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I'd really like to get your opinion on the Andromeda's
I want details! -
I have heard the Andros alongside my A4's and the A4's held up welll, & in light of a lack of direct comparisons of the A5's to the A4's, oddly, I am v keen to hear more
Alright, well my initial impressions of the A5 compared to the Andromeda still stand, for the most part. However, after a longer listening session there's some stuff I didn't notice before. Keep in mind again, this is just my opinion. I'm not going to pretend I'm an expert at describing audio, but hopefully if you don't find this useful, you at least find it interesting. Enjoy!
Warning: A lot of words. I apologise for the wordiness/repetition. I'm not great at summarizing my thoughts like some awesome reviewers, so please bear with me.
The ear-tips are still stock for both IEMs, and the A5s have the black filters.
I use Tidal, highest quality, and some Lossless files of my own for testing.
My source was my LG v20, I didn't use an amp for the majority of the session. I found the sound and noise level to be just right with both IEMs without one. Both IEMs do sound more engaging when amped. The chord mojo does color the sound a bit, the JDSlabs O2 seems to stay transparent overall. But even though they were available but I didn't use them much since I usually use my IEMs on the go (mojo is still bulky IMO).
To prepare, I listened to my A5s for about 2 hours before the session. I got about 1 1/2-2 hours with the Andromeda. Then I had another 2 hour session with the A5s (I had a pretty open day today).
Sound-stage/Imaging: (I usually use the ears4D binaural tracks "Forever Now" and "Aya" to test this. And then I use Pink Floyd's "Money" & "Time").
Andromeda: I'm going to be careful here, because the signature of the Andromeda threw me off. The Andromeda sound-stage is very good, it has nice width and depth. They have an airy sparkle to the treble that seems to add a slightly higher perceived height than their sound-stage would suggest (some things sound like they come from above and to the side rather than just to the side). The imaging is very good, and things can be easily picked out within the sound-stage. However, the Andromeda are very warm, much more warm than I expected. The warmth initially makes you feel like there will be a lack of detail, but the imaging and instrument separation shows you otherwise. It was pretty disorienting at first since my brain wasn't sure what it was hearing. The problem I had with warmth though, was that, even though the sound-stage is large and the imaging is good, it sounded stuffy.
A5: The A5 have a similarly sized sound-stage. Possibly a bit larger, but the sparkle of the Andromeda do make the sound-stage appear bigger at times, so I can't say for sure. I will say the size of the A5 sound-stage is always the same, and clearly defined, which lends to a more consistent imaging experience across genre. Also, the A5 are not nearly as warm, if you can call them warm at all. This makes for a much more clear sound-stage. Even though I got used to the Andromeda warmth pretty quickly, it felt like a breathe of fresh air to put the A5 back on. Though the separation was pretty much identical to my ears, the A5s seemed to have more "space" between instruments do to the warmth not stuffing up the space. The imaging is also very clearly identified, but the A5 don't have as much airy sparkle, so there is less height. I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing though, considering I've never heard guitarists play on a 10 foot pedestal above the rest of the band before.
Final: They are pretty close in all respects. Andromeda has occasional ebbs and flows that extend sounds slightly past their sound-stage. The A5s have a MUCH cleaner sound-stage. I prefer the A5 sound-stage and imaging by a large margin. But that's just me.
Positioning: (I used all tracks for this.)
Andromeda: I expected I would like the positioning a lot more than I did. The first time I heard them I was struck by how intimate the vocals sound. And since they are considered masters of the mid-range, I expected them to tear up guitar and sax solos. When I heard them again, the vocals were indeed the most intimate I'd ever heard them, however they were kind of too intimate. It wouldn't of been an issue except for they seemed large. I'm not sure exactly how to explain it, but it was almost as if the vocals were covering the rest of the music. The singers appeared to be 10x the size of the band, and this created a scenario where it just seemed unrealistic/uncomfortable. Another way to explain it is as if the singer literally stood 1-2 feet away from you, and their head blocked your view of the rest of the band... yeah, kind of odd. I ended up dreading every-time the singers would pop-up. This was actually quite sad because I was expecting to love the more intimate vocals. I will say though, the positives of this are the vocals do seem to have more detail, and obviously are more clearly understood. Also, the Andromeda do both male and female vocals very well. The other thing that surprised me is that, the Andromeda do kick ass when it comes to sax solos, but when it came to guitar solos, I was pretty disappointed. Guitar's didn't have much grind to them, they took a step back in the sound-stage. Acoustic guitars sound have more bloom than sparkle and clarity. All said, everything was positioned well, and everything sounded very natural (except the overly intimate vocals).
