KZ, a pivotal brand in the audiophile world, has introduced the Castor In-Ear Monitor, available in two versions - Harman Target and Harman Target with Improved Bass. In this review, we delve into the KZ Castor Harman Target with Improved Bass IEM, featuring a built-in microphone.
Design and Build Quality:
The Castor boasts a sleek metal faceplate with a chrome-colored black paint finish, incorporating a curved design and faceplate air vents. The transparent plastic inner shell reveals attention to detail. Equipped with tuning switches on the IEM shells, the design is both simple and elegant. The accompanying cable is the reliable standard KZ model, suitable for daily use, and the package includes one pair of memory foam and three pairs of silicone ear tips.
Comfort and Fit:
Despite its small size, the Castor IEM shell offers a comfortable fit for extended listening sessions.
The Castor impresses with a balanced sound profile. The bass is potent yet controlled, the midrange is smooth and textured, and the treble is crisp and detailed. The overall presentation maintains moderate energy across all frequencies, providing an enjoyable listening experience.
- Potent and controlled, avoiding the excess of older KZ models.
- Delivers a sense of distance, enhancing the listening experience.
- Forward but smooth, avoiding listener fatigue.
- Textured vocals with a realistic and natural presentation.
- Crispy, clean, and detailed.
- Well-rounded edges for a fatigue-free session.
Soundstage & Imaging:
- Spacious soundstage with height and depth.
- Average imaging.
Tuning Switches Difference in the Sound:
The KZ Castor IEM comes equipped with tuning switches on the side of the shells, offering users the ability to tailor the sound according to their preferences. Here's a detailed breakdown of the impact of each tuning switch setting:
Turn On Switch 1 (Low frequency up to 1 level):
- Effect: Bass becomes slightly more pronounced, while midrange and treble take a step back.
Turn On Switch 1 + 2 (Low frequency up to 2 levels):
- Effect: Bass is further emphasized compared to the previous setting, with midrange and treble maintaining similarity to the first setting.
Turn On Switch 3 (Mid frequency up to 1 level):
- Effect: Bass recedes slightly, allowing midrange to step forward by a degree.
Turn On Switch 3 + 4 (Mid frequency up to 2 levels):
- Effect: Bass remains in a similar position to the third setting, but midrange gains additional prominence.
Turn Off All Switches:
- Effect: The overall sound presentation darkens, creating a pleasing and relaxed listening experience, suitable for extended sessions.
Opinion: While the tuning switches introduce subtle changes, they offer a valuable feature for users to customize their listening experience based on personal preferences.
Value and Competition:
At ₹1,649 in India, the KZ Castor Improved Bass version faces stiff competition from in-ear earphones within a similar price range, including QKZ X HBB, 7HZ Zero, Moondrop CHU 2, and TangZu Waner SG. A thorough A/B testing reveals noteworthy distinctions:
QKZ X HBB VS KZ Castor (Improved Bass Version):
- QKZ X HBB exhibits more bass energy but suffers from compressed midrange and treble, with a closer soundstage. Castor excels in clarity, separation, and spacious presentation.
7HZ Zero VS KZ Castor (Improved Bass Version):
- 7HZ Zero offers a more relaxed sound. While bass similarities exist, KZ Castor boasts a wider soundstage and more prominent midrange and treble presence.
Moondrop CHU 2 VS KZ Castor (Improved Bass Version):
- Similar energetic sound profiles, with Castor providing more powerful bass, comparable midrange, and slightly less treble presence. KZ Castor outshines in soundstage.
TangZu Waner SG VS KZ Castor (Improved Bass Version):
- TangZu Waner SG features powerful bass, warmer midrange, and less detailed treble. KZ Castor, with crisper and more detailed treble, secures victory in soundstage.
Pros and Cons:
|Value for money product||No provided carry case or pouch|
|Powerful yet controlled bass|
|Smooth and textured midrange|
|Crisp, clean, and detailed treble|
|Comes with tuning switch|
In conclusion, the KZ Castor IEM (Harman Target with Improved Bass) stands out for its impressive sound performance and customizable tuning switches. Priced competitively at ₹1,649, it surpasses rivals in its price range with powerful yet controlled bass, a smooth midrange, and crisp treble. The tuning switches, though subtle, offer a personalized touch to the listening experience. With a wider soundstage and average imaging, the Castor is a commendable choice for both new audiophiles and daily users seeking quality at a reasonable price.
Have questions or doubts? Feel free to ask in the comments. Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for our next review!