LZ-A4

General Information

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

Latest reviews

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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.

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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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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.
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

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.


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
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.

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.


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

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.


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

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).


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.

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.

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).


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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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.

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)

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)

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)


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)

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)

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.


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