LZ-A3 (LZ A3)

twister6

twister6 Reviews
Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: nice looking design, great smooth detailed sound, detachable cable w/mmcx.
Cons: might not fit everybody the same, needs serious tip rolling.

I would like to Thank Easy Earphones for providing me with a review sample in exchange for my honest opinion.
 
Manufacturer website: I wasn't able to find one, but it's being officially distributed by Easy Earphones on Amazon and Aliexpress.
 
* click on images to expand.

 
The last time I looked into a “budget” 3way hybrid IEM was over a year ago (remember T2?), and after that disappointing experience I’m a lot more cautious when it comes to newcomers who try to challenge a better known releases from Fidue, DUNU, and others.  Oriveti was definitely a pleasant surprise, but not exactly budget friendly.  Early this year I started to hear a buzz about a new IEM company named LZ, not to be confused with another line of budget iems from KZ.  As the buzz was growing around their debut A2 model, I learned that it’s no longer available and instead they have a new 3way flagship called A3, actually highly recommend by a friend of mine, Vince (@Hisoundfi) who just reviewed it HERE.
 
What caught my attention the most was the passion of their main distributor, Easy Earphones, who truly believes in LZ line of monitors and actively interacts with different members and reviewers of audio communities not only to spread the word but to collect the feedback to improve the design and the sound quality.  In a short period of time A2 was replaced with A3, and just now Easy updated it with an improved replacement cable.  Plus, I have been told that for those ordering from their AX on-line store when you put “Easy” in your order, the list price will be reduced SIGNIFICANTLY!  Even so I was impressed with my interaction with distributor, this write up is about LZ A3 3way hybrid, so let’s proceed to the review.
 
Unboxing and Accessories.
 
A3 arrived in a medium size cardboard box, nothing fancy on the cover and a basic Chinese/English spec on the back of the box.  With the cover removed, you'll find a rather nice presentation with a dense foam cutout hosting A3 earpieces and the part of the cable.  It’s a simple presentation, but very effective because right away it shows you that cable is removable and you get a good glimpse of a unique shape of A3 shells.  Once you remove that foam piece, you can see the rest of the accessories underneath.  Though this packaging is more on a budget side and not going to Wow you like some other flagships, I wouldn’t call it being cheap either.
 
The accessories include a basic small square storage case, a pair of soft earhook guides, a shirt clip, and a plethora of eartips.  You get 2 sets of S/M/L hybrid eartips (with yellow and red cores) distinguished by a slightly different shape and firmness of the eartip cap, a set of regular silicone single flange S/M/L tips, a pair of medium size double flange tips, a set of multi-color foam (non Comply) S/M/L eartips, and one unique pair of large fuzzy eartips to “tickle” your ear senses.
 
Due to a unique design shape of these IEMs, eartip selection is very critical not only to get a good seal but also to get a comfortable fit.  Don’t be surprised that despite so many included eartips you might end up tip rolling outside of the provided accessories.  Obviously, it also depends on the anatomy of your ears, but the stacked collar design at the nozzle base and the perpendicular short nozzle placement might not have the best fit synergy with different ears.  For me personally I ended up using Spiral Dot eartips which delivered the best sound quality (due to a wide bore opening and the wide cap), a very good isolation, and a secure fit.  As a result I was able to wear A3 comfortably wire down and wire up, without a need for earhook guides.
 
Unboxing.
 
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Accessories.
 
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The fit (wire up/down).
 
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Cable.
 
I’m not sure how the cable became a controversial topic in A3 discussion (per a few other review comments), perhaps due to variation of mmcx connectors.  These connectors are usually more prone to issues related to intermittent contact, and I see many manufacturers constantly revising them.  In two weeks that I have been using A3, I never had a single issue with the cable.  Mmcx connectors were snappy and always maintained the contact, the rotation of earpieces around the connector wasn’t as loose, and the cable itself had a nice design to match earpieces.  But my experience is just a single data point, and if Easy decided to switch to a different cable with a better build and more reliable connectors – I’m a believer in where there is a smoke there is a fire.  Keep in mind, when you click on AX product link, it will have pictures of the new pink cable.
 
Since my test evaluation was done using the original white-sparkly cable, I will describe it as is.  I liked the 45deg headphone plug – it has been awhile since I seen them being used; I kind of miss it since everything nowadays is straight or 90deg.  The wires, obviously a regular basic OFC, where soft, didn’t tangle too much, and didn’t require a memory wire.  Though earhook guides are included, those were not necessary for my personal use.  The y-splitter is a small plastic cylinder in an aluminum shell matching the color of earpieces, no strain relief here.  The chin slider has a matching design; and the same with mmcx connector housing which has a matching aluminum ring and L/R clear marking.
 
Due to a removable nature of the cable with universal mmcx connectors, I was tempted to try it with my other cables since I have access to higher quality silver plated and pure silver cables.  To my very big surprise, I went back to the original stock cable.  The replacement cables with silver material tend to brighten up the sound, adding more details and resolution to upper frequencies, which is a plus with A3 where the treble is rolled off.  But at the same time, due to 1k-3kHz boost I see in FR of A3, I didn’t like silver cable improvement effect on vocals, making them more upfront and even slightly grainy.  This is just a matter of a personal taste, and if you have access to replacement cables I strongly encourage you to experiment to find your sweet spot.
 
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Design.
 
As I mentioned before, the design of the shell could be a hit or a miss, depending on eartip selection.  I think LZ took a bit of a risk here by going with a rather less traditional form factor.  I mean, they didn’t reinvent the wheel and a vertical shell with perpendicular nozzle placement has been done before (I still love and use my UE600), but LZ decided to take it one step further by stuffing a single dynamic driver and dual BA inside of a rather compact metal shell.  This adds a bit of weight, and you can’t extend the nozzle design by making it longer because the shell will stick out too far.
 
With a nozzle being short, you will end up jamming them in your ears while stacked up collars at the base of the nozzle, where it's attached to the shell body, can push into the concha area of your ears.  It’s not the end of the world and actually easy to fix, just need to have patience in finding the eartip with a core stem which is not too long or too short.  This way A3 will not stick out too far and will not go in too deep.  Plus the eartip has to stay secure in to hold the shell weighting down.  That’s why wire up fit is easier than wire down.  It’s a small price to pay for rewarding sound results.
 
The design definitely looks beautiful with its carved lines, gold finish, stamped logo, proper L/R labeling, LZ label and font of the writings, and a silver nozzle mesh.  There are two pinhole vents, one by the base of the short nozzle and another one on the side of the shell.  There is no flex from a dynamic driver and the low end response is excellent, thus pinholes do their job.  One interesting observation is that vent on the side of the shell is facing inward with wire down and outward with wire up, but I didn’t hear any noticeable difference because inward facing vent still has plenty of clearance based on my wearing style.
 
Another area of a particular interest is around the bottom of the shell where mmcx connector is located.  As I mentioned before, I didn’t have any issues with a connector and actually found it to be sturdy, no flex or movement, but it does look a bit DIY-ish.  This is probably a pure aesthetic comment, but considering how much thought went into the design of the shape of these shells, LZ should have made the connector placement flush with the bottom of the shell.
 
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Sound analysis.
 
One thing I learned from reviewing other 3way hybrids – there is no common rule about sound signature.  Just because you have a dynamic driver to cover your bass and dual-BA drivers to cover your mids and treble, every manufacturer still does their own tuning interpretation of how they think it should sound.
 
After approximately 75hrs of burn in, I found LZ A3 to have smooth, clean, warm tonality with an excellent low end extension, clean detailed mids, and somewhat rolled off treble. The sound signature is a bit mid-forward, not just because I see it in my FR measurements with a boost around 1kHz-3kHz region, but you can actually hear mids pushing slightly forward which puts vocals more upfront and creates a noticeable contrast with treble which is pushed slightly back.  But at the same time, bass has a strong impact as well, just more balanced in comparison to mids.  Overall, it’s a uniquely tuned signature which doesn’t exactly fit stereotypical warm sound.  Treble is slightly boosted around 10kHz-15kHz, which adds more definition to highs and even some airiness and sparkle.
 
Low end has a very nice sub-bass extension which goes deep with a nice textured rumble, though still at a modest quantity.  Sub-bass doesn't add extra bulk, but rather adds the foundation underneath of a mid-bass punch with a moderate speed.  The bass in A3 is well controlled without spilling into mids or adding muddiness to a sound.  Lower mids have a nice body, not too thick or too thin, and upper mids are clean and detailed but not too analytical or micro-detailed.  They actually sound smooth-detailed with a nice organic tonality, but their quantity is slightly boosted (what I hear as a bit of a mid-forward sound sig) and on a few occasions I had to lower the volume so the vocals wouldn't become shouty.  When volume is lowered, it also affects the treble where I feel like a more forward upper mids creates a bigger contrast with lower treble which as a result sounds more rolled off.  Treble is clear and smooth, not crisp or bright, with a good definition, and actually some airiness.
 
