Average User Rating:
  1. crabdog
    "LZ A4 - How would you like your music served today?"
    Pros - Versatile filter system, build quality, great cable, amazing sound
    Cons - Supplied ear-tips too small

    LZ is an earphone manufacturer who has had some iconic releases in the past. They were one of the first to bring a true hybrid earphone to the masses at an affordable price. Well today I'll be reviewing their latest release, which has been stirring up a lot of interest since its release - meet the LZ A4.
    This product was sent to me for the purpose of this review. I'm not affiliated with the company and all opinions and observations are my own, based on my experience with the product. I'd like to thank LZ for the opportunity to test the A4.
    The LZ A4 is available at several AliExpress stores and also at Penon Audio: http://penonaudio.com/LZ-A4
    1. Brand: LZ
    2. Model: A4
    3. Driver: 1 Dynamic driver+ 2 Balanced Armature Hybrid
    4. Impedance: 16Ω 
    5. Headphone sensitivity:120dB
    6. Frequency range: 20-28000Hz
    7. Interface: 3.5mm 
    8. Cable Length: 1.2m±5cm
    9. Weight: 30g
    10. Interface Type: MMCX
    Package and accessories:
    1. 6 pairs of silicone tips
    2. 1 pair of bi-flange tips
    3. 1 pair of foam tips
    4. 1 pair of silicone ear-hooks
    5. shirt clip
    6. metal case containing the different filters
    7. MMCX cable
    8. carry case
    9. information booklet
    The A4 comes in a plain, black box with red print on the front. Upon opening you find a foam sheet with the included ear-tips and the earphones. Underneath that are the carry case, metal filter case, cable and other accessories. It's a decent bundle for this price range but unfortunately, like so many other  IEMs all the supplied ear-tips are too small for me.

    The cable is dark gray in color and is smooth and very flexible, similar to the one found on the LZ A2S. There aren't any strain reliefs on the MMCX connectors but hopefully this won't be an issue. There's a nice rubber Y-splitter with a cable cinch and the cable terminates in an angled 3.5 mm plug that has good strain relief. Even when worn down there is very little microphonics present.

    Build, comfort and isolation:
    The housings are metal with a large plastic tear-shaped attachment where the MMCX connectors are. They look quite large at first glance but are actually very ergonomic and can be comfortably worn cable up or down without having to reverse sides. Each earpiece has a Left or Right indicator and although the markings are black, they're still easy to see. Build quality is very solid and these should be very  robust.

    I find these very comfortable and can wear either cable up or down for hours on end without a problem. Since they're equally comfortable for me both ways I change depending on my situation: if I'm sitting at home or in the office I'll wear them cable down but if I'm on the move I switch to over-ear.
    Despite having a semi-open back design these isolate noise quite well and also have minimal noise leakage so they should be fine for commuting or other situations where you need to consider other people.
    Filter system:
    The A4 is a tunable system, meaning there are a series of rear and nozzle filters for a total of 18 different combinations, all with a slightly different sound signature. Rather than try to explain them all I'll just insert the filter chart kindly provided by fellow Head-Fier Tamal (RedJohn456). The filters are very well machined and are easy to change, making the process fast and painless. My personal favorite combinations are Black/rear and Red/front or Red/rear and Black/front, most often the former as I like some extra weight in the low end while still remaining smooth up top.

