BUDGET
IN-EAR

Version

5.0

Battery

2 h

Reach

20 m

Z1

KNOWLEDGE ZENITH

Rating

Price

6.8

35 €

Review published:

05/2020

Driver

1

per Side

1

Dynamic

0

Balanced

Impedance

n/a

Piezo

0

Sound

7.5

Bass

6

Mids

6.5

Trebles

Sensitivity

n/a

6.7

Handling

7.5

Haptic

B

Value

0

Daily Life

Frequency

20 - 20000 Hz

Intro

I am not yet really convinced by KZ with their excursions into the Bluetooth world. I miss the concept and the technical implementation. Of course, you can't ignore the low price, but then you better invest a little more instead of getting nothing half and nothing whole. The Z1 is no exception. The comfort is really remarkable, but sound and technology rather average.

Handling

Here I steal a bit from the S2, because both TWS IEMs are very similar in handling.

In contrast to the S2, the folding case of the Z1 is now flatter and looks a bit cheaper. The scope of delivery has been increased by a pair of silicone tips, otherwise it is a bit tristes. But good, there is nothing missing, at least functionally. KZ still uses the old USB port and not the now standard USB-C port.
If you remove the headphones, they are directly put into pairing mode and if a connection has already been made with the phone or another bluetooth-compatible playback medium, the Z1 connects automatically again. If you put them back again, they decouple and switch to charging mode.

Otherwise, the Z1 is characterized by a classic IEM design, which doesn't seem too clunky despite the battery and which has a very good wearing comfort and isolation. However, I have a slight background noise when the music isn't playing.

The touch operation works intuitively and safely. However, the battery life is quite modest with 2 hours per charge. Sure, you can make a few charges with the case before it needs to be powered up again, but that's a bit too little for me.

Bluetooth 5.0 and AAC are technically the highest of feelings. There is also a so-called game mode, which you can activate or deactivate by typing three times. This should reduce the latency. Well, nice thought, but somehow there is no real difference, except that the sound suffers a bit when activated. The 20 meter Bluetooth range is also a bit exaggerated, or maybe only reachable in free field.

Sound

I was of the opinion that KZ had taken a small step towards the European market with their wired IEMs and tried to match the bright and somewhat height-heavy signature popular in Asia with the warmer and neutrality striving preferences of the Western market. I don't blame KZ at all for the fact that this is going in a different direction with the Z1, because of course it is important for a company to meet the customer demands of its largest sales market, which is undoubtedly Asia. Basically, the Z1 could be described as a slightly tamed S2.

Punchy bass that likes to overdo it a bit and is not always the most controlled and cleanest. Welcome to the world of Knowledge Zenit. You get less in terms of quality, although exceptions prove the rule. Nevertheless, you can always be happy about a quantitatively rich bass, which romps around in the mid-bass and always knows how to put its stamp on the signature. It's fun, but not necessarily inviting to stay at a jazz festival.

The mids are, as so often with KZ, affected by the bass, but still to a bearable degree. Male voices are thickened up and generally the mids are a bit reserved with joy of life. The bass has a booming influence, which prevents the mids from shining with transparency and variety. Quite average and nothing special. KZ did a better job of this already, but then there was always a BA driver involved.

KZ proves "impressively" with the Z1 and its dynamic driver that it doesn't always need a BA driver to make the trebles appear sharper than necessary and to emphasize the sibilants, like with the S2. Not quite as extreme as the S2, but still very close to the tolerance threshold with several derailments. I don't like it when the enjoyment of music becomes more of a stress factor and I have that sometimes more, sometimes less with the Z1. A few genres work quite well, especially when male voices are involved, but the Z1 is not a good all-rounder.

Stage and separation are not the worst, but they don't manage to elicit any superlatives from me.

Outro

Even though the Z1 withstands the long-term test a bit better than the S2, the S2 has a bit more to offer in terms of sound, although this is not a high benchmark.
You can do that, but you don't have to, as there are already better and cheaper alternatives, for example from QCY (T1, T5). I would be happy if KZ would concentrate a bit more on class instead of mass, because actually they could do it. (BA10, AS10, ZS10 Pro etc.).

Positive to mention is the wearing comfort. You can also listen to music with the Z1. However, one should not have too high demands and should only see this as a motivating support for sports etc.

Legend

Haptic:

Here the processing plays a role and the usability of the scope of supply. Additionally the appearance, wearing comfort and robustness.


Value:
Here I evaluate for me subjectively the price/performance ratio - does not flow into the evaluation!

Z: No Brainer

A: money well spent

B: all right, you can do

C: gives better for less money

D: overpriced

E: collector's price

Daily life:
Here, I focus on the long-term audibility and whether I can hear it well out of the box. This is of course very subjective and therefore only a minimal deduction or bonus. 

(-0.1, 0, +0.1)

BL-03.jpg

Rating in Letters

S: 9.5 - 10

A: 9.0 - 9.4​

B: 8.0 - 8.9​

C: 7.0 - 7.9

D: 6.0 - 6.9​
E: 5.0 - 5.9​

F: 0.0 - 4.9​

AS06

AS06

ATE

ATE

ED16

ED16

S2

S2

ZS10 Pro

ZS10 Pro

ZS7

ZS7

ZSN PRO X

ZSN PRO X

ZSX

ZSX

AS10

AS10

BA10

BA10

EDX

EDX

Z1

Z1

ZS4

ZS4

ZSA

ZSA

ZSR

ZSR

ASF

ASF

ED12

ED12

ES3

ES3

ZAX

ZAX

ZS5

ZS5

ZSN

ZSN

ZST

ZST

ASX

ASX

ED15

ED15

ES4

ES4

ZS10

ZS10

ZS6

ZS6

ZSN PRO

ZSN PRO

ZST X

ZST X

Second Opinion

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CHI-FIEAR © 2020 by David Hahn

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