Soundstage has a decent width, definitely way above average, and just an average depth, but not as much height.  Don't expect a holographic staging, but separation and layering is actually good, and positioning of instruments is convincing.  With a boost around upper mids region, you get more clarity and improved layering between instruments and vocals.
 
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Comparison.
 
A3 vs A83 - Similar soundstage width, but A83 has more depth and height.  A83 has more sub-bass quantity and mid-bass has a little more impact and faster attack, lower mids are leaner, upper mids are brighter and a little more revealing, treble is crispier, brighter, and has more airiness.
 
A3 vs DN2kJ - similar soundstage width, but DN has more depth and height.  DN low end is more neutral is comparison, similar extension but less quantity, though DN mid-bass has a faster punch; lower mids in DN are a lot thinner in comparison, and upper mids are brighter and more analytical and micro-detailed.  Treble is a lot brighter, crispier, and airier.
 
A3 vs Primacy - similar soundstage width and depth, but Primacy has more height.  Primacy has more sub-bass quantity and stronger mid-bass impact.  Very similar lower mids, while upper mids in Primacy are a little brighter and more detailed.  Primacy lower treble is crispier and brighter, while upper treble has more airiness.
 
Conclusion.
 
To be honest, I approached this review with lowered expectations because I didn’t know how this budget hybrid will turn out to be.  Finding the correct eartip was a bit of a challenge, and it will dictate not only a good seal/isolation but also the fit and the comfort of wearing these monitors.  Everything fell in place once I settled on Spiral dots, and I was able to enjoy the smooth warm detailed signature of these fine tuned 3way hybrids.  These budget 3ways do cost less than a half (don’t forget to write “Easy” if/when placing order on AX) in comparison to other more established popular hybrids.  But lower price doesn’t mean lower quality.  As a matter of fact, if you are not looking for micro-detailed, bright, airy sounds, I think LZ A3 actually compliments quite nicely sig of other 3way hybrids with a more balanced full body smooth sound that even has a bit of an edge pushing forward the organic mids, resulting in a sweet musical performance of vocals.  Considering the progress made from A2 to A3, I wouldn't be surprised if A4 is not too far away.
TwinACStacks
TwinACStacks
Nice Job twister.
mikek200
mikek200
Can you please supply a link ,to the AX website
 
Thanks
Mike
twister6
twister6
@mikek200 : they constantly change the links and often discontinue models because there is an updated version, so if you are on AX just look for Easy Earphones store.
Pros: Limitless bass extension, Warm and expansive midrange, Overall smooth sound signature, Unique all metal housings that fit well, Price < Perfromance
Cons: Not for those looking for a linear or neutral tuning, Treble is rolled off, Questionable placement of MMCX cables
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At the time of the review, the LZ-A3  was on sale on Aliexpress and Amazon. Here are links to their listings of the product:
 
http://www.aliexpress.com/item/2016-Original-LZ-A3-In-Ear-Earphone-Dynamic-And-2-BA-Hybrid-3-Unit-Headphone-HIFI/32646581807.html?spm=2114.01010208.3.59.NdPnMI&ws_ab_test=searchweb201556_10,searchweb201602_5_10017_10005_10006_10034_10021_507_10022_10020_10018_10019,searchweb201603_1&btsid=895dbc7c-78a7-4402-8a9f-ee405f13bb29
 
http://www.amazon.com/LZ-A3-Definition-Headphones-Earphones/dp/B01CERWT4Q?ie=UTF8&keywords=lz%20a3&qid=1460775990&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1
 
Introduction
The LZ-A2 was an incredible breakthrough in the world of hybrid in-ear monitors. It marked the first time a budget hybrid came in at under a hundred dollars and still performed at a level that met or exceeded just about anything in the mid-fi hybrid price range. To tell you the honest truth, it was probably the top earphone in 2015 in terms of price to performance ratio. If you haven’t read the review, here it is:
 
http://www.head-fi.org/products/lz-a2/reviews/14722
 
If anyone wants to tell me that world class sound can’t be achieved for under a hundred dollars, I’m reaching for the LZ-A2 to dispel this type of thinking. Although it is now discontinued, it goes down in my book as the greatest sounding in-ear to fall under this price point.
 
Although the A2 sounded pretty epic, it had its downfalls. From what I’ve read, some have reported defects in how the driver sits in the housing. Some have said that too much air pressure in the housing can cause drivers to get bent out of shape and distort the sound. There were also complains about the overly wide nozzle and somewhat generic build quality. Despite this, one thing was very apparent. LZ knows how to make some great sounding earphones!
 
Upon the discontinuation of the LZ-A2, rumors began to circulate that LZ was working on a predecessor. Sellers of the A2 would clue me in, stating that LZ is going to produce an earphone that will be an improvement over the A2 in both sound and build quality/design. Knowing how darn good the A2 is, I couldn’t help it getting really excited about this.  
 
About a month ago, the rumors became a reality as the LZ A3 was released. Does the product live up to the proposed hype? Let's find out, and go over them with a comprehensive review.
 
Disclaimer
I was given an opportunity to review the LZ-A3 in exchange for my honest opinion and review. I am in no way affiliated with LZ. I would like to take this time to personally thank Easy Earphones for a percentage discount in exchange for an opportunity to review and share my impressions with friends and visitors on Head-Fi.
 
My Background
I AM NOT a numbers and graphs audiophile or sound engineer. Personal audio enthusiast? Absolutely! Headphone junkie? Possibly…
 
There’s something about quality DAPs, DACs, Amplifiers and Earphones that intrigues me, especially if they can be had for low prices. I will buy the $5 to $500 earphone that looks promising, in hopes that I will discover that one new gem that can compete with the big names in this industry. If you look at my Head-Fi profile you will see that I have purchased MANY different headphones and earphones, ranging from from dirt cheap to higher end products. For me, this hobby is more about getting great price to performance ratio from a product, and having a variety of different gears with varying builds and sound to mix and match. With personal audio gear, we tend to pay a lot of money for minor upgrades. One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that just because a headphone has a higher price tag, it doesn’t mean that it has superior build and sound quality.
 
I’m always looking for great audio at a great price. I’m after headphones and IEMs that give me the “WOW” factor. I can appreciate different builds and sound signatures as long as they have good ergonomics, and the sound is pleasing to my ears. It is my pleasure to share my experiences with audio products and make recommendations based on gear I have owned and used.
 
REVIEW
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The LZ-A2 was about as generic as can be. They had no packaging at all and came in a clamshell case. LZ stepped things up with the A3. They come in a black box with writing in shiny purple print. The LZ logo is located on the front along with the name of the product. The back of the box has specifications in Chinese and English. Although the packaging is still slightly generic, it’s nice to see them attempt to present their product more professionally.
 
Specifications and Accessories
 
Specification
Cable:                 120 cm, silver tinsel copper, MMCX plugs
Sensitivity:             120+/- 3db
Impedance:            16 Ohms
Frequency Response:     15/24000K
THD:                <0.5%
 
Accessories
1x Clamshell case
1x Shirt clip
1x Pair silicone ear guides
3x Pair gray/yellow narrow bore silicone tips (S,M,L)
3x Pair black medium bore silicone tips (S,M,L)
3x Pair gray/red wide bore silicone tips (S,M,L)
1x Pair black dual flange silicone tips (M/L)
1x Pair black memory foam tips (M)
 
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The A3 comes with a very nice tip selection and formidable clamshell case. Although not the most premium accessories, the package is very formidable and they didn’t leave owners feeling like anything was necessarily lacking.
 
Housings
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Unique and different are the first two words to come to mind. They are an all metal (I assume aluminum) gold housing in a slightly curved triangular shape. A series of rings protrudes from the triangular housing, and leads to the all metal nozzle. The A3 nozzle is pretty standard in terms of length and with, which makes it easy to do some tip rolling.
 
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The A3 connects via an MMCX cable. A driver venting hole is located on the side of each housing. Right and left markers, as well as brand and model graphics are printed in faint lettering. Although the entire build of the housings are metal and feel very solid, they are also very light weight.
 
