LZ A5
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From what I understand the A5 will be a bit more power-hungry than the A4.

The amount of hiss (or lack of) will greatly depend on the dac/amp used.
Its a Good thing that they're more power hungry than the A4. Hence I'm guessing they won't hiss much. I recently got the Magaosi K5 which is one of the most sensitive IEM's I've ever used, even though the K3Pro was pretty power hungry. The K5 Hisses with any and every dac/amp even with low gain. basically I've resorted to using it straight out of the iPhone/Laptop.
I Dont want another extremely sensitive IEM.
 
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Its a Good thing that they're more power hungry than the A4. Hence I'm guessing they won't hiss much. I recently got the Magaosi K5 which is one of the most sensitive IEM's I've ever used, even though the K3Pro was pretty power hungry. The K5 Hisses with any and every dac/amp even with low gain. basically I've resorted to using it straight out of the iPhone/Laptop.
I Dont want another extremely sensitive IEM.
I understand, the alternative would be to get an amp/dac with lower noise floor so that you can use them with all IEM's. I agree with you though that there's no reason for an iem being ultra sensitive...
 
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Its a Good thing that they're more power hungry than the A4. Hence I'm guessing they won't hiss much. I recently got the Magaosi K5 which is one of the most sensitive IEM's I've ever used, even though the K3Pro was pretty power hungry. The K5 Hisses with any and every dac/amp even with low gain. basically I've resorted to using it straight out of the iPhone/Laptop.
I Dont want another extremely sensitive IEM.
I see three options for you - getting a hiss-free DAP (used (or new, if you still can find one) iBasso DX90, Cowon Plenue 2 (although it doesn't allow for super quiet listening, but it is hiss-free)), getting a hiss-free DAC/Amp/DAC-Amp (for example the Leckerton UHA-6S.MKII), getting an ifi iEMatch (or soldering a voltage divider yourself). :wink:
 
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I see three options for you - getting a hiss-free DAP (used (or new, if you still can find one) iBasso DX90, Cowon Plenue 2 (although it doesn't allow for super quiet listening, but it is hiss-free)), getting a hiss-free DAC/Amp/DAC-Amp (for example the Leckerton UHA-6S.MKII), getting an ifi iEMatch (or soldering a voltage divider yourself). :wink:
thanks for the advice! I've also had discussions over at the K5 forum, the current consensus is iEMatch. I'll be ordering that soon, I'm pretty happy with my current DAP (Fiio X7). I've tried them with Shanling M1 which is a pretty low powered DAP on low gain, and still there was hiss, Fiio X7 with am1 and am3a weren't any better, even the fiio i1 (tiny iphone dac) and the in-box bluetooth mmcx cable which comes with the IEM produces hiss. the best results I've had are with the chord mojo which is an impressively silent dac. But its a big design flaw IMO to make an IEM you cant use with most sources. so the K5 has been relegated to use with iPhone. It is a good sounding iem nonetheless, but flawed.
other than that, I've placed an order for the LZ A5, I hope its not as hyper sensitive. and judging by the good reviews that the a4 had, I'm expecting the a5 to be a very well designed and well thought out pair of earphones hopefully.
 
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So apart from this unit and the new FLC units, what are head-fiers looking at in this price range (say $200 to $500)?

I just want to make sure I look at the appropriate competitions before making a choice. This unit sure looks like a winner to me; they had me at comfort.
 
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Alclair Curve
 
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LZ-A5 have an improvement on the design of the nozzle filter.

In response to the question above, A5 can't use A4's filters.
 
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LZ A5 – Starting the year right, the Prodigal son returns

Initial Impressions

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Introduction
I have to say that LZ is one of the few brands in this lovely hobby of ours that has never ceased to amaze me, not only because of the quality of their releases, but also because of their willingness to listen to their customers and at the same making major strides. The A5 is no exception in this regard.

Disclaimer
I want to say a big thank you to LZ and NiceHCK for providing me with a sample unit. I have received no compensation for writing about the A5 and this piece represents my initial opinion and should be taken as such. I reserve the right to change my opinion as time goes on.

