KZ ZEX Pro IEM Review: Budget Tribrid, Is It Good?
Earlier this year, KZ blew away the audio lovers with their latest ZEX Hybrid In-Ear Monitors. The pair brought a unique combination of a low-voltage EST and a dual-magnetic dynamic driver in a very affordable price segment(priced at just INR 2,000). It delivered crazy value for money with its excellent pricing and professional tuning. A few weeks back, KZ released the ZEX Pro as a successor to the ZEX with an added high-frequency balanced armature driver to the EST and DD combo. There is also news that the ZEX Pro is tuned by Crinacle(a widely-recognized HiFi audio gear reviewer). KZ has also released another variant of ZEX Pro called the KZ X Crinacle CRN. They have themselves stated in the official news that the ZEX Pro and CRN are both the same IEMs with Crinacle branding on the CRN(The price for both the sets is the same too). ZEX Pro is available in India with Concept Kart priced at 2,799 INR.
Having personally auditioned the ZEX, I was interested in the ZEX Pro ever since its announcement by KZ. Concept Kart was quick to bring it to India. They also organized an audition tour for the same in India of which I am lucky to be a part. I got the unit about a week back, today I am sharing my impressions on the same.
KZ ZEX Pro review tour is organised by Concept Kart among the fellow audiophiles. I have made sure to share a genuine opinion on the product not getting affected by anything. If interested, feel free to purchase the ZEX Pro from Concept Kart from here, it is not an affiliated link.
Before we begin here are some Pros and Cons of the KZ ZEX Pro.
>Balanced sound profile with a slightly warm tonality.
>Vocals are crisp and well-bodied.
>Soundstage has good width.
>Comfortable and lightweight.
>Great value for money.
>Treble has good details but it is grainy at times.
>Quite sharp at loud volumes.
Package & Accessories:-
Package of KZ ZEX Pro is identical to what one gets with any other KZ IEM. It’s a small white box with an image of the IEMs printed on the front along with the KZ ZEX Pro branding and some details. On the back, we have the technical specifications of the pair in English and Chinese languages. Inside we have the ZEX Pro earphones, three pairs of ear tips, and a 2-pin connector cable with a 3.5mm termination plug.
>KZ ZEX Pro IEMs.
>2-pin connector cable.
>Three pairs of KZ Starline silicone ear tips.
Design, Build, & Fit:-
KZ has designed the ear shells for ZEX Pro following the same elements of the OG ZEX. It looks almost like the OG ZEX just the design on the face covers is slightly different and the ear nozzle is metallic in the ZEX Pro. They have similarly designed matte-finished zinc alloy face covers attached to a transparent resin cavity. There’s a grill at a corner on the face covers, which looks like a vent made to allow the drivers to breathe properly and also to maintain air pressure inside the cavity. KZ ZEX Pro has an elegant design with a robust build for its cavities. Earlier I liked the ZEX shell design too, they were quite elegant. The same can be said for the ZEX Pro. With its resin cavity structure, the pair is quite lightweight. One can wear them for hours without getting tired at all. Isolation for my medium-sized ears is also pretty good. Even at low volumes, I don’t get any outside noises interrupting my musical pleasure. Overall quite satisfied with the ZEX Pro in terms of Design, Build, and Fit.
I listened to the KZ ZEX Pro with Audirect Atom 2, HiBy RS6, and Redmi Note 10 Pro. The pair is powered well enough with my smartphone(Redmi Note 10Pro), though I had to push the volume close to 70%. With RS6 I can enjoy music at adequate levels at around 50/100 volume on middle gain mode. This takes an extra bit of power compared to the OG ZEX(It was loud enough with smartphones at 50% level). Now on to the Sound impressions.
KZ ZEX Pro has got a nicely balanced sound profile with slight elevation in the lower end. The brand has tuned the pair for a variety of genres as it has some good strength in the sub-bass region, presents accurate midrange response, and has a detailed high-frequency region. Midrange sounds slightly, very slightly recessed than the other two regions. Vocals show good emotions of the singer, I was listening to “Bin Tere” from the Movie “Woh Lamhe”, I can acknowledge the vocals were simply phenomenal. I got a similar experience with other tracks such as “Physical” by “Dua Lipa”, “Letter To A Friend” by “Bon Jovi”, and more.
In the lower end, KZ ZEX Pro has its focus on providing an excellent sub-bass region. Mid-bass is fast and slammy, but the impact, the rumble in the sub-bass region with the pair is exceptional. I would say KZ ZEX Pro presents a better lower end even better than the OG ZEX model. I just love the sub-bass with the pair, it complements the other frequencies well and has a well-controlled presentation.
High-Frequencies are where the BA driver is added to the chain in ZEX Pro. The pair produces nice details in the treble region but it is also sharp at the same time. With my RS6 this is not much noticed as the player smoothens out the treble response, though with the Atom 2 and Redmi Note 10 Pro, at louder volumes the pair becomes sharp. It is not fatiguing all the time, Violins and Electric guitars have a highly detailed presentation, though cymbal crashes sound quite snappy and sharp especially at loud volumes. There’s a slight bit of sibilance present that is also more noticeable when listening to music at loud volumes.
Dynamics such as the resolution and imaging are good. There is a good sense of space on the wide soundstage that the pair produces. It is quite identical to the ZEX stage but a little bit wider and slightly more spacious sounding. In terms of layering and imaging, the pair performs decently, no complaints in that department.
KZ ZEX Vs KZ ZEX Pro:-
Now on the battle of the budget tribrids by KZ, the OG ZEX vs the ZEX Pro!! I have both the sets with me so here’s my take between these two.
>Firstly ZEX is more sensitive than the new ZEX Pro, it takes less volume from the source. Where I am at 70% with ZEX Pro on smartphones, I am at 50% volume with the ZEX. On RS6, ZEX Pro is at my listening level at 50/100 on middle gain, while ZEX is at the same at around 38-40/100.
>ZEX Pro has better refinement in the overall sound. It sounds cleaner in every section compared to the OG model.
>KZ ZEX had a more emphasized mid-bass region, while the ZEX Pro has a better sub-bass presentation. I prefer the ZEX Pro in this department.
>Soundstage has a wider presentation with ZEX Pro. It is wider than ZEX, though depth is still lacking in both of them.
>Vocals are warmer with the OG ZEX. The new ZEX Pro sounds more neutral to me in terms of overall presentation too.
>Vocals are also presented in a more forward manner with ZEX, ZEX Pro sounds way more balanced in this regard.
>Treble is more refined with the new ZEX Pro, though it has a grainy texture to it.
In my personal opinion, the KZ ZEX Pro improves over the original ZEX with a spacious sound presentation. Surely the mid-bass takes a back foot with the latest ZEX Pro but the sub-bass rumble goes deep and the overall lower-end presentation is quite clean with the pair. ZEX Pro on its own has a very engaging sound where it delivers you crisp performance at a budget price. For under 3000 Rs, the ZEX Pro is a no brainer!!