Cable, Y-Split, Cable Jack, Strain Reliefs
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The A3 cable comes with a silver tinsel wire with clear jacketing. There is a twist braid from the jack to the Y-split, then a straight cable from the Y-split to the MMCX connectors. The MMCX jacks are very subtle and don’t offer very much in terms of strain relief. The Y-split is a piece of straight metal jacketing. A chin/neck slider comes attached to the cable and sits flush with the Y-split when not in use. The A3 cable jack is a very well built sixty degree angled cable with a gold plated 3.5 mm jack. The jack’s housing is a firm rubber material and has a somewhat bulky and very sturdy build for an in-ear monitor.
 
Something to note is that the MMCX connector looks suspect to my eyes. Where the connection sits in/on the housing, and how the wearing style puts a bit of strain on the housing, this raises a red flag for me. Although the connection is very solid to this point, I am weary of this design. If reports come in about their A3 connections becoming defected after extended periods of normal use, I will report back with an edit to this review. I have been wrong about this type of thing in the past, so for now please take this paragraph with a grain of salt.
 
Functionality
The A3 is a plug and play earphone with the stock cable. Because it has an MMCX connection, it is possible to purchase an aftermarket cable. I tested this with an aftermarket cable and it worked fine.
 
Ergonomics, Fit and Microphonics, Isolation
Despite being an awkward shape, the A3 was a great fitting IEM. They can be worn both over and under the ear. The only people I could see maybe having a problem would be someone with tiny ears and trying to wear these over the ear.
 
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When worn under the ear, the little bit of weight the housings had was distributed nicely thanks to how they sat in my ears. When worn under the ear, microphonics were controlled much better than the average in-ear monitor, especially when using the included chin/neck slider.
 
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Worn over the ear, I need to utilize the chin/neck slider to get a secure fit. When worn over the ears, the fit was very secure for me and there was no cable noise.
 
Sound Review
I did my demo with my usual gear. I used an LG-V10 for portable and smartphone use, and either my Shanling H3 or iBasso DX80 DAP for high fidelity portable use. For desktop use, I used my Toshiba Satellite Laptop in combination with a ifi micro iDSD playing at 32/192kHz. I tested them with several other sources as well. I used Google Music in its highest download quality (320 KBPS) and I also streamed FLAC via Tidal streaming service. I also used purchased and downloaded tracks in MP3, FLAC, WAV and DSD. I make sure that any gear I test has sufficient playtime before writing a review.
 
I used my usual same songs for testing gear:
“Limit to your love” by James Blake (bass speed, punch, response)
“Doin’ it Right” by Daft Punk (sub bass)
“Get lucky” by Daft Punk (bass to midrange transition resolution, male vocals)
“Madness” by Muse (soundstage, separation)
“Some nights” by Fun (soundstage and male vocals)
“The soundmaker” by Rodrigo y Gabriela (texture and imaging)
“Bassically” by Tei Shi (bass to midrange resolution, female vocals)
“Skinny Love” performed by Birdie (female vocals, acoustic playback)
“One” by Ed Sheeran (male vocals, acoustic playback)
“Outlands” from the Tron Legacy Soundtrack (symphonic presentation, imaging)
“Sultans of swing” by Dire Straits (detail, separation, balance)
“And Justice for All” by Metallica (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)
“Ten thousand fists” by Disturbed (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)
 
Note: Other tracks were used, but the listed songs were primarily used to assess and break down the gear’s response.
 
Source Selection
The A3 is a warm and creamy sounding earphone, so using a warm source will further accentuate its signature. I got best results with a more neutral/bright sounding source. Although the warm tint makes the A3 pretty forgiving with poor recordings, they are also offer a considerable amount of detail. The A3 will scale up well with high bitrate music and high fidelity sources.
 
At sixteen ohms, they are pretty standard for an in-ear monitor, leaning towards the more sensitive side of things. Amplifiers and high gain aren’t needed to make the A3 sound great. For best results, use your highest quality music files through your most neutral and high quality DAP. Doing so will compliment the stock tuning of the A3, and give you a “best of both worlds” combination of tonal balance, warmth and detail. The A3 sounded awesome through my LG V10 in the HIFI setting. They also sounded excellent through my iFi micro iDSD in more sensitive settings.
 
Sound Signature
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This is a graph made with my Vibro Veritas and Arta software. Although it isn't an industry standard measuring device, it should give you an idea of what the A3 tuning is like.
 
The A3 is said to be an improvement over the A2. While to my ears I consider it to be more of a sidegrade, I know there will be many who feel the A3 is a fidelic upgrade.We live in a hobby where some people feel that the best way to listen to music is with vinyl records and tube amplifiers. Anyone who has gone to audio exhibits or known somebody who pursues this type of sound. The vinyl/tubes sound is warm, smooth and expansive. Well, LZ has accomplished this type of sound with a hybrid in-ear monitor. One thing is for sure, the LZ-A3 breaks away from the conventional hybrid sound and offers another unique tuning that will win the ears of many who listen to them.
 
Because of the awesome bass, expansive midrange and relaxed treble, I caught myself turning these up higher and higher. To be honest, the A3 sounds its best at louder volumes. Although I never encourage anyone to listen at louder volumes (especially not for extended periods of time), I will say that when my favorite songs came on my DAP, I had to give them a couple extra clicks on the volume dial because the A3 rocks at medium/loud volumes.
 
Bass
LZ uses a titanium diaphragm driver. The first thing I notice about the bass is that there is an incredible level of sub bass extension and perceived forwardness that many will enjoy. There’s no limit to how low these can go. They will dig as deep as your ears can hear. The rumble is there but not forward enough to be a nuisance. This world class depth leads into what to my ears was a slightly resonating but still responsive mid bass presence. Bass guitars are responsive and sound slightly forward to my ears. During some tracks the LZ A3 bass was maybe just a touch loose as compared to what I prefer but it is definitely entertaining.   
 
Midrange
The way the dynamic and armature drivers work together to produce the A3 midrange is pretty special. First and foremost, there is a seamless transition between the two drivers, helping create a really nice and natural sound. The A3 midrange has a very warm, spacious and expansive sensation to it’s signature and is the main reason why I would describe them as “tubey” sounding. There’s a spacious and slightly forward sound that must be heard to understand. Resolution is distortion free and musical at the same time.
 
Treble
The LZ-A3 treble is somewhat relaxed, almost too relaxed for what I normally prefer. Those who are sensitive to upper frequencies will love the A3 for this reason. The A3 midrange to treble ratios sound somewhat unnatural to my ears. To be honest it’s almost to the point that I would say they are rolled off at frequencies north of 4K. While often times I would say that this would be their downfall, in this case I feel that in a way it adds to the uniqueness of their signature. The overall feel is smooth, deep, warm and easy on the ears. LZ carries this theme throughout the entire frequency range.
 
Soundstage and Imaging
The A3 depth and resolution give them a large sense of spaciousness. Although they don’t have a lot in terms of height, they score a high grade in terms of a soundstage. Imaging in the midrange is phenomenal. You’ll catch yourself wondering how they created a sense of a large stereo speakers playing through their in-ear monitors.
 
Comparisons
 
Hisoundaudio HSA-AD1 ($120 to $150 USD on many sites)
Hisoundaudio released a very nice sounding hybrid earphone earlier this year. The AD1 is a dual driver (one dynamic and one armature) earphone that carried on the Hisoundaudio sound and carried it over into a new flagship earphone. The AD1 has plenty of bass that takes center stage and some nicely detailed supporting frequencies.
 
Comparing the two, The AD1 seems more midbass forward, with the A3 being more sub bass forward. Midrange on the A3 is more forward, spacious, engaging and entertaining. The AD1 midrange is more detailed and has a more “closed in” and intimate sound. Treble on the AD1 sounds much more in balance and extended on the AD1. Overall, I give a slight edge to the A3 by a small margin. Both earphones justify their asking price and more in terms of sound quality.
 
As far as build goes, the A3 has a decisive advantage. Their all metal housings and detachable cables trump the AD1. The A3 also has more versatility, offering both over and under the ear fit. A3 also gets the advantage in terms of accessories. They offer a similar accessories package to the AD1, and come with a clamshell case (the AD1 offers no carrying case).

 
LZ-A2 (Discontinued)
The LZ-A2 is a legend. I feel blessed to have gotten my hands on a pair before they were discontinued. They offer an incredible sound that keeps me coming back for more and more. Lord forbid these ever breaking on me, I will be incredibly sad when/if they do!
 