    The A4 are not hard to drive and work well straight out of a smartphone or budget DAP.
    Samsung Galaxy Note 5
    Foobar2000 > irDAC-II
    Foobar2000 > Micca OriGen+
    FiiO X1ii > with and without Shinrico E11
    NiNTAUS X10 > with and without Shinrico E11
    Music tested with:
    Westside Connection - Terrorist Threats album [flac]
    Mathias Eick - Midwest album [flac]
    Miles Davis - Tutu album [flac]
    Jazz At the Pawnshop - Arne Domnerus Group 2cd album [flac]
    +many others
    For this review I'll be describing the sound using the Red/rear and Black/front  or Black/rear and Red/front filter combination. Note that while the filters genuinely alter the sound, the overall characteristics of the IEM remain the same - something to keep in mind while reading this. Those overall characteristics I would summarize like this: deep, controlled bass, beautifully clear midrange and detailed, airy but smooth treble.
    Sub-bass digs deep, especially with my preferred filters installed. They extend very low and can bring the rumble that I crave while remaining remarkably well controlled. Similarly the mid-bass is very well textured and has great impact but never overpowers the other frequencies. Of course the intensity can be changed with different filter setups but the core characteristics remain - extension, texture and control are always present. The bass works well across all genres and can be specifically fine tuned with filters if you listen predominantly to a certain type of music but for me, the aforementioned two filter combinations sound great no matter what I'm listening to. Overall the bass is superbly executed and perfectly compliments the mids and highs.
    The mids have exceptional clarity and tone making vocals, strings and acoustic instruments come alive. Separation is excellent across the board allowing you to pick apart every instrument during busy song sections. Classical music sounds fantastic with wonderful tonality in piano and string instruments (in everything really). And if the crescendos start to become uncomfortable you can just change the front nozzle and you're good to go again. Male vocals carry nicely, sounding rich and natural. In "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers his raspy notes are smooth and articulated. With the Divas of Jazz 4 album there's a song by Ella Fitzgerald called "My Melancholy Baby" that has little bass and lots of loud peaks in the vocals. It's not a great recording and I'm not sure when it was recorded but am fairly sure it was before the days of limiters and compressors. This song can be grating on the ears as if someone is poking needles of ice into your head but with the LZ A4 equipped with red nozzle filters I can begin to appreciate it.
    How anything can retain so much detail whilst staying chocolaty smooth is a wonder but that's what I find with the A4. There's also an airy lightness about the treble that lifts music with nice extension but is non-fatiguing. For roughly the last third of "No Man's Land" by The Pineapple Thief there are a lot of crash cymbals that can sometimes be a bit painful to my ears but the A4 pulls them off really well, leaving their extension and vibrancy without any signs of artificial (or physical for that matter) dampening. They're just masterfully tuned and the treble nears perfection to my ears.
    Soundstage is excellent, taking sounds outside of the "headspace" with great depth as well as width. Imaging often suffers from such a wide soundstage but that's not the case here as 3D positioning is precise, allowing you to picture which direction sounds are coming from.  This is yet another aspect of the A4 that combined with the other characteristics and makes these overall probably the most impressive IEMs I have heard to date.

    vs TFZ Balance 2M
    Some might question a comparison between dynamic and hybrid earphones but as we've heard often it usually comes down to the tuning and build rather than driver count/type. These both retail at just under $200 at the time of writing this review so in my opinion make them ideal to look at side by side. Both have a fairly balanced signature but the sub-bass on the TFZ has a bit more impact than that of the A4. Both have great clarity in the midrange but the A4 manages to pull a bit more detail and separation out of the sound. Both have a relaxed but well-extended treble but the TFZ lacks the airiness of the A4. Also the A4 has a wider soundstage with more depth probably due (in my opinion) to the semi-open back design. The Balance 2M has better noise isolation but the LZ is no slouch here either. When it comes to comfort I'd say the Balance 2M pulls slightly ahead. Each of these are among my current favorite IEMs for different reasons and if I had to choose between them it could very well come down to a coin toss.
    vs Moni One
    Now we have the same driver configuration of a single DD and dual BA but a fairly large difference in price. The Moni One is currently retailing at around $70. The Moni One is the more V-shaped of the two, particularly in the treble which can get a bit splashy at times. The Moni One actually seems to me to have better micro details but this comes at the cost of slightly thinner midrange and edgy treble. They each have very good bass, with the Moni One slightly edging ahead for quickness and control. Overall the A4 has a more balanced sound and is technically superior. If you're not willing to go into the price range of the A4 then the Moni One is a very solid alternative.

