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Triple Hybrid (2BA +1DD)

KZ ED16

Rating:
4.33333/5,
  • 613IFYGqH0L._AC_SL1500_-1.jpg

    Brand: KZ Acoustics
    Model: ED16
    Transducers: 2BA + 1DD
    [1 Midrange BA (50660), 1 Treble BA (30095) & 1 Low Frequency DD (10mm)]
    Frequency Response: 10hz - 40,000hz
    Impedance: 25Ω
    Sensitivity: 105db
    Jack: 3.5mm
    Cable connector: 2-pin 0.75mm
    Cable length: 1.2m
s8grave and monitoringsound70 like this.

Recent Reviews

  1. B9Scrambler
    KZ ED16: Identify Yourself!
    Written by B9Scrambler
    Published Feb 12, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Well-balanced sound with good detail, clarity, and technical performance - Classic KZ cable
    Cons - Hit or miss ergonomics - Classic KZ cable
    Greetings,

    Ever since Knowledge Zenith (KZ) dove into the hybrid market with the ZST, they've gone absolutely bonkers with their hybrid releases. The ED16 we're checking out today is an especially weird one since it sounds like it was meant to be either a limited release, or possibly not even released at all.

    It also has a bit of an identity crisis being officially named the ED16 with ZS7 printed on the shell itself, as well as on the front of the package along with the ED16 branding. This use of the ZS7 name is even more confusion since there is now a ZS7 model on the market using a 4 balanced armature (BA) + 1 dynamic driver (DD) hybrid setup crammed inside a ZS6 style aluminum shell. KZ's naming conventions have always been a little nonsensical, but the ED16/ZS7 takes it to another level.

    Regardless, the ED16 has garnered a bit of a following among the budget audiophile community. I had the chance to listen to one belonging to a local audio fan a few months back and was pleasantly surprised. The shells looked decent, it fit well once I found the right orientation, and it came across as a more balanced sounding ZSR, one of my favourite hybrids from the brand.

    Let's take a closer to look at the ED16 to see why this triple driver hybrid is so well liked.

    Disclaimer:

    The ED16 was sent over by Linsoul Audio for the purposes of review. The thoughts within are my own based on my time with the ED16 and do not represent Linsoul, KZ, or any other entity. Would love to provide a link to the ED16 on their store, but it's not up for sale at the time of writing. https://www.linsoul.com/products

    Sources:

    The ED16 was powered primarily by either a Shanling M0 or ES100 paired over LDAC to my LG G6. It was also enjoyable with the F.Audio S1 and HiFiMan Megamini. The ED16 is easy to drive and does not need to be amped. I prefer it with neutral to warm sources. Bright sources like the Ruizu X02 and Walnut V2S sound too harsh.

    Personal Preferences:

    I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. My preferences for earphone tuning are quite relaxed and as such their is no one signature I look for. The HiFiMAN RE800, Brainwavz B400, and Massdrop x MeeAudio Planamic are examples of earphones with wildly varied signatures that are enjoyable for different reasons. I generally listen at very low volumes, so keep this in mind when perusing my thoughts on how an earphone sounds.

    Specifications:
    • Driver: 2 BA + 1 DD
    • Frequency Response: 10-40,000Hz
    • Impedance: 25ohms
    • Sensitivity: 105dB/mW
    IMG_5872.JPG IMG_5873.JPG IMG_5878.JPG

    Packaging and Accessories:

    The ED16 arrives in the same style of packaging as the majority of KZ's modern offerings. The white exterior sheath features a wire frame like image of the ED16's ear pieces as well as model info, while on the back you find specifications as well as locations and contact information for KZ. Sliding off the sheath reveals the ED16's ear pieces set within a black plastic insert protected by a clear viewing lid. Lifting it all out you find the accessories below. In all you get:
    • ED16 earphones
    • 0.75mm 2-pin copper braided cable
    • Silicone tips (s/m/l)
    • Manual and warranty card
    This is a very standard accessory kit from KZ. Nothing new here. I like the included 'Starline' tips. Their are made from a very durable, flexible, high quality silicone and for most models in their lineup pair very well and provide a good seal. As always, it would be nice of them to include a case or carrying bag, but for the price I can't be too disappointed.

