I remember when I had the UM Martian sample for review. I was surprised to see a $700USD IEM to compete and challenge IEMs which have asking prices above 1000 USD. Déjà vu happens, and I’ve had a similar experience with the LZ Big Dipper.
This IEM shouldn’t be underestimated by any means. It has a wonderful sound to offer and with the switch mechanism it really stands out. With the ultimate version you can change all bass mids and treble. Therefore if you have some trouble with source matching, you can use those to alter the sound to your liking.
Lao Zhung seems to be a very technically experienced guy as he proved it with LZ-A4. This is something else though, something more complex and complicated. Thanks to the full clear shell you can easily see that it packs such a technical knowledge. As far as I know it’s a little hard to craft this monitor and it takes some time as well, as they could only sent a couple of IEMs to reviewers like me.
This IEM has a very clear sound with a good technical prowess and precision. It’s generally focused on mids and highs. It has great mids depending on the switches but a much flatter bass compared to their popular and successful A4. Trebles are well extended and articulated, sound stage is very nice and coherency leaves nothing to desire. It’s a little bit on the colder side with mid and treble focus. Not much though, as it has a hint of musicality throughout.
Let’s see it in detail, whether Lao Zhung’s effort are paid off or not.
When I opened the box and put the IEMs in my ears, I heard a laid back bass presentation. I was expecting a little heavier and rumbling bass to be honest. That was my mind telling me that the previous LZ IEM was the A4. So I think I was affected by that, in terms of expectation. But to tell you the truth, that is pretty normal because there’s no dynamic driver in this one. So this is a typical balanced armature type of bass.
Lows have good quality, good speed and definition but decay is not great. Compared to dynamic bass this is much flatter, less textured and more “clinical”. They don’t go very deep at the same time. You hear it, they’re there, but you can’t “feel” it. This impression is valid only with all switches closed.
So I decided to play with the switches. At first, I didn’t know which one changed the bass, and I didn’t receive any guidance about that in the package. In LZ-A4 review, I criticized this with saying that a guide would be great to see the effect of the filters. This is of course much simpler than that, with only 3 factors you can discover them yourself with a trial-error method.
I found out that the number 1 switch affects the bass. So I flicked it. The result is having a little more bass presence (not too dramatic), especially at midbass region. I think lows are more pleasing this way as you start to feel them a little bit. You start to hear the decay. Of course it’s still not comparable to dynamic driver bass.
This has some side effects though. Lows started to sound a little slower. With the switch closed they have good speed they manage to stay out of mid freq’s with a nice separation. So mids started to sound laid back and slightly veiled this way. With all switches off, the LZ Big Dipper sounds very clear with good resolution but when you open the bass switch you lose that trait. Not too much, but good ears with good sources will notice it. You don’t want mids to sound sucked out, as mids are the best part of the LZ Big Dipper.
Great energetic mids with nice resolution and clarity. They’re also a little forward and this is a plus for midrange lovers. But how? With the number 2 switch on. When it’s closed, mids are still very nice but in my opinion they sound better and more definitive when it’s open. The biggest difference lies within the upper mids and lower treble. Also mids take one step forward when you open the switch. I think there’s no point closing that switch, unless you really need a V-Shape sound.
Like I mentioned, it also affects lower trebles positively as they sound a little closer to add more dynamism and clarity to the monitor. So I strongly recommend opening the Number 2 switch to get the maximum resolution and clarity. The positioning and seperation among mids are very well. Upper mids are not sibilant in any way so that’s another plus right there.
In general, mids sound very clear and open and I think they’re the strongest part of the monitor. They are special with the Big Dipper in my opinion, especially female vocals and guitars. So this is the area that I really liked. But again, you need to close the switch Nr.1 and open Nr.2 to get that presentation.
Highs are another strong point of LZ Big Dipper after mids, and I think it’s great to find these qualities in this price range. Highs are just like what you would expect from a classic audiophile monitor. They’re well accentuated but never harsh to be uncomfortable. I wouldn’t say this is a treble-ish IEM, instead I say trebles are quite pronounced but not over the edge in terms of quantity. Of course if you pair it with something like QP1R, then it can be a little too bright but still it won’t bother you to the extent to annoy you.
The articulation is the highlight here. And to me it’s a factor that can make a monitor good or more than “just good”. I think Big Dipper manages to be more than just good in terms of treble quality. It sounds nicely seperated and it has very good extension. What happens when you flick the 3rd switch? You get more treble basically but I don’t think it sounds pretty that way. If you want even more air than you can go for it. Or if you have a dark sounding source than it also can be useful for that. But in my opinion it’s better to keep it as it is so to have that good treble response together with good cohesiveness.
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