    From left to right: Moni One, TFZ Balance 2M, LZ A4
    I think I've said pretty much everything already. The LZ A4 is a stellar performer offering outstanding quality sound at a reasonable price. With its open and airy yet warm, rich sound it's engaging, musical and elicits emotional response from the listener. It can be sophisticated and fun at the same time and can be tuned more towards either direction with the fantastic filter system that makes it so versatile. Soundstage, imaging, timbre and air abound. Detachable MMCX means you can use a third party cable but I can't see why you would want to as the default one is already superb. The one minor complaint I have is that ALL of the provided ear-tips are too small for my ears but this is almost always the case for me personally and as such I don't feel it worth taking off any points. These are at the moment arguably the best sub $200 IEM you can buy and if they're within your budget then I suggest you get yourself some as soon as possible.

    duyu, peter123, mgunin and 5 others like this.
  2. peter123
    "LZ A4: A true chameleon that performs like a champion!"
    Pros - Sound quality, build quality, value for money, filter system, comfort, isoaltion
    Cons - I honestly can't think of anything
    This is a review of the LZ A4 IEM’s.

    First of all I’d like to thank LZ for sending me a review sample of the LZ A4.
    The retail price of the LA A4 is $195. The LZ A4 is available from both AK Audio Store on Aliexpress and Penon Audio:
    The LZ A4 was sent to me for free for review purpose.
    I’m not in any way affiliated with LZ, AK Audio Store or Penon Audio.
    About me:
    I’m a 44 year old music and sound lover that changed my focus from speakers to headphones and IEM’s about five years ago. At that time I realized that it wasn’t realistic for me to have all the different setups that I wanted and still house a family of four children and a wife so my interest turned first to full sized headphones and later also IEM’s.
    My preferences are towards full sized open headphones and I believe that also says something about what kind of sound signature I prefer (large soundstage in all directions, balanced and organic sound).
    My music preferences are pretty much all over the place (only excluding classical music, jazz and really heavy metal). My all-time favorite band is Depeche Mode although I also listen to a lot of grunge/indie, singer/songwriter/acoustical stuff as well as the typical top 40 music.
    I do not use EQ, ever.
    I tend to value function over form within reasonable limits.
    I’m a sucker for value for money on most things in life Head-Fi related stuff is no exception.
    Built and accessories:
    The LZ A4 is a hybrid in ear monitor featuring two Knowles balance armature drivers and one dynamic driver.
    It comes in one flavor only.
    The build in general seem very solid. The housings are all metal and have a very nice weight to them without being overly heavy. The filters do also feel reliable and stays well in place once screwed properly in place.
    Left/Right markings are black on black but despite this they’re quite easy to spot and fortunately both the housings and the cable have the markings, something that’s not always the case.
    The cable has a 45 degree angled 3.5 mm connector just the way I prefer it. The cable is round and flexible, this is the same cable as on the A2S and the prototype A4 and it’s one of the better cables I’ve ever seen.  There is some microphonics but it’s not a big problem and wearing them over the ears makes it pretty much non-existing. The chin slider is also in place the way I like it and the Y-split is minimalistic but yet sturdy.
    The retail package is good for this price point and the best I’ve seen from LZ this far. It looks premium, is easy to open and the accessories pack is quite good.   
    The accessories pack includes the following:
    6 pairs silicon tips (S,M,L)
    1 pair bi-flange tips
    1 pair of foam tips
    1 pair of ear hooks
    1 shirt clip
    1 metal box to store the earpieces and filters in
    1 zippered case to store them in when not in use
    The LZ A4’s pretty easy to drive and worked very well with all the sources I’ve tried it with including cellphones. I don’t find them to benefit significantly from a more powerful amplifier but they do benefit from a clean source.





    The specs:
    Driver Unit
    2 BA, 1 Dynamic
    Frequenzy range
    16 Ohms
    30 g
    Cable lenght

