1. HiFiChris
    Written by HiFiChris
    Published Feb 5, 2018
    Pros - •strong but well-made sub- and midbass implementation
    •bass among the faster sort for hybrid IEM standards; good bass control
    •resolution and separation in general
    •convincing soundstage
    •clever rear cavity vent hole placement
    •surprisingly good (better than average) isolation for vented in-ears
    Cons - •meh cable
    •build quality should be better at this price point (glue residue at and around seam)
    •unrealistic, sizzling upper treble (cymbals) regardless of tuning filters
    •additional filters for an upper midrange presentation between the four included sets would be nice

    Auch wenn es die Grafik auf der Gehäuse-Außenseite der In-Ears nahelegt: nein, der hier rezensierte Ohrkanalhörer wird nicht von Hondas Motorrad-Abteilung gefertigt und vertrieben, sondern stammt vom asiatischen Hersteller LZ Audio.

    Der hybride Penta-Driver mit vier Balanced Armature und einem dynamischen Treiber je Seite besitzt zudem akustische Filter, mit denen sich die Hochton-Menge je nach eigenem Gusto anpassen lässt – das ist zwar nicht neu, jedoch eine sehr nette Zugabe.
    Wie der In-Ear klingt und ob er technisch überzeugt, klärt diese englischsprachige Rezension.


    LZ Audio is an Asian in-ear manufacturer that offers hybrid in-ears as well as one multi-BA in-ear monitor. All of them have the key feature that their sound signature is adjustable (either through acoustic filters or switches that change the crossover configuration) – which on its own is definitely nothing new and was already done by various manufacturers, with FLC offering their FLC8S with a whopping number of 36 possible filter combinations, but is nice to see since it allows the customer to fine-tune the sound to their personal preference.


    Their most recent creation is the LZ A5, an in-ear that, as the name already implies, houses five drivers per side, of which one is a dynamic driver, and the other four are Balanced Armature drivers, that are arranged in a traditional three-way configuration with the dynamic driver being responsible for the bass reproduction and the BAs for the mids and highs.
    Included are also four pairs of nozzle filters that let you adjust and fine-tune the treble response depending on your personal preference.
    And the artwork that can be found strongly resembles Honda’s motorbike logo – which was probably the main reason that got me into accepting the request to review the in-ear when that message landed in my message inbox (thank you for the invitation/recommendation, Peter!).

    So without further ado, let’s see how the LZ A5 sounds and performs.

    Full disclosure:
    I was invited to review the LZ A5 hybrid in-ear and accepted the enquiry. I was then sent the A5 at no cost. As always, no directions/restrictions were given for the review, no matter how it would turn out, and I treated the in-ear just as fairly as any of my large arsenal of personally purchased audio products.

    Technical Specifications:

    MSRP: $269
    Type: In-Ear, Hybrid
    Drivers per Side: 5 (4x BA, 1x DD)
    Sensitivity: 105 dB (+/- 1 dB)
    Impedance: 16 Ohms
    THD: < 0.2%
    Frequency Range: 8 Hz – 36 kHz

    About hybrid In-Ears:

    As you can already see from the technical specifications and introduction, the LZ A5 is a little different from most In-Ears produced in the past decade and doesn’t only rely on dynamic or Balanced Armature transducers for sound reproduction, but combines both in one shell.

    Most In-Ears use dynamic transducers for audio playback which have the advantage of covering the whole audible spectrum and achieving a strong bass emphasis without much effort. Valuable dynamic drivers are often said to have a more bodied and musical bass that has a more soft impact and decay and lacks of the analytical character that BA transducers are known for. On the downside, in contrast to headphones with other driver principles, dynamic transducers often have a lower resolution.

    Higher-priced and especially professional IEMs mostly use Balanced Armature transducers, which usually have got a higher resolution than dynamic drivers, are faster, more precise and have got the better high-level stability, which is important for stage musicians that often require higher than average listening levels. On the downside, it is usually somewhat difficult (although not impossible) to cover the whole audible spectrum with just one single BA transducer, and a strongly emphasised bass is often only possible with multiple or big drivers. Some people also find In-Ears with BA transducers to sound too analytical, clinical or cold (in several active years in a German audio community where I wrote multiple reviews, gave dozens of purchase advice and help, from time to time I heard people that got into BA earphones for the first time using these attributes for describing BA earphones, especially their lower frequencies).

