1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

KZ BA10 (Knowledge Zenith)

Rating:
3.5/5,
  1. Johnny Mac
    KZ BA10, hit and miss.
    Written by Johnny Mac
    Published Oct 26, 2018
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Good Imaging and soundstage, Improved stock cable.
    Cons - Uncomfortable design and erratic high frequency performance.
    upload_2018-10-26_19-8-23.jpeg
    [​IMG]

    John Ruskin once said “Quality is never an accident, it is always the result of intelligent effort” and we could all say that we have questioned Knowledge Zenith’s commitment to providing quality audio products knowing that they launch at us a slew of products that keeps us from looking at the big picture and evaluating our purchases. What we have now to realview is one of their many recent releases and make no mistake, more is surely coming as I’m told yet for now, we can focus on the KZ BA10 which sports a spec sheet of 5 Balanced Armature drivers (1 Low-1 Mid-1 Mid/High and 2 High), 20hz - 40KHz Frequency Response, 14 Ohm Impedance and 105dB Sensitivity. You can grab a pair for around $76 to $89 depending on promotion off Linsoul and DD Audio’s Amazon and AliExpress sites which provided the review unit in exchange for an honest review. Did Knowledge Zenith trick us again with the BA10 or is it just worth getting? Let’s find out.

    Packaging and Build Quality

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The BA10 came sheltered on a black matte box with a minute KZ logo on the front and some minor company and product information sticker on the side. Opening it up shows BA10 right away, no introductions needed boys and girls, KZ is and will keep it that way until when I don’t know exactly. The package included 3 silicon tips (S, M, L) with the medium tips pre-installed. The foam inserts had a metal plate with the KZ logo and the reminder again that this is a 10BA IEM. Underneath the foam inserts were the silicon tips, warranty card and a product manual.

    [​IMG]

    The IEM housing itself has sharp edges (in IEM housing norm) and is quite huge again against IEM norm, this risky move for me isn’t a good thing since it made the BA10 usability lean on the uncomfortable side since most of the edges doesn’t sit flush on the ears and the rest of the puny jagged edges are the ones that get in contact with the ears and after having tried this while in bed or moving around, the more those sharp edges gets into contact. The housing though feels sturdy and doesn’t feel that it would be coming apart anytime soon and the paint (if it was ever paint) looks good in both matte gold and red, there are 3 lateral vents on the faceplate which is covered with a metal mesh and the nozzle has a lip which is great for eartips rolling and is also covered by a metal mesh. The BA10 still uses the KZ standard .75mm 2-pin interface which has a deep groove around it and doesn’t look great at all with other 2-pin male housings although why would you do cable rolling on this, right? The included stock cable is where it diverges from the usual KZ norm, it isn’t the usual dark tint round braid copper cable from the ZSA and the AS10 although they have the same specifications, the Y-split is a black hard rubber with decent strain relief on all terminals, the gold-plated 3.5mm plug still sits on a black hard rubber which also has decent strain relief and there is also an in-house KZ memory wire tech (using a metal strip along a sheathed cover) near the 2-pin plugs to aid over ear usage. Microphonics is mininmal on the BA10 cable and the mic controls and the mic itself works just fine however there is no chin slider as usual. Overall the build quality of the IEM is well-built but compromises on comfort while the stock cable is indeed improving.

    Tonality

    [​IMG]

    Being the most costly amongst the KZ lineup, the BA10 sure sounds its price in comparison to its peers. It exhibits a balanced sound with distinct attributes on each respective frequency which we would later tackle on. Using the BA10 on multiple phases of daily life was a positive experience in terms of sound, it didn’t show any great extremes that would keep one to dislodge it from your ears except for one, which isn’t related to its sound. I know this is about the overall tonal performance but the sharp edges just didn’t compliment the BA10’s sound. We would be using the Final Audio Type E tips as well as the Opus 1 and Xduoo X3ii for the realview, do note that there is some annoying hiss when I plug the BA10 to my MSI laptop and the Sony CAS-1 system.

    Lows

    [​IMG]

    I decided to pull out Lana Del Ray’s Love in 16/44 Flac to test out the BA10’s low frequency performance, right off the bat, the track drowns the listener with sub bass drops and the BA10 did fine with its interpretation with it, it doesn’t sound boxy and decay isn’t that fast as well. It enables the bass bursts to progress through smoothly, it however doesn’t deliver great impact, another thing to look forward for the next group of KZ launches.

    Midrange

    [​IMG]

    KZ BA10’s midrange is its lover, working its way gently with its delivery. Michael Buble’s From Russia with Love in 16/44 Flac, the lower midrange entry of Buble’s vocals was quite intelligible giving good accurate pitch and occasional belting gives out a nice air to his voice. Norah Jones’s Shoot the Moon in 16/44 Flac which possessed more upper midrange focus still has good clear delivery and renders it naturally yet a bit devoid of energy which would have been great for that added feel of liveliness. Guitar plucks however were distinct and resounded well even when accompanied with wind instrument tones.

    Highs

    Although the BA10’s is already sounds promising on its other aspects, its high frequency performance is its 2nd biggest area of improvement next to the discomfort of its body silhouette (I can’t stress this much, do I?). There is noticeable harsh peaks and a false sense of sparkle. Listening to treble-heavy tracks on the BA10 is, if not a big No, totally warrants a small No. It performs well when you prefer the vocal-heavy tracks and genre. We could say its tolerable but don’t just try using it when watching an action movie or treble-heavy track where suddenly a gunfire, a tire screech, a sudden burst of energy from the drummer guy comes out of nowhere, the BA10 isn’t your friend in such situations.

    Soundstage and Imaging

    Don’t go feeling so low if you have been eyeing the BA10 as your next IEM after reading its High frequency performance. The BA10’s soundstage and imaging is one of the things that alleviates the discomfort of both the highs and the silhouette from the BA10. Those 3 vents on the faceplate certainly works, can’t wait for an actual video of a teardown of the BA10 and seeing the vents covered, LOL. Track dynamics is depicted well and gives distinct instrumental imaging which isn’t too intimate. Left to Right and Right to Left sound movement pans out good as well, a sure recommendation for tracks exhibiting such.

    Conclusion

    [​IMG]

    Our earlier quote of “Quality is never an accident, it is always the result of intelligent effort” is clearly not being used by Knowledge Zenith but instead uses the “Strength in Numbers” philosophy, churning out release after release after release and hope some hits the mark as a great audio purchase in terms of overall sound and build. The BA10 is another great statesman for the KZ empire which although has apparent shortcomings such as the weird body language causing discomfort from the 1st 5 minutes of use extending until it is unbearable and also the high frequency which already touches sibilant territory is not a good news for them considering this is their priciest offering to date. We just hope someone inside the KZ Empire takes note of all these observations, the BA10 is doing well but will surely won’t do greater things.

    More reviews on my site, http://audiorealviews.site
    1. NymPHONOmaniac
      Hi there, I wonder did the Xduoo X3ii is your only source used with BA10??? I did not see important highs peak in graph as well must other reviews but still need to read....first one is a slap in the face lol Will see for myself perhaps!
      NymPHONOmaniac, Dec 11, 2018
    2. Johnny Mac
      I used the Opus 1, Sony ZX1 and CAS-1 on the BA10 and the highs isn't cleanly done and there are indeed some harsh uncontrolled peaks, I find them annoying after long term use. As much as I would like to rely on graphs, I'd still pick actually trying it.
      Johnny Mac, Dec 12, 2018
  2. Dobrescu George
    KZ Knowledge Budget-Fi IEMs - ZSN, BA10 and ZSN Pr
    Written by Dobrescu George
    Published May 17, 2019
    3.0/5,
    Pros - + Good price
    + Build quality is pretty much excellent
    + Nice aesthetics, good taste
    + Excellent sound quality for the price
    Cons - - BA 10 is really uncomfortable due to the corner that cuts into the ear
    - Both KZ ZSN and KZ ZSN PRO are pretty compressed sounding, you're much better off saving money and getting one of the Chifi IEMs at 50 USD you can find around

    KZ Knowledge Budget-Fi IEMs - ZSN, BA10 and ZSN Pro Review

    [​IMG]

    Today's review will focus on the latest releases from KZ, namely ZSN, Ba10 and ZSN Pro, all very close in terms of pricing to each other, trying to help you decide which, and if any will be a good fit for you as your main IEM, or as a backup IEM for music listening!



    Introduction


    Knowledge Zenith is known for designing outrageous IEMs in terms of drivers, or better said, in terms of how many drivers they include inside one IEM, for the price asked, BA10 being an excellent example of this insanity, with 10 drivers in total, or 5 per each ear, for just 75 USD. The samples for today's review were provided by Linsoul Audio, though, which is a large and well-known shop from China, being one of the best places to purchase all your Chi-Fi equipment from. Linsoul will always ensure excellent warranty and return conditions, along with a really friendly response, and although KZ doesn't feel like the kind of brand to offer much in terms of support, Linsoul for sure will make sure you have an excellent experience when you purchase from them.

    It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with KZ or Linsoul, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by KZ or Linsoul or anyone else. I'd like to thank Linsoul for providing the sample for this review. The sample was provided along with Linsoul's request for an honest and unbiased review. This review reflects my personal experience with KZ ZSN, BA10 and ZSN Pro. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in KZ ZSN, BA10 and ZSN Pro find their next music companion.


    Product Link


    KZ ZSN

    https://www.aliexpress.com/store/pr...al-Resin-Housing-and/2894006_32949460599.html

    KZBA10

    https://www.aliexpress.com/store/pr...etal-Earphone-0-75mm/2894006_32923468108.html


    KZ ZSN PRO

    https://www.aliexpress.com/store/pr...-Metal-Resin-Housing/2894006_32993180366.html



    About me


    https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/p/about.html



    Packaging


    First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:

    ZSN

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    BA10

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    ZSN Pro


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    All 3 IEMs come in a very minimalistic package, with almost nothing included in the package, besides the IEMs, the cables and one selection of tips. For the price, this is more than enough, and in line with what the competition provides.