General
Truth be told, it was only recently that I learned of the A5 and that it was already in production and most importantly, the release date wasn’t too far off. I have been using the A4 as my daily driver since reviewing it, and so naturally I am quite interested to try and see how the A5 turns out.

LZ truly shines when it comes to tuning their products, but their ergonomics can leave a lot to be desired. So looking at the A5 design it appears that they went back to the drawing board to set things straight and I am happy to say that they have hit a home run when it comes to ergonomics. Good on them for not resting on their laurels after success with the A4 and Big Dipper.

Enough with the jibber jabber, lets move on to the good stuff!

Unboxing
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As you can see the A5 comes in a very understated and minimally designed black box, going for the whole minimalism look I suppose. I guess it's what's on the inside that counts more (at least thats what I like to tell myself when looking at the mirror lol).

The A5 is fastened securely in the box and is sure to survive the most bumpy of journeys. I do wish that the packaging included more accessories, would have been a nice touch. Some documentation and warranty details are also included for your reference. Who reads manuals anyway lol.

Build Quality
The housing is dark shell that is smooth to the touch, sporting a red wind logo on the side. The housings feel light, sturdy and decidedly premium. I cannot overstate just how far LZ has come along in the ergonomics section. These just disappear into you ears. LZ has clearly been listening to customer feedback.

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The included cable is wrapped in a cloth/fibre sheath. It is resistant to tangling but prone to transmitting noise, which seems noticeable while walking around the house. I should mention that I detest adjustable earhooks/guides and so I was unhappy to see it included on the stock cable but it's not the worst implementation I have seen. I am adjusting albeit begrudgingly so.

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I kind of wish the included cable was terminated in a balanced connector with various adapters to extended functionality, especially in light of light accessories.

The included tuning filters are screwed into a small metal block - which I find to be convenient. No need to worry about filters falling out or losing them somewhere, just leave them screwed in. But as with the A4 filters, one must be careful not to lose the little black rubber rings that are screwed onto the filters. They will not just nilly will fall off, but all the same something to keep in mind.

General
For initial testing I tried to streamline things and stuck to sources I am greatly familiar with, that is to say my Macbook pro and FiiO E17K. I didn't find the A5 too hard to drive and I was easily able to attain listening levels with my laptop and cellphone without having to resort to a portable amp.

The LZ A5 is a 4 BA + 1 DD beast and it sports 4 different tuning options, each with a different color. I have taken tuning information from the manual and prepared it in a more visually pleasing manner and this time I made sure to watermark the damn thing(I am looking at you massdrop lol!).

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 12.32.31 AM.png


As you can see from the table above, the affected frequency range is wider and not as targeted as the A4, for better or for worse.

Option paralysis is a real thing and I for one am glad they have streamlined the tuning options. When it came to the A4, out of the possible 18 or so tuning combinations, I mostly used 2 or 3 at most. For the A5 it seems have greatly simplified it and improved the quality of change produced by each filter combination. As the old adage goes, quality over quantity. Unless of course we are talking about Pizza because I am ALL about that quantity over quality life.

From my initial listening, this is how I hear it:
In order of increasing brightness - Red > Gray > Black > Blue

I am going to go ahead and say that the black filters are my favourite and I suspect many will feel the same way. All my sound impressions are based on the black filters. My full review will touch upon more detailed impressions for all the filters, as well as how it sounds running balanced.

As mentioned earlier, the A5 wasn't terribly hard to drive, but I found it to really come alive when driven by a good DAP, which is the way it should be. So if you want to see what the A5 can do, use a dedicated dac/amp such as the FiiO E17K for example.


I know I have been rambling on and complaining about the A5, but the truth is, none of my complaints are about the SOUND. Because that is where it blew me away. With the black filters on, the A5 is making me feel things I haven't felt in a long time. But before I get to that, I should mention that the degree of isolation is bonkers because I legit feel cut off from the rest of the world while using the A5, so please watch where you are going when out and about while using the A5.

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Sound Impressions
I would describe the A5 as sounding spacious and truly larger than life. Regardless of what you may be listening to, the A5 just sucks you in with a sense of realism and depth that was missing from a4 and earlier iterations. It sounds true to life, very much like a good set of speakers.