A5: The A5s again benefit from their clarity here. The vocals are not nearly as intimate as the Andromeda, but are in second place compared to anything else I've ever heard. The vocals still sound like they take center stage and have a spot light on them, but they don't stick out like a sore thumb. I do wish they were just a little more forward for my tastes, but now that I've heard the Andromeda, I've realized that I should be careful about asking for more intimacy. With the A5s, Saxophones follow the same trends they did as with the Andromeda, they are on the same level as the vocals of the A5. Very nice, very well positioned, don't overpower, but still kill it. I think the Andromeda sound better with saxophone, but the A5 are no slackers, and the clarity does lend to a more clean presentation of an already busy Jazz ensemble. The place where the A5s strike ahead by a lot is guitars. The A5s are amazing when it comes to guitar solos and acoustic guitars. They have grind, they have sparkle, they have "twang", they give a sense of vibration and air to the strings. It's a pleasure to hear guitars on the A5. The positioning wasn't as natural as the Andromeda, but it was more balanced to my ears.
Final: My perfect positioning of vocals is somewhere between what the Andromeda and the A5 offer, leaning more towards the A5s presentation. When it comes to saxophone or brass instruments, the Andromeda really do an amazing job. The A5 don't stray behind, but they give a different interpretation of the sound. When it comes to guitars, I prefer the A5s without a doubt. Again, YMMV.
General Sound Overview: (Again, consider most music here).
Andromeda: I'm going to start off with saying that the Andromeda are not bass light. They have plenty of powerful bass, it just doesn't bleed into the mids. It doesn't always appear powerfully, but that's a good thing to me considering the warmth. They hit hard, and they do have a little tiny bit of rumble at times. Sometimes I felt the bass was a little much, but it was still always well controlled. The sub-bass is about equally prominent with the mid-bass, which is my preferred bass tuning. The mids were good, but as I detailed before, they are a bit wishy-washy. They are fantastic in certain areas and odd in others. The treble is airy, light, and sparkly. Things like piano sound thick and natural, if that's what you like. They have this disorientating sound where there is a ton of warmth and smoothness, which would lead you to believe they will be missing detail, but everything is present and easy to distinguish. I heard slightly more detail with the Andromeda than I did with the ER4XR I had previously, and those didn't have enough bass to hide any details. Overall, the tuning is pretty ideal for the most part, I can see why they are so popular.
A5: The sound here is obviously variable due to the filters. But with the blacks you'll find them to have an equal amount of bass as the Andromeda. However, the A5 do have more prominent mid-bass than sub-bass. So drums are ridiculously punchy (almost like what I heard from the TH-900), and the bass guitars are more tame in comparison. I'm a sub-bass head, so I wish there was more sub-bass and less mid-bass, but I will say these IEMs give for some amazing drum solos. The drums in Pink Floyd's "Time" intro, the drum solo in Dire Straights "Money for Nothing" intro are absolutely visceral. They are one of the few IEMs/Headphones I've heard do those songs justice. But the consequence to this is that they do get kind of fatiguing after a while. The mids are well balanced to my ears. They are much more consistent than the Andromeda, much like the sound-stage (which I think has a lot to do with it). The treble is nicely extended, clear and clean, they have a nice ring to it (almost a sparkle, but not quite). Rather than call the treble airy, I would call it resonant. It gives a sense of realistic positioning within space, as if it was solid, yet light. Piano sounds much more delicate on the A5. I prefer the their tuning for piano pieces since the clarity of these IEMs makes each piano key clear and distinct from the others. The treble can get a little intense sometimes, much like the mid-bass. I can usually listen to them for about 2-3 hours at a time before I need a short break. But I haven't heard any shrieking or harshness from the black filters (definite harshness from the blue filters). The tuning on these is pretty amazing. It's pretty different from the Andromeda, but if LZ was able to smooth out the treble and mid-bass while maintaining the detail, they could've priced these beside the Andromeda, and I wouldn't of doubted they belonged there.