    Hybrid IEMs unite the positive aspects of both driver principles and use one dynamic transducer for the lows reproduction and at least one BA driver for covering the midrange and highs, wherefore the often as “musical” described bass character remains and the BA transducers add resolution, speed and precision to the mids and highs (, at least in theory) – and that’s what the LZ A5 does with its technology. It is addressed to those people who perceive the clinically-fast character of BA transducers as unnatural and prefer body and weight, but want to keep the mids’ and highs’ resolution, nimbleness and precision.

    Delivery Content:

    The cardboard box with magnetically closed lid is rather plain and something one will rather find delivered with lower-tier in-ear models and I would have definitely liked to see a printed, colourful sleeve around it, but the cardboard box does its job of containing the included accessories which are:


    The in-ear, a Velcro cable tie, the cable, three pairs of Sony Hybrid-like silicone tips, one pair of foam tips, a metal carrying tin, and last but not least a threaded aluminium block to hold the tuning nozzles (four pairs come included).

    Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

    If you expect build quality on RHA T20-level, you might be somewhat disappointed – the LZ A5 just doesn’t fully feel like a >$200 product, to which the glue residue around the shells’ seam on the in-ear I received contributes, just as the cable that does its job fine and is flexible, but doesn’t appear like a premium accessory either due to its woven nylon-/cloth-like coating that is something that some people seem to like but isn’t very practical as it is likely to fray overtime and will absorb (body) fluids.

    DSC05069-small.JPG DSC05071-small.JPG

    On the other hand, the threads seem to be nicely and precisely cut, which isn’t only true for the in-ear’s shells but also the very nice and deburred aluminium block they sit in. In addition, the MMCX connectors fit conveniently tight without swivelling unintentionally, and strain relief as well as the chin-slider on the cable are good.

    On the shells, for whatever reason, it seems like LZ Audio decided to put on an engraved, reddish pink Honda logo. Upon closer inspection, one can see that the logo wasn’t just simply engraved and painted, but that there is a very fine line pattern on each “wing”, which looks really nice.

    DSC05075-small.JPG DSC05073-small.JPG DSC05074-small.JPG

    What I really appreciate about the in-ear is the vent placement – the in-ear shells don’t have any front cavity venting for the dynamic driver woofer (it is therefore safe to assume that the A5 will have an elevated, rather prominent sub-bass with good extension as a result of no front cavity vent due to the nature of how the tuning of dynamic driver in-ears’ bass output works), and instead of placing the rear cavity vent on the inside where it is likely to get blocked (which would usually result in a midbass and warmth decrease), they smartly placed it at the back.

    Comfort, Isolation:

    The shells that are made of metal, ergonomically shaped and appear rather similar to Shure’s and RHA’s models when it comes to ergonomics and fit. Most people should therefor get a very good, comfortable fit, which is also true for me with my large ears.

    The cable has got memory wire ear guides and a chin-slider. Microphonics are still a bit present due to the cloth coating that also continues above the y-splitter, however it is kept at still rather reasonably low levels due to the over-ear cable fit.


    Passive exterior noise isolation is surprisingly strong and higher than average, and just shy of fully closed in-ears.


    My main sources for listening were the iBasso DX200 (AMP1 module) as well as Cowon Plenue 2.

    I only used the largest included silicone tips for listening and comparisons.

    Frequency response measurements of all nozzle filters can be found here: […]

    The measurements were performed with my Vibro Labs Veritas coupler.
    Below is the information about the measurements with that coupler:

    Please note that my measurements weren't recorded with professional equipment but with my Vibro Veritas coupler that was pseudo-calibrated to more or less match a real IEC 711 coupler’s response with applied diffuse-field target, hence the results shouldn’t be regarded as absolute values but rather as a rough visualisation.
    Especially at 3, 6 and 9 kHz, there are sometimes greater deviations from professional plots – but for a general, rough comparison between various in-ears and a rough idea of how they sound, the results are sufficient, and in the mids and lows, they are even (very) accurate.