    What to look in when purchasing an entry-level or backup / emergency IEM.

    https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/p/what-to-lookl.html



    Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort




    ZSN / ZSN Pro


    Those two have exactly the same construction, at least as far as I can tell.

    The build quality is pretty much excellent, those are 15 USD IEMs, each with 2 drivers per ear. They are made of plastic, but they are assembled nicely, there's no residue glue or leftover glue anywhere, everything feels in place.

    [​IMG]

    The comfort is okay, they are on the large side, and may not fit smaller ears, if you're not careful you may experience some driver flex, and they are both over-the-ear only in style. This being said, the inner part of the IEM shell is quite ergonomic, and the industrial metallic place on the outside feels and looks very nice.

    There is no microphonic noise, which is pretty awesome, and the cables are not overly tangle-prone, so you don't have to worry about them getting all tangled-up. You also get about 25 dB of passive noise isolation, so you won't have to hear literally anything while wearing them, I think that KZ delivers on the things they promise when it comes to the comfort and build of ZSN and ZSN Pro.

    [​IMG]

    Overall, good build quality, and fair comfort for both. Both being pretty much the same IEM in terms of ergonomics.



    BA10


    BA10 s a different animal, with 5 drivers for each ear, all BA drivers. The build quality feels quite excellent, full metallic shell. Shockingly, there is no driver flex, and no void, they seem to have thought really well about how they designed BA10 to be comfortable.

    [​IMG]

    This being said, KZ failed at making BA10 comfortable, because there is a pretty strong corner at the back of the IEM, which is there for design, but which really cuts into my ear, making BA10 uncomfortable to wear for more than 15 minutes in one listening session. If you ear shape doesn't mind that corner, you're set for fun with BA10, their cable is not microphonic, and their overall construction is solid.

    The design is mostly industrial, with modern accents, and they fit well with a more urban style, rather than a casual or a grunge one.

    [​IMG]

    Overall, BA10 is made just as good as most 75 USD IEMs, they are assembled together, they come with fairly good cables, and the only downside is their corner, which may cut and eat into your ear, as otherwise, they are really comfortable.




    Sound Quality

    KZ ZSN


    The sonic quality of ZSN makes it a backup IEM, or an emergency solution rather than what I'd usually recommend as a IEM. I initially started being an audiophile, then reviewing, because I kept purchasing more and more expensive products, and ZSN reminds me quite well why I started doing that.

    [​IMG]

    The overall sound of ZSN is thick, warm, relaxed, and rolled off and both ends, compressed in every direction possible. The soundstage feels really compressed and small, the dynamics are heavily compressed, and the instrument separation is almost non-existent, leaving you with a pretty mashed-up presentation of your music.

    Of course, this is a 15 USD IEM, so this kind of is the sound you'd expect from them, and well, having BA10 on my desk, which sounds pretty darn impressive, I can't help but criticize ZSN, and not against some expensive IEMs from other companies, but against other KZ IEMs.

    Th bass of ZSN is the focus of their tuning, with most of the energy being in the mid-bass area, with the sub-bass rolling off almost entirely below 50 Hz. The main focus being at about 85 Hz, you get both a decent impact, and a large amount of thickness. The good part is that the bass doesn't seem to be very slow or flabby, instead being pretty good in terms of speed and impact, especially compared to what exists in the ~20 USD price range.

    The midrange of ZSN is recessed, distant, and may give you an itch to dial up the volume. The midrange gets some coloration from the bass, it the bass doesn't veil the midrange entirely, rather it simply warms it up a bit. Relaxing would be a good way to describe this kind of midrange, not forward, but actually sitting chill and warm in the back.

    The treble is mostly focused in the upper midrange and lower treble, as KZ ZSN rolls off at 6-7kHz, after which there's little treble to talk about. This kind of treble is very good if you're sensitive to fatigue and if you want a really smooth and relaxed signature.

    Overall, if you want a smooth, relaxed and warm, bassy IEM that you'll use most probably as an emergency or backup IEM, for 15 USD, KZ ZSN delivers rather well.

    KZ BA10


    KZ BA10 is pretty much the best KZ has to offer in terms of sound quality. They even beat AS10, which I reviewer previously, and they come with even better details, more instrument separation, and even better overall quality and coherency.

    [​IMG]

    BA10's bass is well extended in the lows, but it is considerably faster than AS10, for example, which was natural-slow, leading to a pretty natural overall presentation on BA10. The mid bass is not bloated, and instead it delivers a very clear punch, and could be named pretty high-quality, being as good even as 200 USD IEMs.

    The midrange of BA10 is probably the best of KZ's midrange to date. The timbre of each instrument is actually very natural and very clean, crisp, with great detail, and a lot of soundstage and instrument separation. If I didn't know, I probably couldn't tell that this is a 75 USD IEM. They are on the analytical side of things, rather than on the musical side, BA10's upper midrange being actually more natural than other KZ models, which would get either shouty or be thin and sibilant.

    The treble of BA10 is crisp and clear, has a decent extension, and again, feels considerably less forced and less sibilant than other KZ IEMS, this time making me think that this is the treble you'd usually find on a 200 USD+ IEM.

    Overall the sonic quality of BA10 is quite good, and I could easily recommend them for their sound alone.

    KZ ZSN PRO

    KZ ZSN PRO is very much the same IEM as the ZSN, if you make it more forward and add more sparkle in the upper midrange. This has some effects, as they are more open, slightly more bright, more airy, and achieve a better instrument separation. On the not-so-great list, they added more mid-bass, which colors the midrange more, making the PRO version stand out as "trying to sound more dynamic". In fact, this is how I'd describe the ZSN PRO, where the ZSN was more on the relaxed side of things, the PRO tries to be more balanced, by making the ZSN signature forward.


    [​IMG]

    This doesn't work so well, as the bass is now a bit too enhanced, and doesn't keep up with the speed quite as well, making the original ZSN stand out as better in terms of resolution. The PRO version still rolls off below 45 Hz, so KZ mainly increased the quantity where the bass existed already, not necessarily the extension, and the quantity on ZSN was already pretty large.

    The midrange now has considerably more upper midrange emphasis, which helps a lot with the clarity and instrument definition, but this is a 20 USD IEM's upper midrange, it is shouty, and sibilant a lot of times, making the original actually more enjoyable and fun. I usually prefer a more enhanced upper midrange and treble, but they need quality and refinement, and ZSN PRO's refinement goes pretty much as far as their rather pocket-friendly price tag does.


    The treble has the same roll-off as the original ZSN, making the sound just peaky in the upper midrange and lower treble. This being said, the sound does get some more detail, air and instrument separation, but this is pretty much that kind of cheap instrument separation people talk about when they criticize entry-level Chifi IEMs.

    As an emergency or backup IEM though, KZ ZSN PRO is pretty great, it can get you through an entire day, has good isolation and fairly good comfort. The sound is more exciting than the original ZSN, so if you listen to electronic and rock, it will be a better fit.



    Comparisons

    When it comes to comparisons, the list of IEMs I reviewed in the ~20 USD is really low, so I'll focus on comparing BA10 to some competitors, since there I have both a larger experience, and the results are more intriguing.


    KZ BA10 vs Shozy Hibiki - Shozy Hibiki comes with pretty much the same package, but their comfort is considerably better than BA10, because they have both a smaller overall size and a better inner design. The sound is considerably more midrange-forward on Hibiki, more accurate and with better midrange, but less bass and treble amounts. BA10 may feel a bit cold compared to Hibiki, which is simply quite sweet. The soundstage is larger on BA10, and so is the overall instrument separation, but Hibiki is easier to listen to, especially for long periods of time.

    KZ BA10 vs Flare Jet 2 - Flares Jet 2 come with a better package, because they come with a little carrying pouch. This being said, their cables are non detachable. The comfort of Jet 2 is similar to BA10, both IEMs have comfort issues, BA10 having that sharp corner that cuts into the ear, while Jet 2 has driver flex, microphonic cables, and a springy cable. The sound is better on BA10, with better overall resolution, more instrument separation, more clarity, more detail and better overall resolution and definition.


    KZ BA10 vs FiiO F9 - FiiO F9 has a much much much more complete package, comes with more accessories, and is considerably more comfortable than BA10. F9 also has a better overall ergonomic design. The default cable is slightly better on BA10, despite being slightly tangle-prone. The sound is colder, more neutral on F9. Here, BA10 actually shows more instrument separation and a more refined treble presentation, being slightly more on equal ground with FiiO F9 Pro rather than F9, which is interesting, BA10 is able to hold its ground quite well in terms of sound. The bass is higher in quantity on BA10, and BA10 has more overall depth to its soundstage, although F9 has a wider soundstage.



    Value and Conclusion

    The IEMs of today are all an excellent value, and despite the fact that they all have shortcomings, and that it may feel like I've been a bit rough with them, we're talking about two 20 USD IEMs, that pretty much perform well for that price, and one 75 USD IEM, that performs really well for that price sonically, but has a comfort issue that makes it quite unpractical.

    [​IMG]

    The build quality on KZ IEMs is pretty much always exceptional, with no leftover glue, good usual reliability, and excellent overall attention to details. This being said, the comfort is actually not the best on BA10, although both ZSN and ZSN PRO are better in that regard, and the fact that they are on the larger side makes both ZSN and ZSN PRO a bit uncomfortable, as otherwise, they'd both be pretty comfy.

    [​IMG]

    The sound is pretty great for all of them, and in a few short words, ZSN is the thick and relaxed IEM, which although is pretty much compressed in every way possible, still manages to be a pretty good deal at its 20 USD price point. BA10 is the V-shaped IEM with what I could call the most solid sonic signature from KZ so far, with really excellent overall details and clarity, great midrange, and a pretty quick and punchy bass, and a pretty sparkly treble that's neither sibilant nor harsh, but actually quite good. KZ ZSN PRO is a tweak on ZSN, trying to have more dynamics, and to be more forward, but feeling a bit too hot in the treble, with a touch too much mid bass bloom compared to the original ZSN.