Final: This part depends on the individual. Both IEMs are just different, there's not one better than the other in this area. It just depends what you're looking for in the sound of your IEM.
Odds and Ends:
Andromeda: They were smooth and detailed when listening through Tidal. However, when I listened to my Lossless tracks of Keane and Coldplay, I actually heard sibilance. I was surprised considering how smooth they were before. I listened to many tracks but eventually gave up since the sibilance was so bad. I tried changing from the stock tips to some JVC Spiral dots, and they didn't really improve the sibilance, they just changed it. The BA drivers do have a more artificial sound than the DD driver in the A5. It actually wasn't as big of a deal as it sounds though. In terms of non-critical listening, it probably wouldn't matter. However, it did seem like they were lacking some decay. In some songs where the bass lines decays out slowly, it sounded like the bass line was cut short at some point. It left me with that sense of anticipation, but no reward. This only happened once or twice in 30ish songs I listened to, but it was pretty clear when it did.
A5: I don't hear any sibilance from these, but I've already encountered two people who do hear it. So, this is where the A5 seem to be super variable when it comes to each individual. Also, some people seem to find the black filters to be harsh in the treble. I could see why they would say that. I find it to be borderline for me. I don't find it strident, but I do find myself half-cringing in anticipation when I know a high note is coming. I'm sure that will go away as soon as my mind realized there's no harshness coming from these. But for those who are more sensitive, it may not be so pleasant. At least not with the black filters w/ stock tips.
Conclusion: (Finally.. )
Andromeda: I have been a little too critical with these. I guess for the difference in price range, and the difference in popularity, I expected these were miles above the A5. However, I can tell why their price is justified. They are amazingly well built. I didn't have much issue with fit or comfort (it takes a little fiddling to get the corners in the right places). They sound smooth, warm, yet amazingly detailed. Even though I mentioned quite a few issues I found with them, I can still see myself saving up for a pair in the future (so long as I find a fix for that odd sibilance in some of my favorite songs). They are amazing IEMs. If I were to change them at all for my own liking, I would make them much less warm and put the vocals a little further in the stage. I'm not sure how the guitars could be fixed, but it is what it is. I would consider that perfect tuning for these IMO. From what I've heard, the Andromeda seem to earn their spot as being one of the best IEMs around.
A5: These have really surprised me. I expected them to be blown out of the water by the Andromeda, but they weren't. They didn't just hold their own to my ear, they went toe to toe. In the end the Andromeda are still more technical and refined, but I prefer the clarity of the A5 either way. Versatile tuning aside (I don't really like any of the other filters) these really don't lack anything that would make them sound off to me. They have incredible detail, strong impactful bass that doesn't bleed, mids for days. To me, they don't lack in anything except sub-bass (but that's because I'm a sub-bass head, most people will find it more than enough). If I were to change anything to make them my ideal IEMs, I would put the vocals and soloing instrument just a little more forward, and I would have the mid-bass dialed back some, while the sub-bass elevated a little. From reviews I've read of other LZ IEMs, it seems like a mid-bass bump is part of their signature sound, so there's that. Otherwise, I can't say I'd change much else. I thought to myself after all of this, if the Andromeda were priced at MSRP $270, which one would you get? As both of these IEMs stand, for my tastes, I would choose the A5 with confidence. They are not better than the Andromeda, but they also aren't really worse. Just... different.
That's it! I'm sleepy and it's late, but I wanted to get it written now while this stuff is fresh in my head. Again, YMMV when it comes to these IEMs. I'm pretty sure I would change some components of this comparison if I was able to use the Andromeda for a full week rather than a 2 hour session. But, making due with what I have, I at least hope you guys find this interesting. Just to clarify, the Andromeda are worth their price, don't get the A5 thinking your getting an equal IEM. It's equal in potential, but execution still needs a little tweaking. I feel like the A5 are 90-95% of the way to Andromeda status for me (even though I prefer the tuning of the A5). But for now, this is an easy IEM to recommend, and I could see it being End-game for a lot of people. At least until the A6 come around, maybe then the over-used "Giant Killer" term will mean something.
