LZ HIFI — one of the most active and ambitious Chinese brands, mostly known for its technically advanced and impressive IEMs such as A5, A6 and A6Mini, has decided to extend this series to a budget class by introducing new models with similar design. New models — Z04A and Z05A — are looking like twins at a first glance, share the common shape and packaging with the most expensive «A» models but have different feature in the essence. Z04A is based on single dynamic driver with bio-cellulose diaphragm whereas the dynamic driver of Z05A features carbon nano-coated diaphragm. Since the externals, build quality, accessories and fit are similar, reviews of both units would have 2 parts with many text in common, with mostly of the differences in the sound quality testitng part. Starting with Z04A — the least expensive model.
LZ HIFI Z04A technical specifications:
- Driver: dynamic single driver, bio-cellulose diaphragm
- Frequency response range: 15Hz — 25KHz
- Impedance: 16Ω
- Sensitivity: 108dB
- Cable connectors: MMCX
- Plug: 3.5mm single-ended stereo
- Designed according to CTIA IECQ standard
Note: Both units were provided by PenonAudio in the exchange for honest opinion and review
Packaging, design and build quality:
Z04A comes in a small orange boxes with matt black cover. LZ branding, model names and short technical specifications are printed on it while the box itself has only a brand logo. This packaging design follows the guidelines of flagship «A» series, the only difference is significantly smaller overall dimensions of the box.
Inner box compartment has a special foamy insert for IEMs and one large opening for storage case which also contains all the accessories.
- Z04A IEMs
- audio cable with MMC connectors, mic and inline remote
- 6 pairs of silicone eartips
- storage case
- user manual & QC leaflet
Shape as well as the overall design of both models look very familiar if you ever faced «A» flagship IEM series of LZ HIFI brand. Each shell consists of two pieces: aluminum top cover (blue for Z05A or black for Z04A) with neat white brand name and polished shiny edges and a base, probably made of aluminum as well.
LZ HIFI doesn’t mention base material anywhere and it is hard to take own guess since it has soft-touch layer on top. So, the material underneath might be either aluminum or even polycarbonate. This soft-touch coating wasn’t there in flagship models. Like the feel — soft, less slippery and would be less irritating in cold temperatures.
Shell components are perfectly aligned, very thin opeining between the top cover and base. Output nozzles potected by aluminum grills are a part of the unibody construction. MMCX ports are drawned inside and don’t protrude from the case. Two compensational openings per channel: one is at the corner of the top cover and another one is near the output nozzle.
Build quality seems to be decent. Small details like markings, grills and ports are neat. One concern goes to the soft-touch coating which is not that durable as known from the experience of interacting with other equipment. Another one is about not that tight fit of MMCX connectors inside the receiving ports. Only time would tell…
LZ HIFI didn’t change their mind about what the stock cable should be like and still include thin cables in soft silicone braid into their boxes. No complains towards the furniture — good aluminum splitter, limiter, audio jack and MMCX connector housings with extra branding. And thanks that this cable is detachable.
Moreover, since Z04A is a budget model with low impedance value — cables are equipped with inline remote and mic to use it with smartphones.
Let’s say that the fit of Z04A is similar to the flagship «A6» series, a bit better and more secure than with the regular bullet-like type of IEMs (Cozoy Hera C103, Periodic Audio Be, Mg, etc) and bit worse than any pseudo-custom type of IEMs (Kinera Idun, Magaosi K6, Hidizs Mermaid MS1, MS4, etc). I would rate shape like this to be second best after the pseudo-custom. Quite secure and tight fit if the output nozzles have enough length and if there is a good choice of eartips + the supporting earguides. Everything is here, therefore — both models feel quite comfortable. Although, I would never try to run or excercise in IEMs of this shape. Active walking is fine, checked.
Tested with HiBy R6Pro DAP
Lows and midbass:
The first impression of Z04A model was that there is an obvious accent on bass which feels a little bit more than balanced to mids. It sometimes sounds heavy, dimensional and a bit moody while the extension is quite good. Decay is on the slower side but still keeps up with the overall composition. This kind and quantity of lows in sound is mostly welcomed by easy bassheads who like a bit of extra boost in that region no matter which kind of track is now playing.
Very good impression of midbass section. Midbass is playing deep, tight and powerful. Drums are natural, stand out a bit in the mix which creates more engagement but never gets irritating. Extra volume and pleasing afterglow is influenced by the lower range which is not that disturbing as in the case if such influence was coming from treble.
Mids and vocals:
Z04A is close to common V curve of AFR with its moderately recessed and distant mids. This also means less body to all vocals and instruments along with some artificially added emotional appeal of female vocals. Therefore, the perception of different sounds in mids gets heterogeneous… strings and bow instruments for example would stand out more than the rest. Similar artificial resolution is added on top, originating from mostly psychological interpretation of the emphasized lower treble. Sweet warm timbre of mids is present here, which eliminates hisses and lisping plus the distinctive presentation of sound in overall (as for the single dynamic driver).
Z04A belongs to V-shaped IEMs which also means more accented treble. In fact, it is elevated but only to the extent of compensating similarly overpowered lows. Sound doesn’t get too bright, cold or transparent… either due to the lack of treble clarity and extension or the wise initial tuning. Don’t get me wrong — Z04A don’t sound dark or moody, no… Treble is quite good and even shows some delicacy due to a certain peaking regions and thin delivery. It is just that emphasis on lows which make the main strength of Z04A and steals the attention…
Soundstage is only moderate due to the lack of layering between the ranges, exceptional clarity and transparency of the treble. The main virtue is the instrument separation in mids that make this model to stand out from the crowd.
Sound in overall:
Z04A sound could be described as V-shaped, with warm timbre, tending to dark tonality due to quite volumetric and powerful bass. Midbass is perfectly presented, mids are a bit recessed and upper portion gets some extra emotions. Treble is perfectly balancing lows but lacks the some clarity. Suitable for different music genres, especially pop, rock, blues, etc.
Compared to BQEYZ KB100:
KB100 are one of the best models in ~$50 price range. It belongs to hybrid types where dynamic unit is responsible for lows and midbass and balanced armature does a perfect job of delivering treble and adding exceptional resolution to mids. Z04A is the first model in this price segment that would be a great contender to KB100. It has better extension on lows and more power on midbass. Only the lack of resolution and treble clarity would not let it be an easy choice.
Compared to TFZ King Exclusive:
King Exclusive is a mighty single dynamic model from the respected TFZ brand. Love the bright sound with exceptional treble clarity and mighty lows. Comparing it to Z04A, I would say that Z04A might compete but only if you’d like to have more extended and deep bass.
Sincerely, I’ve expected less… New budget LZ HIFI — Z04A model worth the attention in this price bracket. There were only few models so far with the same sound quality. The rest either having some significant flaws or insufficient amount of features. LZ HIFI didn’t try to reinvent the wheel — they have deposited comfortable shape and appealing design from the expensive flagship A6 series, made budget single dynamic driver structure sound very good and also provided the extra features and detachable cable with mic and inline remote. Can’t think of other brands that would offer the same for only ~$50. Finally, the most important thing is that even such small budget allows you wider choice now.