Detail retrieval and presentation gets top marks. The details are not all thrown at your face like "HEY LOOK YOU CAN HEAR THE JANITOR COUGHING FROM THE FLOOR BELOW THE RECORDING STUDIO" but rather in a musical way. You can easily follow a specific part of the song or instrument without losing track of it in the mix.

On that note, I found the positioning of instruments and spatial cues to be wholly convincing. This is helped along with a realistically (I really need to buy a thesaurus) proportioned soundstage. What's more, there are times where it seems the sounds are coming from outside my head. ASMR and binaural recordings were quite convincing and easily gave me goosebumps.

This time around, the filters don't seem to be tweaking the bass overtly. The bass is fantastic, carrying a lot of weight and rumble in the sub bass region, with nary a midrange bleed to be seen. In fact, it is all too easy to make out textures of bass notes and the superb separation helps keep it in play without coming off as bass heavy. If you can't tell already, I LOVE the bass, it is well proportioned and has nice impact, helping bring percussion and string instruments to life. The sub bass rumble is remarkable and very reminiscent of a speaker setup

The midrange was spacious and full with lots of layering and details. Guitars sound full and crunchy and vocals are intimate and full of texture. While you can't make out what the singer might have had for breakfast, its detailed enoughtthat you can hear all the little harmonies in the background. The transition from bass to midrange is seamless, lacking the sudden transition one might find with inferior hybrids.

The treble will greatly depend on the filter used. When using the black filters, I found it to be balanced with the rest of the spectrum. It carried micro detailing and helped paint a wide soundstage while adding a bit of sizzle up top. As someone who is treble sensitive, I didn't find it to be strident or forward for the sake of being "AUDIOPHILE" friendly. The black filter sounds quite natural and effortless, sounding detailed without coming off as harsh. Vocal and Instrumental Timbre is well preserved and presented in all it's glory.

Conclusion
Overall, the A5 renders a very cohesive presentation where nothing sorely sticks out. The sound is complex and layered and musical at the same time. I found it to excel with eclectic music collection which spans many genres. While I can't guarantee that your field recordings of lions mating will sound true to life, most songs will sound like the bees knees.

Lion.jpg


My initial impressions are strong and I am looking forward to trying out the other filters more. Truth be told, the black filter set already sounds so good that I don't feel the need the try out the others.

And now I leave you with a shot of my face as I listen to the LZ A5

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Wow, very efficient. Thanks for the impression.
Once I listened to black nozzle, I changed to the red one. I will try grey and black nozzle later.

I feel like in order to get the bass right, A5 needs quite an amount of power.
When I switched from E12 to X7-AM3, I have to set X7's gain to high.
 
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Wow, very efficient. Thanks for the impression.
Once I listened to black nozzle, I changed to the red one. I will try grey and black nozzle later.

I feel like in order to get the bass right, A5 needs quite an amount of power.
When I switched from E12 to X7-AM3, I have to set X7's gain to high.
Thanks! Initially I was partial to the red nozzle but once you go black you never go back!

Yes I agree to unlock their full potential, one needs a good source and not just raw power. I am booting up my X7 with AM3 as I type this. I can't wait to see how it sounds.
 
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the best results I've had are with the chord mojo which is an impressively silent dac.
Oh, now that's interesting, since the Mojo, while it doesn't really have much hiss on its own and is among the rather quiet devices (albeit not among the most quiet), is quite a bit hissier than the DX90 and Plenue 2 when used with super sensitive IEMs.


So apart from this unit and the new FLC units, what are head-fiers looking at in this price range (say $200 to $500)?

I just want to make sure I look at the appropriate competitions before making a choice. This unit sure looks like a winner to me; they had me at comfort.
When it comes to hybrid in-ears - DK-3001, IT03, NEW PRIMACY.
 
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Thank you Tamal! It's great to have you back :wink:
 
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I am booting up my X7 with AM3 as I type this. I can't wait to see how it sounds.
Let me know what you think. I feel like with the same volume, high gain sounds better than low gain with X7-AM3.
 
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