The KZ ZS6, a miracle from China.

KZ ZS6
KZ ZS6 with the more comfortable upgrade cable.

I really took my time hearing the ZS6, mostly because this model was and still is surrounded by audiophile hype just like its predecessor the ZS5. Don’t get me wrong, the first generation ZS5 was amazing for the price, even if a reviewer did made a drama around it.

I was not really impressed when I tried these for the first time because they sounded just like the ZS5 v1.
After playing a lot of my favorite albums, even I must admit the ZS6 sounds better than the ZS5, not by a lot but enough for me to recommend the ZS6 over their predecessor.

The built quality of the shells is pretty amazing for a sub 50€ IEM, sure it only brings the basics in terms of accessories and the stock cable is rather uncomfortable. The shells are made of metal, not sure if its aluminum but by the wear on the paint after some weeks it sure looks like it.

In terms of comfort this model feels the same as the ZS5, if you are lucky enough for it to fit nicely on the ear then great for you, if not be prepared for some adjustments.

The sound of these IEMs doesn’t feel V-shaped, even if the treble can be a tiny bit too much on some songs, they are not bass canons, having a very controlled bass and great mid range.
Probably due to the metal shell design they have a greater soundstage than the ZS5s on some songs. I could ramble on about the sound quality but I’ll just say they sound like little Beyerdynamics DT880s minus some detail and instrument separation. Yea, that good and they are not 200€.
Glad KZ doesn’t yet go the route of a certain audiophile brand and make headphones expensive “Because it sounds good!“, If not these would sell for 300€ or something.
Sure the outside design is borrowed but the sound feels very KZ and I should know because I got most of their “flagships”.

Without much hype these are the best KZ earphones you can buy until the end of 2017, not sure how KZ will improve on this design but my advise would be improve the nozzle end with a little notch so the tips can’t move around so easily and maybe improve the cable which feels cheap and very hard around the ear.
Also change the design for something truly KZ, I think the brand doesn’t really need to be borrowing designs from other niche brands but thats me.

Beyerdynamic A20 Review

A fair review on the Beyerdynamic A20 headphone amplifier!
I don’t often reblog articles on my blog but this one is so well written that I’ll share it.
Hey! I’m a Beyerdynamic fanboy, so I’m biased! 🙂

Hyp0xia29

I remember a customer from very early on in my 3.5-year career working in the build your own PC department at Micro Center who insisted that he had to have an AMD video card because his computer has an AMD CPU. When I explained to him that this was inaccurate, he told me another sales associate had said otherwise. “He was wrong,” I said flatly. It went on like this for some time until I told him that it really didn’t matter to me whether he bought an AMD video card or an Nvidia video card and it was true: I couldn’t possibly have cared less. I remember it clearly because it was one of countless interactions to come in which the customer would question my expertise, which always came as a slap in the face because I prided myself as a guru. When I went home for the day…

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My blogging goals.

alexa-mazzarello-223406When I first started my blog my main idea was to improve my written English and also share some of my opinions, but since then my blogging goals changed a bit.
So now I’ll write about the current state of the blog and also some things to come.

One of the most visited pages on my blog is the KZ guide, any person who doesn’t know me or doesn’t read my “about” page might think I’m just another guy who thinks he’s going to be a reviewer or make lots money from this hobby. Yea, sure…
These days nothing is further from the truth, I did in a very far past think I could sell some affordable gear on a shop, but online retail actually made me give up on that endeavor.
In a way I’m glad for it, because some years ago a headphone shop opened in downtown Lisbon and it was very well situated. The shop was open for one year but the owner had to close doors. Why?
Well, people would actually visit it and try the headphones, but in the end they would buy the gear online because the price was better.
So yea, I have no grand money making ideas for my blog.

Most people don’t know that I actually review KZ IEMs for fun and also because I use them daily. Plus there is a lot of people new to the hobby who can’t spend all the money I already spent on these IEMs.
Given the fact KZ is a very hyped brand on some forums I felt the need to share my opinions on some models, because sometimes it’s hard to separate marketing bullshit from the honest reviews from people who actually pay for gear from their own pocket.
My main goal with the mini reviews around here is to help new people in to the hobby, some of them don’t have lots of money to try out new IEMs all the time, also it takes ages for some gear to arrive from China so every purchase they make must be carefully planned.
That’s also why I never actually went ahead and reviewed my Beyerdynamics or Grado headphones . People who buy those brands know exactly what they want.

