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KZ ZS10 Pro review

Meet an enthusiast IEM mainstay famed for their performance at a low price.
By

Published onMarch 19, 2024

7.7
KZ ZS10 Pro
The bottom line
If you like earbuds, but you're looking to grab a decent set of wired in-ear monitors: the KZ ZS10 Pro aren't a bad buy by any means. Though the space has gotten crowded in the last five years, these earbuds are still pretty decent for what they do.

KZ ZS10 Pro

If you like earbuds, but you're looking to grab a decent set of wired in-ear monitors: the KZ ZS10 Pro aren't a bad buy by any means. Though the space has gotten crowded in the last five years, these earbuds are still pretty decent for what they do.
Product release date
2019
Price
$79.99
Dimensions
Earbuds: 21 x 24 x 24mm
Ear tip diameter: 4mm
Cable length: 1.3m
Weight
7.8g per earbud
Model Number
‎KZ ZS10 Pro
Waterproof
What we like
Sound quality
Price
Replaceable cable
Design
Maintenance options
What we don't like
Fit
Ear tips
Some rough edges
7.7
SoundGuys Rating
8.8
User Rating
Rating Metric
Our Rating
User Rating
Isolation / Attenuation
6.8
9.3
9.0
Durability / Build Quality
6.9
7.0
7.0
Value
8.9
9.5
10.0
Design
9.0
8.5
9.0
Connectivity
6.5
9.0
9.0
Portability
8.0
9.5
10.0
Feature
5.0
8.5
9.0
Comfort
8.0
9.0
9.0
MDAQS rating
Learn more
Timbre
4.9
Distortion
3.2
Immersiveness
4.3
Overall
4.8

While true wireless earbuds have become the dominant personal audio product of the era, in-ear monitors (IEMs) have been enjoying a small but passionate following from value-seeking audio enthusiasts. One of the popular IEM models, the KZ ZS10 Pro, has been bouncing around enthusiast circles for about five years. Given that wired audio products have a shelf life typically measured in decades, are these IEMs still worth your time?

Editor’s note: this is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.

About this KZ ZS10 Pro review: We tested the KZ ZS10 Pro over 3 days. SoundGuys purchased the unit for this review.

The KZ ZS10 Pro are for budget-minded in-ear enthusiasts who enjoy wired audio.

What’s it like to use KZ ZS10 Pro?

A man wears the KZ ZS10 Pro outdoors.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
IEMs like the KZ ZS10 Pro with an ear-loop cable design hang around your ear, better distributing their weight.

The KZ ZS10 Pro offer a fair bit of value for the price. Though there are all sorts of boasts in the marketing material about luxury features, they’re simply an attainable pair of in-ears that perform pretty well for their price bracket. And that’s more than enough if you’re looking to dip your toes into the segment.

The packaging includes four sizes of silicone ear tips, the in-ear, cable, and… that’s it. The KZ ZS10 Pro is meant to do one thing and one thing only.

A photo of the KZ ZS10 Pro with its four sizes of silicone eartips.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
Here are all the contents of the KZ ZS10 Pro’s packaging.

The housings of the KZ ZS10 Pro are shaped to fit your outer ear’s concha and backed in an aluminum plate with some interesting patterning. At the top of each earbud is a 2-pin connector, where the braided cable slots into the earbuds. Having a cable you can remove or replace is a massive boon to durability, as it allows you to fix problems with a simple purchase rather than having to re-solder anything. However, you should avoid getting too sweaty with these, as the earbuds don’t carry any ingress protection rating.

Though the KZ ZS10 Pro has a single dynamic driver and four balanced armature drivers per side, we caution anyone against making the assumption that “more drivers = better.” Just like we would with any other review of multi-driver IEMs, we approach this from the standpoint that the only thing that matters is what reaches your ear, not how exactly it gets there.

The cable hooks over your outer ear, distributing some weight from the pretty light earbuds onto something that isn’t your ear canal. This is a good thing: Anything you can do to lessen the load on this part of your body is essential for comfort — especially when you’re using wired earbuds. But be sure to tug firmly on the wire once the earbuds are in place.