Bouncing back and forth, the two earphones aren’t very far off from each other and carry a lot of the same traits. The A2 has a slightly thinner bass response with slightly less extension and depth at lower frequencies. The A2 also has a slightly more forward upper midrange and treble presence. Those who thought the A2 top end was a touch bright (I didn’t)  will find a solution in the A3. With the A3, LZ has given the A3 an added level of depth and smoothed out the treble presence. Both earphones have impressive soundstage. The A2 is a more balanced and entertaining sound. The A3 is a smoother and slightly warmer sounding earphone.
 
LZ-A3 gets an advantage in terms of build quality. They offered a very unique and eye catching design and build as compared to the very generic build of the A2. The detachable cables of the A3 are a nice touch as well.
 
Conclusion
When reports from the LZ camp came in that they were improving on the A2, the expectations were sky high. Do I think the A3 is a upgrade? In terms of packaging and build/design the answer is yes, absolutely. In terms of sound, I consider them a side grade to the A2. One thing is for sure, both of them offer a “giant killer” level of sound quality for their asking price.
 
I brought the A3 to the Chicago Axpona Audio Expo in mid April and had a few seasoned Head-Fiers listen to them and give their take. They all agreed that the A3 was a good earphone, stating that they sounded smooth, dynamic and entertaining.
 
The A3 is a warm and spacious sounding earphone that won’t wow you at first listen, but once your ears adjust to them, you will be thoroughly impressed with their combination of detail and musicality. While I wouldn’t recommend the A3 to someone who prefers a more linear and bright sound, I would definitely suggest them for everyone else.
 
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Thanks for reading and happy listening!
Lohb
Lohb
LZ-A3 has taken me closer to everything I love in LCD-2.1s in a mobile form for a ridiculous price.
Great write-up, must have taken a lot of time.
Koolpep
Koolpep
Thanks for this great review. I hear/feel them the same way you do.
HiFiChris
HiFiChris
Vince, how does it directly compare to the Fidue A73?

TwinACStacks

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Great Bass extension and clarity, Superb Mids and slightly rolled off Highs that make this a Fatigue-free listen
Cons: Rather Odd Shape. Original cables had loose connectors replacement cable is much better.
http://www.amazon.com/LZ-A3-Definition-Headphones-Earphones/dp/B01CERWT4Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1459953504&sr=8-1&keywords=LZA3
 
Intro / Preamble: These are the Long-Awaited? (relative term v.s. the speed at which Chinese manufacturers are developing and releasing new IEMS to the market recently),  Successors to the LZA2. Same Driver configuration and I’m assuming some sonic tweaking, in re-designed housings with a new detachable cable. Please bear with me until the conclusion as by the outset of comparisons you may feel that I’m under-whelmed. NOTHING could be further from the Truth. I purchased these on Amazon from Easy Earphones store. It is also now available on the Aliexpress store as well.  However I believe there is a pricing error on the Ali link, it should read $130 USD.
 
 
This is again another Brilliant creation by the audio genius of Lao Zhong
 
 
 
Disclaimer: I am a hobbyist only. I am NOT affiliated with any sellers or manufacturers for items that may be used in my review, nor at this time am I provided with any samples for endorsement or reviews. I purchase all of my own gear. I do However, post links to the particular individual seller from whom I have made my purchase of the item under review. These reviews reflect my personal opinions of the performance and general information about the item, and should not be used as a basis for any purchase. As I am sensitive to higher frequencies, your impressions may also vary from my own. I will try to offer comparisons as long as I have something similar both in price and construction to compare. If however at any time I am provided a sample for review, I will disclose this fact immediately on an additional disclaimer.
Please also note an absence of graphs unless they are included in the Seller's links. Although they are a great tool for determining what kind of EQ or other characteristics a particular IEM or Headphone should have,  alas all too often my own experience upon listening with my ears, tells me something different. Sometimes radically so. I may be correct I might not be, sound quality is VERY subjective at best. Therefore I will leave the scientific data, analysis and comparisons to more qualified and experienced reviewers.
 
 
 
 
Here is the Picture of Mine that have been "Adjusted" for Down-Cable wearing:
LZ-A3002.jpg
 
 
 
Here is the Box Plain, Simple, Nice.
LZA33001.jpg
 
 
The Presentation:
LZA33004.jpg
 
 
 
LZA33005.jpg
 
 
Whats hidden under the Foam Insert:
LZA33006.jpg
 
 
This is what you Get. Lots of goodies:
LZA33007.jpg
 
 
 
Close up of the assorted Tips
LZA33009.jpg
 
 
 
Specifications:  They are available using the link to the seller(s) posted at the top of the page
 
 
Construction: 
Gold matte finish on all metal, (possibly an Aluminum-White metal alloy), basically crescent-shaped with squared edges on the body with well marked L/R designations on upper outside bout of the body. Contains a DD + 2 BA drivers. Detachable cables with secure clicking MMCX connectors. NOTE: This review is being done with the Stock 2nd Gen. Cables as there were connector problems with the original production cables. The “new” cable has the improved Gold matte/black rubber longer MMCX connectors and appears to be a high quality clear plastic sheathed but nicely braided Silver Plated Copper (oxygen free I’m assuming) wire that is nicely supple. Matching matte finished “Y” connector with Slider, that terminates in a Substantial L shaped Rubber sheathed  3.5 mm plug. The over-all build quality suggests durability.
The LZA3 although designed to be worn over-ear, can ALSO be worn in a more pleasing, (to this writer), down-cabled configuration. To maintain proper orientation of the curvature of the IEM body in relation to the Ear, simply swap the Left for Right bodies on the cable. They will have the wrong channel markings however, if your memory is good this won’t be a problem. As mine isn’t, I simply marked them with colored dots, (See Pics), to avoid confusion and easier dim-light identification. Also they are shipped with the same yellow-core hybrid tips as their sibling LZ-Z03A. These do neither IEM any good whatsoever. The Included Generic Black Rubber tips are MUCH better, IMO. I also tried the Auvio Large and didn’t really notice any difference OOTB.
 
 
 Source Details:  For this particular review I used my newly Rockboxed XDuoo X3 (very much improved sound quality) both amped and unamped through a Fiio E12 Mont Blanc portable amp and a Schiit Audio Vali headphone amp. Line out from source to both amps. My Files are all at Least 320kbps to 96khz high resolution files. I used this source in all comparisons. Note that there were no appreciable differences noted in sound quality using the 2 different amp sources.
 
 
 Source Material:
The following is a list of songs that I used in this review. Some I use all the time, some less frequently. They all contain some type of frequency, Detail, or EQ that make them suitable for reference.
 
Dire Straits -- Sultans of Swing
Christina Novelli -- Concrete Angel (Both Versions)
John Mayer – Clarity / Home Life
Robert Plant – Far Post / Come into my Life
Vivaldi – Four Seasons (Spring)
John Bryson --- Let the Pipes play (full pipe organ album 1st Cut)
Jonny Lang – Get what you give / Red Light
Ai Takekawa --- Beyond the Moon (Both long and short versions)
John Waite and Alison Krauss Duet --- (I ain’t) Missing You
Robert Cray --- Strong Persuader (various cuts off full album)
Mahogany Rush --- Land of a 1000 Nights
 
 
 
Sound Details: 
These are a non-fatiguing listen, with great Sub bass extension and a somewhat elevated Bass presence that is well controlled and doesn’t intrude on the low Mids.  The bass is fast and can deliver great bass growl in the lower spectrum. I find the Mids the best point with a superb transition between the high Mids into the Treble, which is somewhat rolled off, JUST PERFECTLY. Although some are saying this is an “L” Shaped signature I’d like to depart and actually call this a very flattened Modified “W” with the Long Leg on the bass extension, shorter on Treble with the Lows transitioning into an ever so forward midrange that gives Vocals a nice ‘Open” quality, and keeps them just far enough in front of the Bass to remain clear and concise.  I find the Soundstage very well layered and instrument Placement as superb as their little brother the LZ-Z03A. It has Great dimensions to it depth, width, and height and can truly involve the Listener.
 
 
Bass:
It’s full, extended, fast, and not bloated. Present most times but not overbearing. For some it may be considered a little light, but I have no problem as it extends deep when it needs to.
 
 
Mids: Simply Beautiful. Truly this IEM’s strong suite. Natural, transparent with enough “Air” to make them sound open. Particularly in Female vocals. Male vocals are also quite rich. The low mids are never masked or choked out by the Low frequencies and he High mids blend into the Treble presentation seamlessly.
 
Highs: PERFECT for my ears, (as I’ve mentioned I’m quite treble sensitive), It rolls off very similarly to the Musicmaker TK12 just short of the “Dreaded” Treble harshness or spikes I find present in many Asian-manufacture IEMs. No Javelins through the eardrums here. The Treble is well defined, detailed, and resolution is spot on. Enough Highs to make soundstage placement quite apparent, without fatigue. In Fact the LZA3 are some of the most fatigue –free IEMs I have Heard to date.
 
