I haven’t listened to many IEMs from KZ, but I have been impressed with what I have heard so far. Their affordable IEMs are known for their powerful sound delivery, and the new PR1 is their first to offer a planar driver system. Now KZ is the latest IEM brand to showcase what it can do with a planar design. Does it result in anything worthwhile?
What You Get
KZ-PR1 HiFi earphones
OFC silver plated headphone cable with 3.5mm jack (detachable, 2 pins)
3 pairs of silicone ear tips
Look and Feel
KZ IEMs keep a similar shape to all of their designs, and the PR1 is the same deal. Its sleek silver aluminum alloy shell and metallic finish feel nice for such a budget product. The open grilles are mostly aesthetic, but they make the earpieces even more pleasing to look at. In terms of their fit, KZ sticks to its preferred shaping, it fits like a glove. They’re also incredibly light too, adding no extra pressure to your ear cavity. This is a well constructed housing with comfortable wearablitly.
The PR1 utilizes a 13.2 dual cavity planarmagnetic driver. Its ultra-thin silver-plated diaphragm and N55 double sided magnet circuit aims to deliver a quick and precise transient response helped by its own acoustic cavity. Even though this is a planar driver, the PR1 is only 16 Ohms, and can be driver fairly easily. I would suggest any form of DAC/amp adapter to drive the PR1 efficiently.
From the first I tested with the PR1 I could tell that the soundstage had considerable width. On a flat, left to right plain, the PR1 showcases strong stereo sensibilities. Separation and layering are well communicated throughout its response, displaying air between performances. This sections off each instrument and vocal for better clarity, but dimentionally, the spatial imaging is a little too linear. Some elements can pop out in a forward facing manner, but you won’t hear any wrap around to any of the your music. The soundstage and imaging do everything right in terms of spatial accuracy, but immersion is not as prioritized.
If there is any brand that knows how to shove bass in your face, it’s KZ. This is a massive tone, with a big, booming body that is never starved for impact. There is no doubt how fun this bass can be, but is it too much? The answer is no. While the timbre is thick and imposing, the frequency content feels separated enough to not bloat other areas of the frequency response. You get maximum thud, with minimum mud. All the heft of the bass is well relegated to its specific area of ressoannce, and it results in more clarity without sacrificing the flavour of this bass.
With a more bass dominant IEM, the mids aren’t going to show up as much in comparison. They work well in tandem with the low frequencies, but on their own they don’t display much character. Instruments like guitars, and piano’s don’t carry much weight with this timbre. It will highlight effects driven elements with proper drive, but the notes themselves aren’t as defined. The vocals are in stark contrast to these elements, displaying extra resolve and crispness in a heightened upper-midrange. They are the most vivid area of the sound signature.
It is refreshing to hear the treble fully reveal itself in this sound signature. High frequency content is a plenty here, offering a rich spark of tone. A pluck of a string can posses a satisfying bite, particularly on the track “IV” by Oren Ambarchi. There is air and significant height to the presentation, with high-end details hovering over you in a strongly defined form. It helps immersion considerably, adding a more etherial flavour to the sound signature. Here, the PR1 appears the most like a planar headphone, and it is quite impressive. Nothing seems to peirce through the timrbe, leaving out harsh tones and overdone brightness. The highs here give you all the texture without any of the sensitive features some may not enjoy.
When it comes to budget IEMs, KZ knows how to make an impression. The PR1 is quite impressive for what it is, especially with its special driver principle. Its planar driver brings a lot of coloration to the sound, featuring an enticing bass response and and extended treble that I found extremely pleasing to my ears. There is a lot more competition here than you might think, especially with the latest outcroping of planar IEMs, but the PR1 is definitely worth trying out for yourself.
The KZ PR1 HiFi is available at Linsoul.