KZ is a Chinese language model that has change into well-known within the IEM phase for its reasonably priced and reasonable-sounding earbuds. We coated the favored KZ ZSN Professional X in our finances IEM roundup and located them to be the very best of the bunch.

The corporate has now teamed up with Crinacle to launch the CRN. Crinacle is a revered reviewer and critic within the audio business and runs a database of over 1000 examined IEMs on his web site. Lately, he has taken to doing collaborations with IEM manufacturers to provide you with merchandise which have been tuned to his liking. KZ now joins this checklist of manufacturers that features Moondrop, Fiio, Fearless Audio, and See Audio.

KZ X Crinacle CRN (ZEX Pro) review

The attention-grabbing factor in regards to the CRN is that that they had beforehand been launched because the KZ ZEX Professional with out the branding, although it is the identical product. Crinacle revealed later that this was a social experiment to see how the product can be reviewed with out his branding earlier than releasing the model along with his title on it.

So although this evaluation will discuss with the product as KZ x Crinacle CRN or simply CRN, it is also relevant to the ZEX Professional as the 2 are similar, minus the Crinacle branding on the latter.

So what is that this product, then? The CRN are a pair of reasonably priced IEMs. Whereas KZ tends to have its personal tuning for its IEMs, the CRN has naturally been tuned by Crinacle, with the aim to have a extra balanced sound profile with a little bit of bass. That feels like an on the spot enchancment over the standard KZ IEM and it could very effectively be the case. Let’s examine, nonetheless, how the CRN really carry out.

Design and construct

The CRN are a primary of their type earbuds from KZ that includes a triple driver design comprising of an electrostatic, dynamic, and balanced armature driver in every earbud. To be particular, it is a 6.8mm electret electrostatic driver, 10mm twin magnet dynamic driver, and a Knowles 30095 balanced armature driver.

KZ X Crinacle CRN (ZEX Pro) review

For a short rationalization of all the driving force varieties, an electrostatic driver works by vibrating a membrane suspended in an electrostatic area. A relentless (and normally excessive) voltage is handed by way of the membrane, which then strikes based mostly on the altering electrostatic area from the conductive grids on both facet. An electret electrostatic driver has a relentless and normally small voltage pre-applied to the membrane and thus doesn’t require a strong exterior energy provide to work. This makes it appropriate for form-factors like IEMs.

A balanced armature driver, then again, works by transferring a diaphragm by attaching it to a reed or armature, which is suspended in a magnetic area. By magnetizing the reed, it may be made to maneuver up and down, thus transferring the hooked up diaphragm.

A dynamic driver is a straightforward conical diaphragm hooked up to an electromagnet (voice coil) and positioned in entrance of a everlasting magnet.

All these driver varieties have their benefits and drawbacks, so they’re normally reserved for dealing with completely different components of the frequency spectrum utilizing crossovers. On this case, the dynamic driver handles the bass area, the balanced armature the mid-range, and the electrostatic driver the high-end.

To include all of the drivers, the shell of the CRN is on the bigger facet. The outer cowl of the shell is made out of zinc alloy whereas the half that sits contained in the ear is translucent resin. Construct high quality is nice and the earbuds really feel well-made whatever the worth.

The CRN are available two colours, rose gold, and black. The gold mannequin has clear resin as a substitute of the translucent on the black.

KZ X Crinacle CRN (ZEX Pro) review

The earbuds characteristic a normal 2-pin connector. The bundled cable is comparatively simple to get on, though the L/R marking on the cable is not simple to see so be sure to get it proper as you must connect the cable your self the primary time. Play a check tone when you aren’t certain you bought it proper.

The cable itself is fairly good. It isn’t too thick nor too heavy, does not keep kinks and folds simply, and likewise does not have any considerable microphonics.

You may select to purchase the CRN with a alternative of two cables, one with and the opposite with no mic. The mic model additionally has a single button to play/pause playback and decide up/cancel calls and works superb on each iOS and Android.

Other than the cable, the one different stuff you get within the easy packaging are the three units of earbuds in several sizes. These are customary silicone ear ideas; no fancy foam right here.


Regardless of the awkward-looking form, the CRN have been fairly comfy inside my ears. The resin shell has rigorously designed indentations to go across the contours of your outer ear cavity.

KZ X Crinacle CRN (ZEX Pro) review

Whether or not these suit your ears precisely will rely and it is doable not everybody will discover them comfy. The form of the earbuds depends closely on guessing the scale and form of your ear so it is fairly doubtless that it’s going to miss the mark for some customers.