 
 
Comparisons:  This is where it is going to get tricky. I’m bringing in my 2 most heavy Hitters for comparisons, which in the case of the LZA3 SPEAKS VOLUMES. Keep in mind, These are My OPINIONS only, and as the other 2 IEMs are quite Fully burnt-in and the LZA3 only has roughly 35 Hours on it, my opinion could change dramatically and in that case I will update THIS REVIEW.
 
OK. The 2 other Review Phones are Both Musicmaker brand, The Shockwave III and the TK12. Honestly I consider the LZ/Shockwave comparison “apples to oranges” due to the Driver compliments and the Basic EQ of either IEM. The TK12 is really a much more direct comparison.
 
So HOW do they Fare?  I think I will keep this to myself. Sorry…..
 
(just kidding)
 
 
PLEASE BEAR WITH ME TO MY CONCLUSION HERE. (no matter if or how you agree/ disagree).
 
LZA3 v.s. Shockwave III:
As I previously stated, IMO this is Apple to Oranges, Sound Quality-Wise there IS no comparison. The Shockwave is clearly a More Audiophile Oriented presentation with Greater Clarity, Sub Bass extension, Three dimensional soundstage and overall HIFidelity sound that becomes really apparent on Hi Res music downloads from HD Tracks and similar websites.  It is in a next level Class.
 
 
UNFORTUNATELY ……
 
 
OMG, WHAT’S HE GONNA SAY NOW???
 
 
Along with this superb analytical nature comes a Price. I Find the Shockwave to be somewhat too Bright, not painfully Bright mind you, but enough that there is some listener Fatigue involved, and TRUTHFULLY they are Brighter than I personally prefer and quite similar to the Bette 10mm overall Treble presentation.
LZA3 to SHOCKWAVE III?  Simply put:  For long listening sessions I PREFER the LZA3 with it’s slightly less impressive, but still stellar Sound Quality. IF I’m going to find a particular artifact within a song or brand-new first listen downloaded recording, I’ll reach for the Shockwaves first.
 
 
 
LZA3 v.s. TK12:
 This is a more Direct Comparison, DD + 2BA per earphone.  The TK12 IS SIMPLY MASSIVE sounding. Big Brash, a little uncouth, yet still keeps a certain amount of resolution with Rolled off Treble that ALSO becomes a very listenable long-term Quality. The TK12 is a Tad darker with a Giant Bass that is always present but fairly well controlled, with a great soundstage and involvement in the Music. The LZA3 Is more Refined with possibly a Deeper extension on Sub-Bass than the TK12 but nowhere near as present or bass saturated. The LZA3 actually could be called a Mid – Centric IEM as the Mids are Just Beautiful but really aren’t pushed THAT far forward. Resolution, Detail, and soundstage placement and layering are a Tad better than the TK12.
 
 
 
HONEST OPINION? I like BOTH EQUALLY as I seem to fall into the Semi-Basshead/ High Resolution type listener. I CAN’T decide which is better. I lean towards the TK12 but ONLY because at this point I have Far more experience with it and it’s pluses and caveats.
 
 
 
 
THERE IS NO WAY YOU CAN LOSE WITH PURCHASING ANY OR EVEN ALL OF THESE IEMS. THIS IS A FACT YOU CAN TAKE TO THE BANK.
 
 
 
 
Conclusions: This IEM is Superb. It equally ranks up there with the Best in my Collection, given time my affection for it may exponentially increase. I would buy this again, in fact.
Job Well done Lao Zhong. VERY WELL DONE.
Thank You Easy for Your recommendation Months? Ago.
 
 
WELL, SHOULD YOU BUY THEM?
 
 
 
 
STONE COLD STEVE WOULD SAY:   “HELL YEAH!!!!”
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Ashwin HL
Ashwin HL
lovely review!
great comparison!
TwinACStacks
TwinACStacks
Give me time pickr I will get you yet. (evil grin)
 
Keith
TwinACStacks
TwinACStacks
Thanx Lohb I'll try it.
 
Keith

lmfboy01

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: A touch of bass, think of it like bass boost with the old Sony Discman.
Cons: They are tricky to get used to, but once the synergy matches, you are good to go!
At first glance there may be some uncertainty.  I believe there is some time to familiarize ones self to this headphone.  Ba2 + dynamic driver, a hybrid combo that is gaining popularty amongst other offerings out there.  My only other experience with LZ brand products would be LZ-a1, which is the predecessor of the new lz a02a and lz a03a which are animals in their own right.  But that’s for another time.  Purchased for HCK, thank you Theresa!
IMG_0083.jpg
 
It’s somewhat hard to describe the LZ a3.  It is what I would describe as potato shaped, and its really cool that they can be worn both other the ear and straight.  That’s a big plus for me, being versatile will keep me coming back.  That’s also why I keep IE8’s for so  long. 
 
Eartips may cause some headaches, its such a high unpredictability on which tips suit yourself best.  At the moment, spin fit tips seem to be the best match.  They compliment the very well due to their narrow bore, and the touch bass heavy LZ a3.
IMG_0075.jpg
 
Getting to the stock cable,  I’ve heard some mention they dislike the included one.  You know what, I guess one’s own opinion, but I believe they are surprisingly good.  Soft, supple, and longer than some others.  They also seem durable and good for everyday use.  In my optinion, I believe switching to other MMCX cables does affect sound every so slight.  At stock the LZ a3 are a tad L shaped, so copper cable gives a bit more bass for you bassheads, and all silver cable will allow better treble.  These are all subjective opinions, each individual will differ.  For me, stock cable all day.
 
Now getting to the sound.  I spent maybe close to a week on these puppies my conclusions are they really have nice forward neutral sound in the mids, a slight punchy bass, and not any sign screechyness on the highs.  Nice vocals along with staging, very very good resolution.  Been getting used to a flat EQ for week, and getting away with it on this set.  The “nice-ness” of the bass allows to listen at the lower volume yet still getting that resolution in most modern music. 
IMG_0078.jpg
 
The price per headset piece really makes you think.  If this headphone was from one of the namebrands, they could easily go for $200 to $300usd per or more.  And the fact that one can switch cables and ear tips that can enhance the sound, makes them purchasing them an almost no brainer. 
Koolpep
Koolpep
Thanks for the review! I also really like the stock ear tips, they seal well and are comfortable.
Claudiu000
Claudiu000
Hi, thx for the review. Could you please do a quick comparison with the IE8 in the sound quality (resolution,mids, treble)? I own one and wandering if I should go for the LZ A3 as a step up.

RedJohn456

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Non fatiguing sound with an immersive and dense soundstage, removable cable, scales with better gear, can run balanced for best performance
Cons: Stock cable needs to be replaced for best results, tip rolling to sound best, Comfort can be hit or miss, needs to run balanced for best performance
 ​
 ​
LZ A3 - A Smooth Criminal
 
 
 
Disclaimer
The A3 was a review unit provided in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion. I have tried my best to recored my thoughts and impressions on how I found the A3 to sound. These thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone and I reserve the right to change my opinion as time goes on. These are my personal findings and should be taken as such.
 ​
 ​
Introduction
This is my review of the much anticipated LZ A3 (a triple driver hybrid consisting of 2 Balanced armature drivers and 1 Dynamic driver), a direct successor to the much lauded LZ A2 which appeared out of nowhere and captured the hearts of many a head-fier. 
 
I want to take this opportunity to thank Teresa Liu from Shenzhen HCkexin Electronic Technology Co., Ltd., who graciously provided a sample in exchange for my honest opinion. There is something to be said for presentation, packaging and how you secure the package before shipping. It’s clear that they put a lot of effort into presentation and packing properly, going the extra mile to make sure it will survive the journey. Also, it looks like they include bonus things like cases, extra tips and accessories if you order from them. Their Aliexpress LA A3 listing can be found at: http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/New-Original-LZ-A3-In-Ear-Earphone-Dynamic-And-Armature-Hybrid-3-Unit-Headphone-HIFI-DIY/1825606_32617323753.html.
 
Regardless of how you might feel about any particular headphone or brand, it is hard to deny that the recent crop of audio gear from the far east have been beating the pants off of offerings from bigger companies, and redefining what bang for your buck really means. Now more than ever, it is possible to get performance previously only found in much higher price tiers, at very affordable prices. 
 