    Build, Comfort, and Isolation:

    The Aurisonics/Fender inspired shells are all transparent plastic and neatly molded with good fit and finish. Printed on the left shell in beautiful cursive is “Dynamic Balanced Armature”. On the right right shell you find “ZS7”. Wait, ZS7? Despite being called the ED16, KZ printed ZS7 on the shell. It's found on the packaging too. Why they didn't change this at any point during production, especially now that there is a legit ZS7 on the market, I have no idea. Just another reason for KZ collectors to pick this model up, I guess. At the end of the lipless nozzle is a neatly installed, fine metal mesh that protects the drivers within from dirt, wax, and other undesirables. The two pin connector at the top of the housing is slightly recessed. While nothing special, the plastic and shell construction are overall perfectly fine.

    The cable features the same brown and beige candy cane look as the ZSR's cable and uses extra compact straight plugs similar to the angled plugs found on the ZSA. Memory wire is present and does what it needs to do, that is, hold the shape you set it too. Memory wire is never ideal in my opinion, but KZ's is better than that found throughout most of the industry. I'm glad KZ moved on to preformed guides on their newer products regardless. The rest of the hardware is old school KZ, mainly found on products that came out prior to the ZS3. The y-split is a compact hunk of rubber with thin, spidery strain reliefs at both ends. The rounded 90 degree angled straight jack is well relieved too. I much prefer these parts to the angular VSonic inspired pieces KZ moved to later on which aren't relieved quite as well and tend to catch on edges and clothes.

    This style of housing sits vertically in the ear. I have tried a number of products designed in a similar manner, like the Whizzer Kylin and Auglamour R8. As with those products, getting an ideal fit was a challenge, purely dependent on the tip selection. The stock tips weren't long enough leading to the bottom peak poking into my ear and causing a hot spot. I had to resort to some long bi-flange tips from another earphone which allowed me to get a good seal while keeping the body of the earphone from touching my ear. Spinfits also worked fairly well, but as the silicone warmed up I found they would lose their effectiveness. From what I've seen in the forums, most people have no issues with the ED16 and find it exceptionally comfortable so consider my experiences uncommon. You'll probably be fine.

    Isolation is quite average. The ED16 has two vents on the inner body, one for the dynamic driver, the other probably for tuning or pressure relief. This combined with a shallow fit allows outside noise to bleed in without a ton of resistance. Throwing on the foam tips is recommended if you're planning on using these on the bus or in other similarly noisy areas.

    IMG_5881.JPG IMG_5885.JPG

    Sound:

    The ED16 doesn't really bring anything new to KZ's hybrid lineup, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It still has a v-shaped signature but brings down the bass slightly allowing the mid-range to stand out more.

    Treble is fairly balanced between presence and brilliance regions with upper treble taking some precedent. This keeps the ED16 feeling fairly light and airy with good shimmer on cymbals, chimes, and other high range instruments. It can get a little harsh if you're listening loud, as I experienced running through The Prodigy's most recent album of complete bangers, 'The Day Is My Enemy'. Overall it is well done with a fair amount of detail and good control. Splashiness is kept in check, something that will immediately turn me off an earphone.

    The mid-range is set back slightly in emphasis when compared to the treble and bass. Notes tilt towards the lean side in their presentation which to my ears better suits male vocalists like Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine and David Sanchez of Havok. That said, it does suit some female vocalists nicely like Nicki Minaj who is well-represented by the ED16. Timbre is reasonably accurate as noticed when comparing to my ever reliable JVC HA-FXT90, though a little on the light side. Sibilance is present but minimal, well within my thresholds of what I consider acceptable for a budget hybrid.