The circular nozzle of the KZ ZS10 Pro.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
A 4mm nozzle diameter is on the narrower size but is wide enough for support from standard sizes of third-party ear tips if you go that route.

However, as these are a set of inexpensive earbuds, I found many user complaints online that are a little difficult to ignore. For example, no coating on the metal means it’ll be a scratch magnet as time passes. Finally, some users (myself included) noted a weird issue with 1/4″ adapters where the plug contacts wouldn’t line up correctly if you pressed it in all the way. Though a gentle pullback would fix this, it’s one of those rough edges that stick out.

How do the KZ ZS10 Pro connect?

A close-up photo of the 2-pin connector at the top of the KZ ZS10 Pro.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
A two-pin connector means you can remove or replace the cable to the KZ ZS10 Pro should something happen.

As a set of wired in-ear monitors, the KZ ZS10 Pro connects to its source devices with a TRS plug. Because the power requirements for the product are very low, you should be fine with getting a usable level. With a sensitivity of 111dB/mW and an impedance of 30Ω, you shouldn’t have any issue with the Apple Dongle on your iPhone. A dedicated amp likely isn’t going to make your music sound better, so don’t worry about any of that just yet.

A close-up photo of the KZ ZS10 Pro's 3.5mm TRRS plug.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The standard 3.5mm TRRS plug of the KZ ZS10 Pro can be a bit fiddly with the wrong adapter.

If you’re the kind of person to roll with a dedicated portable audio player instead, we haven’t run across anything with insufficient power. While it’s a bit vexing to navigate forums about hi-fi audio recommending DAC units and other extra equipment, you do not need anything more expensive, complicated, or powerful than a smartphone dongle to get good sound.

That’s the neat part: you don’t! Just plug it into the headphone out port of your device. If your device doesn’t have a TRS port, you’ll need an adapter of some kind.

How well do the KZ ZS10 Pro block out noise?

Loading chart ...

The KZ ZS10 Pro seals your ear canal, so it’s no surprise that with a decent fit, they can isolate you from the outside world decently enough. They won’t make you forget about active noise canceling earbuds, but mid and high-frequency noise is pretty well attenuated. Of course, your experience will vary depending on fit, as a broken seal can lead to poorer noise isolation.

On average, the KZ ZS10 Pro blocks out about 68% noise, though that’s a poor representation of how it performs. The earbuds only block out a little noise from 20Hz to 700Hz. This means you will still hear engine noise, trucks, and other large vehicles going by.

How do the KZ ZS10 Pro sound?

The KZ ZS10 Pro will please the crowd, as shown by the Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality scores, and this result tracks with my experience. This is an excellent example of why the IEM segment has grown in popularity over the last few years.

Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Scores (MDAQS)

The chart below shows how the sound of the KZ ZS10 Pro was assessed by the Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Score (MDAQS) algorithm from HEAD acoustics.

This chart shows the MDAQS results for the KZ ZS10 Pro in Default mode. The Timbre score is 4.9, The Distortion score is 3.2, the Immersiveness score is 4.3, and the Overall Score is 4.8).
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
Wired earbuds need to be good to make the sale, and the KZ ZS10 Pro does an excellent job here.

On the backs of excellent Timbre and Immersiveness scores, the KZ ZS10 Pro post a very high overall Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Score. Simply put, the tuning of the earbuds, alongside their ability to faithfully represent 3D space in a mix, means that these earbuds will stack up exceptionally well against most of the earbuds you’ll encounter.

This means that there’s a very high likelihood that you’ll like the sound of the KZ ZS10 Pro. However, if you’re steeped in IEM fandom, that might not be what you want, and you may want to mosey on down to the objective test results. While I’m not one to encourage conspicuous consumption, cycling through cheap IEMs seems to be half the fun.

Timbre (MOS-T) represents how faithfully the earbuds reproduce the frequency spectrum and temporal resolution (timing information).

Distortion (MOS-D) represents non-linearities and added noise: higher scores mean cleaner reproduction.

Immersiveness (MOS-I) represents perceived source width and positioning: how well virtual sound sources are defined in three-dimensional space.