No-where was this more apparent than the LZ A2, which was the biggest surprise for me last year. When the A2 arrived on the scene last year, it blew people’s minds. A triple hybrid at <$100? A triple hybrid <$100 that actually sounds good?? Sign me up! To say that the A3 has been hotly anticipated would be a major understatement, as there has been a lot of excitement around its release since it was announcement some months ago. 
 
 ​
 ​
About me
Before I get into the nitty gritty of things, I want to provide a little background information in the hopes that it can help put my views in perspective and provide some context for the content of this review.

 

Music has always been a huge part of my life, whether it was performing music on stage with my band or more recently, involving myself in this masochistic wonderful hobby of ours.  I have always enjoyed listening to music but I haven’t always paid attention to the quality of headphones because I was perfectly content with included cellphone earphones or cheap earbuds from department stores.  Ignorance is bliss right? This however all changed when I came across head-fi one day, and that’s when things started to go downhill (for my wallet that is :p). It is all too easy to underestimate how large an impact a good pair of headphones can have in the enjoyment of your favorite songs.
 
After getting my first pair of good headphones, I had felt as if an entirely new world has opened up to me musically and I found myself rediscovering music that I have listened to for many years.
 
When it comes to musical taste, I can’t say that I have any specific genre that is my absolute favorite, as I like a little bit of everything. But if I had to be specify, I would say that I love mainstream and Pop music and I consider myself to be an average joe in that regard. That is the approach I will be taking in reviewing gear, for people like me who aren’t all that technical and are not audiophiles in the classical sense.
 
I mostly stream music from the Internet using services such as Spotify and Youtube and like millions of other people, my laptop and cellphone serves as my main media players.
 
So with that out of the way, lets get on with the review!
 
 
Build quality, Design and Accessories
The A3 packaging itself was highly impressive; clearly LZ is stepping up their game in the presentation department. It came with a myriad of accessories, lodged away in a compartment inside the box. An extra headphone case was also included, which is always a nice bonus for customers. :) 
 
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 ​
 
 
 
The accessories include:
 
IMG_1187.jpg
 
 
 
I am not a fan of the stock tips but to be fair, 99% of the time I chuck the stock tips and use my own anyway, so that’s not an issue. I found the following set of tips to give the most balanced sound. These set of tips allow some excess bass to escape and in a senses “brightens” up the sound signature.
 
 
A3 with stock cable + Guide
AwesomeSauceTM Tips​
AwesomeSauceTM Tips
 ​
 
 
A3 improved on the A2 design overall, but also a step back in some aspects. Let me explain what I mean. When pictures first appeared of the A3 housing, it was met with mixed reactions, and understandably so. It doesn’t immediately jump out as something that would be really comfortable in your ears. Unlike the A2, the A3 doesn’t quite disappear after some time, and more or less, you are always aware of its presence. I am glad to see they changed the location of the driver vent, as I felt it was ill placed on the A2. I experienced lots of driver flex when trying to insert the A2 into my ears, but not so with the A3. 
 
On the plus side, A3 has a removable, which is always welcome in my eyes. The stock cable is supple, doesn’t have memory and is easy to deal with on a daily basis. The added cable cinch is also much appreciated. Too bad the stock cable has 2 specific issues. 
 
Because of the way the A3 is designed, when worn cable up, the stock cable doesn’t bear a lot of the weight of the housing, so the housing ends up slanting to the side, making it hard to get a seal at times. There is an easy remedy however! Just use the included cable guide when wearing the A3 cable up. This more evenly distributes the weight of the housing, lifting it up slightly. This allows the housing to sort of float there and rest in the ear, allowing a good seal each and every time. Of course that is if you use the stock cable, which I would highly advise against
 
Not only is the stock cable functionally deficient, it also sounds bad lol. When I was putting together this comparison I initially evaluated the A3 using stock cables, and to say that it sounded disappointing would be a massive understatement. In fact I even went on the record earlier saying the A3 feels over priced for its performance, but alas that was with the stock cable, which I honestly feel is holding back the A3 BIG TIME. Given that the A3 has a removable cable, it would be a shame not to play with different configurations to try and get the best sound possible. And hot dang did I ever! I used a balanced Sony Z5 cable I had lying around, with a balance to single end adapter, so it’s essentially acting as a single ended cable. But leaving the option of balanced with the quick change of an adapter.
 
Here are some pics to show what I mean:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The stock cable honestly makes the A3 sound more rolled off in the treble region and bloated. Using a different cable improved the sound and it didn’t sound rolled off anymore in the upper registers and bass sounded more controlled. So play around with spare cables to achieve best results. 
 
I know that there is a lot of debate around the sonic benefits of upgrading cables, but in this case I think it might be an issue of impedance being too high in the cable, affecting the balanced armature drivers in the A3.  
 
If you are interested at in picking up the A3 at all, do yourselves a favor and pick up a set of decent MMCX cables from Aliexpress as well, along with the tips I outlined earlier. If I didn’t believe the changes were huge I would not be advocating doing so. 
 
Furthermore, the A3 scales very well with gear, so the better your amp/dac is, better the A3 will sound. If you can pony up the cash to buy the A3, you owe it to yourself to feed it good quality sound! As the old adage goes, garbage in, garbage out!
 ​
 ​
How does it sound?
Now lets talk about how they sound! For many people the sound quality is very important, if not the most important quality they look for in a headphone, whether the cost is $30 or $300.
 
IMG_1178.jpg
 
 
Sources used: 
  1. FiiO X7 + K5
  2. Macbook Pro + LH Geek Out V2 
 
Songs used for comparison purposes
  1. Stone Sour - Bother 
  2. Joe Bonamassa - Driving towards daylight
 
I would characterize the A3 as having an L shaped sound signature, with an emphasis on sub and mid bass. With the aforementioned combination of aftermarket cable and tips, the treble of A3 is something that will please most people, myself especially! The above combination makes treble more apparent and transparent, without making it sound emphasized. 
 
It strikes a perfect balance, having just the right amount of energy to make things lively but not enough to make things sound sound harsh or splashy. The A3 treble sounds very natural, with cymbals sounding defined and very controlled and not splashy at all. Just enough treble to tickle my ears without making my ears ring after. So those of you who are allergic to treble emphasized headphones you can rejoice :wink: The A3 treble is more in balance with the rest of the spectrum.
 
All of this makes for a fatigue free listening experience. In fact, the A3 has become my go to iems for extended listening sessions and even daily use, thanks to its relaxing sound signature, which is very easy to listen to for hours on end, very much like its younger sibling the A2. I can turn up the volume with the A3 without experiencing distortion at higher volumes and really enjoy my music. The A3 can also handle hotly mastered top 40 music quite well thanks to its more measured treble response. On that note, if a lot of your music revolves around treble centric genres such as acoustic, classical or Jazz, the A3 might not be the best choice for you.
 
The A3 has an amazing sense of space in its sonic presentation. The instruments seem to just float there in the air, immaculately layered on top of each other in a really natural manner. Honestly at times it feels as if you are listening to speakers in a room. Thats what I mean when I say it has a sense of space.
 
On that note, the instrument separation and layering is superb, which is backed up by fantastic layering as I mentioned earlier; Very much an improvement over it’s predecessor the A2. The soundstage makes it seem like the music is coming from outside my head and that I'm listening to a full size headphone. The soundstage is dense and filled with music, fully immersing you in your songs. I found the soundstage to have incredible depth and above average height and width. The A3’s sense of depth really makes it seem the artists are in front of you performing. 
 
You would be surprised just how much can get masked by bass. The tips I like, thanks to their shape and material, actually reduces the A3 bass making the overall sound brighter, unmasking a lot of the spectrum.  As a result soundstage cues are much easier to discern and the soundstage feels more expansive and 3D. The A3 soundstage is impressive especially how it presents EDM and Pop music, ballooning out the different elements of a song so it floats around in your head; For this kind of music A3 reigns supreme. The different elements of a song aren’t overly forward or in your face, nonetheless the details are all still there, albeit with a softer presentation. Its nice not to have a million things in a song all vying for your attention. 
 
The A3 has a seamless transition between its treble and midrange. In fact, I find its midrange to be its strongest attribute. It is lush, warm and full of texture, with a nice helping of natural midrange warmth. Guitar heavy music is just GLORIOUS. The growl of distortion guitar sounds so guttural and chunky, making it so damn addicting. Even for rock songs with lots of cymbal crashes, the A3 never falters. Male vocals have a very nice weight to them, while female vocals have a somewhat ethereal feeling quality to them.
 