    Bass is reasonably full-bodied with good depth, though roll off is quick once it starts and as such the ED16 leans on it's mid- and upper-bass for the most part. There is plenty of texture on hand with speed in abundance and as such the ED16 handles metal quite well. Like most of KZ's dynamic drivers, it presents bass with confidence, control, and a nimbleness that makes it an all-round solid performer, regardless of the genre.

    Thanks to the ED16's upper treble bias, it has a pretty nice sound stage for a budget hybrid with sounds dancing around the outer edges of your head. It will occasionally toss sounds way off in the distance as I noticed when playing World of Tanks, so you may experience moments where you remove them from your ears thinking someone is in the room, or that your name was called. Imaging is quite good with smooth transitions from channel to channel. Layering and separation are handled effectively keeping the ED16 from sounding congested even on busy tracks like King Crimson's “Starless and Bible Black”. I have no qualms with their spacial presentation.

    IMG_5887.JPG IMG_5891.JPG IMG_5894.JPG

    Select Comparisons (volume matched using Dayton iMM-6):

    ZSR: The ED16 is quite similar to the ZSR. The ED16 has more upper treble energy giving it some extra sparkle, a smaller sound stage, and less sub-bass emphasis. Imaging is equally good, as are layering and separation. The ZSR has thicker more lush mids and additional bass presence. Personally, I prefer the ZSR’s larger, more bombastic sound and less fatiguing treble presentation. To my ears the ZSR has more character which makes for a more engaging and entertaining listen.

    ZSN: The ZSN is darker and warmer with a thicker mid-range. Vocals sound crisper and more defined on the ED16, but not quite as far forward. Bass on the ZSN digs deeper and is more impactful thanks to additional mid-bass punch. Treble on the ED16 is more emphasized in the upper regions . It is less smooth though, with clarity and detail sitting about even. The ZSN has a wider, deeper sound stage with more pronounced layering and similar separation. Imaging is improved on the ZSN. The ED16 has a more analytic signature but still loses out to the ZSN in technical performance. There's a reason I say the ZSN is the best 20 USD earphone KZ has released since the ED9.

    Auglamour R8: The R8 is a highly overlooked earphone in my opinion and compared to the ED16 has a coherency to it's single dynamic drivers that KZ's hybrid setup is lacking. The ED16 has more treble emphasis vs. The R8's lower treble focus. ED16 is more airy and offers up improved detail and clarity, but the R8 is less fatiguing. The R8's mid-range has more body and no sibilance, though it is more recessed and not quite as clear. Bass on the R8 has better extension and more sub-bass emphasis, though it is not quite as textured. ED16 has a more confined stage but sharper imaging and better layering and separation. I'm not really sure which I find more enjoyable. The R8 is smoother, non fatiguing, and more coherent, but it gives up technical ability to the ED16. These two compete with different listeners.

    Final Thoughts:

    KZ is a tough brand to follow given how many models they offer at any one time, and how iterative they are from release to release. The ED16 is a solid performer

    Overall, the ED16 is another solid release from the brand. It has an interesting history full of rumour and speculation that I think appeals most to KZ collectors or completionists, though if you simply want to buy an earphone that gives you solid bang for your buck would, you will likely be entirely pleased with the ED16.

    Thanks for reading!

    - B9Scrambler

    ***** ***** ***** ***** *****​

    Some Test Tunes:

    Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Album)
    Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
    King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
    King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
    Supertramp – Crime of the Century (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 Bonet) (Album)
    Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
    The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
    Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
    Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
    Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
    Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)
    Aesop Rock – Fishtales (Track)
    1. DocHoliday
      Big ZSR fan here so the comparison between the two is appreciated.
      Playing at low volumes but maintaining plenty of air and punch is a good combination for the ED16.

