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LZ A4 2BA Balanced Armature + Dynamic Driver Hybrid In-Ear Earphones With Detachable MMCX Cable...

LZ-A4

Rating:
4.6875/5,
Tags:
  • LZ A4 2BA Balanced Armature + Dynamic Driver Hybrid In-Ear Earphones With Detachable MMCX Cable

    Description

    LZ A4 is newest design from LZ HIFI earphone, which is an upgraded version of the LZ A3, this overall which performed is more superior than the LZ A3.
    MMCX detachable cable design, customer can change other cables by themselves.
    Use Titanium silver composite diaphragm dynamic driver+ dual Knowles balanced armature driver
    The low frequency sound field and wearing similar style hd series, IF and HF superior to se535 SE946, so it is a very unique top sound.
    Specification

    Brand: LZ
    Model: A4
    Driver: 1 Dynamic driver+ 2 Balanced Armature Hybrid
    Impedance: 16Ω
    Headphone sensitivity:120dB
    Frequency range: 20-28000Hz
    Interface: 3.5mm
    Cable Length: 1.2m±5cm
    Weight: 30g
    Interface Type: MMCX

Recent Reviews

  1. Zelda
    LZ A4 = Multiple Choice
    Written by Zelda
    Published Jul 10, 2018
    4.0/5,
    lz a4 (1).JPG

    Sound Quality of the LZ A4


    The LZ A4 presents a simple yet well done filter tuning system. It consists of 3 bass filters for the dynamic driver placed at the rear/outer part of the shells, and 6 nozzles for the dual BA driver at the front/inner part for midrange and mainly treble tuning. While the frontal filters are needed as a nozzle, the bass port can be used without a rear filter as an extra tuning option. The main effect of the different combinations of front and back filters is on the quantity of lows and highs, with some changes on the midrange region, but in terms of quality and extension the sound remains mostly unchanged. It’s difficult to describe the overall signature of the A4 as it can go from a bassy (and a bit bass heavy) and smooth sound, v-shaped, neutral and even slightly bright, lean and more open sound.


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    Lows

    Regardless the rear bass filter the bass extension on the A4 is great. It rather effortless and gets deep to the lower sub-bass region, with strong impact and very good rumble quality and layering. Mid-bass is well controlled, articulated and accurate with good speed that matches well the fast BA counterpart. With the blue and even black filters, the mid and upper bass has enough weight that still prevents the sound from overshadowing the midrange; with red filters it can get a bit overboard, however some tip rolling helps in this regard. Overall, it’s a well presented bass that works well with all genres and doesn’t distract from the rest of the music. Personally, I found the Blue filters to give the best balance, and even though I’d prefer the no-filter setup for a cleanest bass quality.

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    Mids

    Despite the change in sound with the different filters combination, the midrange remains pretty much the same in terms of tonality, quality and texture, and probably the best part to be found on the LZ A4. While forwardness or recession can be changed deepening on the filter combo, the midrange remains well balanced with the rest of the frequencies. Quality is great giving enough weight for any kind of instruments or vocals with a fairly natural texture and almost free of grain or sibilance. Timbre is good, however not the best part of the A4, which is not unexpected for a triple hybrid IEM with this dual Knowles BA (DTEC, apparently). The A4 can still be set up for a more mid-forward sound signature with the right filter combination, but might lose the more open and wide presentation. Regardless, the A4 doesn’t compromise with any kind of music genre.

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    Highs

    Even with the red filters, the highs extension is very good and gets much better when getting to blue ones. Overall it mixes very well a smooth texture with good layering and rich details, getting above average level of resolution which is almost free of harshness or sibilance. With the treble filters, the dual BA drivers on the A4 are capable of bringing either a laid-back smooth treble, a bit hot treble or simply a bright yet well controlled treble at the user preference, without leaving the rich and musical presentation.

    lz a4 (11).JPG

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    Stage and Presentation

    Soundstage width and depth are quite good, without sounding unnatural, and height is above average for an IEM at this price point. Airiness and 3D effect are very good as well, just behind the DN-2000 (which I still consider an excellent hybrid in-ear). Imaging suffers a bit from the wider soundstage but positioning is still very coherent; the DN-2002 is also better in this regard, but for the half price the A4 holds its ground really well. Even more complex tracks are not an issue for the LZ A4 and it handles very well the coherence between both types of drivers.

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  2. Soham Sengupta
    The Best Hybrid IEM you can get under $200, period
    Written by Soham Sengupta
    Published May 31, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - +Exceptional sound for its price
    +Better than average soundstage
    +Comfortable
    +Good Imaging and Separation
    Cons - -Ergonomics might be iffy for some with the provided tips
    -The edge of the iem is a bit sharp which can hurt the outer ear (I suggest filing it down, I did the same for mine)
    About Myself:

    I am just an beginner, budding audiophile who tries to listen to music just the way they are meant to be heard. I currently have a Sennheiser HD598SE, HD 58X (review coming in August), Fiio Q1 as an amp, and lz a4, rha ma390u, soundmagic e50c and some other cheap in ears. I have the Cayin N3 and Hiby R3 (yet to arrive) as my DAPs.

    Preamble:

    Now those of you who don't know about LZ, weIl here is some insight about them. LZ (Lao Zhong) was originally a technician repairing home appliances. But he's always had a love for, and a fascination with, audio – stretching back for more than 20 years. This led to him actually making his own speakers, and then eventually to playing around with IEMs. He bought an expensive pair of IEMs but was not impressed with them. So he borrowed some money, started making his own IEMs and listing them on Taobao. Little did he know how popular the LZ-02 would become, and he wasn't expecting the interest outside China that it garnered. (source: Brooko. You won't find this anywhere on the net).

    Specs:
    Brand: LZ
    Model: A4
    Driver: 1 Dynamic driver + 2 Knowles Balanced Armature Drivers (30017 TWFK Driver)
    Impedance: 16Ω
    Headphone sensitivity:120dB
    Frequency range: 10-35000Hz
    Interface: 3.5mm
    Cable Length: 1.2m±5cm
    Weight: 30g
    Interface Type: MMCX


    I have had the LZ A4 for about 4 months (again) and I have burned it with my mixed tracks of pink and white noise for about 72 hrs. Then I have listened to them everyday (atleast 5 days a week) during these 4 months with all genres of songs (eg. Rock, EDM, Pop, Movie Soundtracks, Western Classics, etc.). If you want the list of songs that I used, you can PM me. Now, for those who doesn't want to read the full review, here is the verdict - This is the best hybrid iem under $200 bar none. The filter implementation here is just too good to be true (much much much better than RHA's implementation). So, if you want an IEM under $200, these should be high up in your books. Now, onto the main review.

    A Small Disclaimer:
    I was in no way paid for this review. I had bought this LZ A4 from Massdrop and I am not affiliated to LZ in any way and this is my honest and totally unbiased review about the LZ A4. Now that we have got this out of the way, lets get on with the review shall we?

    Unboxing:

    The unboxing experience with the iems was quite nice. LZ know how to pack their iem properly.The LZ A4 came in a nice, black reinforced cardboard box.

    On opening the box, you will be greeted with the iems themselves and a plethora of eartips.

    After removing this top foam cover, you will see two boxes: One black metal box and another orange colored hard carrying case (I would have personally liked a black case but it works just fine) for the iems and a small plastic pouch containing a few more silicon tips and a single pair of foam tip (which is of very poor quality, no retention capability) and a shirt clip.

    Inside the black metal box, we will find all the filters that are included with the LZ A4 (yes, these too have tunable filter system.) along with a pair of large double flange tip.

    The orange box contains the 3.5mm mmcx cable which I will talk about a bit more later in the review.

    So, in the box we get:
    (1) The IEMs themselves
    (2) 6 pairs of double-density single flange tips (s/m/l)
    (3) 3 pairs of single-density single flange tips (s/m/l)
    (4) 1 pair of foam tips (m)
    (5) 1 pair of double flange tips (l)
    (6) Hard Shell Carrying Case
    (7) 3 Back filters and 6 front filters (1 back and 1 front filter preattached)
    (8) Detachable 3.5mm nylon-sheathed 4-core OFC cable
    (9) Shirt Clip.

    Build Quality:

    The build quality of this iem is very good, if not exceptional. The nozzle and the back of the iem is made of an alloy and the housing which contains the mmcx connector is made of ABS plastic. It looks and feels durable but not premium. Also the MMCX connectors are gold plated which is a nice touch. But I am disappointed with the quality of the cable. The left MMCX connector on the cable became loose after a few detachments and the nylon sheathing on the cable started peeling off. Both of them are minor issues but still noticeable nonetheless. But this doesn't affect the sound quality so yeah, I am fine with that. The 3.5mm jack on the cable is gold plated and it is angled at a 45 degree angle which I think is a great thing as most of the time, with straight jacks, they get stuck inside and only give way after a lot of force. So I think LZ has done a good job with this. The Y-split on the cable is made of plastic and it has a cable shortener.




    Ergonomics and Isolation:

    Now, this is one of the parts where YMMV. For me, the fit was not that great with the iems. The supplied stock eartips always tend to slip out of my ear. Only the smallest eartips in the set would fit me. But still it was not the isolation that I desired. So I ordered a pair of Spinfits (11mm) from AliExpress and those were the ones who gave me the best fit with these iems (about 10dB of isolation would be my guess). Although this would not be enough to hide the sound of an airplane or inside the subway, but its still great for outdoor isolation. With the Spinfits, the LZ A4 fit me like a marshmallow. The insertion was neither too deep, nor too shallow and it was the perfect fit. But, I noticed that the outer housing has a sharp edge to it which I had filed down a bit so that I do not hurt my ears when I am fitting it. Also the iem can be worn over the ear or cable down. Its just a choice of preference. I prefer over the ear as it makes the fit better and also reduces microphonics.

    Filters:

    Now, since filters are a key part of the LZ A4, I felt I should mention them as well separately. The filter system on the LZ A4 is muuuuuch more robust than that of, say the Trinity Atlas, RHA T20i, etc. but not as robust as the FLC8s. But still, these filters change the sound signature much more noticeably. If you put on the say, the pink nozzle filter, you will notice that the treble becomes very smooth and loses a lot of its clarity. If you put the blue back filter, you will notice that the sub-bass rolls off much earlier than expected. If you choose the red....well you get my point. You can have a look at the frequency graph for the different tuning filters. For this entire review, I will be using the Red Back filter and the Black front filter as it provides the most balanced sound for this iem and I listen to a lot of Rock, EDM and Pop music so this is the best filter combo for me.


    Sound:

    Now onto the most subjective part of the review: sound. I am again repeating that for this entire review, For this entire review I will be using the Red Back filter and the Black front filter as it provides the most balanced sound for this iem and I listen to a lot of Rock, EDM and Pop music so this is the best filter combo for me. Also, I won't be posting any graphs in this review as I honestly don't believe that much in graph as much as I believe my ears.

    This time, I will be listening to the iems via 2 modes:
    (1) PC--->Fiio Q1--->LZ A4
    (2) Cayin N3--->LZ A4.
    I will also list the soundtracks that I have used for each section of my sound test. Also, all of my tracks are either 44kHz/24bit - 192kHz/24bit FLAC or DSD64/DSD128. So, here we go.

    (a) Bass [Tracks used - Axel Thesleff - Reincarnation, Martin Garrix Animals, Alessia Cara - Here, Zara Larsson - So Good (Album), Jordan Comolli - Alone, etc.] :
    The IEM has a kind of balanced sound signature with a slight sub-bass boost. This means that except for the bass, no other part of the frequency is overemphasized. Well the bass in this iem is really one of the best that I have heard. Its tight, punchy, and is really fast. But it is in no way boomy or bloated nor does it sound harsh at high volumes like the RHA T20i. There is more priority in the sub-bass region than in the mid-bass so EDM and Pop songs sound fantastic with these iems. But if you don't like too much bass, you could always swap the red filter with the blue one which reduces the bass significantly giving you a presentation much more smoother. So I would give the bass full marks here.

    (b) Mids [Tracks used - Adele - 25 (Album), Charlie Puth - Nine Track Mind (Album), Ed Sheeran - X / Divide (Album), Sessions from the 17th Ward - Amber Rubarth (Album), John Newman - Love Me Again, Elvis Presley - Can't Help Falling In Love With You, etc.] :
    The mids in these iems feels a bit intimate. It means that you will feel as if you are part of the band and the lead vocalist is singing beside you. The male vocals and female vocals are given more or less equal priority. So you won't feel as if the female vocals are a bit farther off than the male vocals and vice versa. They don't get drowned out by the instruments even in busy tracks and they sound full-bodied and natural without being too overwhelming. The female vocals have a bit of airiness in them and Ed Sheeran's vocals in Photograph has a really nice feel to it which just can't be described (its just inexplicable). They are quite detail-revealing iems for their price. In Ed Sheeran's song, Photograph, you can hear Ed breathing, the guitar squeaking when the chords are being changed, etc. It's just a mesmerising experience. So another thumbs up for the LZ A4 in this department.

    (c) Treble [Tracks used - Led Zeppelin - IV (Album), Ed Sheeran - X / Divide (Album), Sessions from the 17th Ward - Amber Rubarth (Album), Pink Floyd - Dark Of The Moon (Album), John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, Paco De Lucía – Friday Night In San Francisco (Album){I have to mention this that this is one of the greatest guitar albums ever created. If you haven't heard (of) this album yet, stop viewing this review and go download this in FLAC format immediately!}, Ludovico Einaudi - Islands (Essential Einaudi), etc.] :
    This iem is really made perfectly for their price. I mean there is really not a major issue with this iem that makes me really want to pull them out of my conchas. The treble on these are bright, energetic but in no way sibilant. They never sound harsh even in high volumes and cymbal crashes and hi-hats sound very nice in them (bright, sharp without sounding splashy and with a nice decay that makes you wanting more of that action ). The upper treble extends quite well on this iem with the black nozzle filter without any roll-off. Violin rendition is also very clear and detailed on this track. Even in busy tracks, the high notes of guitar in a few busy tracks comes out properly. So another full marks for this iem.

    (d) Soundstage, Imaging and Separation [Tracks used - Sessions from the 17th Ward - Amber Rubarth (Album), Yosi Horikawa - Vapor (Album), Led Zeppelin - IV (Album), John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, Paco De Lucía – Friday Night In San Francisco (Album), Beethoven - Symphony #5 (Album)] :
    The tracks which are used for testing the soundstage and separation of this iem are binaural tracks. This means that the tracks basically have the music coming from all directions and are generally recorded using a binaural mic. The Sessions from the 17th Ward is an excellent binaural album and I will be mainly using that track for this test. Well, the soundstage on this iem is very nice. I mean not like open-back headset nice, but better than most iems at this price point. It is really very expansive but the soundstage is oval-shaped. This means that you will feel the left and right side to be more expansive than the front and the back. Separation is nice on this iem. In Beethoven's Symphony #5 (which is quite a busy track with all the flutes, violins and trumpets going on in the orchestra), you can definitely pick up all the instruments being played in the track. Also, there is no distortion whatsoever in these tracks so imaging is also nice in this iem. So, I don't really know what sorcery LZ has done with this iem but they really sound splendid!