    [​IMG]

    Overall, if you're looking for nice backup IEMs, you should totally consider ZSN and ZSN PRO, depending on whether you want a more relaxed IEM, or a more forward one, and if you're looking for a really good entry-level IEM, then KZ BA10 surely may be your next love, just make sure to test it, make sure if their design and shape fits your ears.



    Product Link

    KZ ZSN

    https://www.aliexpress.com/store/pr...al-Resin-Housing-and/2894006_32949460599.html


    KZ BA10

    https://www.aliexpress.com/store/pr...etal-Earphone-0-75mm/2894006_32923468108.html

    KZ ZSN PRO

    https://www.aliexpress.com/store/pr...-Metal-Resin-Housing/2894006_32993180366.html



    Full Playlist used for this review


    While we listened to considerably more songs than those named in this playlist, those are excellent for identifying certain aspects of the sound, like PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you're searching for new most, most of them being rather catchy.

    Tidal Playlist

    https://tidal.com/playlist/64555551-ec3c-4279-ae44-248fdfcf6c4b

    Song List

    Bats - Gamma Ray Burst: Second Date
    Eskimo Callboy - Frances
    Incubus - Summer Romance
    Electric Six - Dager! High Voltage
    Kishida Cult - High School Of The Dead
    Dimmu Borgir - Dimmu Borgir
    Breaking Benjamin - I Will Not Bow
    Thousand Foot Krutch - The Flame In All Of Us
    Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
    Infected Mushroom - Song Pong
    Attack Attack - Kissed A Girl
    Doctor P - Bulletproof
    Maximum The Hormone - Rock n Roll Chainsaw
    Rob Zombie - Werewolf, Baby!
    Escape The Fate - Gorgeous Nightmare
    SOAD - Chop Suey
    Ken Ashcorp - Absolute Territory
    Machinae Supremacy - Need For Steve
    Ozzy Osbourne - I Don't Wanna Stop
    Crow'sclaw - Loudness War
    Eminem - Rap God
    Stromae - Humain À L'eau
    Sonata Arctica - My Selene
    Justin Timberlake - Sexy Back
    Metallica - Fuel
    Veil Of Maya - Unbreakable
    Masa Works - Golden Japang
    REOL - Luvoratorrrrry
    Dope - Addiction
    Korn - Word Up!
    Papa Roach - ... To be Loved
    Fever The Ghost - Source
    Fall Out Boy - Immortals
    Green Day - Know The Enemy
    Mindless Self Indulgence - London Bridge
    A static Lullaby - Toxic
    Royal Republic - Addictive
    Astronautalis - The River, The Woods
    We Came As Romans - My Love
    Skillet - What I Believe
    Man With A Mission - Smells Like Teen Spirit
    Yasuda Rei - Mirror
    Mojo Juju - Must Be Desire
    Falling Up - Falling In Love
    Manafest - Retro Love
    Rodrigo Y Grabriela - Paris
    Zomboy - Lights Out
    Muse - Resistance
    T.A.T.U & Rammstein - Mosaku
    Grey Daze - Anything, Anything
    Katy Perry - Who Am I Living For
    Maroon 5 - Lucky Strike
    Machinae Supremacy - Killer Instinct
    Pendulum - Propane Nightmares
    Sirenia - Lithium And A Lover
    Saving Abel - Addicted
    Hollywood Undead - Levitate
    The Offspring - Special Delivery
    Escape The Fate - Smooth
    Samsara Blues Experiment - One With The Universe
    Dope - Rebel Yell
    Crazy Town - Butterfly
    Silverstein - My Heroine


    I hope my review is helpful to you!

    ---

    Contact me!


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    ---
      archdawg likes this.
  3. ngoshawk
    KZ-BA10-Not your ordinary Kryten
    Written by ngoshawk
    Published Feb 12, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Typical good KZ sound.
    Affordable.
    Moving up the KZ food chain.
    Good bass extension.
    Good finish
    Cons - Cannot get by that shape.
    No case.
    Fit.
    Cable can tangle.
    KZ-BA10-Not your ordinary Kryten ($89usd):


    [​IMG]



    As per usual protocol when I receive something, I open the package and give a quick initial listen, to ensure that all is well. Then, the critter in question is placed most often on my Shanling M1 for 50-100hrs. This is done, because the unit purchased is only new once, and I believe the sound “down the road” should be represented.


    Specs (from Amazon):

    Gold-plated 0.75mm 2 pin cable;
    Anti-pulling, anti-bending, anti-corrosion professional cable;
    Professional acoustic structure design for three-stage airflow;

    1. Product Name: Original KZ BA10 In-ear Earphone
    2. Brand: KZ
    3. Model: BA10
    4. Earphone type: In-ear
    5. Impedance: 14Ω
    6. Earphone sensitivity: 105dB/mW
    7. Frequency range: 20-40000Hz
    8. Interface: 3.5mm plug
    9. Plug Type: L curved
    10. Cable Length: 1.2m±3cm
    11.Color: Black&Red, Gold&Red
    12.Whether with cable: Yes

    13.Earphone interface: 0.75mm 2 Pin; 3.5mm earphone plug
    14.Whether with mic: Optional
    15.Detachable cable: Yes
    16.Driver unit: 5 Balanced Armatures Per Side


    Linsoul: https://www.linsoul.com/product-page/KZ-BA10-Earphone

    Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/KZ-BA10-Balanced-Armatures-Earphone/dp/B07H7NG5T8/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1548001328&sr=8-4-fkmr1&keywords=linsoul+KZ+BA-10

    AliExpress: https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/KZ-BA10-5BA-Balanced-Armatures-Drivers-HiFi-Stereo-in-Ear-Earphone-IEM-Metal-Earphone-0-75mm/2894006_32923468108.html?spm=2114.12010612.8148356.11.350967a7tTlfoj

    [​IMG]

    Included:

    · IEM, 1.25m cable (typical length of KZ at this price, but 4-wire copper and nicer than other KZ in my mind)
    · 2 sets of three each silicon tips (one regular and one with “articulations,” which to me allow for the tip to fit better in ear; think cuts on a paper, to make it fold into a circle better)
    · Instruction “manual”
    · Warranty card


    Gear used/compared:

    All prices in USD, unless noted otherwise
    KZ AS10 ($63ish)
    Simgot EN700 Pro ($119)
    MEE Audio M6 Pro G2 ($50)



    Thebit Opus #2
    Shanling M5
    Shanling M3s
    Aune M1s
    MBP/iFi Pro iDSD(!!)


    Songs used:

    Too bloody many to list all, but you want songs, so there you go:

    Coldplay-All I Can think About Is You
    Coldplay-A Message
    Coldplay-White Shadows
    Dona Onete-Sonos de Adolescente
    Los Lonely Boys- Heaven (en Espanol)
    twenty one pilots-Trees
    twenty one pilots-Car Radio
    twenty one pilots-Heathens
    Damian Marley-Everybody Wants To Be Somebody
    Damian Marley-So A Child May Follow
    Damian Marley-The Struggle Discontinues
    Ziggy Marley-Lighthouse
    Ziggy Marely-See Dem Fake Leaders
    Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
    Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado


    The new twenty one pilots album, Trench

    [​IMG]

    Unboxing:

    In typical KZ fashion, you get a black box, which opens from the right. Inside you have the IEM’s label “L/R,” in case you forget. Plus, an engraved faceplate replete with serial number. A nice touch, but again…no case. Sigh. I wish they would include a case…but as we know, we are into the sound, not what is included…


    Fit-n-Finish:

    The BA10 looks like something, which Frankenstein would wear…seriously. Such a departure from the aesthetically pleasing shapes previous from KZ, that upon first glance, I really was taken aback. Shades of Kryten arose again in my mind (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Dwarf#Characters_and_actors).

    [​IMG]

    Made of an alloy, fitting the 5 BA’s inside the sample in-hand has a gold back and anodized red inside, including the nozzle. An inset hides the 2-pin connection well, and avoid stressing the connection. Something I like to see. A cable of 4-wire copper adds to the premium look, plus it is much less of a mess than other KZ’s I have had. This is a nice cable, with long braided wire above the Y-splitter, which could snag on things. I have not had a problem (unlike the darker copper KZ wire), but the possibility is there. Ending in a 90-degree plastic sheathed jack, the low profile is a nice touch. I will say that the sheer width of the plastic sheath is too much and can hinder fit into some cases or DAP’s.

    With a long-curved plastic sheath for over-ear use, the fit is good providing good strain relief. Once set, the IEM holds its place within your ear, and despite that shape I found I could wear them for good longer sessions. Not entirely comfortable mind you, but decently long times. Isolation using the patterned tips is decent, but not the best. When music is playing the sound does cover outside noise, but not completely. I do like the way this tip represents the sound more than the other included tips.

    When moving my head, the fit becomes less “stable” and does change the sound as well as isolation levels. There is a bit of microphonics as well. Not as bad as some lately, but clearly heard.

    [​IMG]

    Sound:

    With proper insertion, the bass is rich and taught. Underlying Charlie Musselwhite’s Cadillac Women, the bass guitar is as it should be. Support, giving the foundation of what you need. This is an excellent blues anyway, and the BA10 presents that bass line as one would expect. Solid, almost formal, but knowing that it has a job to do. Good stuff.

    Charlie’s vocals sound crisp, deep and full of velvety smoothness. Throw in his harmonica and the mids sound almost succulent. An apt description for a raucous blues song. Not oozing with gooeyness, but like that smoky BBQ sauce you can only get in Kansas City. Of course, I am running it through the iFi Pro iDSD, on full tube setting, which helps. Man, the Pro is exceptional in its own right, and playing a $90 IEM through them is a treat not to be missed. Keeping the iFi on tube setting (not full on), the reach of treble is adequate, without being harsh. As per previous reviews, I am averse to harshness up top, and the combination here is quite pleasing. I turn the volume up looking for any tainting of that sound, and it simply does not happen. Historically with Chi-Fi, once the volume goes up, the harsh treble presents itself to me as a sound, which I do not care for. Here though, that does not happen. And as mentioned in other reviews of late, there seems to be a trend away from that harsh upper note and I do approve.

