“Here’s why the ZS6 are the best-sounding budget IEM of 2017”

Knowledge Zenith (KZ) is a Chinese audio company which got on the radar of many audiophiles when it launched the ZS5 in-ear headphones. I got a chance to review the IEMs and was blown away by how good they sounded. So much so that I proclaimed them to be the “best budget earphones’’. Naturally, when the company came out with the ZS6, I jumped the gun and got a unit to review. TL;DR – the IEM sounds just as good as its predecessor, improves upon the design without hiking the price up and in short, gets a solid recommendation from me. If you still need a bit more convincing, then read on to find out why the ZS6 is my favourite budget IEM for 2017.

The lowdown

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The only gripe I had with the KZ ZS5 was with the earphones’ build quality. I wasn’t sold on the IEMs plastic housing and the earpieces had some noticeable crevices in them. Now, to the company’s credit, the earphones are still intact but that’s primarily because I didn’t get much use out of them after I was done with my review. With the KZ ZS6, the company has opted for an all-metal construction which will undoubtedly stand the test of time. Moreover, the unit looks and feels a lot more premium and while it has taken the weight of the earpieces up a few notches, I didn’t come across any issues with comfort either.

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On a side note, while the company has made the individual ear pieces more robust, the ZS6 still ship with a two-pin detachable cable, which is rather flimsy. I’ve had to replace the cables on both, the ZS5 as well as the ZS6 and therefore, you’ll have to handle the cables with extensive care otherwise you’ll run the risk of damaging them. On the bright side, the replacement cables aren’t all that expensive and you can get one for about Rs 300 on Banggood.

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Much like the KZ ZS5, the ZS6 is a quad-driver IEM too and has four drivers housed inside a single ear piece, two of which are dynamic drivers while the other two are balanced armature drivers. The sound output of the ZS6, therefore, is not that different from its predecessor. There are some minor tweaks, but if you’re a novice listener then you might not be able to pick up on the improvements. To my ears, the ZS6 sounded slightly less shrill at higher volumes and were noticeably less sibilant too. The performance in the low-end has seen some improvement as well and the bass felt punchier on the ZS6 when compared to the ZS5. Another difference I noticed between the two earphones was that the ZS6 could relay music at much higher volume than the ZS5.

Cop or drop?

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I’ll go out on a limb and say it right now – if you want the best sounding pair of IEMs for under Rs 2,500, then you shouldn’t look any further than the ZS6 by Knowledge Zenith. Yes, you will have to order the earphones from Banggood and sure, they take a while to ship, but I feel that the ZS6 is every bit worth the hassle. The earphones sound phenomenal and this time around, have the looks to back them too. Now, if you already own the KZ ZS5, then you need not upgrade to the ZS6 unless you want to flaunt the earphones’ all metal design. The only drawback of the ZS6 which I can think of is that the included cable is a bit flimsy, but you can easily fix that by buying a cheap aftermarket one. So, thank you Knowledge Zenith, because I am smitten.

Editor’s Rating: 4.5 / 5

Pros:

  • Robust build 
  • Phenomenal sound 
  • Inexpensive 

Cons:

  • Flimsy cable 
Photos by Raj Rout

 

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