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Commendable and enjoyable performance from a pair of adaptable generalist IEMs.
- Look and feel polished and well-made
- Good isolation with proper tips
- Well-balanced and cohesively integrated sound with good resolution, detail, speed, and clarity
- Switches are useful for fine-tuning the sound profile to your liking
- Good overall value and price-to-performance ratio
- The shells, while distinct, are not necessarily the most ergonomic
- Some may find them to be good, just not remarkable or unique
- Eight tuning switches! – if you can’t stomach the idea of dealing with them
KZ is trying out a new sub-brand name with Joyodio. Currently, the VZ10 is the first and only product released. The tuning switches and other parts are borrowed or adapted from other KZ models and uniquely configured. The VZ10 is likely a cousin of the excellent KZ AS24 with tuning switches.
Following KZ’s latest evolution in sound, I’m happy to report that the team responsible for tuning has done an outstanding job shying away from an extreme v-shaped tuning profile. The VZ10 are well-balanced and a solid performer with a unique look. Will this be enough to build a fan base?
Unboxing and First Impression
Design and Build
The VZ10 are easy to pick from a lineup.
The faceplate mimics chrome metal and reminds me of a classic mid-1900s automobile’s slotted grille, a linear bar grille, or slot diffuser used in air conditioning systems.
The VZ10’s faceplate is semi-open. If Joyodio didn’t specify, I would have assumed the faceplate was just decorative. The VZ10 do not excessively leak sound nor let much in, hardly affecting effective noise isolation.
The faceplate, which also frames the tuning switches, attaches almost seamlessly to a smooth, skin-friendly 3D-printed black resin cavity. The VZ10 bodies are relatively large, heavy, and feel solidly built. That said, the body is not big enough to be concerning for those with smaller head appendages. The nozzle length is long enough to allow for deeper insertion.
There are four primary (Main) and four secondary (Auxiliary) switches per side. As I wrote in my review of the KZ AS24, if you have a hawk’s eyesight (or a jeweler’s loupe) and a surgeon’s steady hand with the provided SIM card removal tool, you can adjust them.
The switches are identical to the AS24, with the main switch panel functioning with the same parameters. There are small differences in the function of the secondary switch panel.
The included 1.2m 8-strand braided cable has 8 strands of high-purity silver-plated wire. The braid is quite attractive to look at and has a good quality feel. The cable terminates in a 3.5mm straight plug.
There is a plastic splitter with no chin slider. The cable and plug are light. The connector housing seems sturdy and looks great despite being housed in plastic. No audible microphonics are transmitted from the cable, nor is it prone to tangling.
The VZ10 uses non-recessed 0.75mm 2-pin gold-plated connectors – the cable slides on perfectly and securely. The contrast of the chrome and black, combined with a silver and chrome-accented cable and plugs, is beautiful if you dig the whole aesthetic – which I do!
The VZ10 are a bit chunky in size and weight.
They are relatively comfortable despite not having a heavily sculpted ergonomic profile, though I notice some discomfort after about 90-120 minutes from pressure on the outer ear.
Physical noise reduction and sound insulation with proper ear tips are also good. Joyodio provides a wide variety of tips, including silicone and foam. The foam does not negatively affect the sound. If you need another set of tips, make sure the stems are large in diameter.
The cable is pliable and light with well-shaped and positioned ear hooks, aiding in comfort. The IEMs stay in place well once I achieve a good tip seal, and the hooks are comfortable enough to forget about.
Under the Hood
Each VZ10 IEM houses 4 drivers:
- 7mm DD x1 for low-frequencies (bass)
- 29689 BA x2 for mid-frequencies (mids; same BA combination as the KZ AS24)
- 50024 BA x1 for high-frequencies (treble) (physical combination of 2 BAs, designed for KZ)
A 3-D printed skin-friendly resin cavity exits sound through a high-precision sound guide tube with three exits and a filter fitted at the end. According to KZ, this process ensures that the internal construction of each pair of IEMs is accurate and consistent.
How Do the Joyodio VZ10 IEMs Sound?
For evaluation, I listen to a great variety of music through numerous sources, including DAPs (FiiO M15S), phones (LG V20, LG V60), portable DAC/amps (HELM Audio Bolt, DB12 AAAMP, TempoTec Sonata E44, Khadas Tea, Qudelix-5K) and desktop DAC/amps (S.M.S.L SP200, HIFIMAN EF400).
The VZ10 have two switch panels that adjust the sensitivity of frequencies (±3dB) across the range with impedance loads ranging from 12-32 ohms. I wrote extensively about these switches in my review of the KZ AS24. As my experience has not changed, please refer to the link to read more.
After listening for quite some time with all of the switches in the off position, I began the arduous and tedious (for me) task of tinkering. Here is where I landed:
- Main switches: 2,3,4 ON (Bass 20-200Hz +3dB)
- Sub switches: 1, 2, 3, 4 ON (Medium-High 500Hz-2kHz +1dB, Upper Treble +3dB)
Yes, the switches actually work – in case you’re wondering.