    FR nozzles.jpg
    FR nozzles (graph colour = nozzle colour)

    vs others.jpg


    The order, from dark to bright, is red > grey > black (standard) > blue. Before describing the effect of the filters that allegedly work between 3 and 10 kHz within -2 to +2 dB changes (in reality it is much more, at least at 3 kHz), I will talk about the bass, root, lower midrange and central midrange since those areas aren’t affected by the filters.


    Bass implementation is done really well on the A5 – just as assumed, the sub-bass is elevated and quite prominent, and the whole bottom-end presentation is rather centred around the sub-bass with a gradual increase from the lower root towards the sub-bass where we have the comparatively greatest elevation.
    The bass elevation begins to climb reasonably low around 500 Hz and peaks way down low around 40 Hz, the real sub-bass, with a strong elevation of ca. 13 dB compared to an in-ear that is diffuse-field flat in the bass, such as the Etymotic ER4SR/S. Therefore you don’t get an unnaturally thick or warm lower midrange or bleed into the root but a very clean elevation that commendably stays out of the mids and fundamental range.
    The lower midbass is on the strong side as well, with the upper bass already having audibly less quantity wherefore it isn’t intrusive or hammering but takes a step back compared to the lower midbass and sub-bass that really are the star of the show.
    So despite being anything but shy, the bass doesn’t appear out of place since it mainly concentrates on the low bass. Well done.

    The central and lower mids are quite linear and neutral. Starting from the central mids and mainly concerning the upper mids however, we will see some strong differences between the various filters.
    While the grey and red ones only have a mild, tendentially neutral upper midrange lift towards 3 kHz and sound quite realistic with just a touch of presence range lift and upper midrange brightness, the black and blue nozzles show a really strong and bright upper midrange elevation that gives the impression of fantastic perceived clarity and openness, however at the cost of realism and a correct midrange timbre.
    All filters take a slight step back around 4 and 5 kHz, just to come back to roughly neutral levels around 6 kHz (the black and blue ones more than the red and grey ones), with a narrow peak shortly before 8 kHz (it is not as strong on the grey and red nozzles and a bit stronger on the blue and black ones, I guess even almost bordering sharpness for most people with the latter two nozzles), and some other peaks around 12 and 14 kHz in the super treble.

    Generally the differences between the grey and red respectively black and blue nozzles are rather small, with the red ones being a tad “darker” than the grey ones, and the blue ones a tad brighter and sharper than the black ones.

    - - -

    The bass, while powerful, is nicely integrated into the sound and doesn’t bleed into the root or midrange that is rather neutral and has got just a natural, very mild upper midrange lift with the grey and red nozzles.
    The mids, with the grey nozzles, can be characterised as rather neutral, with a correct timbre, and just a touch of presence range elevation.
    The highs are absolutely fine up to 7.x kHz. Above that however, even though it is the upper treble and super treble we are talking about, they are somewhat too uneven, resulting in sizzling cymbals that lack realism and appear rather unpleasant. So as long as there are no cymbals on the recording, timbre and realism are very good (using the red or grey nozzles). But when they kick in, cymbals lack some realism and sizzle too much, which is an unfortunate thing.

    - - -

    From now on and for the comparison, the grey nozzles were used.


    The LZ A5 is probably very close to the idea of hybrid in-ear perfection some people have when it comes to technical ability – if you don’t like the (rather typically, but definitely not always) “clinically fast, tight Balanced Armature bass character” but don’t want a soft or muddy dynamic driver bass response, the A5 provides an excellent compromise: it delivers very high levels of control and no midrange interference, however it has got a some of that dynamic driver body that people seem to like, albeit without muddiness or appearing slow. It just has the right amount of attack and decay to sound what is often characterised as “natural”, yet it is basically actually on the tighter and faster side for dynamic driver standards, especially for having a powerful lower midrange and sub-bass elevation.

    The mids convince with high levels of speech intelligibility as well as micro detail retrieval, and the distribution of the resolution appears even.

    What is quite noticeable is that the LZ A5 is an in-ear with clean and precise note separation capabilities. This doesn’t fully help with the cymbals though that sizzle just somewhat too much and appear tendentially spread than to the point as a result of the tonal tuning.