    Sound stage is a funny pickle with which to crave. Sometimes you want that expansive sound, such as when listening to classical or concert hall-type music for that is the representation, which provides the closest to real depiction. Here though, there is better height than depth and width. In fact, I would call this a fairly shallow sound depth-wise. Not overly expansive in width, but slightly beyond the ears, there is decent 3-dimensiality, but not the best. This would be that almost intimate pair for commuting. It is good, but different.

    From that above, the layering and separation is decent again, but not the best. On a complicated song such as Sonny Payne Special, you get the bass supporting as well as the drums, with harmonica front and foremost. But, there really isn’t that distinct definition I would prefer. It isn’t bad mind you, but I would have preferred a bit more definition. I can pretty easily pick out the layers, though so that is a positive aspect.


    Comparisons:


    KZ BA10 ($89) vs KZ AS10 ($63ish):

    The BA10 moves up scale a bit from the AS10, but my first “indoctrination” to KZ was in fact the AS10. And I liked it. I liked it a lot. I still prefer the slightly warmer sound of it to the “refined” sound of the BA10, but either would be fine additions to your stable. Both are good, I simply prefer the slightly warmer sound of the AS10. End of story.


    KZ BA10 ($89) vs Simgot EN700 Pro ($119):

    The Simgot came my way through a collaborative effort with Simgot. The two compared here share a sameness “different” look about them. One, which does take time to get used to, it really does. But, get beyond looks (as well all should) and focus on the sound. While the BA10 provides a nice detailed sound, the EN700 Pro bests it pretty much all around, in my book. Better bass, better representation of mids, and a somewhat sparkly sound of treble. The sound stage is wider as well. You might think that this then becomes a total cover for the Pro, but you would be mistaken. The BA10 has that soul of sound going for it (as does the Simgot), but when you look at the price you see that they compete at different levels. Again, I prefer the Simgot. It is good.


    KZ BA10 ($89) vs MEE Audio M6 Pro G2 ($50):

    Moving back to a new old friend, the M6 Pro G2 is the offspring of the critter, which brought me in to this rabbit hole. The first gen M6 Pro had its qualities, but had a harshness to it, that was hard to overcome. Thankfully (and in talking to the engineers) they overcame that. The M6 Pro G2 is now one of my favorites again. Not as easy to drive as the BA10, you do not mind, because any chance you get to turn Charlie Musselwhite up is a good chance.

    Having better control of the bass, but not the quantity, the M6 Pro provides a more even sound. With better treble presentation (without the harshness), the M6 Pro is a very fine $50 unit, and should warrant serious consideration compared to many at that price. But you do understand that the refinement of it cannot compete with a 5 BA unit specialist. The M6 Pro is very, very good for what it is meant: an active sport life. And it represents itself very well in that vein. But, the refinement of the BA10 is hard to look away from when you are considering a critter for something other than working out. I still very much like the M6 Pro, though.


    Finale:

    This is a hard critter to characterize, and as such I really am at a conundrum. I like the BA10, but maybe not as much as the AS06, or ZSN. Something about those drew me in. The AS10 is also an excellent superb representation of the KZ sound. Knowledge Zenith is on a definite roll, and I do like the BA10, but it isn’t my favorite of the lot. Maybe this is a more mature sound for them, and as such it surely fulfills that niche. But maybe I was expecting a more raucous sound.

    Companies such as KZ move quickly. VERY quickly, lest they get left behind. It seems that they turn a new critter out about every other week. That is entirely not in jest either. The BA10 was almost flavor of the month when it came out early last fall. Time and new units have moved by this unit, but that should not take away from a quite good unit, because it is good. Just not my favorite of the KZ lineup. I like rooting for the underdog, and the BA10 would be known as the favorite in this set of rounders. That does not discount that it is good and shouldn’t.

    I again thank Lillian from Linsoul Audio for the faith shown in my less-than-stellar review skills. The BA10 is worth a look if you like unique looking items that also present a pretty decent sound. It is worth the look.


    [​IMG]
      katatonicone1 likes this.
  4. B9Scrambler
    KZ BA10: “Just like that”
    Written by B9Scrambler
    Published Sep 30, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Build and cable - Detail and clarity - Bass performance
    Cons - Ergonomics and possibly comfort (ear depending) - Wasteful packaging
    Greetings,

    Today we're checking out Knowledge Zenith's (KZ) second balanced armature (BA) only offering, the BA10.

    The BA10 is KZ's most expensive earphone to date and for some that is going to be a hurdle they just can't surpass. For those who do, you'll be rewarded with an outstanding sounding earphone, albeit with some questionable ergonomics that will be hit or miss from person to person. Let's take a closer look.

    Disclaimer:

    Thank you to Lillian at DD Audio for arranging a review sample of the BA10. All thoughts within this review are my own and are not representative of KZ, DD Audio, or any other entity. There was no financial incentive provided to write this review. Price at the time of this review varied from 76.00 USD to 88.99 USD depending on which source you purchased from.

    AliExpress (76.00-77.00 USD)

    Amazon (88.99 USD)

    Linsoul (88.99 USD)

    *Edit: The more I use the BA10 and compare it to other products at widely varied price ranges, the better it gets. I have updated the score to 4.5 stars as a result.*

    Source and Amping:

    For at home use the BA10 was powered by a TEAC HA-501 desktop amp with my Asus FX53V laptop sourcing music. For portable use it was paired with an LG G6, Shanling M1, HiFiMan MegaMini, or HiFi E.T. MA8, with an iFi iEMatch tossed in the mix too. The BA10 is very easy to drive so an amp isn't needed. A clean source is though, as it is very revealing. For example, it highlights all the electronic interference my old G5 displays when interacting with the device.

    Personal Preferences:

    I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures in my headphones I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even and natural mid-range response, with reduced mid-bass. The HiFiMan RE800, Brainwavz B400, and thinksound On2 offer examples of signatures I enjoy. I generally listen at very low volumes, so keep this in mind when reading my thoughts on how an earphone sounds.

    Specifications:
    • Drivers: 5 balanced armatures, per side
    • Frequency Response: 20-40,000Hz
    • Sensitivity: 105dB
    • Impedance: 14ohms
    IMG_4385.JPG IMG_4386.JPG IMG_4391.JPG

    Packaging and Accessories:

    The BA10 features the same packaging we got with the AS10. The matte black cardboard box is large, borne only with only the KZ logo written in a contrasting glossy font. On the bottom are a couple stickers, one showing the model and variant (cyan, no mic) and the other provides KZ's address and contact information.

    Opening the lid you find a dense cardboard plate glued to the back. On it is the KZ logo and the statement, “Don't forget. The original intension is use headphones to enjoy music.” While the message is a little jilted due to the slightly broken translation, it's still a good one. Inside the box the BA10's ear pieces are set flush within a large, laser cut foam insert, left and right printed in large white font underneath. Further down in a wide metal plate engrave with the KZ logo, the BA10 model designation, and the notification that they feature 10 balanced armatures. They did the same thing with the metal plate with the AS10, and it's still a pretty cool addition here.

    Lifting out the foam insert you find a small bag containing the small and large “Starline” tips (medium come pre-installed) and another bag holding the cable. There is also a QA certificate to appease those worried about KZ's quality control, a surprisingly detail manual, and a warranty card for the BA10's one year warranty. How easy that will be to use for those outside of the Asia Pacific region I have no idea, but if my past experiences with dozen of reliable earphones from the brand is any indication, you won't need it.

    As I felt with the AS10, the BA10's large packaging is wasteful considering it holds the same meager accessory kit you get with every other KZ. Tips, a cable, and some documentation. They could shrink this down to half the size, keep the nice metal plate which is befitting the BA10's flagship status, and the experience would be just as nice.

    Build, Comfort, and Isolation:

    The BA10 brings back the premium build quality of some other recent KZ's. Unlike the plastic AS10, the BA10 is made from finely crafted aluminum, just like the ZSA and ZS6. While it still features a boxy design language, KZ went with their own unique look this time instead of borrowing from others. This is both good and bad as a result. The good is that it certainly looks unique, especially with the Iron Man like red/gold color scheme. Bad is that the ergonomics are just plain weird, like a larger ZSA. Comfort itself is fine for me, though I can see the bends in the housing causing hotspots for those with smaller ears. The nozzle protrudes similarly to the way it did on the ZSA leading to the same weird hybrid fit. I never really experienced the BA10 falling out, it just never feels particularly secure.

    The cable is KZ's best so far. It may look like a clear sheathed version of the braided/twister copper cable provided with a number of recent KZs, but it's not. It's slightly thicker and more flexible. This extra thickness above the y-split is great because it makes the cable less prone to tangle than their other braided offerings. The 90 degree angled jac and y-split are the same hunks of angular rubber we've become accustomed to on other KZ cables. Memory wire makes a return too. I personally think KZ does memory wire significantly better than most because it retains the shape you bend it to. I'd still rather have a preformed ear guide, or nothing, but this works well enough.

    Isolation with the included silicone tips is about average. Some sound leaks in but not a ton. Toss on some foams and the BA10 isolates quite well. I suspect this will vary person to person since these are not a deep fit for me. With longer tips, the isolation increases quite a bit.

    IMG_4389.JPG IMG_4397.JPG IMG_4403.JPG

    Sound:

    Tips: I spent a lot of time tip rolling on the BA10 but ended up going back to the stock tips. Spinfits made the insertion depth just slightly too deep causing discomfort. Wide bore JVC tips didn't seal consistently well enough. Ultimate Ears tips routinely broke seal after a few minutes. Various other tips didn;t do anything the stock tips weren't already doing.

    I found the BA10 to have a pretty well-balanced signature. Like the AS10, is eschews the deep v-shaped signature of other KZ's and provides a more well-rounded sound. Treble is very well extended with a pleasing emphasis. I didn't find it overstepping boundaries as products in this price range are apt to do in order to provide some wow-factor out of the box. The BA10's treble provides some nice shimmer and sparkle to cymbals along with a fair bit of airiness and space between notes. Decay is rapid too, as is to be expected of balanced armatures.