    (e) Sensitivity [No particular track used (obviously)] :
    You won't have any trouble driving them out of your smartphones. It has a low impedance of 16Ω and a high sensitivity of 120dB (very high sensitivity indeed!). So yeah, its basically very efficient and most smartphones can drive it without any issues whatsoever.

    Now, for a short comparison between the only iem I had, i.e the RHA T20i which is in the same price category of $200 (yes had cuz I sold it. But don't worry, I have a good muscle memory so I can recall most of the things about my T20i). The RHA T20i is a dark sounding iem with a intimate soundstage. Also, I will be making the comparison a bit easier to read by making it like LZ A4 > RHA in this respect and vice versa (you can see what I mean). So here we go.

    Neutrality = LZ A4 > RHA T20i
    Timber/Naturalness = LZ A4 > RHA T20i
    Detail/Resolution = LZ A4 > RHA T20i
    Imaging & Positioning = LZ A4 > RHA T20i
    Soundstage = LZ A4 >> RHA T20i (The RHA T20i is an intimate sort of iem where you can enjoy vocals more, but in the LZ A4, although it is a bit intimate, but not as much as the RHA T20i)
    Dynamics = LZ A4 > RHA T20i
    Transience = IT03 > AF56 > T20 = GR07
    Bass Quantity = LZ A4 < RHA T20i
    Bass Quality = LZ A4 > RHA T20i
    Mids Quantity = LZ A4 = RHA T20i
    Mids Quality = LZ A4 > RHA T20i
    Treble Quantity = LZ A4 = RHA T20i
    Treble Quality = LZ A4 = RHA T20i
    Amount of Sibilance = LZ A4 = RHA T20i
    Comfort = LZ A4 >> RHA T20i (I had quite a bit of fit issue with the RHA T20i I had to face none of it with the LZ A4)
    Apparent Build / Durability = T20i >> LZ A4
    Immersion / Engagement = LZ A4 > RHA T20i (The RHA's made me tap my foot in Sia - Cheap Thrills but the LZ? They made me dance. So LZ is definitely better in immersion. Also, since I got a better fit in the LZ, I had better isolation which in turn, led to better immersion). [BTW, I got this idea of comparison when I was reading a review on head-fi and I thought it was a great way to compare multiple iems at the same time without much words wasted.]

    Overall Sound Quality = LZ A4 > RHA T20i (That was obvious wasn't it?)

    Conclusion:
    I hope it's obvious by now that the sound is more or less perfect on this iem for this price point. They are a much more value for money offering than the RHA T20i in most aspects except for the build quality perhaps? But still that build quality comes with an iem that can be worn only for a maximum time of 1 hour by me whereas with the LZ A4, I used it for 4 hours without even feeling that it's there. So I think that LZ has a winner in their hands with the LZ A4 and I now bestow upon it the best IEM out there for under $200, period.
      hqssui and B9Scrambler like this.
  3. Brooko
    LZ-A4 – Sonic Chameleon (in a good way!)
    Written by Brooko
    Published Jul 22, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Sound quality, versatility, build quality, ease of use, value, accessories, well thought out tuning options
    Cons - Could be better ergonomically (can be uncomfortable), bass filters need more variety
    [​IMG]
    Picture are default 1200 x 800 resolution - click (photos in tables) to view larger images.

    INTRODUCTION

    As music lovers, its not uncommon for a lot of us to have multiple earphones – mainly for those times when we're in the mood for a slightly different sound. Whether it be more bass, a different tonality in the mid-range, more up top, preference for a V shape (fun!) or simply more balance. The problem is that to satisfy this we either have to be adept using EQ (its not hard once you learn), have reasonably deep pockets (for multiple earphones), or be prepared to use hardware EQ like bass boost or tone controls.

    For a while now there have been options in the market for earphones which you can tune yourself using a set of changeable filters. Trinity and RHA were early adopters with their tuning filters, and later came FLC with their ground breaking FLC8S triple hybrid. Suddenly you could have more control of your IEM – albeit with limitations. RHA and Trinity designs were good but somewhat limited in their application. The FLC8S is really versatile, but changing the filters can be an exercise.

    And then recently a small Chinese company LZ (Lao Zhong) HiFi Audio appeared with a new tunable hybrid coming in at under $200. How would it fare against some of the alternatives from Trinity, and against the more expensive FLC8S. Is the LZ-A4 a worthy competitor? Read on for my take on the LZ-A4.


    ABOUT LZ

    LZ Hi-Fi Audio is a difficult company to get to know. Check their website – virtually nothing to give insight to the company. Facebook – and its similar. I was extremely lucky, in that I had Head-Fi's own duyu (Frank) who was able to get me a little inside knowledge.

    LZ (Lao Zhong) was originally a technician repairing home appliances. But he's always had a love for, and a fascination with, audio – stretching back for more than 20 years. This led to him actually making his own speakers, and then eventually to playing around with IEMs. He bought an expensive pair of big name brand IEMs (and no I won't mention them), but was not impressed with them. So he borrowed some money, started DIYing his own IEMs and listing them on Taobao. Little did he know how popular the LZ-02 would become, and he wasn't expecting the interest outside China that it garnered.

    In 2015, LZ products appeared on Head-Fi for the first time, and their customer base has grown as they got more exposure. They're located in Shenzhen China, with the factory located in Dongguan. The company is surprising small – with just 7 staff in their main office. They now have a product range of more than a half dozen items – mainly IEMs, but also including a very reasonably priced after-market cable. They've also recently released a tunable flagship model IEM (the Big Dipper) which I'll be reviewing very soon.

    LZ's message is a simple one – he just wants to make affordable IEMs for the public. And I really love the way he states it. He simply says that “we want to deliver our music to the world”. Not our products. Not our sound. Our music. I kind of like that philosophy.

    I also thought that this might be interesting for those who are both already fans of LZ HiFi and also potential fans – a series of photos of their operation. I always find it pretty cool to think of the care that goes into truly hand-made products. Special thanks to both LZ for allowing me to display them, and also duyu for sourcing them for me. Click the photos for larger images.


    [​IMG][​IMG] [​IMG]
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    DISCLAIMER

    The LZ-A4 that I’m reviewing today was provided to me freely as a review sample, but LZ HiFi have asked me to keep it for my personal use, or for follow up comparisons, and I thank them for this. I'd also like to thank duyu (Frank) for acting as the go between and facilitating the review sample. I do not make any financial gain from this review – it is has been written simply as my way of providing feedback both to the Head-Fi community and also LZ HiFi.

    I have now had the LZ-A4 for just under 5 months. The retail price at time of review is USD 195.

    PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'. (or a base-line for interpreting my thoughts and bias)

    I'm a 50 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile – I just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up. I vary my listening from portables (mostly now from the FiiO X5iii, and iPhone SE) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > USB > iFi iDSD). My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Sennheiser HD800S, Sennheiser HD600 & HD630VB, and AKG K553. Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs, and lately it has mainly been with the Jays q-Jays, Alclair Curve2 and Adel U6. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).

    I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not overly treble sensitive, and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880. I have a specific sensitivity to the 2-3 kHz frequency area (most humans do) but my sensitivity is particularly strong, and I tend to like a relatively flat mid-range with slight elevation in the upper-mids around this area.


    I have extensively tested myself (ABX) and I find aac256 or higher to be completely transparent. I do use exclusively red-book 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line). I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables (unless it was volume or impedance related), and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 50, my hearing is less than perfect (it only extends to around 14 kHz nowadays). My usual listening level is around 65-75 dB.

    For the purposes of this review - I used the LZ-A4 from various sources at my disposal – both straight from the headphone-out socket, and also with further amplification. In the time I have spent with the LZ-A4, I have personally noticed no change to the overall sonic presentation (break-in), although I note that LZ recommends it.

    This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.


    THE REVIEW

    PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Front of the retail box Rear of the retail box

    The LZ-A4 arrived in a 145 x 202 x 63mm “book style” retail box. It is black with red highlights and text. On the front is LZ's logo and a simple description. On the rear (in white text) their address in both Chinese and English.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Inside the cover Bottom layer

    Opening the box reveals a foam insert which holds the IEMs and some of the included silicone tips. Under this is a secondary storage area which holds the carry/storage case, a tray for the tuning filters, some further tips, a shirt clip and the documentation.

    The carry case has a semi-rigid red outer shell, with a black cloth interior. It has an external measurement of approx 120 x 85 x 40mm – so more suitable for a jacket than a trouser pocket. It has been sized this way so that you can fit the entire filter package inside, but doing this leaves little room for the IEMs. If you take the filter foam insert (with filters embedded) out of the tin, and just pack that in the case, then the LZ-A4 will also fit.


    [​IMG][​IMG]
    The full packageFilter description from the guide

    Also included in the package is a small ~ 90 x 65 x 18mm tin. Inside this (in its own foam insert) are the tuning filters. Including the ones pre-fitted, there are 3 pairs of rear filters, and 6 pairs of front filters. This gives 24 possible tuning options (as you can also have no back filter). I will go more in depth into the filter tunings later in the review. The filter parts are all screw in, and are easy to handle and to attach/detach. They are also colour coded for easy identification.

    The total accessory package includes:
    • 10 pairs of silicone single flange tips
    • 1 pair of silicone dual flange tips
    • 1 pair of medium foam tips
    • 1 shirt clip
    • 1 zippered carry case
    • 1 metal tin containing the filters
    • 3 pairs of rear filters
    • 6 pairs of front filters
    • 1 fold-out manual/pamphlet
    • 1 pair of LZ-A4 Triple Hybrid IEMs
    • 1 x 3.5 mm single ended to MMCX earphone cable

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Tip selectionCarry case

    For the price point, the accessories included are well thought out, and reasonably generous. The only thing I would have preferred would have been more variety in the sizing of the foam tips – but otherwise a very good start

    TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
    (From LZ's packaging / website)
    ModelLZ-A4
    Approx price$195 USD
    TypeTriple Hybrid IEM
    Drivers1 x Dynamic and 2 x Knowles Balanced Armature
    Freq Range10Hz – 35kHz
    Impedance16Ω
    Sensitivity110 +/- 1dB
    Cable Type1.3m, replaceable (MMCX)
    Jack3.5mm gold plated single ended, angled
    Weight11g
    Casing materialCoated and anodised alloy


    FREQUENCY GRAPH

    The graphs below are generated using the Vibro Veritas coupler and ARTA software. Ken Ball (ALO/Campfire) graciously provided me with measurement data which I have used to recalibrate my Veritas so that it mimics an IEC 711 measurement standard (Ken uses two separate BK ear simulators, we measured the same set of IEMs, and I built my calibration curve from shared data). I do not claim that this data is 100% accurate, but it is very consistent, and is as close as I can get to the IEC 711 standard on my budget.

    I do not claim that the measurements are in any way more accurate than anyone else's, but they have been proven to be consistent and I think they should be enough to give a reasonable idea of response - especially if you've followed any of my other reviews. When measuring I always use crystal foam tips (so medium bore opening) - and the reason I use them is for very consistent seal and placement depth in the coupler. I use the same amp (E11K) for all my measurements - and output is under 1 ohm.

    The graphs are provided merely as a point of discussion, and later in the review I've included comparisons to other IEMs for similar reference.


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    Frequency response and channel matchingRange of bass filtersRange of mid/high filters

    As you can see from the above graphs, there is quite a range of different frequency responses you can dial in. We'll go into them in more depth in the filter section. But one thing to note is the versatility.

    The second thing to note is that apart from the blue rear filter, the other rear filters (black, red and none) are very close when measured. I can't say if maybe I got a couple of filters which were coloured wrong, or if there is an issue with my sample pair. Others have said they are getting more change with their own bass filters. I only really notice change with the blue filter vs the others.

    And the final thing to notice is that the channel matching is very good. I performed this with no back filter and grey front filter – not because it is my favourite setting, but rather because the grey is the middle filter in terms of change, and if I have no filter on the rear, then there is the smallest chance of a filter being responsible for channel imbalance. No fear of that though – LZ's driver matching is quite excellent.


    BUILD AND DESIGN

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    External face of the shellSide view

    The LZ-A4 has a very interesting shape, and probably the best description I could give is that it looks like a quarter circle, with a central chamber and nozzle. The LZ-A4's main body measures ~20mm across, ~16mm high, and ~16-17mm deep (with no nozzle attached). Adding the filter nozzle extends this to ~21mm. The body is made of a black lightweight metal alloy which is quite sturdy, and looks built to last.

    The main body is quite angular and has a few bevelled edges, but because of the size and shape, it sits mainly in non-contact with my ear. All the same, I think that LZ could have done more with their moulding to round the edges a little better. From the external side, you mainly see the flat quarter circle body shape – with a central vent to which the rear filter screws into. There is a small L/R indicator engraved into each ear-piece which is both unobtrusive but also easy to find. At the top of the main body is an MMCX socket. It is extremely solid (takes a real effort to removed the cables).


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    Internal facingMMCX socket and connector

    The internal side is cone shaped, from the main body – but rather than being smooth, there are a couple of bevelled ridges which really needed to be smooth. At least one of these is engaging with my ears, and after a while becomes uncomfortable for me. The tuning nozzles screw into the tip of the cone, and have a shallow but still reasonable lip, which makes tip selection a little easier. There is a small dynamic driver vent on the internal cone. Each filter is mesh covered, and the nozzle diameter is ~6mm in diameter.

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    Y-split and cinch3.5mm SE jack and cable tie

    As I mentioned, the cable exit is at the top of the main body, and is MMCX. The cable is a twisted pair and finished with a quite soft and flexible outer coating. The one thing which is immediately apparent with the cable is that it is strong – really strong. Even the thinner section north of the Y-split feels as though you could use it as a fastening wire. The cable is only slightly microphonic, but this is easily managed by wearing over-ear, and using the cinch.

    There is no strain relief at the cable exit, and even though the cable has a lot of strength, I think there should still be some. At the Y-split there is no relief either. It is a rigid rubber one piece y-split with a sliding cinch (which works brilliantly) above it.

    The jack is 3.5mm, 45 degree angled, and has good strain relief. It is gold plated and also long enough to be considered smart-phone case friendly. Above the jack is a cloth and velcro cable tie which is quite handy for securing the IEMs when not in use, but which is also a little bulky, and not quite as elegant as Dunu's very similar solution.

    Internally the LZ-A4 uses a dual Knowles BA set-up, along with a titanium silver composite diaphragm on the dynamic driver. All in all, I would say that the design and build quality is striking, and looks durable. My only concerns are with the hard angles on the housing, and the lack of strain relief on the cables.


    FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION
    Isolation is an interesting topic with the LZ-A4. The back is essentially a vent – to which different rear filters give different bass response. If you go completely filter-less, and block the nozzle – you can clearly hear sound from the back, and if worn with no rear filter, you can hear people around you. But when adding the rear filter, this is mitigated quite well, and I'd say that isolation is about average for a ported or vented hybrid. With music playing at a responsible level, most background noise is masked – and it is only really loud sounds which get through. They'd even be OK for most public transport, but wouldn't be my pick for something like a long haul flight. As per usual – the personal level of isolation you achieve will depend on the tips you use and the seal you achieve.