The provided earbuds are additionally smooth and cozy on the ears. Additionally they create a very good seal, bringing down the ambient noise ranges fairly a bit with out involving any software program trickery.


Audio high quality

The CRN have been tuned to ship a principally impartial sound however with a bass enhance. The resultant sound is just about because it says on the tin.

KZ X Crinacle CRN (ZEX Pro) review

The bass tuning and efficiency is without doubt one of the higher ones I’ve skilled on IEMs on this worth vary. Most frequently, the bass enhance begins a lot earlier within the frequency vary, which tends to additionally raise decrease mids and higher bass frequencies, leading to a really mid-bass heavy sound that may be boomy and ugly.

The CRN bass enhance begins at round 200Hz and it is actually solely beneath 100Hz that it kicks in. This produces a cleaner and purer bass enhance shelf that allows you to get pleasure from your bass frequencies with out affecting the remainder of the sound.

The bass on the CRN is not as upfront and in your face as from a typical mid-bass boosted IEM. It actually comes all the way down to the form of music you take heed to as a result of not all music has numerous power beneath 100Hz so at occasions it looks like there is not a lot bass boosting occurring. This does work fairly effectively for probably the most half as music that’s usually not supposed to be bass-heavy is left largely untouched apart from a little bit of added heat.

KZ X Crinacle CRN (ZEX Pro) review

However, tracks which are bass monsters can completely experience that surfeit of low-end power as they thump and slam to glory. Bass supply stays clear and distortion-free and the drivers are capable of ship the sound fairly effectively with out bottoming out. The bass additionally by no means feels overtuned; the intent was clearly to boost and never overwhelm.

The mid-range efficiency is nice. The response throughout the vary is extremely even, which implies all frequencies on this vary are getting precisely the quantity of power as they need to within the recording. Vocals have a fantastic presence within the combine together with percussion and string devices coming by way of superbly.

If something, it is the character of the balanced armature drivers that form of taints the sound a bit. BA drivers do not have probably the most pure tonality or timbral traits and also you get this slight nasal or metallic tone to among the vocals and devices. It is solely one thing you actually have to concentrate to note, nonetheless.

Treble efficiency can also be actually good. A lot of the treble vary is admittedly even and though there may be some unevenness within the greater ranges it does not actually come by way of within the sound. For probably the most half, treble on the CRN has simply sufficient power, brightness, and sparkle that the recording calls for and virtually by no means feels shrill or shouty. The sound does appear to roll off round 15k, although, so you are not going to get a lot out of your high-resolution recordings, not that most individuals can hear above that, anyway.

KZ X Crinacle CRN (ZEX Pro) review

Technical efficiency is not as spectacular and extra indicative of the value bracket we’re in. Decision and element undoubtedly really feel missing right here in comparison with costlier fashions and likewise uncommon exceptions just like the Moondrop SSR, that are equally priced however can resolve far more element. The imaging efficiency is sort of good for IEMs, little doubt helped by the robust higher mid and treble efficiency. Soundstage is expectedly underwhelming.

Relating to sensitivity, you actually can simply drive these utilizing the headphone jack or dongle in your telephone. Whereas most of my testing right here was achieved utilizing a Shanling UA2, the Apple Lightning to three.5mm headphone jack adapter was additionally completely able to driving these earbuds with loads of quantity to spare. These are delicate sufficient to reveal any background noise that could be current in your supply.


The CRN might be configured with or with no microphone. My advice can be to not get the microphone because it’s simply not excellent. The sound is very quiet for some motive and I wasn’t actually certain if it was simply my unit or a difficulty with the cable.

KZ X Crinacle CRN (ZEX Pro) review

If you do not get the cable with the mic, you at all times have the choice of getting a special cable with a greater mic.


The KZ X Crinacle CRN or the ZEX Professional are priced at round $36. These are exceptionally good worth IEMs with top-of-the-line tunings I’ve heard on this worth vary. They stand head and shoulders over their rivals on this worth vary, a lot of which really come from KZ itself however do not sound almost nearly as good.

KZ X Crinacle CRN (ZEX Pro) review

The technical efficiency might be a bit higher and the microphone is an afterthought however neither is a dealbreaker. These have been the one occasions I used to be reminded of the value of these items as a result of it was actually onerous to inform in any other case. Even issues just like the construct high quality and the provided cable are rather well achieved. I additionally discovered them to be fairly comfy to put on however your mileage might fluctuate on that.

General, the CRN get a powerful advice from me and are completely price your consideration.

Because of Headphone Zone for offering the evaluation unit.

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