    When it comes to soundstage, the A5 delivers a rather believable and realistic imaginary room that is tendentially more circular than oval and quite precise in terms of imaging.

    To the sides, the soundstage is larger than average and leaves the base between my ears to some degree, with spatial depth that is about 75 to 80% as pronounced as the width.
    Note separation between single instruments remains fairly clean even with busier recordings, and the staging and layering capabilities are quite convincing as well.


    In Comparison with the
    iBasso IT03:

    The accessories, presentation, build quality and cable are of clearly higher quality on the IT03.
    Comfort and fit are quite similar and will ultimately depend on one’s individual ear anatomy, however since the IT03’s shells are made of plastic they won’t feel as cold as the LZ’s. Both in-ears isolate very well and better than average for vented in-ears (the IT03 even slightly more so).

    The A5 has actually got the somewhat stronger sub-bass and lower midbass lift, however the difference isn’t as apparent when listening to music since both in-ears have got more of a sub- and midbass than warmth-driven bass elevation and since the iBasso is slightly “fuller” in the lower mids and root in comparison to the LZ Audio in-ear.
    Upper mids are a touch brighter on the iBasso while midrange timbre heads into a comparable direction with a bit of upper midrange and presence range lift.
    In the middle highs around 5 kHz, it is the LZ that is a bit more relaxed in comparison.
    While the iBasso only has one upper treble cymbal-highlighting peak, the LZ features several more upper and super treble peaks above its ~ 8 kHz peak (that is a bit more pronounced than the iBasso’s). As a result, cymbal crashes sizzle much more on the A5 and are sharper and more unpleasant in comparison, as well as less realistic or to the point.

    In terms of bass speed and tightness, the IT03 is one of the best hybrid in-ears. The A5 comes close but has got a bit more body. The iBasso has got the higher control in the sub-bass in comparison though, while the A5 has got just a slight edge over it when it comes to bass details.
    Switching back and forth, the iBasso has got a slight advantage when it comes to midrange details. Both are really good here though and the difference is just minor.
    Finding a difference in terms of treble details is difficult – ultimately I would say the A5 is slightly superior, however the IT03 sounds better focused with cymbals due to its much less uneven upper and super treble response.
    Lastly, when it is about note separation, the A5 is ultimately slightly above the IT03 with fast and busy recordings.

    Both in-ears have got comparable soundstage width (the A5’s is just a little wider) while the A5 portrays more spatial depth. Separation is ultimately slightly higher on the A5.


    On the technical level, the LZ A5 is a convincing in-ear. The same goes for its tuning from the sub-bass to the central mids, with a powerful sub- and lower midbass and relatively neutral lower and central midrange.
    The black and blue tuning filters might be a bit debatable with a probably too strong upper midrange boost for some peoples’ tastes (although those two filters add loads of perceived clarity and air), and it would be nice to have some filters with a midrange tuning that is in-between those two filters’ bright and lean upper midrange and the other two filters’ tendentially neutral, just slightly elevated upper midrange response.


    Not so nice is however the upper treble response (especially concerning cymbals) that should be more even and linear, since as it is now, cymbal crashes sizzle and sound artificially spread and thinned out, to the degree of becoming unnatural and unpleasant, which is a shame given that the rest of the sound spectrum is implemented rather well. At this price point, we can already expect better in the upper highs, and other models and manufacturers prove that a bright upper treble tuning doesn’t have to result in an unpleasant or unnatural tonality in the highs.
    There is also some room left when it comes to build quality (glue residue around the housings’ seem), the accessories (probably more ear tips, and especially a different cable as the one that comes included looks quite cheap and is a bit more microphonic than others) and the presentation (maybe a printed sleeve around the plain black cardboard box).
      mgunin, duyu, Holypal and 1 other person like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. HiFiChris
      It's not the upper treble's brightness per se that I see as a flaw (it really isn't) and that it therefore naturally highlights cymbals (which alone is no problem at all), but it's that the ~12 and ~14 kHz peaks I hear on a sine generator make for example cymbals appear more spread and sizzling than to the point because their overtones and decay are highlighted. [...]
      HiFiChris, Feb 6, 2018
    3. HiFiChris
      [...] Applying negative gain with narrow Q to those two peaks makes the presentation appear fine. >10 kHz super treble extension with a more linear (flatter) behaviour would be the way to go for a fully convincing upper treble presentation.
      HiFiChris, Feb 6, 2018
    4. Brooko
      Chris - I tried it tonight. I still don't get the same overall issues you have, but you were right - cutting 12 kHz with a narrow Q (I went -5 dB) does help with the overall "air" and allows better decay. Thanks!
      Brooko, Feb 8, 2018
  2. audio123
    LZ A5 - Versatile Rendition
    Written by audio123
    Published Feb 5, 2018
    Pros - Details, Sub-Bass, Versatile
    Cons - Slightly Bright Treble