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    Worn over ear – housing can be uncomfortableMy modded Spinfits (foam added)

    So lets looks at fit and comfort – and these thoughts are more subjective, and will vary from person to person. The LZ-A4 can be worn cable up or cable down, but most will agree that the ergonomic shape was designed primarily for cable over the ear. I don't tend to have too many issues with the actual main body – although over time even those bevelled hard edges can get uncomfortable. Those with smaller ears may escape this purely from the fact that the LZ-A4 may stick out more (keep all surfaces away from their ears). For me though, anything over an hour or so, and they can start becoming slightly uncomfortable. Its a real pity because I like almost everything else about them. Fit/comfort can be mitigated to a certain extent by tips and positioning, and I'm sure a lot will find the comfort personally acceptable – unfortunately I don't. The good news is that LZ's new Big Dipper flagship has no such problems – and is one of the most ergonomic designs I've tried (more on that one in a week or so).


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    LZ-A4 next to the Big DipperSpinfits and Spiral Dots

    The LZ-A4 does have a lip on the nozzle, and because of this you can have a reasonable variety of tip choices. I tried Spiral Dots, Spin-fits, Ostry tuning tips (which gave me quite a good seal), and Sony Isolation tips, and all fit pretty well. I did find foam tips tended to give me a little more overall comfort and better seal – bus that is principally because I have one wider ear canal (left) than the other – so often getting perfect fit for me can be problematic. Ultimately for me though, I ended up with a modified pair of Spin-fits (I added foam inners) and this gave a pretty good combination of seal and comfort

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    Sony Isolation and Ostry Tuning tipsShure Olives and Crystal foam tips

    The LZ-A4 sits almost flush with my outer ear, and after adjustment I can wear them for up to a couple of hours. Lying down with them causes the housing to press against my ear, and this gets uncomfortable pretty fast. I've slept with them once, but woke up after less than an hour with pretty sore ears. YMMV with this.

    So the general build is good, but the shape could be improved a little. The first step would be proper rounding of the edges rather than bevelling.


    FILTERS

    This always a tough one – as there are so many options, and without measurements, it is very easy for our brains to throw a filter over everything we hear. Because of this, we can grow quickly accustomed to its tonality and lose sight of its performance against the other options. Hopefully this summary will allow people to dial into their preferred curve early – and then experiment from there.

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    Rear filtersNote some of the different internals

    The rear filters are 9mm in diameter, and have a threaded screw to fit the rear of the LZ-A4. They are pre-fitted with a rubber washed to maintain a tight seal, and the outer surface has good grip to allow easy handling. The tuning is maintained either through the sizing of the meshed holes, use of acoustic material, or both. The rear filters solely control sub and mid-bass, but will obviously influence perception of other frequencies

    The front filters, are also the nozzles. They are 6mm in length (4-5mm exposed when fitted), 6mm in diameter with a mesh over the nozzle and good lip. They also have a threaded screw to fit the front of the LZ-A4, and are also fitted with a rubber washer to maintain seal and integrity. They are pretty easy to change out. Tuning is once again managed through the use of size of the meshed holes, acoustic material, size of the nozzle chamber or combination of the three. The front filters change frequencies from the low mid-range (around 200 Hz – but minimal change here) through to the upper treble – with most change occurring in the upper mid0rang and lower treble from 2 kHz to 9kHz.

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    Front filtersAgain note some of the different internals

    The documentation included with the LZ-A4 is not exactly clear or helpful in deciding on filter choices, referring to frequencies in a vague way. Hopefully this illustrates things a little easier. Starting with the bass (rear) filter, to my ears, and on my measurement gear, the black, red and no filter options all sound pretty much identical. The blue is the real difference and has a roll off from around 100Hz – and is more than 10 dB down by you reach 20 Hz. The black and red are actually pretty good though – not overemphasised, with well extended sub-bass. What is really missing with the filters on the LZ-A4 is a bass curve between black and blue (more of a flattish mid-bass hump), and possible for bass lovers, one with more sub bass emphasis. For me though, the black is very acceptable for my tastes with this earphone.

    The front filters give a lot more options, and invite a lot more changes. I'm going to start with the combo which I believe is the closest to balanced or reference (its still a shallow V), and that is the pink filter. You'll notice in the graphs that the pink peaks in upper mid-range and lower treble all pretty much match the apex of the bass at 50-100 Hz, with only one slight peak above this at 9 kHz. If we accept this as closest to reference, we can then compare the others to this. For all the below comparisons I have used the black rear filter.

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    Pink vs GreyPink vs Red

    The closest to the pink is the grey, and the only real difference is slightly more emphasis at 2 kHz – otherwise they are pretty much identical. I detailed earlier in my profile (bias) that I can be a little sensitive at 2-3 kHz which is why I prefer the pink ever so slightly – but either the pink or grey could be considered closest to reference for the LZ-A4. Both give an excellent transition of mid-range fundamentals to upper mid-range harmonics. Both are well extended into lower treble without too many annoying peaks. Both have enough emphasis at 7 kHz to clearly define cymbals.

    The red is also extremely close to both pink and grey – but this time there is a slight lift in both upper mid-range and lower treble. It is pretty uniform, quite subtle, and extremely well managed. The lift is only about 2-3 dB in these areas, but it does add that little bit of emphasis without introducing too much peakiness, and for lovers of a little more air or bite is a great option.

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    Pink vs BlackPink vs Green

    The black is more similar to the red (than pink or grey) – but this time with a lot more emphasis on the upper mid-range (4-5 dB). Lovers of female vocals with a more euphonic tilt or colouration may well prefer the black – as there is generally more emphasis on vocal presence and also on some instruments (guitar bite for instance). The black probably represents the upper limit of where I am generally comfortable with upper mid-range bumps, and in many ways sounds a little like Fidue's Sirius with this configuration.

    Green gives a large bump to the upper mid-range at 2 kHz (almost 10dB) above the pink, and 15 dB above the lower mid-range at 700 Hz. Lower treble is the same as the pink, so this gives a very mid-centric sound. This colouration is probably closest to where a lot of the Trinity IEMs were tuned, and while it can be quite captivating (definitely coloured!), I personally find it slightly over-done, and can trigger a little dissonance with some things like upper register piano notes for me. Still I can see how some people will gravitate to this filter, and it isn't at all out of place in the filter selection.

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    Pink vs BlueTip choice will also affect things

    The blue is the combination of green and black – a lot of emphasis on both upper mids and also lower treble. It is bright, somewhat dry and lean, and for me too coloured to consider using. But again it shows the maturity of the overall filter selections LZ have provided, and to me this variety provides one of the most well structured and progressive use of variable filters around – especially at this price point.

    The one thing which would make the LZ-A4 close to perfect is better variety in the bass filter system.

    SOUND QUALITY

    The following is what I hear from the LZ-A4. YMMV – and probably will (also because we are talking about an earphone with many tuning options) – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline). Most of the testing at this point (unless otherwise stated) was done with my FiiO X5iii (single ended) no EQ, black back filter with pink front filter, and modded Spin-fit tips tips. I used the FiiO X5iii simply because it gives me a transparent window to the music with low impedance, and more than enough power. There was no DSP engaged. I used the black/pink combo because it is the closest I can get to reference with the included filters.

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    My trusty FiiO X5iiiFiiO X1ii solo was also more than enough


    For the record – on most tracks, the volume on X5iii was around the 40/120 level which was giving me an average SPL around 65-75 dB. Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.17556


    Relativities

    • Sub-bass – has very good extension and even at my low listening levels is clearly audible, with good rumble and sense of presence. Does not dominate with tracks like Lorde's Royals, but does give enough thump without overshadowing vocals, and I'm detecting no bleed (or masking) into the lower mid-range.
    • Mid-bass – has a natural mid-bass hump – providing very good impact, but sitting ever so slightly back from the actual sub-bass. Mid-bass is a little elevated over lower mids, but roughly equal with upper mids with this filter combination.
    • Lower mid-range – there is a recession compared to sub and mid-bass, and also the upper mid-range, but does not sound overly recessed or distant. Male vocals do not quite have the same presence as female vocals, but they do have enough body to be enjoyable.
    • Upper mid-range – elevated compared to lower mid-range, and there is a slow rise from 1 kHz to a first peak at 2 kHz and a second at 4kHz. The result is a clean and clear vocal range, with very good cohesion and some euphony for female vocals to sound sweet and elevated. There is also good sense of bite with guitars – and plenty of presence for fundamental cymbal strikes.
    • Lower treble has very good extension, and really is quite sustained 2 kHz through to 10kHz with just some dips in the 5-6 kHz area and again around 8kHz. But it isn't over-emphasised with this filter combination, remaining at about the same amplitude as the upper mid-range. This presents a lot of clarity and detail, but without any sign of harshness.
    • Upper treble – rolls off with this filter combination, but I don't feel as though I am missing anything. Other filters can give even further extension.
    Resolution / Detail / Clarity
    • I noticed in the discussions in the forums of the LZ-A4 and a few people saying the black/pink combo was just too smooth and not showing enough detail. For me anyway, this is just not true. When I wrote this bit I was listening to Pink Floyd's “Money”, and it is a track with gobs of micro detail which can sometimes get lost or smeared with a warmer earphone. With the LZ-A4 I was really surprised at the level of detail and resolution. Everything is there, yet not over-emphasised or spot-lit in any way.
    • Portico Quartet's “Ruins” is a good track for checking the balance on drumstick clicks, hi-hat taps and cymbal decay, and no detail is missed even at lower listening levels.(
    • Cymbal hits have good clarity and overall presence, and this includes decay – there is no real hint of truncation. Pearl Jam's “Elderly Woman ...” was perfect in this regard.(
    • Overall I feel as though I'm hearing everything in the recording – and this is even at my lower listening levels. Older rock recordings are pleasantly easy to get every nuance. The balance is really good.
    Sound-stage and Imaging
    • Directional queues are very good – clean and clear, and presentation of stage is just on the periphery of my head space with binaural tracks. You can very slightly nudge this outwards by removing the rear filters. The LZ-A4 is nicely expansive but not massively so.
    • Separation of instruments and imaging is good, and I would it average performance for a hybrid IEM.
    • Reasonably spherically presented sound-stage – with a slight L/R dominance (more width than depth), but for me a good sense of staging.
    • The applause section of “Dante's Prayer” was well represented with a good feel of flow around me. Not as good as I have experienced but enough so that the LZ-A4 does not seem flat or two dimensional.
    • “Let it Rain” had a very 3D-like sense of spatial presentation – it is the way the track was miked. There was a slight hint of sibilance with Amanda's vocal (even at higher volumes) – and I know its present in the recording – so not unexpected. What was great is that the sibilance was reasonably subdued, yet the overall detail was still in abundance.
    Sonic Strengths
    • Overall tonal balance and clarity – while retaining a smooth sonic presentation
    • Imaging, separation and sense of space in the staging (whilst not going overboard).
    • Both sub and mid-bass have good impact but do not dominate otherwise
    • Very good portrayal of both male and female vocals, although male vocals are not as full or rich as their female counterparts.
    • Very detailed at low listening levels
    • Extremely good transition between lower and upper mid-range
    Sonic Weaknesses
    • It is actually pretty hard to find one with this filter combination.
    • Perhaps a very slight thinness or leanness with male vocals – but that is nitpicking given the upside of euphony with female vocals.
    AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

    The LZ-A4 is not a hard IEM to drive with its 16ohm impedance and 110 dB sensitivity. It was easily driven with all the sources I tried, and this included my iPhone SE and players like FiiO's X1ii (neither are power houses). My iPhone SE only needed about one third of its volume for a comfortable 65-75dB and even 40-50% with some well recorded Porcupine Tree was simply too loud for me.
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    Testing with the FiiO A5 and E17KAll the sources I had could also drive the LZ-A4 easily

    But I went back and forth (volume matching with test tones and fixed volumes using a few different combos – iPhone SE & IMS portable valve amp, X3ii & E17K, and X5iii & A5, and did not notice any appreciable difference between amped and straight out of a DAP. My advice would be to further amp if you prefer it – but its definitely not needed.


    EQ / BALANCED PERFORMANCE

    I tested Balanced vs SE performance using an ALO Tinsel cable. Both sounded very good, but switching quickly between the two using an adaptor did not show up any marked improvements to me. Note that this was performed on the X5iii and properly volume matched before hand.

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    Baslanced with an ALO Tinsel cableE17K tone controls for EQ testing

    As far as EQ goes, that is ultimately what the tuning filters are there for, but I did use hardware EQ in the form of the E17K and A5 bass boost and both times the LZ-A4 responded well with no real clipping issues. Interestingly I was also able to turn the blue front filter to a very similar tonality as the pink – simply by reducing the treble with E17K's tone controls. Either way – there seems to be no real issues with EQ.

    COMPARISON WITH OTHER IEMS

    A hard one to try and compare because of the filters. So for this one I looked simply to show the overall performance compared to some other tunable IEMs (Trinity's Delta V2, Atlas, and FLC's FLC8S) as well as a couple of well regarded IEMs in the $200-250 range.

    For the source, I wanted something very neutral, but with a good digital control, to make sure I could volume match. So I chose to use my old work-horse combo – the FiiO X3ii and E17K. No DSP or EQ was used. Gain was low (I didn't need any more). I volume matched using a calibrated SPL meter and fixed 1kHz test tone first. My listening level was set to an average of 70dB.


    LZ-A4 (~USD 195) vs Trinity Delta V2 (~USD 150)

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    LZ-A4 and Trinity Delta 2Delta 2 FiltersFrequency comparisons (optimal)

    The Trinity Delta V2 is no longer sold by Trinity Audio – but was my favourite of all the Trinity products I reviewed. Starting with build quality – both are built very sturdily from quality materials, and both have good quality replaceable cables. In terms of fit and comfort, the Delta V2 is definitely a little more comfortable – lacking some of the edges that the LZ-A4 possesses. Both have a good variety of accessories appropriate for their respective prices.

    The Delta V2 is a dual hybrid, while the LZ-A4 is a triple. Both have a very good filter system, with the Delta having better options for bass control, and the LZ-A4 having better mid-range and treble tuning options. Personally I think having the two separate options for treble and bass and being able to pair them however you like is a definite plus. When directly comparing I used the Delta V2's gunmetal filter vs the LZ-A4's black/pink combo.

    The two are sonically very similar – especially in the lower mid-range and bass. The major difference occurs in the upper mids and lower treble where the LZ-A4 is a just the tiniest bit clearer and cleaner, and a little more defined. Both are truly excellent examples of tunable IEM's though, and whilst I haven't heard the Delta for a while, it was east to fall in love with it again. Its a real pity Trinity no longer produces it.

    As far as preference goes, this one is a tie. The Delta was cheaper, and definitely had better bass options with the tuning. Its probably more comfortable for larger ears, and due to its girth may be less comfortable for smaller ears. The LZ-A4 is almost the direct opposite. Where they converge though is in the excellent sonics on both IEMs. The LZ-A4 might be slightly better technically (including a slightly better imaging and staging) but then again there is the price difference. A pretty good match up.


