Review : KZ AS16 – The Heist

Sound performance

For this review, I mostly used DAPs instead of sedentary gear. This IEM is made for travel and commuting, so it’s much more accurate to focus on DAP and portable AMP/DACs than home gear.

I chose the same three players I considered the best for a budget point of view : FiiO M6 / Astell&Kern SR15 / Cowon Plenue D2 and paired them to the KZ AS16 in random orders. Most files used were FLAC 16bit/44kHz streamed from Qobuz or from the internal storage.

Overall signature

Sooooo… the KS ZS5 were the biggest surprise of 2018 for me. So I must confess I had high expectations, even more with a V8 engine to power them.

Where I expected a flamboyant, V-shaped, earphone with boosted bass and sparkling highs, I ended up with a sound signature, mostly even on the whole frequency range. Mostly, because the upper range gets a slight bump around the upper mids (2000 Hz-3000Hz), which was to be expected, with four high frequencies dedicated drivers.

The sound definition is impressive, really. Not just thanks to the manifold of drivers, even it’s that one of the main reasons, but mainly because KZ evolved by bounds and leaps over time. We all know piling up drivers doesn’t make a good IEM, it takes much more than that. You have to match the right drivers and blend them all together with a good filter, and that’s exactly what’s happening here.

Layering and instrument separation goes the same way, you can discern good mastering and bad mastering right on the spot. The crossover works wonderfully and even after a few hours of listening, I didn’t come across any caveat or pothole in the chart.

Dynamics are good, but not as good as the DM7. I tried them on Aulos (symphonic edition) and it outshined the subtle details I could hear on the BGVP. On the subway, this is not something you’ll hear but in a quieter place, it became fairly obvious.

Transients are fast. Armature drivers will always keep the lead on this. Hard-hitting electro and oversampled hi-hats struck right, every time. Keener genre like Jazz still benefits from that skill, but I have to confess I preferred the ZS5 on that, dynamic drivers always give me that lushful bass.

All in all, it’s a very good IEM, by all means. Not as good as high-end models, but I’m pretty sure you would not expect a 125$ IEM to sound this good.


Highs : forte, almost fortissimo. It sounds crisps with a lot of micro details, the kind of signature you wouldn’t expect from a cheap-chi-fi IEM. On my usual electro tracklist, the KZ AS16 always flirted with sibilants, yet to never reach it. Hi-Hats, violins, female voices, all were played with ease, for my delight.
If you love to get high, you should try this stuff, good jam.

Good test-track: Imaginary friends – Deadmau5

Mediums : legato andante. As I said, layering is impressive but with this many drivers, it should be a given. No ? Guitars and male voices get that little push on the upper range. Very cool as it widens the overall presentation.

Good test-track : San-Francisco Street – Sun Rai

Lows : mezzo forte. The bass feels natural and if I’m always up for a good kick, sometimes it’s cool to step down. That said, it’s not bad at all – quite the opposite actually – it just doesn’t slam as deep as you would expect for double low drivers.

Good test-track: Hyrdogen – M.O.O.N

Sensitivity / Hiss

If sensitive, the KZ AS16 wasn’t too prone to hiss during my tests. The usual iPad output didn’t give me the annoying “hum” I could hear with my Onkyo IE-C3. Even more good news, the KZ AS16 can be driven by almost anything but scales considerably with whatever source you feed him.

Let’s check that.

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


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.


    • Reply May 27, 2019


      How does it compare with the KZ AS10?

      • Reply June 17, 2020

        Noah Lim

        KZ AS16 is definitely brighter than AS10 and 20-30% louder than AS10 when drive. AS16 sounded like an extension of AS10 with more focus on sound details and maybe 20-30% less lows compared to AS10.

        I just upgraded to KZ AS16 from 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


      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.

    • Reply August 14, 2019

      Tengku Elzafir

      How does it compare to a headphone like the Sennheiser HD650? Not a fair comparison, but still a comparison, because I have the HD650 and want to know what to expect.

      Also, how does it compare to Shure 846?

      • Reply September 29, 2019


        I have these and HD 650s and I’d say the 650s are quite a bit darker. The bass and highs are quite a bit more detailed here, but BA do clarity well. The mids are more forward and isolated on the HD650 and the mid detail is a tad bit better. Imaging and soundstage is better on the HD 650, though the soundstage is still slim on the HD650s for a headphone. The bass on the AS16 actually extends further than the HD650s despite being BA. However HD 650s are known to not extend well.

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