    Fit and ergonomics:
    I find the LZ A4 to be very comfortable and got no problem wearing them for several hours. The housings looks a little weird in their form but the shape actually makes them very easy to insert and to get a good fit with. They can be worn both over the ears or straight down without any issues. They fit fine and are very comfortable both ways but I usually prefer wearing my IEM’s over the ears if possible so that’s also how I wear the A4’s. The included tips are ok but I found that the choice of filters greatly influenced on what tips I liked them with and in the end I ended up using them with some wide bore silicone tips with my preferred filters.
    Isolation is above average and I’ve been able to test them on a couple of shorter flights with acceptable result (I’m usually not crazy about using IEM’s on planes due to the cabin pressure).  
    I’ve used them back and forward in the last couple of weeks and they’ve played for well over 100 hours. I’ve used them both around the house and when out and about and I haven’t really found any significant weaknesses in the way they’re designed.
    I’ve used them with my LG G5 phone as well as the Shanling M1 and Opus #1 DAP’s and although they’ve worked very well with all of them. I’ve tried them with a lot of other sources as well without any noticeable issues.
    As already mentioned I enjoy the LZ A4’s the most with wide bore tips with my preferred filters.
    Earlier this year I was one of the lucky people who received a prototype of the LZ A4. The idea was to send out/tour some units to get feedback from several users on how they liked them and what they would like to improve. The overall balance on the A4 protoype was already really nice but I found it lacking quite a bit in resolution and soundstage. In addition to this I also left feedback that I'd like detachable cables and another design to improve comfort. When I was suddenly contacted by LZ again just about a month ago with some pictues of the production unit A4 I was impressed on how the design had changed for the better so naturally I was super hyped to find out how the final unit sounded.

    Prototype vs final design. Progress in both looks and sound :)
    Demo list:
    Mark Knopfler – Sailing to Philadelphia
    Røyksopp (Feat.Susanne Sundfør) – Save Me
    Ane Brun – These Days
    Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana
    Metallica – Die Die My Darling
    The Peter Malick Group – Immigrant
    Eva Cassidy – Songbird
    Thomas Dybdahl – A Lovestory
    Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why
    Celldweller – Unshakeable
    Jack Johnson – Better Together
    Seinabo Sey – Younger (Kygo remix)
    Dire Straits- So Far Away
    Passenger – Let Her Go
    Lupe Fiasco - Deliver
    Morrissey – Earth Is the Loneliest Planet
    Filters explained:
    First things first: The A4 comes with a variety of filters for the user to be able to fine tune the sound to his/hers preference or even to change the signature according to music and/or source used

    I’m usually not that crazy about IEM’s that uses filter system due to a couple of reasons. To start with I find it to be a short cut for the designer and often ends up being a compromise instead of going for the one tuning that sounds the best to the maker and hopefully also for the customer. It’s also my impression on many IEM’s that uses filter system that pretty much all users end up preferring the same filter which makes the whole system pretty meaningless. Another reason I’m not that happy about filters is that even with IEM’s that has several filter options it’s still difficult to find a perfect match many times. Truth to be told the A4’s is the first time I feel that the filters are actually a good thing. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly I think the possibility to change both the back plates (bass) and front plates (midrange/treble) is a very flexible solution. Secondly there are many combinations possible with three back filters and six front filters. Thirdly the front filters (and this is very uncommon from my experience) does not only affect the frequencies above the bass region but does actually have some effect on the bass (mid- and upper bass) as well), this (in my experience) greatly enchants the possibility to find ones perfect signature. Lastly (and probably because of the reasons I’ve already stated) with the A4’s I’ve got many combinations of filters that I enjoy, not only one.
    The A4 comes with three different back filters and six different nozzle filters, so a total of 18 possible different combinations. I don’t find it rational (or even possible) to describe the sound in detail from each combination. After trying all the possible options I’ve settled for the black back and red nozzle filters as my basic configuration for normal listening at home. I’d like to stress though that there’s certainly more combinations than this one that I enjoy in certain situations, with certain sources and music. For example I used the A4’s on a recent trip and going on trains, flights and spending a lot of time in noisy environments the red back filters (most bass) worked much better for me in this situation than the black back filters (medium bass) that I prefer when listening in more quiet environments.
    My buddy Tamal has done a great work in making a perfect overview of the different filter combinations so instead of re-inventing the wheel I’ve decided to use it here as well (with his blessing) thanks

    Courtesy of @RedJohn456 
    For the rest of this review all of the impressions are with the black back filters and red front filters. Before going into details about the sound with this combination of filter I’d like to say a couple of short comments about the basic signature of the A4 because whichever combination you may end up with as your favorite the A4 will always be the A4. Very short the overall signature of the A4 is big and bold. Soundstage in all directions is excellent and I’ve never heard such a full sounding pair of IEM’s having such a high resolution. There’s nothing thin, sharp, bright or fatiguing about them at all to my ears but despite this they don’t sound thick or warm either but rather very natural. In one world the A4’s sound expensive.