    LZ-A4 (~USD 195) vs Trinity Atlas (~USD 200)

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    LZ-A4 and Trinity AtlasAtlas FiltersFrequency comparisons (optimal)

    The Atlas is another earphone Trinity no longer makes. It was the first of Trinity's truly ergonomic designs, and like the Delta, pits a dual hybrid against the triple hybrid LZ-A4. Again starting with build quality – both are very sturdily built from quality materials, and both have good quality replaceable cables. This time though, the tighter fitting MMCX connections on the LZ-A4 give the feeling they are a little more secure – although only time will tell. In terms of fit and comfort, the Atlas is definitely more comfortable – with a proper ergonomic shape which gives me no fatigue at all. Both have a good variety of accessories appropriate for their respective prices.

    Like last time, the Atlas has better options for bass control (although it is always with a sub-bass tilt), and the LZ-A4 has the better mid-range and treble tuning options (there is none for the original Atlas). When directly comparing I used the Atlas's gunmetal filter vs the LZ-A4's black/pink combo – as both are relatively close.

    In this configuration the two are sonically very close again – and again it is mainly in the lower mid-range and bass. Again this time the difference occurs in the upper mids and lower treble where the Atlas is just a little more forward and also fuller in the vocals. I could probably match some of the difference by switching to the grey filter on the LZ-A4 if I wanted. Both sound very good, and again choosing will depend if you prefer more control over bass or mid-range and treble. For me its an easier choice this time. I like the black filter for the LZ-A4 and really feel no need for changing. But where I appreciate the flexibility in tuning is in the mid-range and top-end. For me, the LZ-A4 better suits my preferences and would ultimately be my choice.
    LZ-A4 (~USD 195) vs FLC FLC8S (~USD 329)


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    LZ-A4 and FLC8SSome of the FLC8S FiltersFrequency comparisons (optimal)

    This time it is two triple hybrids but a vastly different price points. Both again are tunable. This time the build quality goes to the LZ-A4 with its alloy build trumping the plastic/polycarbonate casing of the FLC8S. With the cable too, the LZ-A4 is much better (the FLC8S cable is annoyingly memory prone). Fit and comfort go to the FLC8S with is much more ergonomic build. Accessories again are shared (for their price points) – although the FLC8S does have more filters and also adaptors.

    The FLC8S has three different filter locations which can be combined for different tuning options, and actually has 60 options for tuning (if you use some without filters) compared to the LZ-A4's 24. However, the FLC8S filters are very small, fiddly and difficult to swap out compared to the LZ-A4's, and even though there are more options with the FLC8S, the number of viable options is actually probably about the same with both earphones. There are some combos you simply wouldn't use – or at least I wouldn't. The FLC8S definitely has more control over the bass – but again I prefer the LZ-A4's mid-range control options.

    If I use the black/grey/gold combo on the FLC8S I can get pretty close to the black/pink on the LZ-A4. Sonically in this configuration, both are very close again, with the main difference that the FLC8S bass is a little more linear, and it's mid-range just the tiniest bit more forward. Despite the tuning options on the FLC8S, I'm still finding the LZ-A4 sounding just a little more natural – or at least it suits my own personal preferences a bit more. Ultimately I'd take the LZ-A4 for my own choice – but the fact that these two are pretty close in overall SQ, and the LZ-A4 being two thirds the price of the FLC8S, should give an idea of how well tuned the options on the LZ-A4 are.


    LZ-A4 (~USD 195) vs MEE Pinnacle P1 (~USD 200)

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    LZ-A4 and MEE Pinnacle P1Frequency comparisons

    The Pinnacle P1 is a single dynamic driver IEM with no tuning options, but it is also one of the most highly regarded IEMs at its price point. Build materials are generally similar on both the P1 and LZ-A4, but in terms of overall build quality, the P1 has the better overall build, better cables, and much better fit and comfort (true ergonomics). The LZ-A4 is not bad – its just the P1 has set such a high standard at this price point. The LZ-A4 is much easier to drive, and is tunable – so these factors must be taken into account. In terms of accessories, they two are fairly evenly matched (LZ-A4 has the filters etc, while P1 has extra cable and adaptors).

    Sonically – pitching the black/pink combo against the P1, and its immediately apparent that although they are somewhat similar in bass response, the LZ-A4 has slightly more lower-bass slam while the P1 has just a little bit more mid-bass thump. The P1 also sounds a little warmer, and I think this is the P1's recession from 5-10 kHz, where the LZ-A4 has the two peaks at 7 and 9 kHz respectively. They are both great headphones at this price point – so which would I take if I could only choose one? For me it would be the LZ-A4, and I would be prepared to substitute a little of the comfort and fit for the added emphasis in the upper end. Close though – again, both excellent earphones.


    LZ-A4 (~USD 195) vs Alclair Curve (~USD 249)

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    LZ-A4 and Alclair CurveFrequency comparisons

    This time the LZ-A4 is against one of my favourite IEMs, and one I own (not a review sample). This is the Alclair Curve – a dual BA universal from Alclair,a nd one which has consistently been in my top 5 since I got it. In terms of build materials, the alloy casing of the LZ-A4 trumps the hard polycarbonate housing of the Curve – but as far as actual build quality, build design, fit and comfort goes, the Curve wins all four. The curve is insanely comfortable, and simply disappears when worn. The accessories go to the LZ-A4, whilst the cable quality goes to the Curve (although both are good quality). I do prefer the Curve's 2 pin connectors as well.

    Sonically the curve against the LZ-A4 is an interesting comparison. The LZ-A4 wins on sheer bass slam, and has the more forward mid-range. It also has a little more overall richness or fullness compared to the Curve. The Curve sounds a little flatter overall and does have a comparative peak at around 7kHz which people will either like or loathe. Its a common area for a peak though and really brings cymbal details and decay out.

    The LZ-A4 actually performs exceedingly well against one of my outright favourites, and I've become more impressed with its sonic abilities as the review has progressed. Ultimately for me – it does not beat the Curve, but it does give it a run for the money, and at 20% lower price, that is impressive.


    VALUE

    So how do I see the overall value of the LZ-A4? Quite simply, it reaches that performance which has me definitely recommending it at its current price point. For the base tonality and additional tuning options and flexibility it offers, it is really hard to go past. The only two areas I'd like to see LZ improve it is in rounding the corners of the housing properly (no hard edges!), and with a couple of better bass options (or perhaps it might be just my pair). Regardless though – the overall package (IMO) beats that of both Trinity and RHA, and represents better value than the FLC8S. It deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as IEMs like the P1 when recommending an ~200 USD price point. And that to me is very good value.

    LZ-A4 – SUMMARY

    I should have really written this review some months ago, but work load and the difficulty of writing an in-depth review on a tunable monitor have kept me back. I apologise to both LZ and duyu – its unprofessional of me.

    The LZ-A4 is a real chameleon as far as hybrid IEMs go. It is very well built, with solid choice of materials and a well thought out cable. The tuning system is very easy to use, and provides some excellent upper mid-range and lower treble tuning options which have been well thought out and executed. I think the bass filters still need some work – but that should be an easy fix – especially if LZ would like to eventually introduce an updated version.

    The other area that could be worked on is the fit/comfort. We have rounded ears. Hard ridges just don't work. I know LZ understands this because I have their Big Dipper flagship at the moment, and that truly is a masterpiece in fit and comfort!

    As far as the SQ of the LZ-A4 goes, it really is quite special. I really like the way they have options for a relatively balanced filter configuration, and also that they have not sacrificed extension at either end of the frequency range. What you have (with the black/pink combo for me) is an IEM with exceptional overall balance whilst retaining an engaging tonality.

    For the price of $200 you are getting one heck of an IEM, and an absolute recommendation from me. Fix the comfort and throw in another bass tuning option or two, and you have a 5 star review. For me though – the LZ-A4 is a solid 4 star or 80%.

    I just want to close with thanking Lao Zhong and duyu (Frank) for arranging the review sample.


    [​IMG]
      DBaldock9, BenF, natto and 13 others like this.
  4. salla45
    Unbelievably good (Comparison Grado GR10/K3003's)
    Written by salla45
    Published May 31, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Incredible value, detachable cables, comfort, superb sound, easy to drive, unfussy re partnering equipment, sleeper design is a +ve for me.
    Cons - sleeper design may be not "cool" for some :)
    This is going to be a very non-technical and subjective review mainly about the ergonomics and sound quality of these unsung beauties, and doesn't include much stuff about the packaging, unboxing, accessories, filters etc, as this has been done before by far more literate folks than me :)

    I was recommended these by Headfier Turrican a few months ago or so who was raving about them alongside his K3003's which we both posess incidentally.

    I declined to purchase at that time due to cash flow and Roon also caught my eye around that time and I took the plunge with that particular sideline drug. Several months later I had the cash and decided to pull the trigger on a pair of LZ A4's after doing my due dilligence of course, reading up as much as I could prior to purchase. Actually, whilst I was reading good things, I couldn't really get any good comparisons to 'phones that I knew. I wanted to know if these really could be giant killers, as 200 dollars is a relatively small sum and I'd been burned before with cheaper 'phones purporting to offer amazing sound (Soundmagic for example).

    So... I ordered mine from Penon Audio and, after only 5 days (seemed like a year) of waiting, they arrived yesterday.

    What have I learned in the last 24 hours that these have spent in my lugholes? Mainly that these are giant killers or at least can punch way higher than their weight class. I would say these are borderline budget IEMs which sound better than models perhaps 3-4x their price.

    I have 2 other sets of IEM's which are any good and these are the Grado GR10's and the AKG K3003's. The A4's outperform both of these in quite specific areas.

    For me there are two main characteristics which stand out with the A4's; comfort and sound. Just as well as they are pretty important for IEMs :)

    Comfort: I ignored the included tips completely and popped on some large Comply tips which probably aren't specific for the A4's but they fit fine and comfort is sublime. I really barely notice them in my ears. They are much more comfortable for long term use than either the Grados or AKGs.

    Sound: Quickly I'll mention the filter combo I went for. It's down to personal choice of course, but I tend to work on a "maximum info" principal. So I chose the filters which allegedly would give max frequency response (blue front, red back) and found this a little brash at the top, so I took black filter for the front to tone down the treble a bit... perfect. Not looked any further, may fiddle around when I have some time, but am perfectly satisfied with Black front, Red back.

    Moving on to facets of the sound, adjectives which spring to mind are:

    Defined, smooth, unfatiguing, detailed, layered, separated, effortless. Slightly V-sounding (not in a bad way).

    As you can tell, colour me impressed by these. For 200 dollars or less, they are literally unbelievable in terms of what they can do.

    AKG K3003s? Blown away
    Grado GR10s? Don't even bother coming to the party

    Comparing directly with the AKGs the sound coming from the A4's is altogether more refined. Detail is probably about the same, but the K3003's sound somewhat harsh and a bit muddled by comparison.

    Compared to the Grados the Grados sound very mid-centric by comparison. Not natural at all.

    Another way of looking at the sound coming from these minor miracles is that they just get out of the way and let you get on with listening to the music. You can really listen to well-known albums and feel at home with their established production immediately. They don't quite give me those surreally "real" moments I get with my Beyerdynamic T1+Mojo combination, but they do completely give an unfatiguing and smooth sound which, coupled with the comfort factor, means I can keep them in and listen for many hours at a time.

    There's something exremely beguiling about the A4's ability to present a complex mix (listening to Kamkiriad - Don Fagen right now via Mojo) in an effortless and coherent way which encourages continued listening. I would say this is on par or better even than the T1+Mojo in this regard.

    The A4's also benefit from being very easy to drive. I've fed them Mojo, Fiio X3ii and S6 and am currently listening via a Samsung Level Link bluetooth receiver, and whilst the BT adapter doesn't have the same definition, or slam, dynamics, etc of the Mojo for example, it's entirely an enjoyable listen.

    On the downside (for some); they are pretty ordinary and generic looking. But this is really a sleeper situation if ever there was one. They look like a 20 dollar set of 'phones and perhaps sound like a 1000 dollar pair. Lol.

    And if I am a bit naive and this is the "norm" for 200 dollar 'phones in 2017, then that's brilliant for all of us :) - However, I get the feeling this is not normal and Ill be getting another set when funds permit!

    So, to summarise... The LZ A4 offers truly excellent, smooth, detailed, layered, separated, effortless sound coupled with superb comfort.

    Don't be put off by the generic look of these and also don't be put off by ordering directly from Hong Kong, via Penon Audio, I have nothing but praise for their quick and efficient service.

    Get a pair or more.
      cpauya, duyu and Turrican2 like this.
  5. Asspirin
    Price-Performance Monsters
    Written by Asspirin
    Published Apr 13, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - versatility, detailed, spacious and musical sound, price
    Cons - ugly, possible fit issues, mids could be more forward
    LZ A4 Review
     
    2017-04-1312.43.351.jpg
     
     
    Disclaimer
     
    I bought this one for myself, so there are no commercial interests behind this review. I'm spending the time for this review only because I can and as a contribution to the community.
     
    Introduction
     
    I discovered the LZ A4 on Massdrop and then did some research in the Head-Fi Forums to see if they're any good. Besides the usual hype, I finally discovered some serious and trustworthy positive reviews so I decided why not!  For the price of approximately 195$/€, the A4 is a very attractive offer and a very strong competitor. And I will explain now, why.
     
    Overview/Packaging
     
    As far as I understood, the LZ A4 sports a dynamic driver for bass and two balanced armatures (one for mids and one for highs) in a hybrid setup, which is the a current trend among mid-fi IEMs these days. I won’t dive into further technical details about the setup here, because it should be common knowledge for the interested crowd already. The most distinctive feature of the A4 is the customizability of the frequency response. This is achieved by various back and nozzle filters. Three pairs of back filters allow the adjustment of the bass frequencies and six pairs of nozzle filters take care of the upper mid and treble frequencies.
     
    The rough guide to filters goes something like this:
     
    Bass quantity: red>black>blue
    Treble quantity: blue>black>green>red>gray>pink
     
    I won’t do detailed descriptions of the different filters, because tastes may vary here and everyone should try out their favourite filter combinations. The A4 has a base frequency response with distinctive peaks and dips which persist, no matter which filter you apply. The filters rather accentuate or soften these characteristics by pushing or lowering the volume of a certain frequency range. Exceptions are the red back filter (pushes the bass volume, but sacrifices definition) and the green front filter (causes strange peaks in the upper mids).
     
    My review is mainly based on the black/red filter combination.
     
    Aside from that, LZ supplies a vast selection of eartips, a removable cable and a carrying pouch, which is too big for my taste.


     
    Build quality/Ergonomics
     
    The earphones and filters are both made of metal and make a very solid and durable impression on me. These aren’t the most ergonomic earpieces and can cause some discomfort for people with smaller ears, but personally, I haven’t had a problem with hot spots yet. Because of the shape, insertion depth may also be an issue for some people and they are certainly not the most securely sitting earpieces out there. Certainly not useable for sports!
     
    2017-04-1312.43.171.jpg 2017-04-1312.43.191.jpg
    LZ A4 worn with cable down vs. cable ip
     
     
    Because of the filter system, the LZ A4 could be considered a semi-open system and yes, they neither isolate very well nor would I trust them to be moisture resistant. You’re not going to wear them on stage, in the gym or in a very loud working environment, so keep that in mind before purchasing! Also be warned that the filters are equipped with rubber o-rings that can fall off if you're a bit clumsy.
     