The way the difference elements of a song are blended together, all the while maintaining immense coherency and texture, is all too enjoyable. Given that Top 40 music has traditionally mastered hot, rather than making those genres of music sound like a hot mess, A3 makes them sound smooth, natural and even from top to bottom.
 
Now moving on to the bass: As I said before, A3 has an L shaped sound signature with an emphasis on mid and sub bass. The A3 bass can be described as full, bombastic and well textured with good presence and rumble. A3 bass has great decay, when coupled with good punch and impact, makes for a very engaging and enjoyable listening experience. The A3 truly reminds me of the Hifiman Edition X in many ways. 
 
The A3 bass has nice distinct reverberations that make EDM and Pop music a joy to listen to.  Take the intro to Dirty Diana by Michael Jackson for example, my god that sub bass! I can literally feel it in my chest You can feel each and every reverberation in bass lines. 
eek.gif

 
The LZ A3 sounds pretty darn good straight out of my cellphones and macbook, so its not as source dependant as something like Shockwave III, so in that regard, the A3 is quite mobile friendly. But it does scale nicely with better gear.
 
 
To balance or not to balance, that is the question
The cable I am using with the LZ A3 works with adapters allowing it to run in singled ended or balanced configurations with the change of an adapter.
 
IMG_1189.jpg
 
 
So, does running it balanced give any benefits? YES. The answer is YES. In fact its not even a question, as its pretty clear cut that the A3 sounds better balanced vs single ended.
 
Nearly every aspect of the sound improves in balanced configuration. Bass quality is noticeably better, as it sounds much more controlled and tighter with more prominent sub bass. Soundstage just freaking expands like a balloon, with the width and depth exhibiting the most improvements, essentially becoming Holograhic. 
 
The midrange resolution seems better as things sound less fuzzy and more defined. The midrange sounds more “open” like the A2 does. The separation and layering is improved, making it easy to discern when one instrument or element of a song is in front or behind one another. There was a clear improvement in detail retrieval and resolution top to bottom.
 
For example with the Song “Bother” the sub bass is much more noticeable and the male vocals have a lot more texture thanks to the mid bass being less. 
 
I have A/Bed single ended vs balanced many times, thanks to the adapters being easy to install and remove. I had family members help me with blind testing, to remove expectation bias and again the same changes was easily discernible.
 
Balanced A3 > Single Ended A3 
 
 
Different applications – music, movies, gaming
Having explored how they sound from a music listening perspective, I want to touch a bit upon how they excel at other applications, such as watching movies and playing video games.
 
Using them to watch movies on my laptop, I found the experience enjoyable. Easy to hear movie dialogue, explosions and sound effects sounded terrific with a believable soundstage.
 
They are also fantastic for commuting, they easily stay in you ears and isolate very well. 
 
They were surprisingly great for gaming on my Playstation 3. I found the soundstage and accurate sonic cues to be an asset while playing games like call of duty for example.
 
 
Comparisons
 
LZ A3 vs MusicMAKER Shockwave “Kegger” III
The shockwave III is a 5-driver hybrid consisting of 4 Balanced Armature drivers and 1 Dynamic Driver. You might be thinking, wow 5 drivers! Must be pretty dope right? Well not necessarily, it is not the number of drivers you have that matters but how you use them! Didn’t your mother ever teach you that? No? Well erm I may have made that saying up so… anyway lets move on lol.
 
First things first, there is a noticeable price gap between the SIII ($270 USD) and A3 (~$140).  The SIII is quite sensitive to source, unlike the A3, and its treble can vary a bit depending on what source you are using.
 
To my ears the Shockwave III is on the brighter side of neutral with excellent treble extension. I would characterize it’s sound as v-shaped vs L shaped for LZ A3.
 
But the treble can vary depending on your source, ranging from slightly north of neutral to being strident. With the X7 + K5, it sounds more controlled but at times it can be a tad sibilant, but more often than not it comes ever so close to sibilance without crossing the line. The LZ A3 in contrast is not as source sensitive, sounding great out of all my sources, portable or otherwise.. 
 
The SIII has excellent detail retrieval with a good amount of micro detail. It’s not really what I would consider analytical in the traditional sense, but it has a good amount clarity, which extends through the entire range.
 
My biggest issue with the shockwave III’s treble is that it sounds somewhat artificial or metallic at times, especially for songs with lots of cymbal crashes, and at times splashy. With the added energy up top I find myself listening at lower volumes, as it can get shouty at higher volumes and cause ear fatigue. For those who are sensitive to treble, I would strongly urge you to try the shockwave III first to see if it’s right for you. It really isn’t a treble monster and I don’t mean to paint it as such, but depending on your source it can be a point of contention. The A3 treble is more in balance with the rest of the spectrum, not as forward sounding as the Shockwave.
 
I find the soundstage to be a strong point for the SIII. With the increased detail retrieval, positional cues are easily discernable, which helps paint a large and believable soundstage. It has fantastic instrument separation and layering. Many headphones can separate out the different parts of a sound but it can sound disjointed. Not so with the SIII. Its like you are peering directly into a recording and every single element is crystal clear. In fact, you can easily pick out one instrument to follow in a song and easily do so beginning to end. However the sonic presentation feels almost clinical and too clean in comparison to the A3 which the perfect amount of natural warmth and a more organic feeling.
 
The SIII midrange can sound a bit thin and nasally. Male voices lack the weight that you will find with the A3. Female vocals however sound just sublime thanks in part to the treble focus. Personally I would have preferred a thicker and warmer midrange, like that of the A3. The SIII sounds best with a narrow range of genres whereas the A3 sounds great with anything you throw at it.
 
The bass has good rumble and texture. This is where its hybrid design shines through; the bass has not only good punch and weight, but also good decay. Only comes out to play when its called for, with no mid bass bloat or bloom to speak off, and certainly no leakage into the midrange. However it lacks the layering, power and finesse of the A3 bass, especially when the A3 is running balanced. 
 
Despite having 5 drivers, the Shockwave III has a surprisingly cohesive sound without sounding disjointed, something you might find with some poorly made hybrids.
 
LZ A2 VS LZ A3
So, is it worth upgrading to the A3?
 
Hardware wise its no contest, the A3 spanks the A2 with its fancier presentation, expanded accessory set and removable cable option. Part of me wishes the A3 had stayed true to the A2 design and reiterated on that, seeing as how the A2 is one of the most comfortable earphones I have used to date. That is not to say the A3 is downright uncomfortable, but it doesn’t disappear while you are wearing it to the degree that the A2 does.
 
To my ears the A3 sounds a smidge darker than the A2, with a less "open" sounding treble. I do wish that that it retained the treble presence of A2, however the increased A3 treble resolution is very much welcomed. A3 also has noticeably better cohesion between the treble, midrange and bass, along with much better resolution in those aforementioned areas.
 
The A2 would sometimes sound smeared and all jumbled up when it came to complicated music tracks with lots of things going on. This thankfully is not the case with A3, which handles complicated tracks without breaking a sweat, exhibiting  none of the smearing or blurring that plagued the A2, which I think is helped by an increase in overall resolution and improved instrumental separation and layering.
 
The LZ A2 has very few weaknesses, but detail retrieval and resolution would be at the top of this list. The A3 definitely addresses this complaint, but again in a way that that doesn't go overboard or fully analytical, striking a fine balance.
 
The A3 midrange sounds thicker, more textured and more detailed than that of A2, thanks in part to the increase in sonic resolution. The A2 midrange sounds more “open”and light in comparison. Male vocals have more weight and authority when heard through the A3 vs A2.
 
When it comes to bass, LZ A3 has the A2 beat, in terms of both quality and quantity, along with possessing stronger bass, rumble, and presence. In fact the A3 sub-bass is quite a bit better than that of the A2, which makes it a treat for tracks such as “Dirty Diana” by Michael Jackson or “Before I sleep” by Joy Williams. 
 
Seriously, when running the A3 in a balanced configuration with proper tips, it performs at a much higher level than in stock configuration, a balanced A3 is a force to be reckoned with. I can’t emphasize enough how incompatible the stock A3 tips and cable are, a little bit of work on your part can really bring out what the A3 is truly capable of and give your sonic senses a treat! 
 
So is the A3 worth getting if you have the A2? Before I answer that, I realize that having a review unit it might be very easy to carelessly answer this question, without putting myself in a buyer’s shoes. So Here is what I will say:
 
If you are willing to experiment with aftermarket tips and cables to get the most out of the A3, then yes it’s worth upgrading.
 
If you have a good neutral to bright source to feed the A3, then absolutely upgrade to the A3. Much like the A2, the A3 shines with neutral or brighter sounding sources. 
 