    LZ is a Chinese company that specializes in in-ear monitors (IEMs). They have a variety of iems from their entry level A2S to the flagship Big Dipper. I would like to thank LZ and Penon Audio for this review unit. At the moment, you can purchase the LZ A5 from https://penonaudio.com/lz-a5.html .



    • Driver: 1 Dynamic + 4 Balanced Armature
    • Sensitivity: 105±dB
    • Impedance: 16Ω
    • Frequency range: 8-36000Hz THD
    • Total harmonic distortion: <0.2%
    • Rated power: 5mW
    Unboxing & Accessories

    The LZ A5 comes in a black package with the brand logo and name printed on it. After opening the package, there are the iem, hard case and filters. The case has a circular shape with the brand logo printed on it. It contains a pack of tips. There are 4 pairs of filters with 1 pair installed on the iem already. The installed filters are black in colour and the other filters are blue, grey and red. At the bottom of the package, there are the cable, warranty card and quality control card.



    IEM Build & Design

    The A5 is made of metal and there is a smooth surface to it. On the faceplate of each side, there is a winglike logo. The logo is purple in color. The shell has a matte black color. Near the MMCX socket of each side, there are L & R markings on the left and right side respectively. The nozzle can be unscrewed and changed with other filters. It is slightly angled. There is metal mesh for earwax prevention. There is a vent at the back of the iem. The A5 has a nice ergonomic design. I find the fit to be good as the A5 sits in my ears comfortably. It is constructed well.





    Cable Build & Design

    The cable is sleeved and it utilizes MMCX straight connectors. Each connector has a opaque black housing. On the connectors, there are L & R markings on the left and right side respectively. There is a memory wire section and it is enclosed in a black heat shrink tube with a metal inside to form the shape. The chin-slider is black in color with a silver stripe. The y-splitter is black in color too and the model name is printed on it. There is strain relief. The jack is 3.5mm gold plated right angled with strain relief.


    Sound Analysis


    The A5 has good sub-bass quantity and it has a great extension to it. The sub-bass reproduction showcases a nice depth and it is able to bring impact. The impact has a moderate level without sounding too aggressive. The bass decay is fairly quick and bass texture is moderately smooth. The bass presentation has good energy which is able to bring a nice punch to the overall sound. There is great bass definition and each bass note is being presented with musicality. The mid-bass has a good quantity and each slam is delivered with slightly more authority. There is a nice visceral impact.


    The midrange has a good level of cleanliness and there is nice transparency. It is being expressed in a bright manner. The lower mids has a moderate quantity and male vocals are done well. It is not expressed with a thick approach. The body might be lacking for some. The upper mids is forward and female vocals are presented rather well. The control is moderate. However, at times, it may sound slightly shouty. Midrange definition is fairly good.


    The treble is extended moderately and there is no sibilance and harshness. The A5 is able to extend to a certain level of stretch. Treble articulation is rather accurate. The treble is not the most revealing and it operates in a bright approach. The amount of air rendered is fair and it is able to give space at the top end. There is a nice airy feel without feeling congested. There is sparkle and bite. At times, there are signs of aggression but it gives a nice kick to the overall sound. The details retrieval is good.


    The A5 has a natural expansion and the width magnitude is great. It is sufficient with a good amount of depth which is able to render space. Positioning of vocals and instruments is fairly accurate. When tackling busier tracks, there is minimal congestion.