      Vive le difference.
      DocHoliday, Feb 12, 2019
      B9Scrambler likes this.
  2. DallaPo
    KZ ED16 | 2*BA & 1*DD | Rating: 8.5
    Written by DallaPo
    Published Aug 3, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - natural sound
    nice stage and separation
    very good price / performance ratio
    Cons - slightly weaker mids compared to the ZS6
    sometimes a bit piercing
    intro
    The ED16 | ZS7 is another upstart of the new KZ generation. Surprisingly, it is marketed as ED16, but ZS7 is written on the earphones themselves, which also reflects the sense of hearing, a further development of the ZS6!
    The driver configuration is the same as for the ZSR, probably even exactly the same drivers, but with more fine tuning. The result is an IEM that is among the top budget IEMs due to its balance, excellent resolution and depth.

    handling
    With the ED16 | ZS7, KZ takes a new approach to design. Despite the same ZSR configuration, the in-ears are much smaller and not so bulky. Above all, the oversized sound tube and the pain associated with longer wearing times are history. They are more than comfortable to wear!
    Removable cables have become standard at KZ and should not be missing here either. The same as with all new models of the 18 generation are used and are therefore quite usable.
    I'm a little conflicted when it comes to the finish. They are well made and there are no production errors or rough processing carvings to be recognized, but they don't look very valuable somehow. This may also be due to the fact that KZ has recently spoiled us a lot with full metal IEMs.

    sound
    Let's get to the heart of the ED16 | ZS7, where KZ does everything right to satisfy even the most demanding listeners. You get a level of detail and a stage that competes with the ZS6 and is therefore more than remarkable, but also a great balance in frequency response. In short: Very balanced, detail-loving in-ears with bang.

    The bang comes from a dynamic driver that can fully concentrate on giving the bass back uncompromisingly but very cleanly, as well as taking it back when not needed. It never seems exaggerated but always delivers the right amount of bass, depending on genre and piece of music.

    The mids are slightly reduced (light V-signature), but impress with a clarity and separation that not many IEMs can offer. Whether vocals or instruments, everything is reproduced in detail and presented in a wonderful three-dimensional way.

    I was afraid to get a ZS6 again at the heights, but it was more ZSR oriented with more micro details without straining my hearing. Very well done! It can be said that the sound of the ED16 | ZS7 is currently the best KZ has to offer (personal taste!).

    outro
    A worthy follow-up to the ZS6, which still has very small deficits in the midrange, but delivers equal highs without earaches and equally clean bass. The wearing comfort is superb and the sound isolation very good! This is a clear recommendation to buy!

    _________________________________________________________________________________________

    You can find more reviews at:
    https://david-hahn.wixsite.com/chi-fiear
    1. xxAMAROKxx
      In terms of sound, I have to agree on 100% with your review. My conclusion is same - ED16 is one of the most detailed and good balanced iem by KZ.
      xxAMAROKxx, Feb 6, 2019
  3. Otto Motor
    KZ ED16: Respect!
    Written by Otto Motor
    Published Jul 9, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Relaxed, warm, open, balanced presentation
    Cons - None at this price
    You also find this review and much more on my blog audioreviews.org



    Executive Summary


    Knowledge Zenith have finally produced a balanced hybrid that sounds great and does not suffer from bloated bass, harsh mids, or piercing treble. A real listening pleasure for less than $25.

    IMG_0161.jpg


    Introduction


    Knowledge Zenith have been around the western markets for a few years now initially making themselves a name with very low-priced but good sounding earphones. In 2015 and 2016, favorable reviews of the KZ ATE and KZ ZS3, respectively, propelled Knowledge Zenith onto the stage of budget audiophiles.

    Since 2017, Knowledge Zenith has released a number of very affordable hybrid earphones that have created a large circle of fans. The ED16 belongs to the company’s latest batch of releases by the time purchased mine.

    This “hybrid” earphone sports three drivers, one “dynamic” and two “balanced armature”. Most earphones only have a single dynamic driver, which is capable of covering the whole frequency spectrum and generating a full bass. More expensive, professional monitor earphones contain one of more balance armature drivers, which have a better resolution and detail, but none of them covers the whole frequency spectrum. Combining a dynamic driver with two balance armature drivers gives the listener the best of both worlds: a satisfying bass and detailed midrange and treble.

    IMG_0148.jpg

    Packaging and Accessories


    The ED16 comes in a small box, which also contains a cable with a one-button remote and microphone and three pairs of eartips in sizes S, M, and L. The cable is connected to the earpieces via two pins and can be replaced.


