Victim of Changes
- Deep and playful low area.
- Good cable.
- Good isolation and occlusion level, sound does not leak out.
- Specialised tuning, can be considered niche or particular.
- No choice of balanced cable.
Link to the Store
Once again it’s the turn of another model from LZ HiFi Audio (Lao Zhong HiFi Audio). This time it’s the LZ A2 Pro, nothing less than a new revision of the famous LZ A2, which was launched on the market around 2015. Like its predecessor, the new Pro version is a 3-driver hybrid, 1DD + 2BA from Knowles for midrange and high frequencies. Unlike its predecessor and following the current brand trend, the new A2 Pro is made of high quality resin and has a very nice semi-custom shape. In line with the A4 Pro, the outer face is pearl-patterned in an eye-catching yellow colour and the inside is completely translucent black. This time, the nozzles are fixed and integrated into the body of the capsule. It does not have the possibility of tuning by changing any of its parts and the truth is that it is a particular tuning and differentiated from other models. We will go into detail about all questions concerning this attractive new model from LZ.
- Driver Type: 1DDD with SAE diaphragm + 2BA Knowles for mid and high frequencies.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
- Sensitivity: 108dB/1mW @1kHz
- Impedance: 15Ω
- Channel Difference: ±0.5dB
- THD: <1%
- Cable 8 strands of 4N OFC, mixed with silver plated OFC wires.
- Jack connector: 3.5mm SE gold plated
- Capsule Connection Type: 2Pin 0.78mm.
The presentation of the LZ A2 Pro is virtually identical to that of its larger A4 Pro siblings. They come in a white, medium-sized box, with dimensions 170x116x45mm. On the front side, a real photo of the capsules can be seen in the centre. In the upper left corner is the logo of the brand. At the bottom is the name of the model, written in gold ink. Underneath is the product description, in Chinese and English. On the back side, the logo has been moved to the top right corner, while the rest of the side is completed with the product specifications, in Chinese and English, as well as the brand’s contact details at the bottom. After removing the wrapping cardboard, a complete white box is revealed, with only the brand logo in the centre. After opening it, you can see a dark, round, rigid case with the brand name in white letters. It is protected by a dense black foam, as are the two capsules on top of it. On top of it is a warranty certificate card and a user’s manual. Underneath is a small plastic box with a variety of silicone tips. Inside the case is the cable. The complete summary of the contents is as follows:
- The two A4 Pro capsules.
- One 8-strand 4N OFC cable, mixed with silver plated OFC wires. The connectors are 2Pin 0.78mm and the plug is 3.5mm SE.
- 3 pairs of grey silicone tips sizes SxMxL.
- 3 pairs of black silicone tips sizes SxMxL.
- 1 hard case, round and dark.
The size of the packaging is medium, but on this occasion the set of tips has been reduced to 2, I miss some foam tips. The cable is again up to the quality of the capsules and except for the lack of a balanced plug, it would not be necessary to replace it with another one. Again, I urge the brand to offer the possibility of a balanced cable, considering the quality of the original cable.
Construction and Design
As usual in this new batch of LZ models, the A2 Pro capsules have been 3D printed in pure resin. Their shape is semi-custom, medium to large in size. For this model, the outer face has a pearlescent, marble-like pattern in a very striking yellow colour. The shape of the face resembles the African continent, but more stylised. At the base of one side, the name of the brand can be seen in silver lettering on the inside of the outer face. Close to the mark, but turning the edge, located on the side face, there is a small hole. On the opposite side face is the recessed, rectangular opening, which locates the 2Pin 0.78mm connection.
The inner side is dark and semi-translucent. It is difficult to see the inside of the IEMS, the BA driver and the dynamic driver. This side is very ergonomic and has a protrusion to anchor the IEM to the upper edge of the pinna. This time, the nozzles are integrated into the body of the capsules and are made of the same material. They have a height of 4mm, a smaller diameter of 5mm and a larger diameter, located at the crown, of 5.7mm. It is protected by a metal grid, the holes of which are oval.
The entire capsule is soft and smooth, made of lightweight, polished resin, which carefully conforms to the ears.
Internally, each IEM has 1 SAE dynamic driver for bass and 2 Knowles BA for mid and treble.
The cable is constructed with 8 strands covered with a transparent plastic shield. Half of the strands are 4N OFC copper and the other half are OFC silver-plated copper, although to the eye it appears to have a gold/yellowish tint, which gives the cable its characteristic colour. The assembly is very manageable, has little stiffness and does not tangle. The connectors are 2Pin, 0.78mm, gold-plated. They are mounted on a rectangular, transparent plastic base. The sleeve is a small, gold-plated, metal cylinder, inscribed with the letter L or R, as appropriate. Behind them is the cable, protected by a transparent, semi-rigid sheath, which gives the shape of an ear. The plug is 3.5mm SE, gold-plated. The connector sleeve is a large, gold-plated metal cylinder, the central diameter of which is smaller, creating a gradual tapering as it approaches this point. The brand name is written lengthwise in white letters. The dividing piece is of the same shape, but almost half the length. The pin is a transparent resin sphere with a through hole.
All in all, the new LZs are very similar, built according to the most current and common trend. Modern, classic and safe shapes, with a good level of finish, warmer, lighter and more comfortable, without sacrificing construction quality or durability.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
As I said about the A4 Pro, the shape adapts very well to my morphology. Although the nozzles are a bit shorter, only 1mm, but it is something that is noticeable. This makes the insertion more superficial.
Put on the ears, the fit is simple and easy, fast and effective. Neither the weight nor the over-ear cable is noticeable. The insulation is good and the fit is durable.