See here for an explanation of MDAQS, how it works, and how it was developed.

Reviewer’s notes

Objective Measurements

Regarding objective measurements, there’s a lot to like about the KZ ZS10 Pro. For example, a lot of high-frequency emphasis should make quieter sounds like string attack or breath sounds a bit easier to hear against other parts of your music.

Loading chart ...

Bass is over-emphasized compared to our preference, but many in-ears do that. Extra bass helps drown out low-end noise in the world around you, even if in the absence of noise it might be a little loud for you. It’s not apparent how the KZ ZS10 Pro splits up the job of handling different ranges of frequencies among the dynamic driver and four BA drivers in each earbud, but the results speak for themselves. We didn’t find any glaring deficiencies in our measurements.

Can you use the KZ ZS10 Pro for phone calls?

If you are among the lucky few with a smartphone with a headphone jack, you can use the KZ ZS10 Pro for phone calls.

KZ ZS10 Pro microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

195 votes

KZ ZS10 Pro microphone demo (Office conditions):

KZ ZS10 Pro microphone demo (Street conditions):

KZ ZS10 Pro microphone demo (Windy conditions):

KZ ZS10 Pro microphone demo (Reverberant space):

With no signal processing onboard, it won’t reject your surroundings, but that’s a common complaint in this price bracket.

Should you buy the KZ ZS10 Pro?

If you’re looking for wired-only earbuds, you could do a lot worse than the KZ ZS10 Pro. However, in the years since they were released, a ton of inexpensive IEMs have hit the market — so you may find that a bit of shopping around can get you something more to your tastes without spending a ton of money. However, you can easily find the KZ ZS10 Pro on sale for far lower than their original sticker price, so that you might be pretty happy with these as an entry point into the world of IEMs.

Linsoul KZ ZS10 ProLinsoul KZ ZS10 Pro
Linsoul KZ ZS10 Pro
Mind-blowing sound • Remarkable bass • Exceptional clarity
MSRP: $79.99
See price at Amazon
Save $10.00
KZ ZS10 Pro

There is a reason that the KZ ZS10 Pro are still on the market, and that’s because they’re fantastic for their asking price. They sound good and won’t break the bank. High-value options under $100 might be more plentiful nowadays, but five years ago, this was far more rare, so even if there’s more disagreement in online communities about which models you should get, these are perfectly fine.

What should you get instead of the KZ ZS10 Pro?

The rabbit hole of IEMs is deep, and there are plenty to choose from under the $70 mark. However, we don’t have a ton of measurements for competing products yet. Here is what we’d suggest in place of the KZ earbuds.

The Moondrop Chu II rests on a blue table with the open carry case in the background and a black iPod in the blurred foreground.
Jasper Lastoria / SoundGuys
If you have a FLAC library or a device with a headphone jack, these buds are portable.

The first model we like to point people to if they’re looking to save some money is the Moondrop CHU II ($18.99 at Amazon). At $20, it’s half the price of the KZ ZS10 Pro and performs well. Sure, it’s not packed to the gills with drivers, but at the end of the day, is it the specs or the actual performance that matters?

A hand holds the Shure SE215 in front of a wood table.
The earbuds feature memory wires that mold to the back of your ear.

If you’re looking for a step-up, you could also look to the Shure SE215 ($99 at Amazon) if you want something slightly lighter and more durable. Musicians have used these in various contexts over the years, and should serve you well too.

A man wears the Sennheiser IE 200 in ears with an aloe plant in the background.
Jasper Lastoria / SoundGuys
The Sennheiser IE 200 are a step up in just about every way — including price.

Finally, you could just dump your wallet out and get something like the Sennheiser IE 200 ($119 at Amazon) if you like the IEM form factor but want the best available sound. These earbuds are exceptionally good, durable, and are far more polished than the KZ ZS10 Pro.

Frequently asked questions

If you have a computer with a headphone jack, the KZ ZS10 Pro are probably a good fit, assuming you find in-ears comfortable.

Yes. You can hear samples above.

No, the earbuds only passively isolate you from the outside world.

Yes.

30Ω

 

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