    Physical Appearance, Haptic, and Build

    The earpieces are made of robust, translucent plastic and are as good a quality as it gets. The rubbery cable is the traditional Knowledge Zenith standard and works just fine. I selected the one with the one-button remote and microphone. The button works with both Apple and Android devices and can be used to stop/forward/rewind music and do start/receive a phone call.


    Ergonomics, Comfort, and Fit

    These earphones are very comfortable for my ears over longer periods of time. The cable is worn over and around the ear for maximum hold. The portion of the cable that wraps around the ear is reinforced by memory wire. Sound isolation is good and there is no bleed to bystanders.


    Source and Eartips

    I used my iPhone 5S as source and the included eartips in size L did the job for me.


    Tonality

    The ED16 can be characterized by a warm, open, and relaxed sound signature that is very pleasant to my ears.

    Bass is prominent, warm, with lots of punch, and well extended to the deeper frequencies, yet it is not overwhelming and does not smudge into the midrange. The midrange is equally warm and is never harsh or sibilant. Vocals are firm and a bit recessed. There is a peak in the upper midrange at 2 kHz which adds some sheen to the higher vocals and is probably responsible for the openness. Treble starts rolling off at 4.5 kHz and has a small 10 kHz peak, which does not produce any piercing but adds some brightness to the image. Bass, mids, and treble are linked by a glaze that results in an nice sonic fluidity.

    The overall image is big, the soundstage is rather wide and deep. Spatial representation is excellent. Instrument separation and layering are good.


    Select Comparisons

    KZ ZS10: This five-driver per side has a good resolution and instrument separation, however rather recessed, sometimes harsh mids that can be smothered by the bass that is much stronger than in the ED16.

    KZ ZS6: It has an attractive metal body and a rather analytical however accurate sound with a treble pierce unforgiven by sensible ears.

    KZ ZSR: Similar timbre as the ED16, with less upper mids/lower treble but more bass. The ED16 appears to be an evolution of the ZSR.

    KZ ES4: The ES4 is more bass-oriented, with a neutral, analytical midrange and less forward treble. The sound of the ED16 is more coherent.


    Concluding Remarks

    I own about 130 pairs of earphones and headphones, including many by Knowledge Zenith (EDR1, EDR2, HDS1, HDS3, ie80 ATE, ATR, GR, EDR1, EDR2, ED3, ED4, ED7, ES3, ES4, ZS3, ZS5, ZS6, ZS10, ZSR, ZST, and ZSA). The ED16, although by far not their most expensive model, is their best in my opinion (together with the ZS6 at twice the price). I am rather lukewarm about their latest ZS10 flagship. Knowledge Zenith has continuously improved their hybrids and they finally got it right with the ED16, which features a sound signature of a quality only found in much more expensive “brand name” earphones. The ED16 is simply a really good, enjoyable earphone for longer listening sessions and a steal at its ~$25 purchase price.

    IMG_0164.jpg
      KPanaAudio, RMatsuura, Kureb and 14 others like this.
    1. DocHoliday
      Very informative, Otto. Good to hear that these are an upgrade from the well received ZSR. Looking forward to your ES4 and ZSA reviews.
      DocHoliday, Jul 9, 2018
    2. Otto Motor
      Thanks Doc, I wanted to push the "Reply" button but accidentally pushed the "Report" button. Now you will get banned, too :) Hmm., I have no intention to review the ES4 ad ZSA...but, to give you the quick rundown: none of them will beat the ED16 (I alternated ZSA, ED16 and TRN V60 replacement all afternoon). This perception is in line with other reviewers, for example this one: https://david-hahn.wixsite.com/chi-fiear

      Summary: you simply can't go wrong ordering the ED16.
      Otto Motor, Jul 9, 2018
      1clearhead, RolledOff and DocHoliday like this.
    3. zerouse7en
      Good review. How do you compare ED16 with Tin Audio T2?
      zerouse7en, Oct 15, 2018

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