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"The Lab"

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  1. RedJohn456
    Hi labsters! A very happy new years to everyone, albeit a bit late, but filled with warmth all the same! I am easing my way back into this hobby after a much needed hiatus as I was extremely burnt out with everything. Hoping to start out the year on head-fi with a proverbial bang! (or whimper lol)


    20180112_134144.jpg 20180112_134154.jpg


    Unboxing and first impressions to follow, including official threads ala X10. I gotta say, xDuoo is killing it in terms of package presentation!

    I will compare against the X10 to begin with. Can anyone give me any advice on how to volume match DAPs for easy comparisons? I have a whole bunch of DAPs to compare against, but unless I can volume match them all, it won't be a fair comparison.
     
    B9Scrambler and peter123 like this.
  2. RedJohn456

    LZ A5 – Starting the year right, the Prodigal son returns

    Initial Impressions

    20180113_014606.jpg

    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
    20180112_153434.jpg 20180112_153544.jpg 20180112_153554.jpg

    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.

    20180113_014640.jpg

    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.

    20180113_014543.jpg 20180113_014547.jpg

    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.

    20180113_014830.jpg

    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

    22ly8x.jpg
     
    Light - Man likes this.
  3. RedJohn456
  4. ajaxender
    Nah at this point, if they actually have any money to run off with, I'd be surprised. I believe this is a classic 'not malicious, just incompetent' situation. There have been enough sightings of their last few products in the wild - the issue was between previous success, hyped promises, and trying to introduce and produce an absurd number of different products at once, they ended up with far more orders than they could handle.
    This led to excessive delays and poor quality control, along with possibly basic design flaws with the Air which was apparently plagued by drop-outs (though I don't know that that has been definitively solved with any no-cable wireless IEMs). And that led to mass demand for refunds and returns.
    Bob moved away from Trinity at some point, and started IMR Acoustics which, while based on location and previous comments from him is too suspicious to me to support, seems to be doing alright with a single rather expensive but apparently pretty good IEM.

    I received sets of both the PM6 and Hunter, myself; both last year, and both defective. I am fortunate enough to be able to absorb the loss (ultimately why I can and do continue to buy any audio gear since I can't easily try anything first) but I feel for those that can't.
     
  5. Mr Trev
    Have to agree with you. Seems like they let the success of their initial launch go to their heads and just tried to do too much too fast.
     
  6. RedJohn456
    I have been using close backs a lot more last few weeks and I keep coming back to the Shure SRH840 - one of my fav closebacks ever. Which makes it even more frustrating when I think about the uncomfortable headband design which Shure went with. I wonder if these were designed for human heads?

    I ended up buying the M50x last December when amazon had them for a low price and for all the hate they get online, the M50x is god tier when it comes to comfort. They fit snugly and clamp on tightly, unlike the Shures. The SRH840 has a known defect where the plastic hinges are prone to breaking and wouldn't you know it, my one broke. I will be sending mine for repair but I will be modding the headband once it comes back. If any labsters own the SRH840, have they modded the headband? I wish I can get the SRH840 sound in the M50x form factor. /Rant
     
  7. Mr Trev
    I though the Shure headphones were suppose to be uber-comfy. Hows they for bass extension? Was considering a pair of Takstar Pro82, but some folks claim the sub bass is pretty weak.
     
  8. waynes world
  9. mrmoto050


    Great Bass, Keys and guitar
     
  10. doctorjazz
    I have the Shure 1540-like the sound, but find it uncomfortable as well, want to take them off after 10-15 minutes of listening.
     
  11. originalsnuffy
    For those who are going through the Trinity experience, my condolences. I sold my pair as that way I could unsubscribe from the Trinity thread. Nearly as much agony in that thread as watching our politicians of all stripes lie about nearly everything.
     
  12. ngoshawk
  13. audio123
  14. Cinder
    Sup folks,

    Just bought my CanJam SoCal tickets. Any of ya'll plan on showing up?
     
  15. Light - Man
    Happy St. Patrick's Day Guys (Saturday)!

    Perhaps more like this..........................

    [​IMG]

    and nothing like this :ksc75smile:

    [​IMG]

     
    mrmoto050 and peter123 like this.
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