced Armatures hybrid design
- Frequency response: 7Hz-46000Hz
- Sensitivity: 106 dB
- Impedance: 8 ohms
- Cable: 1.2m detachable
- Earbuds: 3 sets
- Input Jack: 3.5mm stereo
- Weight: 20g
Build Quality and Comfort
Of the three IEM’s in KZ’s Z range, the ZS5 appears to be the least flashy in terms of design. It has a rather industrial look, lacking the flashy dual color design of the ZST and its transparent wires. What it lacks for in design aesthetics, it makes up for in great audio performance. It also features the same detachable cables as found on the ZST and ZS3. These cables are available for less than $15.
Comfort-wise, I find the ZS5 to be somewhere between the ZS3 and ZST due to its sharp edges and over-the-earlobe cables. However, comfort depends much on personal preference so the ZS5 may be a good fit for some users.
When my ZS5’s finally arrived, I immediately put it on for an hour or two of listening to music and was blown away by how good it was. It immediately became clear to me that the ZS5 is KZ’s best IEM to date performing even better than the ZST that was released just a few months ago. The ZST is by no means a slouch in audio performance. It has one dynamic drive (DD) and one balanced armature (BA) and delivers decent audio quality but the ZS5 is simply better than the ZST by a clear margin.
With a total of four drives, the ZS5 is capable of reproducing sounds at a much higher level of definition and clarity. While the ZST sounds a bit warmer, the ZS5 delivers more neutral audio with very well defined high frequencies and tight lows. The two BA’s do a great job in delivery fantastic high frequencies (one BA acts as a tweeter while another as a higher frequency tweeter) while bass and mid frequencies are both accurate with very little sign of sloppiness thanks to the two DD’s. The ZST, on the other hand, has a slightly boomy bass.
With that said, what truly impressed me the most with the ZS5 are its mid range and highs. With the ZS5, string instruments such as the guitar, sitar, violins and other high frequency sounds such as cymbals come alive and are reproduced with a much higher level of clarity when compared to the other two ZS models.
If you’re having difficulty picking between the ZS5, ZST and ZS3 based on audio performance, you won’t go wrong with the ZS5. As for comfort and style, the ZST is the clear winner among the three with the ZS3 coming close to the ZST in terms of comfort. In my opinion, the ZS5 is the least stylish in the ZS range and also the least comfortable but then again this all boils down to personal preference.