Joining the planar wars with the all-new KZ PR1. It’s a planar magnetic IEM that has a 13.2mm planar driver and comes in two different tuning variants. KZ PR1 houses a newly-developed dual-cavity planar magnetic driver unit. This driver features an ultra-thin silver-plated diaphragm and an independent acoustic cavity for N55 based double-sided magnetic circuit.
KZ PR1 is available in two differently-tuned variants. The Balanced edition, as the name goes has a balanced sound signature with an elevated bass response while the HiFi edition has a more reference-grade tuning profile.
The PR1 Balanced edition has black aluminum face covers with black transparent resin cavities while the PR1 HiFi edition has silver aluminum face covers and an electroplated cavity structure with the same color and metallic-like finish.
Newly designed dual cavity planar magnetic driver.
13.2mm planar driver.
Aluminum alloy face covers.
Comfortable and ergonomic.
Two different tuning versions to choose from.
Frequency Response: 20Hz-40kHz.
Price: $69 (cheapest planar IEM on the market)
I would like to thank Tyvan Lam for providing me with the review sample of KZ PR1.
You should treat this review as the subjective impressions of an audio geek rather than an “objective truth” about the IEM. Your experience with any IEM would change depending on your DAC/AMP, music library, ear tips, and listening volume.
Solid bass with a deep rumble. Well-defined, and impactful, and the more you push, the more you’re rewarded. It’s deeply addictive, with powerful kicks and good definition from top to bottom, even more, if you can use a balanced source.
Wide and quick. Mids are superb and provide the perfect balance of sharpness and oneness. Sometimes, they can appear to not be completely in phase with lows and highs, but this is mostly hearable with badly recorded tracks. Everything is perfectly on-point and the PR1 remains a solid performer in this regard.
Engaging and sharp. High-frequencies extension is great, even if the PR1 can be a tad too bright sometimes, especially with bright sources. All in all, it’s still pretty impressive for this price range.
The sound signature of the PR1 is a solid V-shape tuning. The dynamic range definitely surpasses the asking price, allowing more micro-details to shine at a lower volume and a more impactful sound at a higher volume. If paired with a good source, I was impressed by how full the KZ PR1 sounded, easily pushing thunderous bass, with no audible distortion.
Resolution and clarity are excellent, and the whole spectrum shows an impressive level of definition. Highs can be a bit prominent at times if you use a brighter source but when paired with a source like the Cayin RU6, that was less of an issue. And this little addition widens the sound by a big margin while also enhancing detail retrieval.
The PR1 displays nicely controlled bass response and impact. The richness is impressive and quite frankly, in this aspect, this model overtook many higher-end models. For a sole driver, the result is compelling, helped by the good seal offered by the ergonomic design. Techno-lovers will undoubtedly prefer the PR1 over Salnotes Dioko or TRN Kirin, the second ($99) and third ($129) cheapest planar IEMs on the market.
Head-to-head with the Salnotes Dioko, the KZ PR1 feels like a solid step up. The tonal balance is better, especially in the lows, and transients are even faster, making this IEM the perfect solution for techno and metal lovers on a low budget. The rumble is there, even at low volume, the end result is simply amazing for $69. The PR1 sounds more planar to my ears and offers more sound pressure, better textures, and a better fit.
If lows are tight, mids don’t fall short either. Voices especially were given a lot of love and attention, and I was deeply impressed by how natural the mid-range came out, even when just paired with a budget USB DAC like Whizzer DA1. KZ PR1 does a very good job, such as the punchy mid-range for an excellent end result.
There are still a few issues that should be addressed. Highs can be a bit too forward sometimes, and depending on the source you’ll pair, voices can sound a bit artificial, missing the natural delay you hear in real life. That’s not an issue most of the time, but on bad recordings, you may have this issue. Again, choose a good source and you’ll be plenty rewarded.
Add a potent source like the TempoTec V6 and the KZ PR1 opens up really nicely. Highs are sharper and lows gain more weight, without infringing on the voices. The transition between low, mids, and highs is usually seamless, but as I said before, mids can sometimes work solo, before blending back with everyone. That said, like every planar, IEM or headphone, those ears crave power and will only deliver their full potential when correctly driven. Powered by V6 I got exquisite lows, clean mids, clear highs, and a super-wide soundstage from the PR1.
The KZ PR1 is undoubtedly the best planar IEM on the market right now. Because it just costs $69! This also makes it one of the best IEMs under $100 but make no mistake, the sound performance of PR1 can compete with bigger boys no matter what driver configuration they have. In my list, the PR1 sits in second place after DUNU Talos surpassing many ‘hyped’ planar IEMs, because it just costs $69!