    The cable is really good. A little bit too long for my taste, but there is a handy velcro strap attached to take care of that. Microphonics are pretty much nonexistent.
     
    For the price, I’m very impressed about the package LZ delivers here.
     
    Sound Signature
     
    The A4 have a rather v-shaped sound signature with pronounced bass, laid back mids and articulate treble. The mids don't disappear in the background though, so voices and string instruments still sound natural and detailed. Like  mentioned above, the signature relies significantly on the filters you've screwed on. You can go from an extreme v-shape (red back, blue nozzle) to almost neutral (blue back, pink/grey nozzle) according to your preference. Overall I really like the A4’s signature. It's not for the extreme bassheads (they still can take a lot of EQ abuse) and not for people looking for a mid-centric IEM. Personally, I am coming from mid-centric ear- and headphones and fell in love with the A4 anyway. In the following chapters, I will tell you why!
     
    Stage/Imaging/Naturalness
     
    I'm not sure if it's because of the semi-open design or the signature, but the sound stage of the A4 is huge. It actually competes with full-size open back headphones. The rendering of depth is rather average, but the sheer width of the stage is mind blowing, especially considering the price range we're looking at! The size of the stage changes a bit with your filter choice, but not that much, imo.
    Naturalness and timbre are also very good, at least with the black, red and grey nozzle filters. Some minor coherency issues can appear with very fast tracks, when the balanced armature drivers outpace the dynamic one. I'm emphasising the word “minor” here, because most people won't notice, especially with the smoother front filters in place. In general, the drivers and crossovers work very well together and paint a very pleasing and coherent audial picture. A very solid performance here.
     
    Bass
     
    Bass is probably the most prominent feature of the A4. The dynamic driver does a very good job here, reaching very deep while delivering a satisfying rumble in the sub-bass region and a tight and powerful mid-bass punch. The bass decay is very fast (not BA-fast, though) and the lower frequency regions in general are nicely detailed and structured. What I really like about the A4 is that the bass never ever bleeds into the midrange, no matter what you throw at it. For scientific purposes, I tried some unspeakable things with equalizer abuse and Skrillex. The A4 passed the basshead test with flying colours and proved that the crossover is really well done in these. Little filter knowledge: Black back filters are the recommended choice for the best compromise of speed and quantity. Blue filters tighten up the bass but deliver less-then-neutral quantity, while red filters are the basshead’s choice, but with less control, obviously.
     
    Mids
     
    Due to the v-shaped sound signature, the mids appear rather laid-back. That doesn't mean they disappear, though! In fact, the mids are very well done. Smooth (velvety, if you want) but well-defined and more detailed than you would expect at first. Tonal accuracy is very good and voices as well as stringed instruments sound very natural and mostly uncoloured. Due to the laid-back nature, there is no midrange congestion to be found even in busy tracks like Trivium’s “Until The World Goes Cold”. Instruments and voices are always nicely separated. That doesn't mean the A4 is the best choice for the discerning midrange lover. For my taste, the mids could be a bit more lively and forward. Still a very good performance! Filter knowledge: Most filters dont affect mids much, except for the blue and green front filters. Blue pushes the treble forward and some upper mid frequencies are pulled with it. The green one causes some strange spikes in the midrange frequency response and sounds very telephone-ish for me. Immediately dismissed.
     
    Treble
     
    Treble is the frequency region that is affected the most by the filters. Like described above, you can basically adjust the amount of treble to your liking. Certain peaks will stay completely untouched though. And unfortunately, this also applies to the peak around 9khz, which emphasises sibilants too much for my liking. Fortunately, there is no information loss in the sibilants. I don't have much to complain about the rest of the treble spectrum, though! All in all, it's a very pleasant and detailed experience. I wouldn't call it airy, the A4 don't extend well enough, but certainly light, feathery, detailed and with a very fast decay. This also contributes to a very good sense of space and separation that is absolutely untypical in this price range.
     
    All put together
     
    The LZ A4 is a very enjoyable and musical sounding IEM. If you enjoy a spacious and relaxed sound with enhanced bass and treble, you will have a hard time finding something better for 200 bucks. The customisability and the fully packed retail box are huge cherries on top. My conclusion of this review is a huge thumbs up and a very clear recommendation. Really curious what LZ will come up with next.
      yoo audio, duyu, bhazard and 3 others like this.
    1. all999
      Great review, thanks!
      all999, Apr 13, 2017
  6. bhazard
    Hybrid Bliss
    Written by bhazard
    Published Apr 10, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Deep bass, overall clarity, soundstage
    Cons - Ergonomics could improve
    Introduction
     
    I was introduced to LZ IEMs over a year ago out of the blue. I was approached by a Head-Fi member to try out a pair of LZ-a2 triple hybrids which were completely unknown at the time. Their price of $99 was groundbreaking for a triple hybrid, and based on the way a few people were gushing over them, I knew I had to try them.
     
    Within the first 15 minutes of listening, I was hooked. The sound was detailed and engaging, yet so smooth to listen to. It was unlike any hybrid I had heard before. It immediately became my favorite daily driver for a very long time. It made me lose interest a bit in the hobby in looking for something better, because I didn’t feel I needed to.
     
    I was then invited to participate in the LZ A4 prototype tour. A prototype model was sent around to a select group of Head-Fi members in which we were to give our impressions of the unit. Suffice to say, for the suggested price of $200, I was not originally impressed. I felt the soundstage was congested, the filters did more harm than good to the sound signature, and the ergonomics needed work. In what was a highly impressive move to me, LZ listened to our feedback and fixed ALL the issues we noted for him. In doing so, he has created a masterpiece in the A4 (in my opinion).
     
    My LZ A4 is not a review unit, but was purchased at full retail price from HCK Audio on Aliexpress.
     
    This will be an ongoing review over time. I have spent about two months with my pair now, and here are my thoughts.
     
     
    REVIEW
     
    IMG_20161220_201508.jpg IMG_20161220_203755.jpg
     
    IMG_20161220_203857.jpg
     
     
    Specifications:
     
     
     
    LZ A4 2BA Balanced Armature + Dynamic Driver Hybrid In-Ear Earphones with Detachable MMCX Cable 

     
    1. Driver unit: 1 dynamic + 2 Knowles balanced armatures
    2. Impedance: 16 ohm
    3. Headphone sensitivity: 120 dB
    4. Frequency range: 20 Hz – 28 kHz
    5. Connector: ⅛ in (3.5 mm)
    6. Cable: MMCX detachable, 4 ft (1.2 m +/- 5 cm)
    7. Weight: 1.1 oz (30 g)
    8. Use Titanium silver composite diaphragm dynamic driver+ dual Knowles balanced armature driver
     
    Included Accessories
    1. 7 pairs of single-flange silicone tips
    2. 1 pair of double-flange silicone tips
    3. 3 rear filters and 5 nozzle filters in metal tin
    4. Detachable cable
    5. Zippered carrying case
     
    The A4 comes with a wide array of silicone tips varying in shape and size. If you don’t already have a pair of preferred tips (Spiral Dots and KZ Acoustics for me), the different bore sizes will affect the sound per filter configuration. If you use bass filters (red), try for a wider bore. For treble enhanced filters (blue), try a smaller bore opening.
     
    The filters are nicely arranged and easily accessible in a metal tin, while the carrying case provides enough room to fit everything inside.
     
    My favorite combos are: Red/Black, Black/Black, Black/Blue, Red/Blue
     
    The case, while a nice included touch with an LZ logo, didn’t really strike me as all that appealing. It does work great for storing everything however.
                                                                     
     
    Housing/Fit/Isolation
     
    The LZ-A4 is shaped in a unique teardrop/half circle configuration and made from a sturdy metal alloy. It allows the A4 to be worn over ear and down based on your preference. I prefer wearing them down, which feels more natural and easier to use. If you get a good tip seal, they stay in ear, even during a workout.
     
    The rear chamber houses circular filters that you twist on and off to change the bass levels. The nozzles in the front are also removeable and change the sound based on their color.
     
    Bass levels:
    Back Filters: None > Red > Black > Blue
     
    Mids/Treble:
    Front Filters: Red < Pink < Grey < Black < Green < Blue
     
    My favorite combos are: Red/Black, Black/Black, Black/Blue, Red/Blue Black/Pink
     
    Isolation is good, as only a slight bit of sound leaks to an outside listener. I expected a lot more sound leakage based on the rear filter designs.
     
    Cable
     
    The cable included with the A4 has a quality, rounded bumpy plastic feel to it, but it is also extremely difficult to remove from the housings. I stupidly pulled very hard on the wire one day while trying to remove the right housing and snapped the wire right off it. This is not to say it is a poor cable, but more of a warning NOT to pull the wire while removing the housing. Grab from the lowest part of the housing, and the tip of the cable.
     
    I switched to a silver plated MMCX cable and Fidue’s balanced MMCX cable (which brings the A4 to another level of sound). The Fidue cable allowed the A4 to shine on the few balanced sources I tried it on
     
    Sound Review
    Testing Gear (in order of quality)
     
    LH Labs Pulse X Infinity 2.0
    LH Labs Geek Out V2+ Infinity (Balanced)
    Aune S6
    Fiio X5 3rd Gen
    Axon 7
    Asrock Fatality amped onboard DAC/amp
     
    Music used for testing
     
    Lots of metal, EDM, classic rock, vocal melodies, anything that shuffles up.
     
    Amplifier Needed?
     
    An amp isn’t needed, but the A4 does scale well with higher quality sources and some extra power. Bass extends deep, so more power can give you a few more dB of clearer sound down low, especially when using the red back filter.
     
    Go with a balanced source if you can. There is a noticeable difference in clarity.
     
    Sound Signature
     
    The 18 possible filter combinations produce a wide range of sound signatures. The Blue back filter will create a bass light, mostly neutral signature. The Red back filter and no filter provide near basshead levels of bass. The flexibility of the sound is like the FLC8S at a much lower price.
     
    The signature is balanced with a slight or massive V, depending on the filter used as seen below:
     
    Graph Filter Colors: Green=Green, Blue=Blue, Grey=Grey, Red=Red, Pink=Pink, Yellow=Black
     
    I consider Black/Black the "reference" tuning, as it seems to be the average midpoint of all the filters.
     
    Blue Back
    blueback.jpg
     
    Black Back
    blackback.jpg
     
    Red Back
    redback.jpg
     
     
    Bass
     
    I enjoy slightly boosted bass with clarity. The A4 nails this signature better than almost any other IEM I’ve heard. I also tend to want more bass some days and less on others. A quick swap to the Red back filter gives me the slam I want for EDM listening one day, while a quick swap to Black will give me just enough kick drum power in a metal track to not overshadow the rest of the sound. If you want a flat, neutral sound, go with the Blue back filter.
     
    There is plenty of subbass and midbass present, almost too much at times, but I enjoy it. Oddly enough, I get the biggest amount of bass from using wide bore Sennhesier type biflange tips. Normally tips like these reduce bass, but not on the A4.
     
    The clarity of the bass with the Black back filter makes it my favorite. The Red back filter has more bass, but it is a bit loose in comparison and takes away from the mids a bit. Black gives a “just right” amount of slightly boosted bass that works well with all music genres.
     
    Midrange
     
    The mids of the A4 aren’t recessed, but they aren’t prominent either. Instruments and vocals never suffer or get lost in the mix despite the significant bass behind them. Some filters bring the mids forward (grey, green, blue), while others take a small step back or remain neutral.
     
    The timbre, clarity, and sound is comparable to something your favorite tube amp would produce… organic, smooth, detailed with a bit of warmth to it.
     
    Guitars really shine. From solos to acoustic, or to a sustained crunch… the sound is truly crisp and enjoyable. The A4 is one of my favorite IEMs to listen to all kinds of guitar driven music.  There is a ton of weight behind a power chord, and it makes me want to jam along.
     
    Treble
     
    One of the weaknesses of the LZ-a2, a previous model, is that the treble was a little too rolled off and missing detail. The A4 fixes that, with well extended treble with almost every filter. Measurements show the extension, but they also reveal significant peaks in some of the filters, most notably the Blue and Green fronts. The mid and treble peaks in those filters are best tamed via EQ if they sound fatiguing to you.
     
    Some filters like the Pink one provide a smoother sound without sacrificing much detail. Personally, I like the slight boost the Black front filter provides, making Black/Black my reference. Black/Pink is a reminder of the LZ-a2 sound, but with more extension and detail.
     
     
    Soundstage, Imaging, Resolution
     
    There is a clarity and detail level here that the older a2 just cannot match. Imaging wise, while everything is well represented, instruments feel cohesively blended together instead of standing out. The soundstage is also a significant step up, providing a very 3D feeling while keeping vocals front and center. The A4 retains some of the best clarity and detail amongst bass heavy IEMs I’ve heard, making this incredibly ideal for my preferences.
     
    Comparisons
     
    A4 vs. Magaosi K3:
     
    Very similar, but the K3 tends to lean a little bright and fatiguing without foam tips. Pricing differences between the two make it a toss up, as the A4 is more versatile, but the K3 isn’t far behind technically either. They play at nearly the same level of sound for a very value driven price.
     
    A4 vs a2:
     
    As mentioned throughout the review, the A4 bests the a2 in every way, and I loved the a2.
     
    A4 vs Vibro Aria:
     
    The Aria may have the A4 beat a bit in more detail at times, and the Aria is built a bit nicer, but the A4 is just much more enjoyable. The Aria doesn’t come close to the bass levels the A4 can output and can sound a bit cold, even though the signature leans towards a V shape. The Aria is also double the price.
     
    Conclusion
     
    This is the best IEM I own, and easily my favorite. I knew within the first 15 seconds of listening that I was going to love the A4. I haven’t been truly impressed with earphones in a long time, but the A4 does everything I want it to, and sounds just like I want it to. It would really be difficult to get better sound quality without spending hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars more. While $199 isn’t exactly a budget purchase, when you start comparing the sound to IEMs in the $499 and up level, it beats some (like the Aria) and comes close to a few others.
     
    You can purchase the LZ-A4 here:
     
    https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/New-LZ-A4-In-Ear-Earphone-Dynamic-With-2BA-Hybrid-3-Unit-HIFI-Earphone-Earbud/1825606_32771039693.html?spm=2114.12010615.0.0.tKPMK6
      natto, slowpickr, BetterLate and 7 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Skullophile
      Nice write-up!
      Skullophile, Apr 11, 2017
    3. Vishal
      How come none>red for bass..?
      Vishal, Apr 11, 2017
    4. bhazard
      No filter has slightly more bass than Red, but it is the least accurate to me. I didn't measure without a back filter though.
      bhazard, Apr 11, 2017
  7. wdetterman
    An Amazing Value for a Customizable Sound!
    Written by wdetterman
    Published Apr 9, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Impressive sound quality, great value, customizable sound
    Cons - Included cable has poor build quality, limited size range of included ear tips
    (for a brief summary of this long review, skip to the conclusion at the bottom)
     
    Intro/About Me:
                  I have been into hi-fi speakers for years. A couple of years ago I started taking interest in headphones, and I’ve recently been buying high-end IEMs to try out.
                  I only write reviews of audio equipment if I absolutely love the product, absolutely hate the product, or if there is something about the product that I feel hasn’t been mentioned or emphasized enough in other reviews. If I really like a product, I will still try to find and write a lot about the things I don’t like about it, therefore my reviews might seem harsh.
                  Above all, I value sound quality. I am not picky about the fit, isolation, or aesthetics. I prefer a mostly neutral, or maybe a somewhat warm or technical sound. To test IEMs and headphones, I use all FLAC files played through a Schiit Fulla 2, or through my AV Receiver’s headphone amp and 24 bit DAC. I prefer genres like acoustic, classic rock, and some newer alternative pop, so that’s what I primarily use to test headphones and IEMs.
     
