Knowledge Zenith (KZ) impressions thread
Nov 10, 2020 at 2:25 PM Post #52,412 of 58,391

Slater

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 5, 2015
Posts
13,407
Likes
24,275
Location
Cincinnati, Ohio USA
Reminiscent of BA10-like bass with good sub-bass depth and the right amount of mid-bass punch.

How would you compare the BA10 to the ASF (ignoring the differences in fit and age ie ‘newer is always better’)?

I was planning on getting a BA10 during 11.11, but could get the ASF instead.
 
Last edited:
Nov 10, 2020 at 9:05 PM Post #52,413 of 58,391

Alpha Whale

Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 6, 2020
Posts
78
Likes
301
Location
Formerly the greatest state in the union
Original QDC connectors purportedly have a different polarity. Currently, QDC and C-type are synonymous.

I got recently a couple of couples (0.75 and 0.78) from TRN - I can't see any difference whatsoever in connectors and cable fit to different KZ and non-KZ.
Curiously, one of 0.78 cables had pins spread to be diverging rather than parallel, so they could fit 0.78 better :) :)

I use 0.78 on all my iem's, even if they need 0.75, never noticed any difference, they fit perfectly fine :)

I can tell you that the female connectors on my first set of AS12's suffered cracks. It was the resin/plastic surround of the connector. The crack appeared near the base of the connectors on both sides. I never connected the stock (0.75) cable to the AS12's. I only connected a C-type/QDC upgrade cable with 0.78mm pins to the AS12 and I only removed it to see if the connector was compromised.

It was.

I'll have to post some pictures at a later date but I was not happy.

I ordered two more AS12's and yes I'll still be using the C-type/QDC upgrade cables with 0.78mm pins on both AS12's but I think I might just use an adhesive so neither of them can come undone. The AS12 is one of my favorite in-ears and I wouldn't want to be without them.

+1 for Rock Zircon eartips. the only good thing to come out of those crappy earphones.

Agreed on the Zircon eartips. It's a shame because I'd like to have several more pairs but I'm not willing to spend the funds on the Zircons just for the eartips. If I could find a 3-pack or 5-pack I'd order several of them at once.

How would you compare the BA5 to the ASF (ignoring the differences in fit and age ie ‘newer is always better’)?

I was planning on getting a BA5 during 11.11, but could get the ASF instead.

Unfortunately, I never picked up the TRN BA5. Someone on one of the threads here, who's ears and judgement I trust, had commented that the BA10 was unequivocally preferable to the BA5. It was about a year ago and it may have been baskingshark or Nimweth, can't remember. Nevertheless, I own and adore the BA10 so I passed on the BA5.

My best description is that the ASF is sort of a ZS3 redefined with balanced armatures. Maybe that's overstating things a bit but it's my best description.

They don't sound like any of my other Chi-Fi hybrids. They're quite unique.
Glad I picked them up.

Are they worth $70?
Considering the build, fit, comfort and performance I'd say yes but I wouldn't pay more than $70 for them. My AS12's were $70 each and I'd happily pay more for those. I don't know if there is anything else on the market that sounds like the ASF and I've nothing to do an apples to apples comparison with so, yep, a well-built in-ear with a pleasantly unique sound profile for $70 is welcome in my collection. Definitely ordering a back-up set, too.

Best looking KZ to date in that ED16 blue, in my opinion.

51dxwX99-6L._AC_SL1500_.jpg



I'm finding that they fare better with recordings containing acoustic instruments. Jazz, standards and vocal recordings sound warm and rich. I'm only marginally impressed with EDM and pop music on the ASF and I haven't sampled the ASF with classical just yet. Classical wasn't the ZS3's strong point so I'm procrastinating with the ASF because I'm not ready for the inevitable let down. Hopefully, I'll be wrong.

That said, Sade sounds impressive on the ASF.

 
Last edited:
Nov 10, 2020 at 9:19 PM Post #52,414 of 58,391

kmmbd

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 18, 2019
Posts
577
Likes
2,719
Location
Munich, Germany
Hi there. I believe my review of KZ ASF has raised a number of questions, so I decided to address some of them here. Please note that, in general, I take at least two weeks to listen to an IEM before reviewing. For me it's a hobby and not a job (not even close) so I don't bother about deadlines and such which many review sites need to adhere to. My frequency of posting reviews can be a good indication of that. I also have a wide range of tip collection and usually if it's a fit problem I can work my way through that (unless it's something incompatible with my ears).

All that being said, I heard the KZ ASF for only 5 days. Why? The reasons are very simple:

- I have gone through all tips and even a few third party cables and realized that the sound was indeed mostly unchanged from stock
- The stock sound was too weird for me to enjoy long listening sessions
- I pretty much had all my test tracks done within the hour (ASF having zero treble extension saved me from nitpicking with the treble...)

