KZ ZSE
ø8mm + ø6.8mm Dynamic Drivers

The highly popular super-budget-friendly ZSE model by KZ is another milestone in KZ's catalogue that proved once more that great sound quality can be achieved for a very low price. Blatantly V-shaped, but with a rather stuggling bass response, that barely manages to not crackle by deep bass content. Sound signature-wise, I would call these earphones "ROCK Zircon without the steroids", since the mids and treble are so similar, but Zircon's bass is just so much more powerful and stable than ZSE's bass (which also means that ZSE's mids are less overrun by the bass).

With all that being said, if you're looking for bright earphones with a very defined sound, and you don't mind the bass being a bit unstable, you will love the ZSE!

Buy on
Pros
Cons
  • Excellent level of clarity in mids and treble. A lot of sparkle in the treble.
  • Better-feeling cable than most of KZ's previous models.
  • A very interesting and innovative design choice.
  • The bass depth is underwhelming and not quite punchy, even distorted at times.
  • Sounds a bit quieter than most of my earphones.
  • The initially comfortable earphones appeared to be highly skin-irritating.
Package & Accessories
Package:

Paperboard (multilayer) + soft plastic (clear)

Ear Tips - Single-Flange:

S+M+L, unique, black, ø4.5mm bores

Build & Materials
Housing:

Plastic (glossy), ø5mm nozzles (ø3.5mm openings), stiff strain reliefs

Remote:

Plastic (matte), single-button

Y-Split:

TPE, soft strain reliefs

Cable:

Silicone (grippy), 120cm, semi-soft, straight

Plug:

TPE, 90° angled, short, soft strain relief

Comfort & Fit

The design of these earphones creates an illusion of comfort. Sure, placing them into your ears is super-straightforward and takes only a momemt. I even believed these to be one of the most comfortable pair of earphones that I had the chance to wear. That's what I thought until I decided to use them for several hours, and my ear canals got sore and itching, which is very unusual for me to experience (unless when I use memory foam tips for prolonged sessions).

Lows / Bass

Although the bass is decent and seems even impressive at first, it's still underwhelming and appears to rattle quite a bit in bass shaker test. It's more than enough for vocal-oriented music, but lacks energy for something more bouncy, like hip hop, trance, dubstep, etc. It really appears to me that the bass is stuggling to keep up with the bassy content, almost as if it's about to crack.

Mids / Vocals

Well defined and well positioned mids. They are bright, but not too bright. A bit sibilant on specific tracks and sources, but I don't find them to be fatiguing. Very comfortable sounding and not overwhelmed by the lows. Very satisfying when it comes to clarity and detail, especially when it comes to dynamic drivers.

Highs / Treble

Somewhat bright and very transparent treble. Quite impressive for earphones of that price range. The detail positioning and extension seems very natural and intuitive, and quite fun actually. The only remark I have against such treble is that it could be just too sibilant for some listeners.

Frequency Response