I still keep writing about the state of the hobby, mostly pointing out bullshit when I see it, if anyone has a problem with that they can go piss in another tree because this blog is mine. I’m not as aggressive as before but bullshits is bullshit and it will not smell less after some time.

I got some ideas to share about my stencil hobby but work is keeping me a bit busy these days. It’s not forgotten and I will try to dedicate some time to it.

This blog is my main way to share my views about the world, one of the great things about WordPress is that I’m not in a social network bubble, even if some of my page views do come from Facebook.
In the past I shared many posts on that social network sadly I think only a few of my friends actually care about the stuff I write around here so I don’t share my writings in Facebook anymore. I still share on Twitter because users there are more informed about tech, plus I got some audiophiles who follow me.

As for things to come, I got some ideas but nothing too fancy. I will probably keep reviewing cheap Chinese IEMs but also from other brands.
I want to write about music on my free time, nothing too serious just “talk” about albums or songs I enjoy daily. The same goes for some books but I’ll avoid series and movies because everyone writes about that so I don’t want to beat that old horse.
As for the electronics hobby, these days my kids run around so much that I can’t even pick up my soldering iron, so no writing about that for a long time to come. I don’t have a safe calm space to work on my electronics so I only do some repairs when I really need to.

Anyway I don’t want to share stuff just because I can, I want to share interesting things and projects that help other people. In a way this blog does help many people, at least from what I can see on my visitors statistics.
I must say thanks, even if most of you don’t interact with me I’m happy to welcome you all to the journey of my life.

As for blogging goals, right now that’s about it. Peace.

The KZ ZS5 Balanced Armature drama.

KZZS5old
KZ ZS5 official image for the first version. Yes, that BA looks odd there.

Sometime ago a reviewer who shall not be named started complaining that KZ lied about their (at the time of release) flagship ZS5.After he disassembled the IEM shell (probably with a hammer looking at the awful job he did) the reviewer found that the BA driver was not inside or directed at the nozzle of the IEM. Drama mode engaged!

Now to be fair, at the time of the release of the 1st version, I did notice that BA position on the marketing photos, so to KZ defense they didn’t lie about that.
Also the 1st version of the ZS5 did sound great so no harm done, besides the click bait drama generated by that reviewer.

Anyway after all of that drama KZ noticed their mistake and silently corrected the BA driver position, but they did it without any warning in their packages thus the 2nd version sold with the reputation of the 1st one.
Sadly this change in the BA position also apparently changed the tonality of the IEM giving it even more treble than before. Some reviewers hate the new version, I’m yet to hear it so I can’t give my opinion.

KZ-ZS5-New
New official version of the KZ ZS5 aka version 2. Now you got 2 BA together for full piercing effect.

In a way KZ couldn’t avoid this shitstorm even if they wanted it, but they could inform the users about the 2nd version.

Even so I feel I’m requesting too much from a new Chinese niche brand, after all the ZS5 and ZS6 are very inspired by a even more niche High-End IEM.

Dramas aside the new ZS6 sounds great and I’ll give my opinion about it very soon.

My opinion on the MQA codec.

MQA_logo_stacked_black200
Image from Wikipedia.

My short opinion about the Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) codec. Be warned I don’t like it one bit. (pun intended)

To keep it short, MQA it’s just another way to push a proprietary closed source codec upon audio enthusiasts and making cash along the way.

If this codec becomes mainstream it will result in a higher price for the end user (that will be me and probably you also).
I don’t mind paying artists but I do mind when I must pay for a codec when there are free alternatives in the wild.
I’m all for innovation but when said innovation brings practical uses to the table, the Sony ATRAC codec for exemple was pretty impressive when paired with the MiniDisc format.

Mp3 became the de facto standard for ok quality over really slow Internet, even if today there are better alternatives both proprietary and open-source. Mp3 does the job and is so imbued on users life that it will take a long time until another codec replaces it.
Not so with MQA, a codec mostly for a niche group but with the hope of reaching mainstream music lovers, something Flac already did in a certain way.

Hardcore enthusiasts and audiophile magazines are shoving negative opinions (some very objective) to the side. Saying that negativity doesn’t help the hobby.
Remember that these are the same people who in a way or another are connected to the industry so maybe negativity isn’t just the problem deep down at the root.

Well, I’m not the most objective guy to write about this MQA drama, so go visit Archimago’s blog and get a better objective view on the technical detail of the codec.