The profile of the A2 Pro is W-shaped, but with some differences. Normally the centre of the W is usually placed in the high mids, just above the treble. But here, that peak is clearly located in the 2kHz range. This is something different and diverse, although it doesn’t mean «better». But that peak, by itself, is not bad. I think it is the sidebands that make it, or rather, its tuning, more strange and unbalanced.
The low end has a linearity from sub-bass down to 100Hz that is quite eloquent, something that gives it depth and a closeness to the current tastes of fans and many reviewers. There is moderate power and punch in the hit, making it suitable for electronic music and its derivatives. Although it has good texture, it is not very descriptive and its surface is not articulated with great technique or speed. This means that the dynamic and fast bass notes are not reproduced with the expected agility, representing a continuity that distances it from other faster drivers in its decay, definition and resolution. The positive side is that this driver endures what many others suffer. There are more delicate, agile and fast drivers, but they suffer when the amount of energy is high. In this sense, it seems that the stiffness of the A2 Pro driver is prepared for these violent bumps, which it withstands without falling apart or crumbling. This gives it a tolerance that, in the end, provides a certain realism, as well as guaranteeing fun.
The drop from the bass is quite drastic, which detracts from the body of the first half of the midrange. The warmth provided by the low end is counterbalanced by the sinking of this initial part. In this sense, there are elements, instruments, that feel penalised and pushed back, above all, with respect to the bass, but, above all, on some occasions, by the female voices, even by electric guitars. Not surprisingly, there can be a difference of 15dB between the deepest part of the midrange to the highest part, in just over 1khz. This can give an idea of how polarised the midrange is. This contrast generates a thinning in the beginning of the range, which is not filled with the warmth of the low end. This initial loss of body is regained with that upper emphasis at 2kHz. It is possible that one can get used to this tuning. But when coming from other, more balanced headphones, one can perceive hollowness and opposing peaks, which throw the music as we know it out of tune. Certainly, this is a different tuning, which may have benefits in some particular genres, but can sound unnatural in other cases. But far from improving, the transition to the treble falls back, which does nothing to maintain a sense of naturalness. Thus, the sense of clarity is sustained only by this central peak, but cut by a more or less marked absence of the upper mids. The result is that there is no trace of sibilance, but neither is there much finesse, nor that initial brightness that brings sparkle and transparency. The sound becomes more boxy, narrow, clipped, muted, withdrawn, not very expansive. This effect causes a too dry timbre, it may focus the female voices, but it makes many instruments sound limited in extension, without them being able to reproduce all their harmonics in a natural way, but omitted.
Tuning can even limit the technical capabilities of the mid-range. The definition and the capacity for resolution are also restricted by the void left by the omission of the most immediate harmonics. Thus, the elements of the mid-range become too sterile, too laconic, too laconic, or even too wilted. They lack life and radiance, yet the sound is polished and too austere. It is clear that it may have its audience and that the midrange BA driver has its innate quality, but there is a perceptible sense of wasted potential.
Such a particular tuning is not without its risks, but, on the other hand, it can have great advocates because of its relatively special sound.
The peak at the beginning of the treble feels small and its incidence is slight. All the first flashes are perceived as diluted and too soft. On the other hand, there is a second, more pronounced, emancipated part, which tries to raise the mood, in frequencies that are less represented in the music. Actually, this part tries to bring a sharper sound to the numb treble, adding a bit of accent and stretching its extension. But the result is not the most natural form of a high note. It is clear that the treble is tuned backwards from any V-profile, although it does not correspond to a more classic U-profile either. It is certainly a shifted W, which can only please those who are more sensitive to the upper range.
So once again, thanks to the technical know-how of the BA driver, the detail and technical capabilities appear in this range. But, again, they feel constrained by this particular tuning.
In the end, one can get used to this sound and go for hours and hours without any listening fatigue, unless it is the bass that overwhelms. But, certainly, one can end up feeling a part of the musical information omitted.
A central area as special as that of the A2 Pro has an impact on the aspects of scene and separation. In the first, the sensation of the unevenly harmonically developed and corseted sound reduces and narrows the recreation of the image, making it thinner, more intimate and secluded. Despite the existence of depth and height, the dryness of the sound brings an opacity that counteracts its transparency, as well as the sense of separation. Still, it exists, because the intrinsic technicalities of the BA drivers are noticeable, even if the tuning works against them. Likewise, detail is not developed in a traditional way and nuances are shifted to other frequencies, where their appreciation is uneven. There may be richer ranges and others that go unnoticed. But it is true that this is a diverse redistribution to which one can become accustomed. Or not.
Undoubtedly, the best thing about the LZ A2 Pro is its general performance. Despite their special tuning and a simple appreciation of their frequency response, the sound is not as completely reflected as one might predict. It is clear that there is a boldness in their mid-range, which might cause an initial rejection. But then, on the whole and thanks to an interesting technical basis, they can become IEMS to be enjoyed in a variety of situations. They can even surprise. Surely it is something different in any collection and there could be a place for it. But it is true that these are IEMS that could be considered as specialists or specific niches. And that is why they should be praised, rather than criticised. Although in a world with so much competition and in certain price ranges, their popularity may be difficult.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Burson Audio Playmate.
- Tempotec Sonata E35.
- Hidizs S9 Pro.
- Earmen Sparrow.
- S.M.S.L Sanskrit 10th MKII + iFi ZEN CAN.
- Tempotec V1-A + Hidizs DH80S.
- Zishan Z4.
- ACMEE MF02s.
- E1DA #9038D.