The ZS6 is a quad-driver monitor from a Chinese company Knowledge Zenith. It features two dynamic drivers for low and mid frequencies and two balanced armatures for high pitch frequencies. This used to be their flagship IEM at the beginning of 2018 until it was replaced by the ZS10 later that year.
In the box
Build quality and accessories
The ZS6 is made out of metal, feels fairly heavy and well built, definitely better than the price of about £30 would suggest. This comes at the price though, the other accessories are sub par. The tips are made out of cheap silicone, they don’t provide a good seal and actually negatively affect the sound. The cable is stiff, feels cheap, tangles very easy and has a lot of microphonics.
Due to those issues I’ve used a different cable and tips.
Fit and comfort
Due to the large and boxy size of the body the fit can be a hit and miss depending of the ear size, especially that the nozzle is fairly big too. For me this wasn’t a big issue but it is worth noting.
The ZS6 is quite heavy and even with the ear hook on the cable wearing it after a few hours can prove fatiguing. The default tips provide very loose fit and they tend to disconnect from the monitor when trying to take them out of the ear. The remedy for that for me was switching to comply foam tips which also helped with the sound but more on that later.
This part is tricky, by default with the tips provided they can only be described as one thing: treble murder. They have a really big spike around 10k Hz which makes them painful at the very least. Forums suggested leaving them to “burn in” for 100h, this improved it slightly but not to the point of being usable. Since I didn’t want to modify the monitors I’ve decided to try foam tips, this smoothed out the treble and made the ZS6 usable even though still very v shaped and fairly bright. The next sections describe the sound while using the comply foam tips.
Subbass is quite present for an IEM, the dynamic driver provides a deep extension though it’s fairly loose and has an average texture to it.
The midbass is bloomy and tends to creep into the midrange more often than not. It’s also very boosted so can overwhelm bass heavy mixes.
When the bass isn’t present the mids are acceptable, even though they feel recessed and can sound distant. They don’t get harsh or uncomfortable. They don’t however have an appeal to them, they are there but it’s not something you will love in them.
When the bass comes up, male vocals get overblown and lost.
Imaging and Soundstage
The soundstage is adequate, doesn’t really reach past the head, the imaging within it is fairly accurate but has dead spots just right and left from the centre. There isn’t much depth to it.
It may seem like my description of the sound of those is harsh, but those are £30 IEMs, they sound adequate for their price BUT it does require a tip change. I used those as a “throw in my pocket and forget” kind of IEM for quite a while, and to me this is what they should be. They have a fairly fun v shaped signature to them but aren’t giant killers like some describe them.
Now, should you buy it now? I would say no, unfortunately for them. Many IEMs released since at a similar price point are just better than them.