    On the blue filter, upper mids are more forward and it is being expressed with more engagement, contributing to a lively performance. On the grey filter, it takes on a full-bodied approach with a tinge of warmth. On the red filter, there is a fairly balanced presentation.



    LZ A5 vs Oriveti New Primacy

    The A5 has more sub-bass quantity than the New Primacy and the extension has a larger stretch. The sub-bass reproduction on the A5 is more engaging and there is a good punch, contributing to the impact. The mid-bass on the A5 has slightly more quantity than the New Primacy and the slam has a greater authority to it. The A5 has the edge in bass definition. Bass texture on the New Primacy is smoother and bass decay on the A5 is quicker with more control. The lower mids on the A5 has slightly more quantity than the New Primacy and it is able to tackle male vocals better. The upper mids on the New Primacy is slightly less forward than the A5. Female vocals sound more controlled with the New Primacy and it is able to showcase intimacy well. Emotions are conveyed more effectively. The A5 has the extra bite to inject some excitement. In terms of treble, the New Primacy has a slightly better extension with a tight control. Treble articulation on the New Primacy is more precise. It is presented smoothly on the New Primacy. I feel there is more engagement from the A5. The amount of air rendered on both is around the same. In terms of soundstage, the A5 has similar representation with a more natural expansion. The width magnitude on the A5 is slightly larger and the New Primacy has more space rendered to prevent the depth from being too close in.

    LZ A5 vs iBasso IT03

    The A5 has less sub-bass quantity than the IT03 and IT03 has the edge in terms of extension. There is more control in the IT03 sub-bass reproduction and it is expressed with authority. Bass decay on the IT03 is quicker and each bass note is being delivered with a more impactful hit. The A5 has the upper hand for the bass texture as it is more smooth. The mid-bass on the A5 has more quantity than the IT03 but the IT03 expresses its slam with extra agility. A5 takes on the slam with a weighted feel which contributes to the musicality. The lower mids on the A5 has slightly more body than the IT03 and it can express male vocals in a more full-bodied approach. The upper mids on the IT03 has extra forwardness which contributes to the female vocals. There is a good crisp and female vocals are being conveyed in a clean manner. The A5 has more body and capable of producing an organic performance. Moving on to the treble section, the IT03 is able to extend greater and the amount of air rendered is more. The airy feel from the IT03 helps to lighten the overall presentation which prevents the sound from being too dense. There is a nice sparkle from the IT03 which accentuates the treble presentation. The A5 demonstrates a good control in the treble. The IT03 excels in its width magnitude and A5 slightly wins in the depth department.

    LZ A5 vs Oriolus Forsteni

    The A5 has more sub-bass quantity than the Forsteni but the extension of the Forsteni is slightly better. The mid-bass on the A5 has more weight to it which contributes to the body and it presents itself with a soothing slam. Bass decay on the Forsteni is quicker with pace and bass texture on the A5 is smoother. The Forsteni has a higher level of bass definition but the A5 is not very far behind. The sub-bass reproduction on the A5 is engaging. The lower mids on the A5 has more body than Forsteni and male vocals do not sound dry. The upper mids on both has similar forwardness with the A5 having a more matured presentations. It is able to showcase a good control and female vocals are presented intimately with body. Forsteni has slightly more excitement. In terms of treble, the extension is pretty similar and A5 is able to express its treble with more finesse. It is able to keep the treble under control. Forsteni has slightly more crisp. The amount of air rendered on the Forsteni is more. Lastly, the stage width on the Forsteni is greater than the A5 and the depth on both has similar magnitude.


    The A5 proves itself to be a competent performer and it is able to showcase its adaptability to different genres with its filter tuning options. There is a good extension on both ends. With great sub-bass reproduction, natural midrange and clean treble, it is able to deliver. The LZ A5 is a versatile hybrid iem and it is a great iem by LZ.


    For more reviews, visit https://audio123blog.wordpress.com/ .
    1. Brooko
      Ric - I'm surprised you hear such a big difference between red and grey - both Chris's and my measurements show them practically identical in frequency response.
      Brooko, Feb 6, 2018
      PacoBdn likes this.