    The mid-range is set back a bit but not so excessive to where you struggle to hear vocals or instruments that should be playing a primary role. I have been using these a fair bit to watch racing which usually mmeans VERY sibilant announcers. The BA10 mitigated this quite effectively keeping sibilance well within acceptable ranges. Though, where it was already present with aplomb it still stuck out like a sore thumb. The Crystal Method's “Grace”... I'm looking at you. Vocal resolution is excellent with lots of detail. Timbre is fairly accurate as well with a more natural feel to it than most KZ's and hybrids in the price range which tend to filter over with a lighter, brighter feel. Notes are well-weighted with a solid thickness and body to them. Overall a pleasant mid-range.

    The BA10's low end, like on the AS10, digs pretty deep for an armature and does a great job providing visceral feedback on each hit. Mid-bass is less present giving the low end leaner presentation that let's the mid-range and upper regions stand out a little more. Still, I don't think anyone is going to find the BA10 bass-lite as they can still kick with authority. Give Dillon Francis' “Look At That Butt (ft. Jarina De Marco” a whirl. There is a good mix of shimmery treble bits, vocals, and bass which shows off the BA10's balance quite effectively.

    Sound stage is excellent for an in-ear. Default positioning for the listener is fairly intimate with instruments and effects swirling way off into the background. I especially enjoy the placement of background vocals which often find themselves notably back and to the sides, spreading away from your head in a wide v-shape. Some excellent instument separation and layering are on show too, as evident tossing on King Crimson's “Starless and Bible Black”.

    IMG_4399.JPG IMG_4401.JPG IMG_4406.JPG

    Select Comparisons: Volumes matched with Dayton Audio iMM-6

    KZ AS10: I find the two very similar with the BA10 receiving some tweaks to the treble that make it the more enjoyable and technically accomplished of the two. Mid-bass on the BA10 is dialed down slightly giving it a slightly leaner mid-range than the AS10 and giving it a more balanced feel. The AS10's mid-range, in addition to being slightly thicker, is also a touch more intimate. Treble in the BA10 is better extended and more elevated giving it a lighter, airier feel than the AS10 which comes across a darker and more mellow. The BA10's treble is also tighter and better controlled. To sum it up, the BA10 sounds to me like a less bassy, slightly brighter, more refined AS10. The more I compare the two, the more the BA10's positive qualities highlight the AS10's faults.

    TFZ Series 4: The Series 4 has a smaller sound stage with less depth than the BA10. Listener positioning is less forward though, putting you further away from the artist. Treble on the BA10 is more prominent with a stronger shimmer and greater clarity. The S4's mid-range is similarly ephasized but shows more sibilance and a touch of shoutiness not present in the BA10. Timbre also sounds less accurate through the T4 with instruments having a brittle feel to them. Bass on the Series 4 is excellent with a similar balance to the BA10, but with greater depth and physical feedback. Speed goes to the BA10 though, with it's balanced armature displaying greater articulation.

    Check the comparisons section in my AS10 review (https://thecontraptionist.blog/2018/08/13/kz-as10-slow-clap/) for an idea of how the BA10 compares with other products in this price range. It is similar enough to the AS10 make most comparisons redundant.

    Final Thoughts:

    The BA10 takes the AS10's excellent signature and performance, refines it further, then sticks it in a unique, higher quality shell with a better cable. Unfortunately, ergonomics take a hit in the process making the BA10 less of a universal fit than the AS10's more traditional bean-shaped, though still quite large, low profile shell.

    While I found the BA10's ergonomics their Achilles Heel, it's still a comfortable earphone. It just requires some finagling with tips or the memory wire to get the most secure fit. If you're okay with that and are more interested in getting excellent sound and build quality for your dollar, along with KZ's best cable to date, the BA10 is a must buy that sits atop KZ's lineup for a reason.

    Thanks for reading!

    - B9Scrambler

    ***** ***** ***** ***** *****​

    Some Test Tunes:

    Aesop Rock - Skelethon (Album)
    Daft Punk - Random Access Memories (Album)
    Elton John - Yellow Golden Brick Road (Album)
    King Crimson - Lark's Tongues in Aspic (Album)
    King Crimson - Starless and Bible Black (Track)
    Supertramp - Crime of the Century (Album)
    Infected Mushroom - Converting Vegetarians (Album)
    Infected Mushroom - Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
    Gorillaz - Plastic Beach (Album)
    Massive Attack - Mezzanine (Album)
    Fleetwood Mac - Rumors (Album)
    Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels (Album)
    The Prodigy - The Day is My Enemy (Album)
    Tobacco - F****d Up Friends (Album)
    Felt - Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bone) (Album)

    images

    1. 20180919_1117222.jpg
    2. IMG_4395.JPG
    3. IMG_4410.JPG
    1. View previous replies...
    2. B9Scrambler
      Thanks! BA10 if I had to choose. I can't imagine either would be particularly ideal for monitoring though.
      B9Scrambler, Oct 12, 2018
      fokta and DocHoliday like this.
    3. fokta
      Noted, any suggestion for balance IEM below 100?
      fokta, Oct 12, 2018
    4. B9Scrambler
      @fokta Not many options I can think of. Bright side of balanced would be the TinAudio T2 or Brainwavz B100. Brainwavz B150 is solid too but rolls off on either end. I prefer the B100. Meze 12 Classics are a tad bass leaning and roll off a bit in the treble but they're reasonably balanced. Cable is horrendously microphonic though. I'd snoop around the forums since it's a pretty common question.
      B9Scrambler, Oct 12, 2018
      fokta likes this.
  5. antdroid
    Putting a Square Peg in a Round Hole
    Written by antdroid
    Published Sep 22, 2018
    2.0/5,
    Pros - Exceptional Build Quality
    Bassy, if you're into that
    Very good detail and imaging
    Cons - Poor Design that is not comfortable
    Heavy
    Harsh Treble Peaks
    A little dark
    Can be muddy
    P1020249.JPG

    Knowledge Zenith has yet another new IEM on the market. This time it’s the BA10, which like their last release, the AS10, has 5 balanced armatures per ear piece. The spec sheet shows that 4 of the drivers are the same which control the bass, upper mids, and treble, however the BA that controls the mids, shows a different driver number – though it could be a number error.

    KZ BA10 vs AS10 Promotional Photo.png

    Disclaimer: I received this for the purpose of providing an unbiased review from LinSoul Tech. The review is my own opinion of it and I have not been compensated with any monetary or benefits. If you are interested in purchasing this item, the following links will take you to some of the popular marketplaces:

    LinSoul: https://www.linsoul.com/product-page/KZ-BA10-Earphone

    Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/KZ-BA10-Balanced-Armatures-Earphone/dp/B07H7NNHC3/&keywords=kz+ba10

    AliExpress: https://www.aliexpress.com/store/pr...ml?spm=2114.12010615.8148356.1.31fb490fiopABg


    Presentation, Package, Accessories, Comfort and Fit

    P1020244.JPG P1020243.JPG P1020245.JPG
    The KZ BA10 comes in the same packaging style as the AS10, with a larger premium box than their lower cost options. The inside of the box features a metal name plate, the two ear pieces, and below the presentation is a set of starline tips, and yet another braided cable.

    This newer cable is more of a light copper color as opposed to the dark brown/copper ones in some of the recent KZ releases. The new cable is also less sticky and overall an improvement in functionality.

    The biggest difference between this earphone and the other KZ offerings, or really ANY HEADPHONE EVER MADE is the shape and size of this odd beast. First off, it looks like Tony Stark had a little fun one day in his mansion and decided to make himself some custom Ironman Ear Monitors (IEMs). The red and yellow colorway, along with the vents and metal housing and square, sharp body all remind me of the robotic appearance of Ironman.

    And that housing, everything about it. It looks awkward and uncomfortable. And no surprise, it’s extremely uncomfortable to wear. I’ve written a few headphone reviews now, and this is the first one that physically hurt me to review, because the fit on these is really awful.

    I had quite a time trying to find a good set of tips to use, and I have dozens upon dozens of tips in my possession. I ended up finding the best fit with the included KZ tips, ironically. Other favorites just couldn’t go in deep enough, or cause other issues.

    Then you have those square corners. Those slightly rounded, but still sharp, hard metal, corners. And that really thick, deep housing. And the wide body length, and the heavy weight. 6.9 grams (compared to say 4.8 grams of the Tin Audio T2 or the 5.4 grams of the KZ AS10). Those all combine to give me a very painful experience wearing these almost immediately after wearing them. The corners dig into my ear, no matter what orientation I put the earphones in with my left ear almost immediately and my right one within 10 or so minutes of use. This is pretty much a dead IEM to me at this point, but I struggled to continue to use it to give it a proper listening before I wrote this review. And so here I go…

    P1020251.JPG


    Sound

    The KZ BA10 differs in sound than the AS10 in many ways. Again, I don’t know if the driver spec on the marketing pages of the BA10 and AS10 are a typo or not, but my listening and measurements actually seem to infer that the mid-range BA is actually tuned differently or a different driver all together.

    The AS10 was a U-shaped, warm IEM that had elevated bass and treble and slightly recessed mids, which was balanced in sound with a slight tilt towards warmth. The BA10, on the other hand, is a darker sounding IEM where it seems the mids and upper mids are less pronounced and treble sound tamer and less energetic. But, that said, there’s still great detail thanks to the double treble BA drivers, and although they sound darker, there are instances of very sharp, harsh peaks in the sound. You hear it especially in acoustic tracks where plucks of guitars will sound rather sharp.

    The soundstage has got an intimate sound to it and imaging is quite good, both characteristics similar in the AS10 model.

    KZ BA10 vs AS10 FR IDF Compensated.jpg KZ BA10 vs AS10 Raw FR.jpg

    KZ BA10 FR.jpg KZ BA10 FR IDF.jpg

    Now, I want to explore the sound a little bit more with the MiniDSP measurements I took. I think that can help explain the differences between the two IEMs in my listening.

    The bass region is elevated as stated before and follows almost exactly the same curve as the AS10. While the bass on the AS10 provided a good warm detailed sound, the additional recessed mids of the BA10 make the bass sound slightly more exaggerated in some songs and does sometimes create some muddiness to songs that are heavy in this area.

