KZ ZST Review – A Budget In-Ear Monitor
A bassy sound profile and attractive styling.
(Updated on September 12, 2021)
Overall, the KZ ZST is a well-designed pair of in-ear monitor headphones. They provide a satisfying sound experience and audio reproduction. And ever favour bassy genres of music. They possess a unique design that is sure to catch one’s eye.
They possess a form factor that is also seen in the KZ AS10 and ZS10. Though given their price difference, the KZ ZST does feel somewhat lower in build quality. They fit fairly well inside your ear but may come out if you do rapid head movements. Nevertheless, the construction is solid. The cable is braided and can be detached.
An added feature is that you can use them in wireless mode if get a Bluetooth adapter (which is sold separately). They offer 2 different models (with mic, without mic) each with 2 colour variants (black, colourful). Also, check out our picks for the Best Headphones for USB-C in India.
What’s In The Box?
The stuff inside the box is nothing outside the ordinary. You get the KZ ZST in-ear headphones. 3 different sizes (small, medium, and large) of extra eartips. And the usual documents.
The construction of the KZ ZST feels good and sturdy. But when compared to other KZ headphones like the KZ ZS10, AS10, or the ZSN; the build isn’t all that great. A visible difference between these headphones is the backplate. In most models, the entire earbud body is one complete unit. But the ZST has a separation between the backplate and the rest of the earbud body.
The plastic doesn’t feel as though it can handle a lot of stress. Fortunately, it has a detachable cable, which improves its durability and it is also replaceable. KZ offers a Bluetooth adapter cable that lets you turn these headphones wireless.
The KZ ZST headphones are quite portable due to their detachable cable and fairly small size. You can easily store them in your backpack or your pocket. They are slightly larger than most other in-ears as they possess an earhook design. Note that they don’t offer a pouch or a case to carry them in.
The cushioning of the earcups are soft and dense enough, they are comfortable enough that you can use them for extended periods. You may experience minor discomfort if you have large ears.
Look and Feel
In terms of design, the KZ ZST are pretty similar to the other KZ headphones. The visible differences are in the size and the build material. Yet, give the price they come at, they look quite stunning. The transparent casing of the earbuds showcases the electronic parts. The braided, detachable cable also improves upon the aesthetic.
As we mentioned earlier, they come in 2 colourways – a funky and colourful design, and a black, carbon fibre design. The in-ear feel of the KZ ZST is pretty comfortable, just like the other KZ headphones. Their lightweight and ergonomic design sit nicely in the ears.
Compared to standard in-ear headphones these are rather large but not so much that they’d be an inconvenience. You can improve the in-ear fit by testing the fit using the extra eartips. This gives a better seal and in turn good passive noise isolation.
The KZ ZST has an earhook design and is worn in that fashion. So you’d be right to expect a good, stable fit from them. Athletes and runners would find them to be quite convenient. They don’t rattle inside your ear but may get loose if you bob your head rapidly.
Keep in mind that the cable might get stuck and pull the headphones out of your ears. And this may even hurt you due to the earhook design. Heating inside your ears is not an issue with most in-ear headphones. Yes, they are a bit large but you won’t notice that after wearing them for a while.
The overall bass response of the KZ ZST is great. They use a combination of two drivers – Balanced Armature and the Dynamic driver. It is nice and punchy, with a precise amount of warmth. It does not feel overpowered. This response works very well with bass-heavy music genres.
The mid-range frequencies are produced equally well. However, it forces vocals and instrumental sounds at the back. This delivers extra weight to the bass and treble frequencies. The high or treble frequencies are satisfactory. Sometimes it makes the sounds too bright and other times it lacks detail.
Every person hears a difference in treble or high frequencies so you may or may not like it. That being said, the ZST produces a consistent audio output. If you use the extra tips and find the perfect fit for you, then you can take full advantage of its audio performance. An over-ear option for monitoring and mastering is the Audio Technica ATH M40X.
Noise Isolation & Leakage
The KZ ZST provides a fair amount of passive noise isolation. While also reducing the sound leakage greatly. This is partly due to the in-ear earhook design and the seal created using the eartips. Deep, low-end rumbles like those you hear in public transportation aren’t isolated all that much.
Voices of passengers and similar speech is isolated well. And that is the case for sharp sounds as well. You can witness better noise isolation in the KZ ZS10 and AS10.
The ZST also manages to keep the sound leakage to a minimum. Even at a higher volume, only you will be able to hear and understand what you’re listening to. So the overall leakage performance is great.
KZ does not have an app or software that you can use to customize how the headphones sound.
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The KZ ZST is primarily a wired headphone. Though, you can buy a Bluetooth adapter cable that lets you take advantage of Bluetooth connectivity. And then you can use them as wireless (Bluetooth) headphones.
Who is the KZ ZST for?
The KZ ZST does well in multiple situations. They deliver audio output with a bit more emphasis on the low-end frequencies. People that enjoy bassy music would find these to be quite good.
Next comes their fit, using the eartips to find the right fit improves the passive noise isolation well. But bass-heavy noises like those of engines seep through, which makes them not so great while commuting.
On the contrary, they provide stable in-ear fit ideal for running. The wired design might not be ideal in a work environment or in situations where you want to be discreet. They also offer variants with microphones, call quality is above average.
What are some alternatives?
Some alternatives to the KZ ZST are the KZ AS10, the KZ ZS10, and the KZ ZSN. Each of these varies in prices, performance and build quality.