    The sub-bass extension on the A4 is the best I’ve ever heard and only rivaled by one other IEM in my possession. Not only does the bass reach extremely deep it does also have a good impact and excellent quality. Listening to “Creed” (OST) I can actually feel the deepest bass massaging the inner part of my ears even with the black bass filters, pretty amazing. Opposite to many other IEM’s with great sub bass presence the A4 has a very well controlled mid-bass and the sub bass impact is only there when the track calls for it. Although I’ve heard this amazing quality/quantity sub-bass a couple of other times this is probably the best overall bass presentation  for my preferences (deep and impactful sub-bass that’s there when called for combined with a tight and controlled mid-bass) I’ve come across this far in a pair of IEM’s. The mid- and upper bass has enough weight and presence to make Leonard Cohen sound like Leonard Cohen while still doing a great job in not overshadow the midrange. I’d probably describe the overall signature of the A4 with this filter combination as L-shaped just the way the highly praised original A2 was.
    The midrange is well in line with the rest of the frequencies, maybe a touch recessed (this can be fixed with other filters). The quality of the midrange is great though keeping up with both the ASG-1PLUS and the Super Audio 6 that has some of my favorite midrange presentations. Vocals are extremely good on the A4’s with enough weight on male vocals for them to sound natural and life like and a very seductive charter on female vocals that makes them extremely enjoyable with all vocal music. String instrument is also very well presented with a great organic sound to it as well as excellent timbre and weight.  Although I usually like my midrange more forward than neutral I prefer the midrange in this filter combination (again: black back, red front) because of its total presentation across all the frequency spectrum, other can (and surely will) prefer other combinations. 
    The treble is pretty well extended even with the red filters. Please remember that my ears are 44 years old so there’s probably not much information above the 15kHz that the red filters extend to that I’d be able to pick up anyways. I really love the treble on the A4’s that (to my ears) has a perfect combination between extension, richness and details. I really don’t feel that anything is missing and the treble never ever sound harsh or fatiguing in any way to me. It’s really not much more to say about the treble but it’s really great and among the, if not the, best treble presentations I’ve ever heard.
    Clarity and micro details are well above average and resolution is the best I’ve ever heard in such a full sounding pair of IEM ‘s. Soundstage width and height is excellent as is depth, airiness and 3D feeling. The “out of the head” feeling on the A4’s is definitely up there with the best IEM’s I’ve heard in this aspect.
    All in all the LZ A4 offers a very relaxed and non-fatiguing listening experience and delivers an amazing amount of good quality bass while still keeping clarity and details on an excellent level with a huge soundstage in all directions.  
    Please note that the comments in the comparison section are not in absolute terms but in comparison between subject A and B. This means (as an example) that if subject A is found to be brighter than subject B it does not necessarily mean that subject A is bright sounding in absolute terms. I hope this makes sense.
    These comparisons were done listening through the bit Opus #1 DAP.