There has to be something good about the ASF, Kz didnt release a bad iem for years now.

I didn't find anything good apart from the design and comfort (it fit really snugly and was great for commuting). I've already discussed all the tonal aberrations and I only looked at the graph after publishing the review. Crinacle has the measurements done on his website too and I did a sine-sweep which pretty much aligned with the graph. It's a bit unlikely that both Crinacle and my unit will have QC issues (they wouldn't have similar measurements otherwise).

Well, ASF do have a strange frequency response and manufacturer should tune them more balanced. But some things the review say makes me wonder, if they listened to it. The vocals sound clear and open, right from the start even with stock tips. Looks like they just discribing the frequency graph and imagine the sound...

The male vocals are up-front and honky. My reference for midrange is the Sennheiser HD650 which I use as a baseline for vocal/midrange performance. Compared to the lower-mids on the Sennheiser, ASF sounded very strange indeed, and even some other KZ IEMs at a cheaper price (e.g. ZST X) didn't have such issues. As for the graph bit - I only look at them once the review is done to add some notes in between (e.g. certain IEMs may show peaks which aren't as aggressive in real world). Also, listening to it for a while and then going back to something like, say, the Final E1000 makes the difference in tonal accuracy even more stark and apparent.

Nonetheless, if the ASF signature is enjoyable for some then that's great! However, something this polarizing should definitely warrant a listen and blind-buying may not be the best of ideas. Also, the ZAX and even the old ZSX were far more enjoyable for me from a tuning perspective and I think KZ has dropped the ball massively on this one.
 
Last edited:
Nov 10, 2020 at 10:00 PM Post #52,415 of 58,391

MacAttack7

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 18, 2018
Posts
188
Likes
182
Location
Portland, Oregon
The male vocals are up-front and honky. My reference for midrange is the Sennheiser HD650 which I use as a baseline for vocal/midrange performance. Compared to the lower-mids on the Sennheiser, ASF sounded very strange indeed, and even some other KZ IEMs at a cheaper price (e.g. ZST X) didn't have such issues. As for the graph bit - I only look at them once the review is done to add some notes in between (e.g. certain IEMs may show peaks which aren't as aggressive in real world). Also, listening to it for a while and then going back to something like, say, the Final E1000 makes the difference in tonal accuracy even more stark and apparent.

Nonetheless, if the ASF signature is enjoyable for some then that's great! However, something this polarizing should definitely warrant a listen and blind-buying may not be the best of ideas. Also, the ZAX and even the old ZSX were far more enjoyable for me from a tuning perspective and I think KZ has dropped the ball massively on this one.
Can you give an example of a song or two that doesn't sound right to you?
 
Nov 10, 2020 at 10:23 PM Post #52,416 of 58,391

alamnp

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 15, 2020
Posts
592
Likes
591
Location
United States
Actually looks like I was mistaken about the origination of the ASF eartips when I wrote...



It looks like these eartips were also offered on the CA16. I'm guessing its probably for similar reasons that they've been offered on the ASF/ASX.

51YjgXukoRL._AC_SL1500_.jpg



Can anyone comment as to whether or not the CA16 has a glove-like fit? Just curious.

Also, thus far my favorite eartips for the ASF are the eartips included on my Rock Zircon.

Zircon.png



Listening to Federico Aubele's "Postales" on the ASF.

The bass has great body and weight but it's still very clean. It has slightly slower decay than typical BA bass. It's definitely not as dry as some BA bass can be. It's actually quite "meaty". Reminiscent of BA10-like bass with good sub-bass depth and the right amount of mid-bass punch. It appears that these BA drivers are aiming to further bridge the gap between BA and DD bass delivery. Consider me impressed.






This is what I am using. Good cable! It compliments the silver/blue ASF, aesthetically. $18 on Amazon and $15 on AliExpress.

61F4+B2v1LL._AC_SL1500_-2.jpg


https://www.amazon.com/Detachable-Upgrade-Earphone-Replacement-Standard/dp/B07S6SV5LS


yes CA16 has glove like fit. I ditched the stock tips and got Spinfit CP800 which works really well.

I am enjoying my CA16 with Spinfit CP800 daily... I think it's the best sounding IEM sub $100 for me
 
Nov 10, 2020 at 10:32 PM Post #52,419 of 58,391

kmmbd

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 18, 2019
Posts
577
Likes
2,719
Location
Munich, Germany
Can you give an example of a song or two that doesn't sound right to you?

So this is my entire review playlist: https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/04350ebe-1582-4785-9984-ff050d80d2b7

There are some other tracks but the majority is covered in that playlist. I'll pick an example here: Colbie Caillat's Magic. For comparison I've picked the Cat Ears Mia. It's not a multi-BA IEM but it's a V-shaped single-dynamic setup so the vocals are also recessed like the ASF.