Oh, one thing I didn't mention is that, though the Andromeda had no problems with comfort for me, the A5 are still way ahead in that regard. They are smooth, a little smaller, and sit more flush in the ear. No edges or fiddling for me. It's something to keep in mind.
Let me know if there's anything you think I'm completely off about, or if there's anything you'd like me to elaborate on. I'll do my best to do that (and to be more concise). Thanks for sticking around!
EDIT: I should mention that my daily drivers are my Audeze LCD-2f 2016. So I am used to a relatively warm sound signature. With that in mind, I still found the Andromeda too warm for me, since I mainly look for clarity when it comes to IEMs. Hopefully that gives a better picture.
Edit 2: Ok so, ignore what I said about sibilance in the Andromeda. It's absolutely my source. The stock music player with quad DAC enabled on my V20 all of a sudden causes my A5s to be slighty harsh/sibilant. Only now do I hear that. Tidal does not (to me). Also, the higher the volume, the more harshness/sibilance I hear. So since the stock music player was where the Andromeda suddenly had harshness/sibilance, it must just be the source. The source may also be a factor in others hearing harshness/sibilance on the A5.
Sorry for the confusion, but I'm glad I discovered otherwise.
@Bubblejuice -- thanks for the in depth comparison. I hope others can learn a thing or two on your objective stance. (Have seen way too many cheerleader or high priests giving their spiel)
Nicely refreshing. We can use more feedback from members like you. Cheers!
Edit 1: wanted to ask your source. Sometimes pairing your andromeda with a different dap can totally change staging / vocal placement. Figure I'd throw it out there.
Like the IT01, I'd call it a gentle U. I'll post more impressions after comparing it to the LZ today.
It will be very nice and helpful if do a compare with A5 ,
The IT-04 is far more coherent. I feel that the LZ-A5 lacks lower mids and lower treble regardless of which filter is in use, while the IT04 fills in nicely. With that said, there is certainly more bass extension with the LZ, and a wider soundstage likely due to the backport design. I easily preferred the IT04, granted it's almost twice the price.
Of course. I added a little snippet about that. My mistake. Thanks for the heads up!
I used my LG v20 as my source. Everything I mention is coming directly out of the quad DAC.
I did test both with the chord mojo previously. The O2 amp I did not test with the Andromeda, I did test with the A5.
The mojo adds warmth and a little bass to both while adding a little more dynamic sound. The O2 just makes it more dynamic, but keeps them relatively uncolored respectively.
They become more engaging and then sound-stage/imaging is slightly improved, but in the end, I prefer the quiet noise floor of the v20. However, the qualities I mention didn't really change much to my ears when amped. In other words, the good parts of the IEMs became slightly better, the not-so-good parts stayed relatively the same.
and how goes the quality of vocals on IT04 compared to A5 is that forward or recessed ,? and which one has the better depth/height of soundstage,?
The A5 (I think that's what you meant) is definitely wider sounding than the IT04 but the IT04 has better lower mids, which makes vocals sound a bit more forward and warm. Hope this helps.
Sorry that is my typing mistake ( definitely i mean A5) and thank you very much for your help ,
Also, for those of you interested, my LZ-A5 are back on the market due to some wedding things I still need to pay for lol $230 shipped, I'll eat PayPal fees.
I think people here would like to know about the campfire comparison and what led you to keep these.
I use the LZ with JVC spiral dot. For me it helps solidify the bass and provides a nice smoothing to treble. They are my go to tip. Probably says something about my ear construction I would bet when it comes to the comfort and seal.
I had been using these in balanced mode. Tried the included cable for regular 3.5; and now I understand all the complaints. The black flexitube is uncomfortable to say the least.
Some sources definitely make A5 sound harsh. I think it has to do with the way multi BA earphones interract with output impedance of the source.
In other words, if the output impedance is too high, they probably will sound harsh. On my galaxy S8 european version they are unlistenable. Harsh/sibilant, you name it.
They sound much better, let's say, driven from my cheap laptop, in comparison.
Maybe a ifi-IEmatch would help since I think it can limit the output impedance.
The guy that let me listen to his Andromeda swears by his IEmatch at 3 ohms.