    From left to right: Aurisonics ASG-1PLUS, LZ A4, Super Audio 6
    Aurisonics ASG-1PLUS ($499) vs LZ A4:
    The ASG-1PLUS is also a hybrid IEM featuring a 14.2mm dynamic and one balance armature driver.
    Compared to the A4 the 1PLUS has a more mid-centric presentation with way less bass (especially mid-bass) impact. The sub-bass on the A4 dig deeper and they’ve also got a good deal more mid-bass presence. The A4 does also have better bass quality and the bass on the 1PLUS is a little bit softer in its characteristic in comparison. Both have a very good midrange quality and excellent vocal reproduction but the midrange is definitely more forward and in focus on the 1PLUS while the A4 is more even across the whole spectrum. Both of them have very good treble quality.
    I find them both to be very comfortable.
    Build quality is equally great on both.
    The A4 is a bit easier to drive.
    Isolation is great on both but slightly better on the 1PLUS.
    Super Audio 6 ($250) vs LZ A4:
    The SA 6 is a six BA configuration that I use and enjoy a lot. These two are actually quite similar sounding and definitely the two most similar in this comparison section. Compared to the A4 the SA 6 has quite a bit less sub-bass impact and its bas does also roll off earlier. Mid- and upper bass is very similar on them both in quality and quantity. The midrange on these two is also very similar with great vocal performance on both male and female singers. The midrange on the SA 6 is more forward due to less bass presence. The A4 has smoother and more detailed treble while extension is pretty similar. Both of these have excellent “out of the head” 3D presentation but the A4 has wider soundstage, better clarity and slightly higher resolution.
    I find them both to be very comfortable.
    Build quality is equally great on both.
    The A4 is slightly easier to drive.
    Isolation is great on both but the SA 6 (being one of the best isolation IEM’s that I own) has even better isolation.
    Blue Ever Blue Model 1200EX  ($130) vs LZ A4:
    Compared to the A4 the 1200EX has less bass impact through all the lower frequency range and its sub-bass does also roll off earlier. Both have a similar and great bass quality, the bass on the 1200EX may actually be even tighter. Once again both of these have excellent, and quite similar, midrange quality but the 1200EX has more forward and a bit thinner and grainy vocals. The A4 has better treble texture as well as being smoother in the top end. Both have amazing soundstage and 3D presentation. Despite both being great the A4 is smoother, fuller and more refined all over while the 1200EX is more analog sounding.
    I find them to be very comfortable but the A4 pulls slightly ahead thanks to being able wear over the ears.
    Build quality is equally great on both but the detachable cable on the A4’s put them on top.
    They’re about equally easy to drive.
    Isolation is better on the A4.
    Audio-Technica ATH-CKR10 ($180) vs LZ A4:
    Compared to the A4 the CKR 10 has less sub-bass impact and its bass does also roll off earlier.  Mid- and upper bass is very similar in both quantity and quality with the A4 having a touch better control. The midrange on both has a quite similar position in the overall mix and both have great vocals for both male and female vocals but the A4 is smoother and more refined and the CKR’s actually sounds slightly grainy in comparison. Treble extension, details and overall characteristic is similar but the A4 is smoother. The A4 has a much larger soundstage width as well as being overall smoother and having better resolution.
    I find them to be very comfortable but the A4 pulls slightly ahead thanks to being able wear over the ears.
    Build quality is equally great on both but the detachable cable on the A4’s put them on top.
    The CKR 10’s are easier to drive.
    Isolation is better on the A4.
    To sum up the comparison section the A4’s perform admirable compared to some of my absolute favorite IEM’s. As a matter of fact they’re not even outperformed by any of them in any single area. Some may rival the A4’s in midrange, some in soundstage and some in seductive vocals but none of them is as complete through the whole spectrum as I find the A4 to be.
    The LZ A4 is one sublime pair of IEM’s in my opinion. Those of you that usually read my reviews know that I’m often quite restrictive with making statements that I prefer item A over item B or ranking different IEM’s. In the case of the A4’s I think it may be in place to make an exception to this policy. When it comes to sound the performance of the LZ A4 is so good in so many areas in comparison to my other top tier IEM’s that I feel it is the most complete pair of IEM’s I’ve listened to so far. It keeps up in bass quantity and quality with my favorite IEM in this aspect as well as keeping up with the midrange performance of the ASG-1PLUS and SA 6, the soundstage width and “out of the head” feeling on the 1200EX and has even more seductive vocals than the CKR 10. 
    So the LZ A4 is the best performing IEM’s I’ve reviewed this far when it comes to sound and that’s not all. They do also offer great build quality as well having very good ergonomics and isolation. On top of this they’ve got a filter system making a total of 18 different tunings possible and several of them sound great in my opinion. On top of this you get a great accessory pack. With a MSRP that’s $195 it becomes pretty obvious that the value for money rating for the A4’s is through the roof and makes it a very easy recommendation for anyone looking for a great performing pair of IEM’s in the $200 and upwards segment.