The vocals are muffled as the upper-registers of the vocals aren't extended at all. Also this track in particular showcases the bloated bass. On the Cat Ears, despite its V-shaped signature, the bass stays under control and doesn't overshadow the lower-mids. The bass bloom was very evident during the 35 second mark on the ASF. The soundstage/imaging is also very weird on the ASF. Left/right separation is good but everything in between just sounds too central.

In terms of male vocals, Dashboard Confessional's Vindicated, or if you're into more singer/songwriter genre: Colin Hay's I Just Don't Think I'll Get Over You - displays the nasal/honky sound as I mentioned.

Another issue is with rock songs. My playlist has a lot of rock/metal songs and the ASF just gets too congested too quickly in such genres. Guitar riffs esp are too blunted to be enjoyable. Breaking Benjamin's Diary of Jane is an example.

Just did a live comparison now so I guess it's not the case where I reviewed it and then am relying on my memory.

1605065113119.png
 
Last edited:
Nov 10, 2020 at 10:46 PM Post #52,420 of 58,391

voicemaster

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Posts
2,431
Likes
2,736
So this is my entire review playlist: https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/04350ebe-1582-4785-9984-ff050d80d2b7

There are some other tracks but the majority is covered in that playlist. I'll pick an example here: Colbie Caillat's Magic. For comparison I've picked the Cat Ears Mia. It's not a multi-BA IEM but it's a V-shaped single-dynamic setup so the vocals are also recessed like the ASF.

The vocals are muffled as the upper-registers of the vocals aren't extended at all. Also this track in particular showcases the bloated bass. On the Cat Ears, despite its V-shaped signature, the bass stays under control and doesn't overshadow the lower-mids. The bass bloom was very evident during the 35 second mark on the ASF. The soundstage/imaging is also very weird on the ASF. Left/right separation is good but everything in between just sounds too central.

In terms of male vocals, Dashboard Confessional's Vindicated, or if you're into more singer/songwriter genre: Colin Hay's I Just Don't Think I'll Get Over You - displays the nasal/honky sound as I mentioned.

Another issue is with rock songs. My playlist has a lot of rock/metal songs and the ASF just gets too congested too quickly in such genres. Guitar riffs esp are too blunted to be enjoyable. Breaking Benjamin's Diary of Jane is an example.

Just did a live comparison now so I guess it's not the case where I reviewed it and then am relying on my memory.

1605065113119.png
I listened to this one and it was awesome with the ASF. No sign of congested at all, actually every instruments are very well separated.
 
Nov 10, 2020 at 11:54 PM Post #52,422 of 58,391

voicemaster

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Posts
2,431
Likes
2,736
Nov 11, 2020 at 12:23 AM Post #52,423 of 58,391

MacAttack7

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 18, 2018
Posts
188
Likes
182
Location
Portland, Oregon
Correction: He said in the comments he meant ASX, not ASF.
So I'm not sure if he likes the ASF or not.


Watch this video starting at 14:30 regarding the ASF.


He loves it!
Never seen such completely opposite opinions on an earphone.
I'm afraid to buy another one because I feel like there are 2 different versions out there.
 
Last edited:
Nov 11, 2020 at 2:11 AM Post #52,425 of 58,391

seanwee

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Posts
4,478
Likes
2,592
So this is my entire review playlist: https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/04350ebe-1582-4785-9984-ff050d80d2b7

There are some other tracks but the majority is covered in that playlist. I'll pick an example here: Colbie Caillat's Magic. For comparison I've picked the Cat Ears Mia. It's not a multi-BA IEM but it's a V-shaped single-dynamic setup so the vocals are also recessed like the ASF.

The vocals are muffled as the upper-registers of the vocals aren't extended at all. Also this track in particular showcases the bloated bass. On the Cat Ears, despite its V-shaped signature, the bass stays under control and doesn't overshadow the lower-mids. The bass bloom was very evident during the 35 second mark on the ASF. The soundstage/imaging is also very weird on the ASF. Left/right separation is good but everything in between just sounds too central.

In terms of male vocals, Dashboard Confessional's Vindicated, or if you're into more singer/songwriter genre: Colin Hay's I Just Don't Think I'll Get Over You - displays the nasal/honky sound as I mentioned.

Another issue is with rock songs. My playlist has a lot of rock/metal songs and the ASF just gets too congested too quickly in such genres. Guitar riffs esp are too blunted to be enjoyable. Breaking Benjamin's Diary of Jane is an example.

Just did a live comparison now so I guess it's not the case where I reviewed it and then am relying on my memory.

1605065113119.png
Hey did you try out the DMP-A55 software mod by MrWalkman yet? It ports over the DMP-Z1's sound signature to the NW-A55.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top