    20170405_201816.jpg
     
     
    Design and Build Quality:
                  The body of the IEM is made of a good quality metal, but the plastic piece around the driver enclosure that the cable plugs into doesn’t have a quality feel, and looks like its dirty or scratched up because of the nature of the type of plastic used. I do like the styling of these, with their black tips with red core, and the colorful filters. However, my biggest problem with these IEMs is the included cable - it’s mediocre.
     
    The cable is perfectly able to do its job, and the audio quality coming out of it seems just fine. My problem is with the durability. The cable is made up of some black wires twisted together under a transparent outer layer of rubber (which I found out unintentionally). At first I really liked how it looked with the transparent and black twist design. But over the course of the month that I have owned these, I started noticing inconsistencies with the color of the black colored twists/stripes on the cable. Looking more closely, I counted 8 holes in the transparent layer of the cable. While this problem is purely aesthetic and bare wire is not exposed or anything, I expected more from $200 IEMs. I mean, I’ve only had these for a month, and the cable is tearing. As with all of my IEMs and headphones, I’ve been very gentle with them, wound them loosely in their case, and they have never been subjected to extreme temperatures or other conditions. Yet somehow, there are holes in the rubber cable.
     This isn’t too big of a problem, because the cable is replicable. The LZ A4 uses the same MMCX connections found on IEMs like the Shure SE215, so it will be easy for me to find a better-quality cable for these.  
     
    20170405_202810.jpg
     
     
    Comfort and Fit:
     
    They fit ok. I agree with other reviews that complain about the lack of size options of ear tips. There are a lot of included ear tips, but the size does not have much range, and the largest size included is pretty small. Luckily, the largest size included fit my ears well, and I have no problems with comfort.
                 
    The nice thing about the design of the LZ A4 is that you can wear it with the cable around your ear, or just straight down if you want. I appreciate this design element that lets me choose how to wear it unlike some IEMs that force you to wear them around your ear.
    20170405_201904.jpg
    The Filters:
     
                  Before buying these, I wasn’t sold on the idea of having interchangeable filters. Would I constantly be going back and forth between filters? Or would I settle on one favorite combination? I was fine with the manufacture just selling me IEMs with the filters built in that worked the best for their product to function as intended. But on the other hand, I like tinkering with things, and I liked the idea of having one pair of IEMs that could have 18 different sound signatures.
     
                  For the first few weeks I owned these, I was constantly changing out the filters and trying out different combinations. I wasn’t sure if I would keep changing out filters every time I used them, or if I would ever find a favorite combination. The forums have some useful images of frequency response graphs for the different filter combinations which I found helpful when experimenting with the filters.
     
    20170405_202505.jpg
     
     
                  The rear filters are pretty simple: the blue has the least bass, red has the most, and black is in between. The red filters have the thinnest filter material, while the filters on the blue and black are thicker material. But the front filters aren’t that simple. Its not always visible in pictures, but the blue, black, and red are shaped differently than the green, grey, and pink. The blues have no filter material apart from the metal front grill, the black have a thin filter, and the red has the thickest filter. The thicker the filter, the more the highs are suppressed. The green, grey, and pink have a smaller diameter, as well as thinner to thicker filters respectively. This makes them have a different frequency response curve in the highs. So not only can you change how much highs are delivered, but also other elements of the sound signature in the highs.
     
    20170405_202239.jpg
     
     
    Over time, I stopped changing out the filters when I listened to them, and I decided that I had found the best combination for my favorite kinds of music. I haven’t changed them out that much ever since. Every so often I’ll change out the rear filters, but I rarely ever change out the front filters anymore.
    I also experienced the little rubber gaskets falling off the filters like other reviewers have noted. I haven’t lost any of them yet, but in the case that I do, LZ has included some extras.
     
    Audio Quality:
                  I was shocked to hear the sound that came out of these IEMs when I first heard them. I kept trying different filter combos, and it kept getting better and better. Not at all what I was expecting from a smaller, unknown foreign brand.
     
    In general, these have a lot of bass. In my opinion, the rear blue filters make the bass sound neutral, while black and red add a lot of bass. If you like a bass-heavy sound, you will like the LZ A4. But if you want less than neutral levels of bass, these won’t be for you. I like a little bit of extra bass personally, and I use the black and blue filters the most.
                 
    The mids might change a little bit across the range of front filters, but remain the same for the most part. In some filter combinations, they can be overshadowed by the bass or the highs. In general, the mids sometimes are not as prominent as I would like.
     
                  The highs change a lot with the different front filters. The blue and green filters give the highs a very detailed sound, but in my opinion, they made the highs sound piercingly loud and out of balance. The grey and black filters are better for balance, making the highs less piercing while retaining a lot of detail, but still sounds a little bit bright. The pink and red filters provide the most balanced sound, but sometimes lack the amount of detail in the highs that these IEMs are capable of. Sometimes it seems like a balance between sounding neutral, or having detailed highs.
              
        My favorite combination for the kind of music that I listen to (acoustic stuff, classic rock, and newer alternative pop) is the grey or black front filter with the black rear filter. I like the highs to be laid back, and somewhat detailed, and that combination works well in my opinion
    The separation between different instruments and sounds on these is great since it’s a triple driver. The highs have a lot of detail, and they make guitars and high hats sound very clean and separated. Nothing gets distorted and it doesn’t ever sound crowded when listening to louder, upbeat songs. While they do acoustic, vocals, and classic rock well, they do their best work with electronica stuff. Their sound signature in general across filters makes that genre sound great.
                  Also, they sound surprisingly open for IEMs, which I like. The soundstage on these is a lot bigger than any other IEMs that I have been able to compare them to. This can likely be attributed to the big vents on the rear filters.
                  While the rear vents in the filters give these an open sound and a great soundstage, they don’t help with the isolation. I’m willing to compromise isolation for an open sound personally, but if you are seeking good isolation, you might not be satisfied.
     
    20170405_202329.jpg
     
     
    Value
                  These are a steel for $200 USD (or $175 last time I saw them on massdrop). Budget some extra money to replace the included cable, and you will have an amazing, customizable sound. I was extremely surprised that such a nice sound could come out of these relatively inexpensive IEMs from a small foreign company that I had never heard of previously.
     
    Comparisons:
     
    My collection of IEMs is not very big (yet), so I can’t compare these to very many others in their category of price and type.
     
    Though they are much more expensive than these, I can compare it to the Dunu DN-2000j, which is another hybrid with 2 armatures and a dynamic driver. While the Dunu includes a better selection of ear tips and I prefer the Dunu’s stainless steel build quality to the LZ A4’s, that’s about it. The LZ has more comfortable fit, a better sound, a detachable cable, and is a much better value. Personally, I do not like the DN-2000j’s sound; it sounds way too bright for me. Yes, they have a lot of detail in the highs, but the highs are way too loud for me. They are almost piercingly loud compared to the mids and bass. This is mentioned in 2000j reviews that they are a little bright, but I think that’s an understatement (I’ll save it for an upcoming DN-2000j review). If you, like many people, enjoy the Dunu’s bright sound, the LZ can do that with the blue front filter. The LZ gives me the option to tune the highs down to a level that I like. This lets the LZ A4 impress many people who like different sounds out of their IEMs, making them a very safe purchase to a new IEM enthusiast trying to figure out what sound they like.
     
    The other IEMs in my collection include the Shure SE215 and the RHA MA750i. These may be single dynamic driver models worth half of the LZ’s price, but I can compare some aspects of each.
     
    I enjoy the SE215’s sound and balance between lows mids and highs. The SE215 provides more isolation and does vocal elements of songs just slightly better than the LZ, but the SE215’s sound can become crowded and loses its separation with more upbeat music unlike the LZ. The LZ also offers more detail in the highs, more ear tips, and a more comfortable fit.
     
    The RHA MA750i has much better build quality than the LZ A4. Its stainless-steel build, thick cables, and exceptional selection of ear tips are amazing for the price. Their sound has a remarkable amount of separation considering that they use a single dynamic driver, but the LZ can still provide more detail in the highs, and much more prominent lows.
     
    Conclusion:
     
                  When I bought these, I didn’t know what I was getting into. They are from a small foreign company I’ve never heard of, they have interchangeable filters which I’ve never seen before, and they are not available through many sellers. At first, I changed out the filters a lot, but settled on one combination after a couple weeks, and haven’t used the others very much ever since. I really like these IEMs, and the sound quality is awesome. The soundstage is surprisingly large for IEMs, and the sound is somewhat open (while isolation is compromised). While the cable works just fine, the outer layer is falling apart on my unit, and don’t think they look the part of a premium flagship IEM. Considering everything these have to offer for the price and their amazing sound quality, build quality on the cable is the only thing that is keeping me from giving these a 5 star review. Overall, these are an insane value with regard to sound quality, and a safe purchase because of their customizable sound; just plan on upgrading the cable and buying some Comply foam tips. I’m excited to see the new LZ Big Dipper, and whatever LZ comes up with next. 
      duyu, BetterLate and crabdog like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. wdetterman
      I totally agree. I was able to attend CanJam SoCal today, and I thought the A4 sounded just as good as some models that were 2 or 3 times more expensive. These are a really incredible pair of headphones.
      wdetterman, Apr 10, 2017
    3. Intensecure
      Nicely balanced review, not too much fluff but enough comparisons to make it useful. I'm interested to maybe get a listen to a pair of these, being a big fan of hybrids.
      Intensecure, Apr 10, 2017
    4. wdetterman
      Thanks! Hopefully you get the opportunity to listen to them and try out different filter combinations. These have to be one of my favorite IEMs. 
      wdetterman, Apr 11, 2017
  8. SOULSIK
    LZ-A4 Every Preference in a single IEM
    Written by SOULSIK
    Published Apr 3, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - comfort, soundstage, bass, seperation, accessories, presentation
    Cons - none
    Disclaimer: some of the data/pictures presented in this review may have not been originally produced by soulsikreviews
     
    more full review with picture can be found on our webpage. 
     
    17671183_1350544575010840_134217524_n.jpg
     
     
    Introduction & Unboxing
    These IEMs are from china by LZ audio
            I waited for these the longest time because the delivery was lost by the first seller from aliexpress.com. I ended up getting my money back after 2 months of struggle but I will provide you with the link of the seller I ended up buying from in the end. Buy from this seller period, shipped it in 5 days and I am in Canada. My god… their package surprised me… it was the safest packaging I’ve ever witnessed, with boxes inside boxes / foams on foams.
             The wait was well worth it. When I opened the package, and looked inside the box, the representation itself was enough to make me smile. The LZ A4 came with so many tips that it almost looked like it was impossible to not find the perfect fit. However, after trying all of them, I still found my spin fit to be perfect for my fit and comfort. The spin fit compatible with the LZ A4 is the CP -100. 
              I was a little bit worried because I have heard of fitting issues from other individuals. I heard some ridiculous stuff from “you cannot wear these like you would wear IEMs, you have to wear them like earbuds” to “the shape is awkward and falls off.” Let me tell you straight off the bat that this is not the case. Even if shape of ears may differ… the fact that these can be worn either way cannot be denied. Also, if you get the right fit, these become the most comfortable IEMs, I would not call these awkward. These also look stylish in my opinion.
     
    Why Are these Special? The story of filters
            Now, the reason everyone wants to get their hands on these is because of the filter system. There are two filters that screw onto the IEM, the front nozzle and the back-rear filter. What these essentially do is change the frequency range of the IEMs as the below chart suggest with each combo.
             Would you like more bass? Would you like crisper high ends? Would you be listening to male vocal or female vocal, today? How would you like your music served today?
             With the simple function of changing the filters, you can EQ these just the way you like it. I know a friend who EQs for just 1 song because he loves it that way. We will get into how each of these filters serve their function later.
     
    Build Quality & Accessories
    Included Accessories:
    ·         7 pairs of single-flange silicone tips
    ·         1 pair of double-flange silicone tips
    ·         3 rear filters and 5 nozzle filters in metal tin
    ·         Detachable cable
    ·         Zippered carrying case
     
    Cables: I was impressed by the quality of the stock cables. They were light and wrapped around my ears very nicely and securely. Even without the ear hooks, these do not fling off at all. These are mmcx connectors and connect/disconnect to the IEM without much effort. The cables terminate in the most ideal 45-degree 3.5mm termination. Why is 45 degree the most ideal? It is because it levitates tension most efficiently and prevents kinks. The cable also in tangle free.
    Tips: the tips included are presented in the most professional and beautiful way. There are several silicon tips along with more different type of tips inside the box. However, I did find 3rd part tips to be more comfortable. Notably the spin fit cp100
    Carrying case: While I am not a fan of Chinese letters on my cases, the case is a very nice hard case with pouches for extra tips or accessories. In my case, I put them in my pelican case because they deserved it.
    The LZ A4 IEM themselves are enclosed in a hard metal shell. They are very sturdy and rotates 365 degrees around the mmcx connection. They are also of reasonable weight but not heavy. They hang on to the ears even when not listening without fulling off. This is very rare but I have no problem with the build quality in any way for the money
     
    Comfort
    I would normally include this along with build but this needed some praise by itself. The LZ A4 is one of the IEMs that I put into my ears and did not need to pull them out in relief after a long listening session. Pulling them out and putting them back on after talking to your study partner beside you is not a problem, you can get a perfect fit with these within seconds. Also, when I tested these while working out, I did not experience them coming off or the wires flinging out of position.  Also, like I said above, if you are not listening to them, you can simply hand them on your ears without worrying 
    too much of them falling off. These won my heart at the comfort level among many things. Well done LZ.
     
    Isolation
    I believed this to be the negative, the instant I saw the LZ A4. I mean look at the rear filter that looks like an open back configuration. Don’t judge its book by its cover, lesson well learnt. These do a pretty good job of sound isolation. You do not need to worry in terms of sound leaking into your ears from the outside world while listening to your music. However sound will leak out a bit but not to the extent of an open back or a semi open back headphone or IEMs.
     
    SPECS
    LZ
    Driver unit: 1 dynamic + 2 Knowles balanced armature
    Impedance: 16 ohm
    Headphone sensitivity: 120 dB
    Frequency range: 20 Hz – 28 kHz
    Connector: ⅛ in (3.5 mm)
    Cable: MMCX detachable, 4 ft (1.2 m +/- 5 cm)
    Weight: 1.1 oz (30 g)
     
    Driving the LZ A4
    These are 16 ohms, which means even my phone can drive them. I used few devices to test these. I used fiio x1, oppo ha 2 se, and my Samsung s7 phones. All of them drove these fine with the oppo ha 2 se being overkill in terms of power. (1 or 2 tilt was enough to blast some music out of these). These sound great out of all devices, even a simple phone, however as always can improve with a DAC.
     