    The upper mids and treble is actually lifted and this gives the BA10 a lot of good detail, though it can come across very sharp as I previously described. All in all, this sounds and the response looks like a V-shaped headphone, albeit a dark sounding one.

    KZ BA10 FR.jpg KZ BA10 THD.jpg KZ BA10 Waterfall.jpg


    Conclusions

    P1020246.JPG


    I found the BA10 an interesting experience. The build quality is exceptional and I feel like if I threw it at someone (I WOULD NOT DO THIS), it would hurt a lot. It’s got a big metal build, but with this, comes weight and pain. The pain is mostly due to the unusual shape, which is square. Putting a square peg in a round hole doesn’t work. Please remember this.

    In terms of sound quality, these have very good detail and an intimate sound that some may find good for laid back listening. The darker sound isn’t something I prefer though. That along with the occasional sharp piercing peaks can be frustrating when you’re getting into a song. It’s the downside of having details to your music. But if it did not have that treble, I can see this IEM being extremely dark.

    So for me, I can’t really recommend this IEM. It strikes out on comfort – being the most uncomfortable IEM I’ve ever used, and on the sound signature – it’s just not for me.


    This article was originally published on my tech blog: http://www.Antdroid.net
    1. Vestat
      Thanks a lot for your review. I was also wondering how this kind of shape would ever fit any ear comfortably. Will skip this one.
      Vestat, Sep 28, 2018
    2. Redcarmoose
      That shape? What were they thinking? Maybe for some it will stick-out farther, still? Crazy!
      Redcarmoose, Sep 29, 2018
    3. Otto Motor
      Thanks for your courage to award a rare 2 points - an average 4 star rating on Head-Fi has been criticized on "the other forum". I have not tried the BA10 as logic prevents it: why should I put such scary monsters in my ears when other earphones such as the UE900S offer 4 stellar BAs in a tiny, ergonomic shell - and likely sound much better. When I first saw the BA10, I commented they looked like apartment buildings.
      Otto Motor, Oct 24, 2018
  6. DocHoliday
    Diamond In The Rough (4.25 Stars)
    Written by DocHoliday
    Published Oct 22, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Clean and deep sub-bass
    Clean and punchy mid-bass
    Rich and full-bodied midrange
    Politely tamed treble extension
    Build quality
    Detachable cables
    Price-to-performance ratio
    Cons - Box-like shape is a definite no-go for smaller ears
    Minor modifications to sound like a superstar
    Not the best for Classic Rock (ZS6 is a better match)
    51xXAQv2IEL._AC_SL1500_ (0).jpg

    Ask three different "audiophiles" for their opinion on an IEM and you will get four different answers. As an audio enthusiast sharing my thoughts on the BA10 do consider them to be more "food for thought" rather than gospel truth.

    All of the metal-finished IEMs from KZ Acoustics that I own (ED3 "Perfection", ED3 "Acme", ED4, ED8, ED9, ED10, HDS1, HDS3 & ZS6) I have enjoyed, the only exception being the HDS2. For me the ZS6 is so ridiculously good at its current $33 price-point that I can hardly fathom where KZ Acoustics would have to venture next to outperform it. The ZS6's build, clarity and price-to-performance ratio make it one of the most competitive IEMs in the marketplace for budget-minded audio enthusiasts.

    The question has to be asked.

    Can lightning strike twice for KZ with their newly designed BA10 in-ear?

    Before we get into the review you should know upfront that I own and enjoy several of KZ's hybrid IEMs (ZS6, ZST, ES3, ZS5(v1) & ZSR) and I have no issue with the treble present in any of these models. I am a micro-detail junkie that enjoys a bright sound signature IF......IF there is enough weight and density present in the midrange and lower extremities. I mention this because those of you who are sensitive to forward treble would be wise to keep in mind my preferences and properly absorb this review through the filter of your own preferences.

    About me:
    I tend to prefer a relatively neutral sound signature with a slight emphasis in both bass and lower treble, which is basically a mild "U" shaped sound signature where midrange frequencies are left intact and unaffected. I find that an absolute neutral sound signature usually lacks enough energy for the genres I enjoy most, which are Classic Trance and Progressive (early Tiesto, Markus Schulz, Otello, DT8 Project), Chill Out, Breakbeat (Hybrid & Burufunk Remixes) and 80's & 90's (New Order, Secession, The Cure, Siouxie & The Banshees, Depeche Mode). Sure I listen to Verve Remixed, Sade, Bach, Ella Fitzgerald and everything in between, but as of late the bulk of my listening pleasure is focused on the aforementioned genres.

    About IEMs:
    Take note when you read IEM reviews that when the reviewer gives his/her opinion regarding the sound that there are many factors that shape the final sound an IEM delivers to one's ear.

    Those factors include:
    1 - Shape & size of reviewer's ear canals. (shallow/deep, wide/narrow)
    2 - Shape & size of eartips (round/cone, single, double or triple flange)
    3 - Materials of eartips (silicone/foam)
    4 - Shape of IEM (and/or angle of nozzle) can cause fitment issues for some.
    5 - Source (quality of DAC in smartphone, laptop, digital audio player)
    6 - Source (power rating) is it amplified/unamplified.
    7 - The IEM itself (driver flex/trapping air in canal causing muffled sound.
    8 - The Reviewers ability to hear all frequency ranges (age plays a factor).

    Most consumers are unaware of how much weight each of these factors hold in rendering a final verdict. This is why there is such a wide variance in not only ratings, but the description of an IEMs sound. An unaware consumer purchases a perfectly fine IEM but has difficulty keeping the IEM in the ear or he/she does not satisfactorily seal the ear canal with the included silicone eartips (this is a common occurrence) and the consumer summarily dismisses the IEM as sub par. Another consumer purchases the same IEM but experiences a perfect fit and seal and has nothing but praise for the same IEM. Sealing the ear canals AND HAVING THE EARTIP FIRMLY AFFIXED to the IEM nozzle is the only proper way to use in-ear monitors. I can think of no audio equipment that is subjected to such praise or ridicule as the in-ear monitor. As if that's not enough, there is no "one-size-fits-all" when it comes to IEM eartips.

    Materials (silicone/foam) have different dampening effects on final sound.
    Shape of the eartips (olive-shaped, cone-shaped or other-shaped) can have different dampening effects on final sound based on how much space is between the IEM nozzle and your eardrum and how well the eartip has sealed the ear canal.
    The aperture of the eartip's opening (wide-bore/narrow-bore) will have dampening effects on the final sound.

    The easiest way for you to experience the different effects I am discussing is to take your current on-ear headphones or over-ear headphones, pick a song full of energy, put the earphones on and let them sit naturally over or on your ears. Listen to the music for two minutes. After two minutes, using your hands, slightly press the headphones closer to your eardrums. Notice the change in the sound. Is there more/less bass? Is there more/less treble? Did the vocals slightly slip forward/back?

    Consider that on-ear and over-ear headphones have a driver that sits approximately 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches from your eardrums and by pressing the headphones 1/4" closer to your eardrums the sound changed. Now consider that an IEM driver sits anywhere from 3/4" to 1/4" from your eardrums and the slightest changes (angle, depth, shape, material) can have up to three times more of an effect due to the proximity of the IEM to the eardrum.

    For this reason, I think it is wise to invest a nominal dollar amount on different eartips to find an eartip that works well for your particular ear's anatomy. This way you experience everything the earphone tuner intended for you to experience. Some IEM manufacturers supply multiple sizes (S/M/L) and/or materials (silicone/foam) of eartips to increase the odds that the consumer achieves a satisfactory seal, but even this is not foolproof. If this information holds any interest for you, there are a plethora of aftermarket eartip brands to look into, such as "JVC Spiral Dots", "Spinfits", "Comply Foam Eartips" or "Znari Foam Eartips", "Creative Aurvana" and others. If you really want to fine tune things, then you might find yourself doing what I do, which is scouring Amazon for inexpensive earphones that appear to have silicone eartips that have a shape that typically work well with my ear's anatomy.

    My Ears:
    You should also know a little bit about my ears since yours may differ. Below I have included two images. One image of an ear canal of typical length and the other image showing a more shallow ear canal. My ear canals resemble the more shallow of the two.

    Anatomy-of-the-Ear-2.png

    anatomy-embryology-ext-ear-middle-ear-2-638.jpg

    Keep this in mind when reading this review. I have no scientific evidence to back this up but I'd bet that ear canal length can play a part when it comes to resonance hotspots.


    Some of my favorite silicone eartips are the Tennmak Whirlwind eartips.

    71smf67aPXL._AC_SL1500_-1.jpg

    https://www.amazon.com/Replacement-...nd+eartips&dpPl=1&dpID=51Sqh-+7i0L&ref=plSrch



    The KZ BA10 is approximately $80+/-. If that is outside of your current budget then I highly recommend sifting through the moderately priced but numerous KZ models listed below. Prices range from $10 for single dynamic driver configurations up to $70 for hybrid (1BA+1DD, 2BA+1DD & 4BA+1DD) configurations and $80+/- for this BA10 model.


