Design & Build Quality
“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 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.
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 !
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.