Not only are changes reflected in the frequency response graph below, I can discern the differences. Not drastic, though enough to allow for some sound sculpting. Curiously, though not surprisingly, the frequency response graph is very similar to the AS24, despite the entirely different driver implementation.
The soundstage is not overly wide or cramped, and imaging is good. The tonality and timbre are quite good, with only a hint of BA timbre if I pay close attention to some tracks. Natural instruments sound true and organic, and the cohesion is surprisingly good. The VZ10 are clear without oversharpening.
For this review, I visited the following artists and their home locations:
- UK: For Joe by Ren Gill
- United States: A Martian Winter by Angel Vivaldi
- Netherlands: My Paragon by Floor Jansen
- Australia: The Edge by Tonight Alive
A fascinating collection from several continents, these diverse musical productions range in ethnic origins, musical styles, and explorations in audio.
The 7mm dynamic driver, while not huge, does not try to surpass its physical abilities. It seems to be a high-quality driver with solid texture and some nuance. There is just enough quantity to fill in the low end smoothly and warmly. I find that the bass is well-defined and adequately satisfying for most types of music.
What the VZ10 lack in bass oomph, they make up for in quality and control.
The driver speed is not so fast as to sound thin or weak and helps reproduce an organic-sounding low end. Even with the 3dB boost available with the switches, I do not hear any apparent stress to the driver or distortion in the sound.
If you prefer extra bassy sound signatures, it’s best to look elsewhere.
Smooth and clear all day.
The transition between the bass and midrange sounds seamless. Vocals are balanced and present, well-placed between intimate and distant. Accuracy and resolution are good without sounding artificial.
The VZ10’s complement of balanced armatures does a good job with resolution, clarity, and detail.
The treble extension is acceptable, though not remarkably detailed.
This is remedied by turning on all the sub switches to boost the treble, improving the detail and clarity.
With the stock tuning or mid-high boost, some tracks in the higher mid frequencies to lower treble reveal a hair of sibilance. It is not bothersome and only worth a passing mention. If you’re especially sensitive, this may become more noticeable when the sub-switches are turned on to boost the treble.
The VZ10’s cousin, the KZ AS24, is the easiest comparison, as noted throughout this review. The AS24 is a TOTL IEM for KZ, with 12 balanced armature drives per side. The overall dimensions are larger, with arguably more contoured and ergonomic shells that are more comfortable for me for extended periods.
Besides the design, the most significant difference between the two cousins is that the AS24 sound like an enhanced, higher-resolution VZ10. While they have similar frequency responses, the bass is faster, more precise, and higher resolution. The treble is extended further with more clarity and distinction.
Almost everything the VZ10 does, the AS24 does slightly better. The differences are surprisingly small by any measure.
I believe that both are excellent choices and solid purchases. The good news is that they do not look alike, although both are likely polarizing. The VZ10 may offer a much greater value depending on current prices, especially considering it includes a premium carry case.
Where to Buy
Who Should Buy This?
If you are a highly critical, self-proclaimed audiophile or an enthusiast collector, I suggest you pass on these as a “must-have.” Notwithstanding the design, the VZ10 will not add anything entirely unique to your stable.
For anyone who does not identify with the above, you will be happy, maybe thrilled! The VZ10 are highly capable generalists who are adaptable to most sources and sounds. They are a great choice for those who just want to enjoy their tunes in high definition. They are cost-competitive and a solid, if not outstanding, value.
With a style all their own, the VZ10 are polished and distinct. They may be too large for some and not ideally ergonomic for others. For most of us, they will fit fine. Sound isolation is above average, and the included accessories at this price are an unexpected and pleasant surprise.
The overall quality is impressive for a “first” branded product, despite coming from a mega-IEM company. The VZ10 are a high-performance bargain, making high-quality audio accessible without many compromises. In addition, the VZ10 can flex a bit with your preferences in sound with the addition of the tuning switches. Well done, I recommend them!
KZ (Knowledge Zenith) Audio, based in Dongguan City, China, began as a distinct brand in 2013. In 2018, KZ gained complete independence in research and development with their own factory and provided customers with a full complement of OEM/ODM products and services, including wired and wireless IEMs and headphones. Joyodio is a sub-brand of KZ.
What’s in the Box?
- Joyodio VZ10 IEMs
- 1.2m 8-strand silver-plated cable
- Six pairs of silicone ear tips (S, M, L)
- One pair of foam tips
- SIM card removal tool for adjusting switches
- Blue faux-leather carry/protection case
- Pamphlet/quick start guide
- Style: In-ear monitor
- Shell Material: Resin
- Drivers: 4 drivers per side (one dynamic and three balanced armatures); 7mm DD x1; 29689 BA x2; 50024 BA x1 (physical combination of 2 BAs, designed for KZ)
- Impedance: 12-32 ohms
- Sensitivity: 108 ±3dB/mW
- Frequency Response Range: 20Hz – 40kHz
- Plug Type: 3.5mm gold-plated plug
- Pin Type: .75mm 2-pin
- Cable Length and Type: 1.2m (4 ft) 8-strand silver-plated cable
- Weight: 9 grams/IEM