Review : KZ AS16 – The Heist

Design & Build Quality

Shell

“Looking good !”

This was my first impression of the KZ AS16. For 125$, I didn’t expect to see such improvements, so fast. The shell feels sturdy and this is one of those IEMs you can fit in your pocket, without a case, with no afterthoughts.

Compared to the KZ ZS5, the AS16 is a clear step-up from afar and near. If you want to know more about it, you should look at our previous Picture Sunday, here. To sum it up :

– thick shell but no semi-CIEM fit
– aluminum faceplate and copper plated nozzle
– robust design overall, even more for an acrylic shell

My only concern is the size of the shell, it’s a big shell. Big and thick, so much I was surprised it could even fit in my ear.

Build quality

Build quality is very good, but that was to be expected. 3D Printing is taking the lead and compared to the previous “hand-made” system, the risk for a bubble to appear is massively lowered.

Inner management is perfect on the KZ AS16, so much it’s almost shocking. Each driver is meticulously arranged, helped by a three-way acoustic duct.

I’m surprised not to have seen this kind of configuration in another IEM since it serves a double purpose :

– the inner components are tightly installed and won’t budge by a mm overtime
– it serves as a wave-guide to open up the sound through a three-way channel configuration

All of those end up in a superb copper-plated aluminum nozzle. It’s not as nice as the one found on the Hidzis NF-3U – my reference – but from an IEM this cheap, this is a major surprise. It blocks dust and earwax and this is a feature I’d love to see on the DM7 and DM6 from BGVP.

The KZ AS16 doesn’t prop MMCX sockets, only 2-pin ones, slightly raised like Nuforce and Ultimate Ears. I still believe MMCX is the way to go but it would be unfair to tackle KZ for this, it’s clean and flush.

Overall, there is nothing I could really complain about. Even if KZ sold the AS16 at twice the price.

Bundle and Comfort

Inside the box

The KZ AS16 box is one of the smallest I ever received. It’s a plain black paper box, highly deceptive in my opinion but… it’s a box !

Inside you’ll find :

  • The KZ AS16
  • Six pairs of silicon tips
  • One 3.5mm copper braided cable, L-Shaped

and… that’s it.

This is clearly one of the downsides of cheaper IEMs like these, the bundle is very dire. No comply foam, no carry case, no clean-up set, just your KZ AS16 and the cable.

Additional accessories

The KZ AS16 gets a very nice cable straight of the box. The braid is clean from top to bottom, the Y-split is so-so but overall it’s a win !

Good:

  • the cable is lightweight with excellent braiding
  • soundwise, it’s such a good upgrade from the basic cable provided with the KZ ZS5
  • it doesn’t tangle much

Bad:

  • the plug is made of plastic and feels rather cheap
  • same for the Y-splitter

You can choose to order the KZ AS16 with a microphone cable or stick with the stereo cable, which is better in my own opinion.

Comfort

I said it before, the KZ AS16 are big.

I was a bit anxious when I plugged them in for the first time, I thought it would never fit. Thankfully, the nozzle is just long enough to dig into my ear canal and once you find the right tip, it works.


This isn’t the most comfortable IEM available out there, but neither the most uncomfortable.

Once you’re accustomed to CIEMs and semi-CIEMs shaped in-ears, it’s hard to overlook this kind of plain design.

Acrylic remains the best material for in ear, in my opinion. It doesn’t feel intrusive, gives a nice touch and as far as I know, no one has ever shown a sign of allergy so far.

Isolation

The thick shell of the KZ AS16, combined with a massive aluminum faceplate, creates a good shield against external noises. I used them in the subway, the train and crowded streets, always to end up pleasantly surprised.

Most of all, the supplied tips, if not numerous, gave me a great balance of isolation and performances.

The review continues on Page Three, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.

Review : KZ AS16 – The Heist
4.1 (81.33%) 45 vote[s]

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A nerdy guy with a passion for audio and gadgets, he likes to combine his DAC and his swiss knife. Even after more than 10 years of experience, Nanotechnos still collects all gear he gets, even his first MPMAN MP3 player. He likes spreadsheets, technical specs and all this amazing(ly boring) numbers. But most of all, he loves music: electro, classical, dubstep, Debussy : the daily playlist.

    5 Comments

    • Reply May 27, 2019

      whateva

      How does it compare with the KZ AS10?

    • Reply May 28, 2019

      Anthony Wild

      I love my AS16, unimaginable depth, extremely clean audio. Sit comfortably in ear with a bit of wriggling around, comfortable to wear all day. Look fantastic, sound like something much much more expensive, excellent price.

    • Reply June 3, 2019

      Hin Yui Wong

      Bought 1 after reading this review with cable upgrade. Chi-fi came a long way, i remember my first Chi-fi was Vsonic GR07 (still a classic)

      Current selection:
      Campfire Audio Andromeda (Effect audio thor silver 2+)
      Campfire Audio Comet
      Ibasso It04 (Effect audio thor silver 2)
      Vsonic GR09

      Andromeda and IT04 absolutely kills AS16, but at this price with cable upgrades, inevitable.
      Compared to Comet & GR09 (close in price), these come out on top. Sub-bass a little shy, but has similar mids and better highs than comet. GR09 is just more dark and recessed, but has much better bass (it’s a dynamic…). Soundstage is also great, layering and imaging above average.

      Overall very solid choice for the price.

    • Reply June 5, 2019

      Eray Altıntaş

      I have two options, simgot en700 pro or kz as16, and own a Sony a45
      Generally I listening soul jazz, blues and dark background male or female voice musics. What’s ur suggestions, which is the best iem with a45 and these kinds ? Thank you

    • Reply June 13, 2019

      audio_aardvark

      Got a set last night. Out of the box they were very clear but too much treble and quite harsh on many tracks.
      Swapped out the provided silicone tips for some spare chinese foam tips I had and it really calmed them down to something more agreeable to my ears.
      Too early to say how good they are but thought I’d post this in case others have the same initial reaction.

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