    SOUND QUALITY
    I could not believe how these sounded out of the box and then dropped my jaw when they were broken in a bit because of how full they sounded. Here is the story. Enjoy.
    Lower Frequencies: The bass extension in these IEMs are the best I have heard. The sub bass is very present with certain filters and overwhelming in some. It really considers all the preferences individuals have out there. I was talking to Adrian Low from Audio Excellence the other day about how the younger generations tend to look for bass & more bass. Whether we deny it or not, the current generation enjoys a lot of hip pop genres. The question is “is our generation listening and seeking for the correct sound of bass?” what do I mean by correct bass? I mean clean solid bass that sounds and thumps the way it’s supposed to instead of veiling out all the other frequencies with the dirtiest rumbles and distortions. At this price point, I hope there is no excuse for the generation to listen to overpriced bad headphones instead. With this being said, even for audiophiles, the bass in these are exceptional and matches up to many of the higher tier IEMs out there.
    Mid Frequencies: Now I own the AKG 550 and they are mid ranged headphones, these are as detailed as an IEM gets at this price point. The high midrange really benefits from the airiness. They are moderately deficient in body and warmth, due to progressive attenuation of frequencies below about 150Hz. Definition or resolution is also exceptional, I’ve heard things with this IEM that I’ve not heard with my HD650s.
    High Frequencies: The highs are exceptionally good as it shows no signs of being sibilant in my ears and most of the people will agree with me that this is important. Not many people like sibilant sounds that pierce your ears. I’ve heard these for extended period while studying, on my desk, working, in the gym and walking in circles with my eyes closed. At any point in time, there was not even the slightest urge to take these out of my ears because they were sibilant. That does not mean details are not there, the details are phenomenal and lush in this frequency range.
    Separation: separation in these IEMs are exceptional, perhaps due to the hybrid configuration. Especially when paired with high end DACS such as the oppo ha 2 se used in this review, the separation becomes much more evident and clear.
    Soundstage: My god… the soundstage in these blew me away. Thinking for a minute, I always use JBL LSR305 speakers or my HD650s for reference and enjoyment on my desk AND these little IEMs blew me away with soundstage? Yes, they did my friends. You will not know how wide they sound… yet so detailed? Until you try them on. Now with that being said, the filters that give you a wider range of frequencies do make things feel much more further away and feels like losing some details.
    With that being said we must talk about the filters now.
     
    FILTERS
    At closer look, the filters seem to contain the same number and size of holes but different amount of dampening material in them.
     
    PICTURES ONLY AVAILABLE ON OUR WEBSITE
     
    Rear filters
    The Red, black, no filter seemed similar with subtle differences. The blue filter however seemed to have quite a bit of difference, especially in the lower frequencies.
     
    Front filters
     
    Front filters with black rear
     
    GRAPH ONLY AVAILABLE ON OUR WEBSITE
     
     
     
    Front filters with blue rear
     
    GRAPH ONLY AVAILABLE ON OUR WEBSITE
     
     
    These graphs are meant for reference only. The only real way for you to find out if go through the combos and figure out which one sounds best to you, that is all.
     
    Where to buy?
    Now if you are in Canada like me, you have trouble buying these because they are not available on amazon or overpriced. If you are living in other countries or even in the US, same thing can occur. I will help you. Buy from this seller on aliexpress and talk to them before purchasing, let them know you were referred by soulsikreviews, they will give you the best discount possible with great packing and fast shipping.
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/LZ-A4-Earphone-Dynamic-2-Knowles-Balanced-Armature-Hybrid-IEM-With-Detachable-Cable-Tuning-Filters/32793749007.html
     
    Final Thoughts
    I really love these IEMs and hope to see more like this in the future. This type of IEM is something that I can introduce to anyone because it is highly likely that one of the filters will suite their needs and preferences. At this price point and flexibility, everyone should have one of these. There is no excuse anymore, everyone should be experiencing high fidelity.
     
    Review posted by soulsikreviews.com
     
    video for reference
     
    [​IMG]
    1. View previous replies...
    2. SOULSIK
      @Dv8er

      @TwinACStacks   
       
      Hey guys! have you guys tried the comply or spinfits? also I did a recent comparison of the lz a4 and ie80 which i am giving away ! check it out on youtube ! 
      SOULSIK, Apr 6, 2017
    3. 1TrickPony
      "Ungh...I'm running out of breath here..."  ahaha, you don't get anymore honest than that when reviewing iems haha. Thanks for the comment. Being Canadian myself, it's nice to have great options available since we don't always get access to specialized audio stores here. I appreciated the video review nonetheless!
      1TrickPony, Apr 10, 2017
    4. SOULSIK
      SOULSIK, Apr 19, 2017
  9. Hisoundfi
    "You don't know the power of the LZ side..." The LZ-A4 hybrid in-ear monitor with tuning filters
    Written by Hisoundfi
    Published Mar 18, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - FABULOUS price to performance ratio and features, Great build and accessories, Multiple tuning options, Can be worn over or under the ear comfortably
    Cons - Slightly bulky housing, Bass is a bit loose with some filter combos, Slightly generic aesthetic
    20170318_100904.jpg
    At the time this review was written, the LZ A4 was listed for sale on Penon Audio’s website. Here is a link to their listing of the product:
     
    http://penonaudio.com/LZ-A4?search=lz%20a4
     
    Introduction
    If you’ve read my previous LZ reviews, there’s no need to repeat how much I appreciate what they’ve done for the budget/hybrid in-ear community. Two years later excellent product performance has become a regular expectation. LZ brings great products to market at each price point. Each product seems to offer something uniquely different from anything else in their lineup, primarily in terms of tuning and sound signature.
     
    I recently wrote a review for another one of their hybrid in-ears named the A3S. Here is a link to the review:
     
    (http://www.head-fi.org/products/lz-a3s-hybrid-in-ear-monitor/reviews/18012)
     
    The A3S is a good earphone, but not the best model in the LZ lineup in my opinion. Coming in at approximately fifty more dollars we have the LZ flagship titled the A4. I usually try to avoid the words “better” and “best”. However, I’m making an exception with this review. Let’s take a look and listen to what I feel is currently (at the time of writing the review) the best earphone you can buy for under two hundred dollars.
     
    Disclaimer
    I purchased a pair of A4 at a discount 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 them for the discount and opportunity to experience and review the product.
     
    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. I want to hear any earphone that looks promising, in hopes that I can share my impressions with  enthusiasts and help them find the audio product they’re looking for. My Head-Fi profile has a list of audio products ranked from favorite to least favorite. For me, this hobby is more about getting great price to performance ratio from a product, and having a variety of different gear 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 are solidly built, with ergonomics and sound that is pleasing to my ears. It’s my pleasure to share my experiences with audio products and make recommendations based on gear I have owned and used.
     
    REVIEW
    20170221_220415.jpg
    I’m kind of late to the review and impression party for these. Infact, I wouldn’t have even pursued writing the review had I not caught wind of the positive things my friends were saying about them. There are already many thorough and detailed reviews of this product. Because of this I will skip ahead to the good stuff, and try to contribute the straight dope and information my fellow Head-Fiers have been asking for, HOME MEASUREMENTS WITH EVERY FILTER COMBINATION, as well as my intake on the build.
     
    Specifications and Accessories
    3421467271620698688.jpg
    Specification:
    Brand: LZ
    Model: A4
    Driver: 1 Dynamic driver+ 2 Balanced Armature Hybrid
    Impedance: 16Ω
    Headphone sensitivity:120dB
    Frequency range: 20-28000Hz
    Interface: 3.5mm
    Cable Length: 1.2m±5cm
    Weight: 30g
    Interface Type: MMCX
     
    20170221_224711.jpg
    Accessories:
    6X Pair, silicone single flange tips (S,M,L)
    1X Pair, silicone bi-flange tips (M/L)
    1X Pair, foam tips (M/L)
    1X Pair, silicone ear hooks
    1X Shirt clip
    1X Aluminum tine (filled with the A4 filter assortment)
    1X Zipper clamshell case

     
    Housings
    20170318_100904.jpg
    The A4 housings appear to be made out of a black powder coated aluminum. The shape and fit is somewhat reminiscent to a slightly bulkier version of the Audio Technica CKR line of in-ear monitors. MMCX plugs are cleverly and ergonomically placed.
     
    20170221_224806.jpg
    The supplied filter system works as the nozzles. The nozzles are fairly standard in terms of width and length. Tip rolling is fairly easy to do with both the stock and a majority of available aftermarket tips.
     
    20170318_101148.jpg
    There are some things that concern me about the A4 build. The filter system is threaded (they twist on and off). I can see those who are not careful accidentally cross threading them and ruining their ability to attach and detach the filters. Also, the rubber gaskets of the filter system seems like something that can wear over time and break. Although I was careful and haven’t had any problems like this, they are definitely two things I would advise customers to be careful with.  
     
    Cable, Y-Split, Cable Jack, Strain Reliefs
    20170318_100739.jpg
    The same cable I applauded in the A3S has been used with the A4. There is very little spring or memory, lots of flexibility, a durable build and included chin/neck slider and velcro cable winder. Y-splits, strain reliefs are all better than average and the sixty degree angled plug seems very durable. As previously stated, this cable rivals and bests many cables that come in at higher prices in terms of usability.
     
    Functionality
    The A4 is a plug and play device. The modular cable sets up for upgraded in terms of material and/or cables with microphones and remotes. The standard MMCX connection is very universal in application.
     
    Ergonomics, Fit and Microphonics, Isolation
    20170318_102745.jpg
    20170318_102808.jpg
    The A4 is a great earphone in terms of fit. I was able to get a great fit using them with the cable looped over my ear, and also wearing them straight down. The housings are slightly bulky and don't promote a flush fit with the listener’s ear. However, the housings are lightweight and very comfortable. I had no problem wearing them for several hours without needing to readjust the fit (once I found the right tip to use).
     
    The included chin/neck worked well and helped snug the earphones into a comfortable fit while also helping to eliminatie microphonics for the most part. Isolation is average at best. The tuning system of the A4 allows some air to vent through the housing, letting in some ambient noise. When music was playing at moderate volumes, almost all ambient noise was eliminated.
     
    Sound Review
    I did my demo with my usual gear. I used an LG-V20, Cayin i5, Fiio X7 or iBasso DX80 DAP/Bushmaster D14 DAC/Amp for high fidelity portable use. For desktop use, I used my Toshiba Satellite Laptop in combination with a ifi micro iDSD playing at 32/192 kHz. I tested them with several other sources as well. I used Google Music in its highest download quality (320 KBPS), and 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 Justic 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
    20170318_100643.jpg
    Coming in at 16 Ohms and 120dB of sensitivity, the A4 will sound great with a DAP or smartphone. They are very easy to drive and variances like high gain and added amplification are not necessary. I was able to get some great sound from the A4 with just about all of my portable sources in low gain. The A4 rocked with the iFi micro iDSD in its most sensitive setting.
     
    The A4 has a relatively bold and slightly emphasized bass response regardless of what bass filters you use. Because of this they will be somewhat forgiving with poor recordings. At the same time, the dual Knowles drivers of the A4 will provide listeners with plenty of details, so expect them to scale well with higher quality recordings and music files.
     
    Sound Signature
    I simply can’t cover the entire spectrum of what this earphone is capable of doing in terms of sound. It would take me a year to review each filter combination. What I can do is say that in terms of lower frequencies the A4 goes from a tight and responsive neutral-ish tuning to a lower frequency laden bass cannon. Both are good in their own ways and will appeal to a broad variety of listeners. In terms of treble, the possibilities range from polite and smooth, to bright and harsh.
     
    LZ has given customers the opportunity to take a terrific triple driver setup and tool kit to modify these into what owners would consider their ideal sounding in-ear monitor. It’s a beautiful thing if I do say so myself. To be completely honest, I have changed the filters on these things a lot over the course of reviewing them. Depending on what I’m listening to, I can tweak the A4 to be ideal for whatever source and genre of music I can throw at it. The A4 isn’t a chameleon, it's a color changing dragon that listeners can chase day in and day out in search of their own personal audio preferences.  
     
    What I can broadly say about the A4 is that they will give you dynamic bass, clean mid-range, and detailed treble. Some filter combinations will create a more noticable difference between the drivers (I’ll let you decide which filter combinations do this the most). Soundstage is darn near off the charts. LZ has once again pulled some next-level stuff here. You are getting a detachable cable, universally great fitting and great sounding earphone with customization options that don’t require tools. Did I mention the A4 is under two hundred dollars?
     
    Instead of breaking the A4 down in terms of each frequency let’s just take what I said and slap up a graph of each filter combination. I feel at this point it will clarify filters for those who already own a pair, and also give those interested and idea of how versatile this earphone is.
     
    My measurements were done with my Vibro Veritas coupler, Startech Audio interface and ARTA sound measuring software. Let it be known that this setup IS NOT an industry standard measuring device. I am fairly accurate through the bass and midrange treble up to around 4 kHz, but after this there is some roll off at higher frequencies. The purpose of these graphs are to gain understanding of how the A4 filter system works and compares.
     
    The A4 uses a filter and porting system for the front and back of the earphone. Because of this, various combinations of filters seem to render different results. What I mean is that it’s the combination of filters that alters the overall response and signature. Use a different nozzle filter with what you think is your favorite bass filter and you might change the way you feel about the back filter. Change the bass filter of your A4 when using what you think is your favorite nozzle filter and you might get a different impression of the front filter. The only way to truly dial it in for your preference and source is an almost never ending experiment. The good news is that this process  is fun and easy to do. The way the filters are threaded and shaped, it’s easy to change them out (no tools needed). After trying every filter combination several times I determined that my favorite combination (for the most part) is the black bass filter and green nozzle filter. Over time this will most likely change. Your mileage may vary.
     
    Personally, I feel like the measurements do the A4 no justice. Don’t think that what you see in graphs will give you all the information you need to figure out what filter to use. What I measured is different compared to what I heard with some combinations. The best thing to do is try different combinations until something hits your ears’ G-spot in terms of sound :wink:
     
    NOTE: Because my measurements are not industry standard in terms of calibration I will do a comparison of the A4 filter combinations to one of the most perceptually neutral in-ear monitor I have, the Unique Melody Miracle V2. What I know about my Veritas is that there is a rolloff at around 4 kHz. Please consider this when looking at the results. Let’s take a look at the graphs.
     
    READING THE GRAPHS
    When looking at the graphs, here is the color reference chart:
     
    Yellow= Unique Miracle Melody V2 (note the Miracle is a more sensitive earphone than the A4)
    Blue= Blue nozzle filter
    Green= Green nozzle filter
    Purple= Black nozzle filter (due to black background)
    Red= Red nozzle filter
    Gray= Gray nozzle filter
    Pink= Pink nozzle filter
    *Back filter will be noted on the bottom of the graphs
     
    Black Back Filter:
    LZ-A4blackfilter.png
     
    Red Back Filter:
    LZ-A4redfilter.png
     
    Blue Back Filter:
    LZ-A4bluefilters.png
     
    Conclusion
    The LZ A4 is my current favorite in-ear monitor to fall under two hundred dollars. While I don’t think it will be the “giant killer” that rivals summit-fi gear, it does way too much right at its price point to not give it the credit it deserves. The physical shape is okay (slightly bulky). The materials used are very nice. The stock cable is excellent in terms of materials and design and is fun and easy to use. The tuning filters are simple to switch and work as they should. The large soundstage for an in-ear monitor in combination with the nice detail you get from the dual Knowles driver makes them incredibly fun to listen to.
     
