Last Updated On: 9-16-19
The ZS10 Pro is an upgraded version of the popular ZS10 in-ear headphone, featuring improved drivers, an improved cable and 2 pin connector, and a cool new aesthetic look:
Packaging is pretty minimal but sufficient, a bit disappointing that no carrying case is included at this price point.
Included with the headphones:
- detachable 2-pin cable
- 3 pairs of different sized silicone replacement tips
- manual pamphlet
- warranty pamphlet
Each ZS10 Pro headphone has five drivers packed inside, which is quite a feat considering that they remain relatively light, compact, and very inexpensive – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a quad much less quintuple driver in-ear headphone come remotely close to being as cheap as the ZS10 Pros are.
The advantage of having multiple drivers is that each individual driver can be optimized/specialized for different parts of the sound range which, generally speaking, can greatly enhance overall sound quality.
Overall the buds are admittedly on the heavy and bulky side, but they’re still decently comfortable and fit solidly, thanks in part to them being contoured to the outer ear shape. I didn’t lose a seal or any sound quality at all when I moved my head and jaw around.
The ZS10 Pros are designed to be worn with the wire going over the ear, and I don’t see how they could be worn any other way. So, if you don’t want that style you should probably look at alternatives.
The over-ear pad is pretty minimal – a simple extra piece of plastic insulation that isn’t malleable, though I have read these KZ pads can actually be reshaped if heated up with a hair dryer or something similar (attempt at your own risk). The over-ear comfort is OK but not particularly great. Using separate ear hooks (like these for example) would also be a viable way to improve the fit/comfort.
2 pin connectors can sometimes be fussy, but the ones one the ZS10 Pros are nice and connect easily. Left/Right indicators are etched into the side of each male connector but are a little hard to see. How to hook the buds up is not immediately intuitive, but there’s pictorial instructions in the manual that should make it easy enough.
The version with the mic is only a dollar more, so getting it seems like a no-brainer to me. There’s a single control button that can play/pause, surf tracks, and go on/off calls, but no in-line volume controls unfortunately.
The woven wire is the same stock cable that KZ includes with a bunch of their in-ear headphones, and its not the greatest – kind of abrasive and prone to tangles. The microphonics are minimal at least.
The right-angled plug is nice and sturdy and fit securely into my device without any problems.
While the included stock cable isn’t the greatest, there are several upgrade cable options available that are balanced, have better insulation, have different sized plugs, etc.
Sound And Performance
General impression: KZ has already established itself as a contending producer of top quality earbuds in the budget friendly price tiers, so I went into this review with high expectations. And they were met and surpassed – the ZS10 Pro sounds all-around excellent for an earbud available for less than $50. I couldn’t detect any significant flaws that tend to be common among cheaper headphones. The two words that come to mind when I listen to these are “full” and “immersive.” My only slight criticism is that the five driver set up feels a little cluttered at times – there’s a slight lack of separation and clarity around the low-mid point.
Sound signature: Feels pretty flat and wide, with a slight V that bottoms out around the mid trebles, which are slightly recessed. The quoted response range of 7 – 40k Hz is the best I’ve yet to see on earbuds available under $50, the upper range of which qualifies these for Hi-Res certification. KZ even publishes their own response data:
Though the above data shows some roll off towards 20k Hz, which is about the upper limit of human hearing, the capability to get up to 40k Hz means the headphones won’t have any trouble fully producing the audible highs.
I will say though that I didn’t honestly hear any significant roll off up top, which I suspect is because the ZS10 Pro has an extraordinary efficiency rating (> 100 dB) that persists up to 5k Hz (which sounds like this for reference).
Sound staging: While usually non existent on closed back in-ear headphones, the ZS10 Pro manages to feel nicely wide and immersive.
Bass: Very solid, which is unsurprising with a dedicated dynamic driver. A quoted response floor of 7 Hz is about as good as it gets with non-expensive headphones. The bass feels full, powerful, and clean. All the drops I usually test came through without losing any volume, tone or pitch. I wouldn’t say the ZS10 Pros are basshead headphones, but they aren’t lacking by any means.
Power/Volume: Very good. While an impedance of 30 ohms is on the higher side and is a bit harder to drive, the efficiency rating of 111 dB is outstanding, the best I’ve yet to see on any earbud I’ve reviewed. These got plenty loud very easily and any decent device shouldn’t have problems powering the ZS10 Pro.
Isolation: Decent, I’d put it solidly above medium towards high. The quoted noise reduction of 26 dB is enough to take ambient room conversation below the threshold of human hearing (source). Coupled with the great fit I’d say the ZS10 Pro is a solid choice for isolation in all but the noisiest of public/commuter environments.
Warranty: One year, which is a fairly standard minimum for budget headphones, though you’ll start to see a fair amount of 2+ year coverage at the ~$50 price point.
Overall Take, As Compared To The Competition
The ZS 10 Pros are an all-around excellent pair of earbuds for their modest price, and their design and components are, as of the time of this writing/update, second to none. These are a definite contender in the best-of conversation for their respective price tier. They might be a little heavy and bulky for some and the included stock cable isn’t the greatest, but that can easily be upgraded.