    KZ In-Ear monitors:
    B9's blog - The Contraptionist (required reading for the unintiated)!
    https://thecontraptionist.blog/category/knowledge-zenith/

    EDR1 - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/knowledge-zenith-edr1-in-ear-monitor.22987/
    EDR2 - https://www.amazon.com/review/RWFUWN0QH5ZP1
    ED3 "Perfection" - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/knowledge-zenith-ed3-perfection.22988/
    ED3 "Acme" - XXX
    ED4 - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/knowledge-zenith-ed4.21296/reviews
    ED7 - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/knowledge-zenith-ed7-in-ear-monitor.23035/reviews
    ED8 - XXX
    ED9 - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/kz-ed9-tunning-nozzles-in-ear-headphones.20807/
    ED10 - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/knowledge-zenith-ed10.22990/
    ED15 - XXX
    ED16 - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/kz-ed16.23179/
    ES3 - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/knowledge-zenith-es3.22976/
    ES4 - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/kz-es4.23181/reviews
    HDS3 - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/knowledge-zenith-hds3.23017/
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/review/B01EJHLOPE/R7E4KEB1RJ88Y?ref=pf_ov_at_pdctrvw_srp
    ATR - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/knowledge-zenith-atr-in-ear-monitor.23032/reviews
    ATE - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/kz-ate-in-ear-monitors.21174/
    HDS1 - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/bi...ic-pronunciation-ear-headphones-silver.21143/
    ZSA - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/kz-zsa.23180/reviews#review-20770
    ZST - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/kz-zst.22435/
    ZSR - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/kz-zsr.22905/
    ZS3 - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/kz...et-bass-earbuds-with-microphone.21763/reviews
    ZS5 - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/knowledge-zenith-zs5.22479/
    ZS10 - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/kz-zs10.23034/
    AS10 - https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/knowledge-zenith-as10.23246/reviews

    KZ Acoustics leads the way on what can be achieved by pushing the envelope in price-to-performance offerings and the new BA10 is no exception. The Chi-Fi in-ear monitor market is one of the most exciting market segments to dabble in because the advances in sound quality rises month after month after month while the price for picking up an excellent sounding IEM gets lower and lower with said passing months.

    Two years ago the entry-level price for a multi-balanced armature IEM was well into the hundreds of dollars.

    Audio-Technica ATH-E70 - Triple-driver ($400)
    Shure SE425 - Triple-driver ($270)
    Shure SE535 - Triple-driver ($450)
    Shure SE846 - Quad-driver ($900)
    Westone UM Pro 20 Dual-Driver ($300)
    Westone UM Pro 30 Triple-Driver ($400)
    Westone W40 Quad-driver ($499)
    Westone UM Pro 50 Five-Driver ($650)
    Westone W60 - 6 BA model ($999)


    In June (2018), just prior to KZ releasing the BA10 and AS10, the minimum entry fee for a 5 balanced armature IEM had dropped to an unheard of $110 (HiSenior B5+), however, in August and September of 2018 KZ released the AS10 and BA10, respectively. KZ's two new models (AS10 & BA10) are the first sub-$100 in-ear monitors to sport 5 balanced armatures.


    HTB1WXjwKxWYBuNjy1zkq6xGGpXaK.jpg_640x640q90-1 (0).jpg


    The Knowledge Zenith BA10:

    51xXAQv2IEL._AC_SL1500_ (0).jpg

    KZ's new BA10 model sports 5 balanced armatures per earpiece bringing the total to 10 for the set. You can see from the photo above that there are four different BA transducers used to sculpt the sound signature of the BA10 but the balanced armatures are not alone in sculpting the sound that pours out of the BA10's aluminum nozzle. What I find most interesting is the BA10's triple-vented faceplate and the open space in the cavity of the shell. Minor design variations like this help to shape the BA10's nuanced delivery.

    The BA10 and AS10 may share the same driver set-up and perhaps even the same crossover set-up but the AS10's housing is sealed resin while the BA10's housing is a semi-open machined aluminum housing.

    The AS10 design is compact and the 5 balanced armatures take up most of the space inside the sealed housing.
    517mJn74PuL._AC_SL1500_-1.jpg


    The BA10, on the other hand, sport not only triple-vented faceplates but there is a great deal of open space for soundwaves to reflect and bounce off of.......and in a metal case no less.
    517h9QNtN9L._AC_SL1500_-1.jpg


    The AS10's resin/plastic housing will certainly absorb some of the energy before the soundwaves exit the nozzle whereas the BA10's aluminum housing will certainly absorb less and reflect more of said soundwaves. I haven't sampled the AS10 as of the writing of this review but it would come as no surprise to me IF the AS10 presentation is slightly more intimate or conversely the BA10 presentation gives instruments more room to breathe

    HTB1fgGow7omBKNjSZFqq6xtqVXaA.jpg_640x640q90 (0).jpg


    The general consensus, as of the writing of this review, is that the AS10 is slightly brighter with slightly more energy than the BA10 which is counterintuitive given the aforementioned materials and designs used, all other things being equal.

    What gives?

    I did a little poking and prodding with my BA10 and here is what I found.

    BA10 a.jpg

    The BA10 nozzles are fitted with foam inserts just as the ZS3(v2) was. As you can see in the photo I used a sewing needle to lift the screens from the nozzles. The foam was affixed to the screens via a mild adhesive so the foam lifted out with the screen removal.

    Removing the foam was like giving the BA10 the kiss of life because the BA10 began to breathe wonderfully. The presentation itself remained relaxed and warm but the detail and clarity shone through without restriction.

    What a treat!

    Before I received my BA10 I had high hopes that it would be built just as solid and it would sound just as clean as my cherished ZS6. I was ultimately hoping for something equal to my ZS6 but with a variation in the presentation . In the end I got just that, a well-built aluminum IEM with a somewhat nuanced presentation. In some respects the BA10's informal presentation is the counterpoint to the ZS6's more disciplined approach. Even so, both IEMs offer a high degree of superb detail.

    81Qu640j8pL._AC_SL1500_-1.jpg

    Be that as it may, the BA10 "in stock form" is quite a departure from the ZS6. In stock form the BA10 is indeed a very good IEM and, yes, I enjoyed it in stock form.......but after listening to the BA10 for a week or so I knew it could sound better.

    Over on the KZ Thread I posted my initial impression of the BA10. I stated that the BA10 is a very refined ZS3 sound signature. Indeed, KZ started with the ZS3 sound signature and improved everything across the board by giving the BA10 better resolution, better separation and improved imaging with a creamy detailed midrange.

    This is somewhat anecdotal and these are not my graphs but they more or less confirm what I am hearing from the BA10.

    KZ-BA10-frequency-response-curve-1 (0) (0).jpg

    KZ-ZS3-Frequency-Response (0) (0).jpg

    You'll note that the BA10 FR graph and ZS3 FR graph share very similar peaks and valleys in the same locations.

    In stock form the BA10 has a dense and deep bass with a warm and rich midrange. The upper extension is clearly audible until you hit approximately 8khz where things begin to taper to keep the treble polite.

    In all candor, half of my listening time was filled with thoughts like "it's good but it needs more oomph". Remember that I love micro-details. I would almost liken the BA10 presentation in stock form to running with your hand over your mouth; you're not able to breathe freely so you're restricted in how fast you can actually run.

    As usual, my first thoughts drifted to tip rolling and indeed as I cycled through several eartips I found that, just like the ZS3, the BA10 is extremely tip sensitive. Some eartips brought on a thick and warm presentation with the treble rolled off even further. Still other eartips diffused the bass presentation but brought forth the detail in both the midrange and the treble.

    I was listening to Van Halen's "Girl Gone Bad" enjoying the detail presentation of the cymbals when I noticed that after the 0.44 second mark that the cymbals seemed to blur as the track became more complex.




    Cycling through several eartips afforded some improvement but I still could not clean up and release those cymbals. Then I remembered the ZS3 "Slater-mod" and wondered if such a modification would improve the BA10.

    It did.

    BA10 c.jpg


    By the way, if you gaze at the photos intently you'll notice that KZ chose, correctly I might add, not to position the high frequency BA's in the nozzle.

    BA10 d.jpg


    Bass:
    KZ's new low frequency balanced armature loses none of its potency with this minor modification. Both sub-bass and mid-bass come through with excellent depth and richness with good attack and decay, as is typical of balanced armatures, but the delivery is eerily reminiscent of a well-tuned dynamic driver.......a considerably clean dynamic driver.

    In short, yeah, these puppies can really kick!

    Testing for impact, texture and slam I loaded Julie Thompson's Blackhole Recording "What Will I Do". I pressed play and when the bass kicked in I thought

    "this is like.......it's like a legal drug".




    KZ's new low frequency balanced armature digs deep, plays clean and lends a lot of warmth to the sound signature, all the while delivering a healthy dose of detail in those lower frequencies. The texture and the slam is, again, wholly evident in Delerium's "Dust In Gravity".




    Like I said, the clean yet hard-hitting bass is a legal drug.


    Moving on from EDM I thought I'd test more mainstream music to hear whether or not natural guitars and other instruments would get lost in the mix. I found that despite the BA10's sense of smoothness and warmth the guitars and vocals in Vertical Horizon's "Everything You Want" lost none of their allure.




    Midrange:

    I would describe the BA10 midrange as having able-bodied density that is rich in detail. It also remains on equal footing with the full-bodied bass. To my ears the midrange is not recessed because the bass and midrange both share the spotlight on the BA10. In fact this is the one area that the BA10 can be an improvement over the ZS6's midrange. I say "can be" because this is also the one area where the proverbial "double edged sword" can come into play. More on that in a moment.

    On most tracks the midrange is sublime and even grand in its delivery (retest "Everything You Want" and "Dust In Gravity"). As an example to get a good sense of texture.....to get a good sense of intimacy I loaded Morcheeba's "Blindfold".



    The BA10 did not disappoint. Skye's voice had a good balance of weight keeping the presentation from being either too boxy or too thin.

    Counterpoint to the ZS6 indeed! The BA10 presentation is creamy but it still retains good detail. Despite the BA10's warmth you can still hear lots of detail in the voices and various samples throughout the abstract but fun "Frontier Psychiatrist" performed by The Avalanches. Nothing sounds thin and their is sufficient weight in all vocals and instruments.

    .......and that bass, though!




    So, what about that whole "double edged sword" thing I spoke about? Well that came into play when using the BA10 with either my smartphone or my ZuneHD. Both are power-efficient devices that exaggerated that upper midrange peak you saw in the frequency response graph above. I'd really like to see the impedance curve on these IEMs because with "my" power-efficient devices the upper-midrange goes just over the edge if sibilance is present in the recording. Some such recordings are quite off-putting but I should add that, to my surprise, several tracks that I know have sibilance actually displayed none.

    Case in point: Diana Krall's "I Miss You So", which I am quite familiar with, was presented with absolutely zero wince-inducing sibilance. The "Sssssss"still came through but they were of no concern on the BA10. What's also noteworthy is how creamy the presentation of Diana's voice is on the BA10.