    Once you find the right filter combination for your preference and source you’re ready to rock and roll. When you feel like you want something that sounds different you don’t need to jump online and buy another earphone. Simply switch the filters until you find a more ideal combination and carry on. LZ has made most preference issues a non-issue with the A4.
     
    When rating a product I have to take all criteria into account. The A4 gets four and a half stars for ergonomics, fit, build and design (minus a half star for the slightly bulky housing and slightly generic aesthetics). I give the A4 five stars for sound. Although it’s not the best sounding in-ear monitor I’ve ever heard, you can’t ask for much more at this price. Add the fact that this earphone has multiple sound options, I can’t deduct any stars. LZ knocked it out of the park in term of price to performance. You’ll be hard pressed to find an earphone as versatile and easy to use at the same price point as the A4.
     
    20170318_101148.jpg
    Thanks for reading and happy listening!
      leobigfield, Brooko, duyu and 4 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. alexandros a
      Very informative stuff there... i use too mostly DUNU DN2000 and Fidue A73 and just love the midrange and vocal reproduction of those.....
      Now since i got LZA4 been experimenting with  different filter combos there...
      Seems to me that the most sparkle and air in the soundstage is for the moment at red/back - blue/front till now...
      Would you sugget a front/nozzle filter that comes the closest to FIDUE A73 vocal reproduction ?
      alexandros a, Mar 20, 2017
    3. TwinACStacks
      I like this HiFi.
      TwinACStacks, Mar 20, 2017
    4. Hisoundfi
      @alexandros a I've been really enjoying the Black/Green combo. Although it doesn't have the same top end extension and sizzle of the A73, I can enjoy the A4 at louder volumes with this combo as compared to the Fidue. I still really like the A73, but since writing the A73 review my preferences have changed a bit and lean towards a more perceptually balanced signature. You have two great earphones with the DN2000 and A73. If I was you, I would experiment with filter combinations that compliment the two you have. Cheers buddy
      Hisoundfi, Mar 20, 2017
  10. Lohb
    The Most Technically & Musically Immersive Hybrid IEM Under $199 (Early 2017)
    Written by Lohb
    Published Feb 12, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Rock solid build quality,FR dialability, extended FR on both ends, balance of musicality & micro-detail, cable build, value, sound-staging, extras.
    Cons - Could do with one more rear nozzle for more low-end granular bass tuning, no ear-hooks, too many similar-sized ear-tips.
    TL;DR
    See pluses and minus above.

    (Older photo - I finally settled on 2 unit dials…red back / black front + no backs / black front.)

    These things are G.O.L.D. Just keep dialing on multiple fronts to find said audio gold. It's there 100%, and you won't find it with an entry-level phone or straight out your notebook/tablet.....
     
    I’ll skip posting what would be my own endless amateur shaky macro IEM photos (except a few I pulled off the thread), youtube unboxing erotica video or the spec. list - it’s already been done by the other guys who have done stellar reviews and I’m 7th down the review list and it basically just pads out the review needlessly.
     
     
     
     
    Intro - I’ve journeyed through entry-level and lower mid-level dynamic cans, through various entry-level and a mid-level planar cans…then started dabbling at the cheapest end of Chinese IEMs last year as I needed a mobile and closed solution to complement my cans at that time - open planar magnetic headphones.
     
    After multiple buying loops through the hot new Chinese IEMs thread last year (2016) that kept popping up relentlessly on the head-fi active threads carousel bottom left of the head-fi website footer area, I stumbled on the LZ-A2 which were gaining traction from early buzz/rumblings/impressions and took the $69 or so plunge….
    No brain burn-in/hardware burn-in was needed in this instance….it was just an instant OOTB sit-up and take notice ‘How is that possible from a $69 tiny hybrid IEM ?’
    For me, it was like a ‘baby Audeze LCD 2.1’ - Yes, it reminded me of the essential DNA of a specific $1k headphone straight out the box in a micro-sized form.
    Of course without the sheer ‘Detroit muscle car ability’ that only the huge Audeze planar units could bring….
     
    IMO, there was a definite overlap in multiple areas……..an affinity, a riff….
    fullness of low/mids presentation,
    prominent detailed decays,
    musicality,
    great micro-detail and low-end texture,
    rich tonality with a roll-off in treble that gave it also an overall darker tonality that the 2.1s are known for - that only added up to longer listening sessions for myself….
     
     
     
    I have previously also bought and owned :-
    LZ A3  -  (extended more than A2 both ends, better separation and a nice mid-bass hump)
    LZ A3S - (extended more both ends than A3, better separation again and a nice sub-bass hump…though I missed the mid-bass presence after a while vs A3)

    I received the A4 free for taking part in the beta feedback tour many months ago, and also in return for giving a frank and honest review of the latest iteration of the LZ house sound.I have owned my set for 2+ months now.
    I would have bought them on release, if not for a surprise PM that I was getting a pair entirely free.
    (I thought I’d get about a $50 discount on a retail pair at best - for some head-time with feedback of the prototype pair I tried, and my own onward shipping costs on that set).
     
    Thanks 101% @DUYU for arranging that !

     
    Late to review after the first lot of reviews rolled in, and here’s why….
     
    Frankly I had a ‘problem’ with my A4 OOTB and felt I could not honestly do a positive review as things stood.

    I wondered if :-
    A) the train had left the station for me and the LZ house sound had gone in a very different/dry and overly-bright direction and people did not want to call it on the thread at the very start.
    or
    B) if I’d just simply received a bad pair.
     
    As it turned out, the issue was nailed firmly to my then current opamp chip which worked very good with my Fostex planars signature (AD797) balanced out with BUF634P WP buffers.
    But this combo did not work out in any way (for my ears) with the entirely different tech DD/BA mix and tuning of these hybrid IEMs.
    I could not go beyond the red front filter (fairly rolled off treble tuning) in any shape or form, as everything became too bright and dry/thin and lacking extended full decays. This, in spite of the fact that no early impressions / reviews indicated they were like this….
    I fired off a few PMs to various early owner members to clarify my impressions - nope, they were loving them and had no treble/tonality issues…
    I ordered another opamp chip entirely a couple of weeks later (LME49990), and while it was pretty amazing compared to the last one for my planars; again, I was not getting at the rich immersive musicality, full-bodied decays and highly detailed LZ house sound I had previously enjoyed so much.
     
    Finally, try, try, again - as the main beta tour group all couldn’t be wrong - sourcing and rolling back to an older opamp chip (OPA604*) that I knew worked with A2/A3 and B.I.N.G.O.….the SQ was unlocked/released. There it was again - that immersive musicality, the great micro-detail and those decays and (now) audiophile low-end texture, fullness and control not bleeding into the mids…. everything previously I loved was there but everything was way more refined.
     
    *(The quirky character of the 604 chip is when you increase the volume, it fills out the low-end/mids 'body' and the treble does not start to dominate. It also has a tube-like tonality. Not for the transparency junkies at all, this is an unapologetic character opamp...it comes alive 12 volts and up..below 10 volts, forget about it...)

     
     
    Back in business with my audio chain working with the A4s again, I got lost in more front/back dialing. Starting a-fresh with more options that my ears could now take ….and then someone posted in the A4 thread that ‘they tried no backs’ to great effect = no screw-in back-plate installed on the A4 and were getting an enhanced sound-stage/‘head-stage’ (credit to HFM threads member Jerg on that term) .
    And then my dialing ‘joy’/ indecision started all over again with this new backs off element added….:) ;-(
     
     
    Previously with my mis-matched opamp chip I could only use :-
     
    red back-plates to make up in ‘bass extension/fullness lacking’
    and
    red front nozzles to ‘cool the hot bitey treble’ to get any head-time with them through-out December/Early January.
     
    After getting my audio chain correct behind these hybrids mid-January, I finally settled on :-
     
    A) red back-plates / black front for more kicking low-end driven electronic music
    and
    B) no back-plates / black front for walk-about immersive/transparent extended head-stage/sound-stage mids-focused ambient/electronica stuff.
     
    Lucky for me I no longer have to roll the front nozzles. That is done and dusted….FINALLY
    I just hope no-one discovers a new magic pixie dust cable $$$$ or ‘next level’ hard to source ear-tips are posted in the thread……it never ends !

    My Gear/SQ Goals - I’ve been going in circles the last 4 years with my audio chain gear which could be classed as ‘entry-level/lower mid-level’.
    It has been a journey away from overly-analytic DACs or wooly/dull/lifeless amps to the mid-ground between musicality and technicality….
    I also am not much a fan of neutral - ‘natural’ would be where it’s at for me. The 'Harman Curve' appeals to me vs a flat-liner studio monitor deal, with all that ultra-detail and no soul…
    I don’t think I’ll be buying pure BA units or Sennie HD800s any time soon on that basis...
     
    Pasted over from my profile - in an ideal world and price-point I’m after of as much of the below as possible…

    solid slice of micro-detail,
    rich/slightly darker tonality,
    controlled textured bottomless full & tight low-end,
    lush/liquid balanced mids,
    smooth marathon listening session non-fatiguing treble,
    a balance of musicality and technicality.
    Equipment with 'muscle and finesse' basically.
     
     
    My Current Audio Hardware Chain
     
    A) Desktop/Transportable - OS X Audirvana Plus - iPurifier 2 - HRT microStreamer - iBasso PB2  (OPA604 + BUF634P WB) + 16-volt LPS (linear power supply) - LZ A4 / or planars (LME4990 amp chips)
    B) Portable - Zenfone 2 Laser 6”+ UAPP - iPurifier 2 -  HRT microStreamer / PB2 - LZ A4
     
    My Music 
     
    I’m into ‘IDM’, ‘glitch’ (decays a-plenty) and a wide variety of other complex quality underground electronic music basically. I need gear that can handle low slow deep textured sub-bass sweeps with really fast tangential stop/start stuff going on the rest of the way up the frequency range.
    I’ll save posting my music stuff from the review, it can be found over in the http://www.head-fi.org/t/727918/techno-electro-underground-beats thread run by @ WraithApe who runs a tight game managing the thread and keeping it on-point with the bleep veterans over there……

    LZ-A4 units
     
    Build : Rock solid build on the units. MMCX are known to be a bit fickle though with frequent swapping, poor mating cycle to failure count, no issues with the connectors so far on that though. Matt black CNC units a wise choice this time round. Simply it is the wisest choice to use black silver etc for smaller companies. Gold was maybe a bit too bling bling for some with A3 holding back some sales purely on the colour. So far I have had no issues with the units 2 months in and they should still go strong all year long. Nozzles and back-plates are fine, though as some have brought up the issue that the o-ring can come off when pulling the nozzles out the case; so be careful with that one - making sure your o-rings are on before dialing on to the units.  Cable - I actually like this cable the best of all the previous ones now. No microphonic for me, all-round quality cable build with a cinch added on and robust angled 3.5". Make sure to rotate and pull the MMCX 90 degrees to release it out of the shell vs straight pulling it back, that seems to be the trick to bypass any male/female stuck connector issues.

    Ergonomics : I suggested this before for over-ear by flipping the left unit for the right unit - it will not touch any part of the upper inner ear causing discomfort over time etc.

    This way above, they are great and just stay in place. I find they tend to pivot less and work their way out than A3/A3S. A set of ear-hooks and less same size ear-tips would have been a good addition on future retail set boxes.
     
    Reference back-plate : RED / reference front nozzle : BLACK for following impressions
     
    Bass : Extended excellent tight sub-bass, slight mid-bass hump, no bleed into the mids. These are not kicker basshead IEMs, but have very decent quality low-end which is there when the recording has it vs over-emphasised low-end bleeding across the mids with cheaper bass hack IEMs. Best controlled quality bass on an IEM I've heard so far (actually BLACK back-plate has more linear/tighter bass control - red is more extended/full-bodied.)
     
     
    Mids : It has been said they are mid-forward, mids recessed and balanced… the answer is yes to all… as it depends on which nozzles and back-plates you are using with the units for your reference. With the black nozzles I’m finding the mids are just right in the 'Goldilocks zone' , without being too in-your-face or stepped back with the effect of this nozzle. Some of the guys have been in the position of rolling in different nozzles for male/female vocals but as my music focus is electronic I can keep the blacks as my main choice. I have seen a few comments that they are even richer in the mids with a tube amp and I’d like to get some time with a tube and the A4s. I’d imagine the sound-stage jumps out wider in the XYZ and the immersive musicality would be even more addictive than now….(currently digging on Ali-X for a tube pre-amp to add to my audio chain). Anyway, with solid state gear, the now well-known LZ rich and musical house sound is still present and more refined with the A4s with the latest iteration  bringing in more space between instrumentation.
     

    Treble : More extended than previous models/more air around instruments, sparkle without grate or continual glare through-out the upper spectrum which would wear me down. TBH, I can handle a roll-off in treble if I’d get more bass extension in exchange for that, and I’d not feel I’m missing much. After a point in the treble, it can make me take off audio gear if it is too present causing fatigue fast. I have some serious brain-burn in with rolled off treble gear, so anything balanced can seem a bit hot to me at first till I adjust. Now, with the multiple nozzles coupled with the custom-tuned BA units, that treble bottle-neck/ceiling is no longer there for those that crave some extension in the treble or even slightly dominant treble. There’s a nozzle for it at each point of the treble spectrum.
     
     

    Tying it all together :  If you are just stepping into the hybrids scene right now, you are in luck with the likes of A4 sitting in front of you, as the sub-scene is maturing so fast and these guys are really iterating so fast in an upwards direction that sometimes I cannot keep up.
     
    My title is obviously contentious, and I made a point of putting a date in it as the scene rolls forward at break-neck speed. I hope the single person to out-do the A4 will be LZ with an A5.
     
    LZ has a real ear for musicality, and a great ability in getting the technicalities side of things right as well. I think the A4 is his real breakthrough offering into the higher-end of the IEM scene. LZ obviously took on all our similar and opposing ideas and synthesized them into the A4, which is quite a step-up from the proto unit in post #1; as it surely was a work in progress.
     
     
     
    Well done LZ, with no presence on this forum, churning these units out from your 1-man-band operation in China - you’ve moved one step closer to real summit-fi IEM design that can take on the big brands.
    This is Lean Startup strategy at its best - all walk and no talk.
     
    (Edit March 5th : Now using Muses02 OPAMPs to great effect. Also removed my 'dump the pink filter' comment at top due to presentation with these Muses chips sounding much better than a quick appraisal I did with older OPAMP chips at review time.I don't want to hold anyone back with older impressions, or make people feel they are going against the A4 thread grain liking pink filters.)
      duyu, peter123, Franklin and 3 others like this.

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