 
 
Conclusion
If you are looking for an iem that can accurately reproduce your music with a neutral presentation…. then the LZ A3 might not be for you. 
 
However if you are looking for an iem that you can listen to all day and have it sound great no matter what you are using it with, the A3 might be what you are looking for. The LZ A3 is bombastic, fun and easy to live with on a day to day basis. It is commute friendly and scales surprisingly well with better gear, so it will grow along with your collection. With its immense sonic performance and capability, the LZ A3 is a surprisingly good headphone that has the potential to become your daily driver and will certainly have you digging out your favourite songs and albums, because it has a way of breathing life into whatever it plays :)
 
Truth be told, straight out of the box I absolutely hated the A3. I am sure my friends can attest to that as I bitched about it quite a bit. A combination of aftermarket cables and optimized ear tips changed the A3 sound signature to such a degree however, that it went from being hated to becoming my daily driver!
 
What’s more, if you have the capability to use it balanced, you will hear a level of performance that will leave you scratching your head, wondering how its possible at this price point? That was my reaction atleast and I have a feeling I am not alone in this regard. If you are willing to put in a bit of work and bring out the LZ A3’s true potential, you will be rewarded with a sound that will have you tapping your feet and you dancing along to the music. With its smooth, relaxing and larger than life sonic presentation, the LZ A3 truly is a Smooth Criminal (See what I did there? :p)
 
Thank you for sticking with me thus far and not falling asleep! Ymmv as we all have different preferences and ear anatomy, but I hope I have helped get across what the LZ A3 offers and whether it would be right for you. The only way to figure out whats best for you is to ultimately hear it for yourself!
 
I do still have a lot to learn so I welcome any and all feedback! 
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Happy listening  
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B
BonBon93
Your review is very informative, professionally written with a lot of sense of humor
Paulus XII
Paulus XII
Fantastic review!
mikek200
mikek200
Outstanding review,you've covered all the bases...which music ,build quality,,which cable recommended,and great comparisons,with other totl models & what to expect???
Many Thanks,
Mike

FUYU

500+ Head-Fier
Pros: Amazing Bass; amazing clarity; non-fatiguing sound
Cons: Finding the right tips is a stab in the dark; cable is pretty disappointing
Note: The LZ A3 were purchased on Amazon for 149$ at the time:
http://www.amazon.com/LZ-A3-Definition-Headphones-Earphones/dp/B01CERWT4Q
 
 
 
Preamble:

 
First of all, welcome to another review here on Head-Fi.org.
My name is Noel aka. FUYU, I'm 19 years old and a avid lover for everything technical.
While everything subjective, I like to explain in more rational enclosure with graphs and technical prowess.
I care about facts and only facts, meaning no fancy 300$ cables and value by price-to perfomance.
 
Today we are looking at the LZ A3. The successor of the rather niche, but popular A2 Triple-Hybrid.
A <100$ IEM, which captured the hearts of many with it's bass-forward signature and great performance, especially for the price.
After the initial annoucement of a refresh, almost anyone (including myself) were stoked.
However, first impressions have been all-over the place. From masterpiece to total failure: Head-fi seems to be confused.
But trust me, the A3 are definitly worth your time. Although they are not quite straight forward as most other IEM's.
 
Enter LZ A3
The Official LZ-A3 Thread:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/800601/lz-a3-diy-triple-hybrid-impressions-and-discussion-thread
 
IMG_20160329_140259.jpg
 
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Specifications:
 
 
Type:                                  Dynamic + 2x Balanced Armature
 
Frequency Response:          15-24000Hz                
 
Sensitivity:                          120 dB/mW  
 
Impedance:                         16 Ohms 
 
THD:                                  <0.5% @1kHz
          
Weight:                              25 g
 
Cable:                                1.2 m, 135° angled jack, MMCX
 
Connector:                         3.5 mm gold-plated stereo mini plug
 
Accessories:                      12x silicone eartips (S/M/L), 1x Double Flanges, 6x Foam eartips and a protective carrying case (YMMV)
 
Wearing style:                    Down the ear; Over the ear
 
 
IMG_20160329_140444.jpg
 
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Build and Accessories:
 
I believe the best way to describe the LZ A3 is unique. That is true in the most literal way. The shells are composed out of an aluminium composite. (aka. the metal alloy you hear all so often in chinese advertising) What really stands out is the shape of the shell. A slightly rounded pyramidical form of some sort. (Or what ever this is supposed to be)
Trust me, at first glance you might believe this is absolutly not going to fit your ears, but luckily the opposite is the case. For almost anyone, I guarantee!
At further inspection, there are also some faint incravings, featuring a logo and the L/R markings.
Accessories are fairly average. While the presentation box is a nice touch, having such a large and clunky box seems more like an hinderance.
Inside however, things change quite a bit. Unboxing the box reveals a ton of extras. We got an assembly of tips ranging from foam to all sorts of silicon. Also included is a little pouch
and some ear-guides, which I don't really use personally, but they're nice to have regardless.
I do miss some more Double Flanges/Triple Flanges, however. I wish LZ would include a full-set of Double Flange tips, instead of just one medium pair. These tips do not only provide best fit and isolation, but also by far the best sound. Period.
 
Isolation + Fit:
 
Isolation is around average. As always YMMV.
As goes for the fit, they're somewhat tricky. Using them down the ear negates basicly almost all of the trouble, albeit the isolation lacks somewhat.
But over the ear, things get a bit complicated. Starting of with the cable, which quite frankly sucks balls. While the Y-Split and the connector is alright, everything above the Y-Split is quite horrible.
The cable due to it's minimal thickness doesn't stick around my ears to actually help with weight distribution. The MMCX jacks are mediocre at best. Fit is crucial with the A3s and the stock cable doesn't necissarly provide that. My advice: Get a new cable. You will thank me. 
But it doesn't stop here. Aforementioned tips play a crucial role in fit and sound. As such get some 3rd party Double Flanges in your size and you're good to go.
 
Pairing:
 
Low impedence, high sensitivity. Source pairing is tricky. General rule is a source with low output impedence and make sure it has a good DAC. Amping in most cases is overkill.
Using it from your Phone/DAP should suffice in most instances, but beware of hissing.
 
Overall sound:
 
Here comes the part were everyone seems to part ways. And for good reason. Changing tips and source can alter the signature in ways, unlike I've seen in any IEM.
General consensus is a L-Shape frequency response. And I agree fully to that statement.
What impressed me the most was the overall clarity and detail without going overboard with the treble.
 
Bass:
 
Bombastic. Crunchy, punchy and that sub-bass! My god this thing has some of the best bass I've ever heard in a IEM in both quantity and quality.
It doesn't protrude into any of the other frequencies and conveys a sense of space and inpact, unlike few others.
The A3 won't win any rewards for neutrality, but that is a trade-off I am willing to take. As a neutralo-head, this is my guilty pleasure.
 
Mids:
 
The mids are nicely laid out. Thanks to the right amount of balance and some amazing clarity, they never feel congested.
However due to the elevated bass lower mids are slightly more impactful. So If you exclusively listen to female vocals, you might be left a bit disappointed.
 
Treble:
 
Extension is quite good. Although the treble is rolled off to prevent sibilance. An easy route, but acceptable as I am sensitive to harsh higher frequencies.
Still, some more sparkle wouldn't have done any harm in my case.
 
Soundstage:
 
Impressive. Definitly above average. Instrument seperation is quite capable as well. Soundstage extends fairly even in all directions, with lateral stage being the widest.
 
Comparision: LZ A3 vs. MusicMaker TK11 (100$)
 
Bass: Fairly similar in quantity, but quality? Sorry TK11 you've got no chance.
Mids: The A3 sounds more resolving in detail and clarity. The TK11 has much more recessed mids.
Treble: This is were the A3 falls a bit flat. The TK11 is slightly more refreshing™, however at the cost of being a little sibilant. Detail retrieval is around the same, maybe slightly better on the A3s.
Soundstage: Both are really good. The A3's stage is a bit larger in both width and depth. Instrument seperation is dead even.
 
Conclusion:
 
The LZ A3 is a great earphone. Such great value and sound comes at the cost of some quirks, however. If you want to get the most out of the A3 get some extra tips and a new cable while you're at it. 
If you're looking for a capable warm sounding earphone, look no further. The LZ A3 will definitely meet your needs.
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Vishal
Vishal
You are comparing with tk12 i guess..
FUYU
FUYU
I don't have the TK12 at hand. Just the TK11s.
Carlsan
Carlsan
I mentioned this on the thread, but if you have a source that plays balanced, and you add balanced cables to the A3's, these really shine.
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