    A great track to sample for richness in both male and female vocals is Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond's "You Don't Bring Me Flowers". The BA10's laid-back presentation compliments the melancholy mood without masking a thing.




    .......but Nina Simone's "See Line Woman (Masters At Work Remix) was difficult to get through with my phone or ZuneHD.



    To be fair, I have to recognize all of the machinations the producers had to go through to mash-up a decades-old recording with current EDM dynamics for this track. Reasons or not, I didn't enjoy the experience with my phone. Oddly enough I haven't had that particular experience with the song with any of my other IEMs.......errrr, except the modded ZS3 but it wasn't as pronounced on the ZS3 as it is on the BA10 (on my ZuneHD or smartphone).

    Hmmm.....

    It seems the BA10 inherits the ZS3's strengths as well as it's weaknesses and magnifies said strengths and weaknesses in orders of magnitude IF you pair the BA10 to a power-efficient device.

    You could be pardoned for thinking that an IEM which offers a warm presentation would be more forgiving of less than perfect recordings but oddly enough the BA10 is not such an IEM when paired to a power-efficient device. The vocals/midrange come forward and sometimes to their detriment.

    I make a point to repeatedly use the phrase "paired to a power-efficient device" so you remember this part of the review in particular. In my opinion, the BA10 is best when paired with a low impedance device with sufficient power. External headphone amplifiers tethered to your phone or LG's quad-DAC smartphones should suffice.

    Of course you could always use your phone with an EQ app like the Onkyo HF app.

    Screenshot_2018-10-22-19-31-00.png

    Screenshot_2018-10-22-19-31-08.png


    I encountered no (sibilance) when using my Fiio X3(i) to play the same exact track ["See line Woman (Masters At Work Remix)"]. The strident bite had vanished.

    Fiio X3(i) specifications :

    Output Power:
    >540 mW (16 Ω/THD+N<1%)

    Output Power 2:
    >270 mW (32 Ω/THD+N<1%)

    Output Power 3:
    >30 mW (300 Ω/THD+N<1%)

    Frequency Response:
    20 Hz~20 kHz

    SNR:
    >105 dB ( A-weighted)

    Output Impedance:
    <0.3 Ω(32Ω

    Crosstalk:
    >75 dB (1 kHz)

    THD+N:
    <0.005% (1 kHz)

    MAX Output Voltage:
    >8 Vp-p

    MAX Output Current:
    >250 mA (For reference)

    Treble:

    The treble extension on the BA10 is good but these IEMs are tuned for comfort and long listening sessions at moderate volume levels. All that really means is that the treble is "polite". Lower-treble is present and there is some mid-treble shimmer but the sparkle and brilliance of the upper-treble is, for all intents and purposes, present but rolled off. Such are the tradeoffs when choosing an IEM with a warm sound signature. If micro-detail minutiae is your thing, and it is for me, then the ZS6 will be happy to oblige. The BA10 is focused more on providing a highly detailed but pleasant listening experience for those who are treble-sensitive to enjoy the ZS6.

    The chimes or bells (micro-detail) found in Toni Braxton's "He Wasn't Man Enough" were present but because the treble is "polite" the chimes have less brilliance than is typical for the recording.




    Likewise for Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Something".




    Tapering the micro-details isn't a bad thing (if you're treble-sensitive). The BA10 is loaded with plenty of detail from 20hz to approximately 8,000hz. I can only assume that KZ rolled off the upper-treble in response to the complaints about the hyper-treble extension some folks have issue with on KZ's ZS6 model.

    Basement Jaxx' "Stay Close" is chock-ful-a low end, midrange and treble details that sound glorious through the BA10!




    Soundstage:

    Soundstage can be very tricky when it comes to warm-leaning IEMs. In the BA10's case I had to do extensive tip rolling. Some eartips sealed perfectly but the bass became so concentrated that things got muffled. Other eartips had a mediocre seal and the bass impact diminished considerably. Of course bass can have a huge impact on clarity and airiness so you have to get this right or everything comes off half baked. You'll notice in this reposted photo that next to the Whirlwind eartip is a silicone collar that I separated from another unused eartip.

    BA10 c.jpg

    In order for me to get the best presentation from the BA10 I had to first place the silicone collar over the nozzle and then install the Whirlwind eartip. If I didn't put the collar on the nozzle first the Whirlwind eartip would slide up or down a bit too freely on the nozzle. Once the eartip slid down the collar the bass became more dense and the airiness would disappear. The silicone collar kept the eartip securely fastened toward the top of the nozzle and in this position there was an excellent balance of being "airy" AND being "full-bodied".

    I found the soundstage to have above average width and average depth.
    Comparing the BA10 to the ZS6 it is as if someone at a mixing board slightly pushed everyone on stage forward. This one comes forward a bit and that one over there moves forward and more toward the center. And, hey backup singers, can you move forward and further to the right. This sort of jostling, if you will. The best description of the BA10's presentation is that it delivers a virtual "wall-of-sound" presentation whereas the ZS6 spreads everyone in a deeper and wider semi-circle configuration on stage (more depth). My odd description will make more sense once you sample these tracks with your ZS6 and then sample them with your BA10.

    "Past & Future Things (Ananda Project Mix)" by Santal came through with a good sense of airiness and instrument positioning. The richness of the lower-midrange and sense of presence in male vocals is evident in this track as well.




    Likewise with the upper-midrange in Above & Beyond's "We're All We Need".




    I really enjoyed how the BA10 keeps the guitars way out on the peripheral edges throughout the presentation of Aerosmith's "Dream On".




    One final word of caution. As great as the BA10 is I would not necessarily recommend them for 60's, 70's & 80's hard rock (classic rock, metal, etc.). To my ears, guitar crunch simply lacked the bite necessary to convey any pent up energy. Guitars will come in clean but the BA10's laid-back nature seemed to betray the transparency of an electric guitars full intention in earlier rock recordings. The upper midrange and tapered upper-treble make the BA10 a bit too laid back for most hard rock recordings of the 60's, 70's and 80's. Yes, I can listen to those tunes on the BA10 and they will sound "good" but the ZS6 is a much better match for transparency.

    I tried to get into the following tracks. All the notes were present but most of the energy was on a bus headed for another city.







    Don't get it twisted though. The BA10 is excellent for 90's and newer rock. The aforementioned Vertical Horizon track above is a good example and Lifehouse sounds alive and energetic on the BA10.




    GET THE ZS6 for Classic Hard Rock !

    All in all, I appreciate the BA10's varied presentation from the ZS6. It keeps things interesting when I want to choose an entertaining IEM.

    If you:
    are sensitive to the treble region above 8khz
    don't have small ears
    have a DAP or listening device with sufficient power and low impedance output
    then your IEM has just arrived.

    You may not need to remove the foam as I did. Remember I am a self-proclaimed micro-detail junkie so I want my IEMs to get as close as possible to that sound. The treble-sensitive may find the BA10 to be perfect in stock form. To each his own.

    In the end I would almost put these on the same level as the ZS6.

    Almost.

    In some ways the BA10 offers a more rich/dense presentation of the midrange when compared to the ZS6. For me the difference is that my ears are not sensitive to the ZS6's lower-treble extension but at times my ears are sensitive to the BA10's upper-midrange extension. Again, this usually comes into play on power-efficient devices that may have a questionable output impedance, so...

    ...... 4.25 stars.

    In the end I took off half a star because folks with smaller ears are excluded from enjoying these, which is a pity. In addition I took off a quarter of a star because, in my opinion, these will not perform their best when tethered to a smartphone. I know that I'm painting with a broad brush when I make that statement but you should proceed with caution if you have no intention of coupling a headphone amp to your smartphone, upgrading to something like an LG V30 (or equivalent) or coupling the BA10 to a dedicated powerful and low impedance output DAP. A good dedicated DAP balancesthe BA10 wonderfully.

    A GOOD SOURCE IS CRUCIAL!

    GOOD EARTIPS ARE EQUALLY IMPORTANT!


    Cable:
    The included cable is probably the best cable that KZ has included with any of their previous IEMs. That said, at the $80+/- asking price KZ should be including their flagship cable with their flagship IEM.

    20180707185815_10212.jpg


    Those caveats aside, pick a set of these up. Just remember that most of you should be looking at foam eartips since these are full BA in-ear monitors. KZ should have included a set of foamies as it is standard practice to offset the analytical nature for multi-BA in-ears with foam eartips. Just sayin'...

    BA10 B&W 2.jpg


    KZ has pushed the envelope once again with their well-built and well-tuned 5 balanced armature BA10.

    So...has lightning struck twice?

    Almost. With a good source you could count these as KZ's flagship due to their technical capabilities.

    In the meantime, all I can do is wait for KZ to release the new ZS7 and hope that that lightning strike will be a direct hit.

    giphy-1.gif


    In closing I'd like to offer up some friendly advice to KZ.

    I'm certain that the folks at KZ are proud of their flagship IEM but the plaque is useless.

    KZ, if you want to make a good impression and expand your fanbase then please do the following:

    1) increase the interior volume of your waterproof resin clamshell case by 50% and include it with all IEMs over $25.
    20180704095434_54860-1.jpg

    2) include your flagship cable with your upper-end or flagship IEMs.
    20180707185815_10212.jpg


    All of the extra space inside the BA10 packaging could have easily accommodated both items.......and we would have been much happier with useful and quality accessories.

    Otherwise, great job as usual KZ!


    Hope this was helpful.
    1. katatonicone1
      What a great review. I did a modification according to your review and boy it makes a difference. KZ BA10 unleashed! The sound is more fun and not tamed in any way. The treble pierce is basically non existant (I come from ZS6 too). Also, I totally agree on the cable, their flagship wire is much better with these IEMs, it makes bass softer and more pleasant but still punchy.
      katatonicone1, Oct 25, 2018
      rayliam80, B9Scrambler and DocHoliday like this.
    2. DocHoliday
      Thanks for the compliments. I am enjoying the BA10 quite a bit. They're well built and sound great! They sound more balanced and detail oriented once the foam inserts are removed.
      DocHoliday, Nov 1, 2018