A couple of years ago it seemed like people would go into a frenzy whenever a new LZ earphone was announced. However, it seems like some of their recent releases have gone almost unnoticed. Perhaps it’s because of how fiercely competitive the Chi-Fi market has become. In today’s review, we’re taking a look at the LZ Z04A, a single dynamic driver earphone. Read on to find out if it’s the one for you.
This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Solid build quality
Moderate instrument separation
Mic cable not compatible with some DAPs
Package and Accessories
On the outside of the box is a black cardboard sleeve with blue text. The actual box is a vivid red colour with a white LZ logo on the top. Inside, the earphones are presented in a black foam insert, as is the included carrying case. Let’s take a look at the box contents in their entirety.
LZ Z04A earphones
Detachable MMCX cable
3 pairs of medium-bore silicone eartips
3 pairs of wide-bore silicone eartips
Zipper clamshell case
QC pass and user guide/warranty
Build Quality and Design
The Z04A has sleek metal housings with a low-key exterior. It is only available in black colour and has flat faceplates with a matte black finish. Very stealthlike in appearance, I find myself wishing the model number was SR-71!
Around the perimeter of the faceplates is a silver outline which adds some definition to the appearance. There is a small vent at the bottom-front of the faceplate. The shells are matte black too but they have a sort of rubberized coating. This coating feels very comfortable in the ears and adds a little more grip to the shells surface which gives the earphones a more stable fit.
Another small vent is located near the base of the nozzle. The Z04A’s nozzles are more narrow than average but they have a very prominent ridge that holds eartips firmly in place. Here you will also find a metal mesh that keeps ear wax at bay. Overall, the build quality feels great for a budget earphone.
Comfort and Noise Isolation
I find the LZ04A to be very comfortable in my ears. The rubberized coating on the shells feels fantastic and almost biological if that makes sense. The faceplates have a flat edge which may cause discomfort for some people depending on your ear shape but in my case, the edge doesn’t come into contact with my ears.
Noise isolation is moderate and about average for this type of housing. The earpieces will block a decent amount of external noise and would be suitable for bus or train rides etc. Noise leak is minimal and not likely to offend others nearby.
The LZ04A’s stock cable is black and rubberized. It’s a very utilitarian style cable that appears to be built with durability in mind, rather than aesthetics. It’s a little stiff (insert crass joke here) but is reasonably tangle-resistant. Cable noise (microphonics) is fairly minimal due to it being worn over-ear.
At the top end are black, aluminium MMCX connectors. Each one is denoted with an L or R marking and these are followed by pre-formed ear guides. There is a plastic chin slider present and a small, aluminium Y-split. The cable terminates in a small, aluminium 3.5 mm plug.
My review sample came with the mic cable so it also has a 3-button inline remote and microphone. The buttons work well on my Android smartphone and certain DAPs, like the FiiO M6 but on some DAPs, like the iBasso DX120, the sound becomes faint and wispy when the plug is fully inserted. In order to fix it, you need to pull the plug out slightly. So, if you plan to use a non-Android based DAP I suggest you do not get the mic version.
Gear used for testing includes the iBasso DX120 and FiiO M6 as portable sources. On the desktop, I’m currently still using my trusty Arcam irDAC-II which is connected to my PC via USB. The Z04A is easy to drive and perfectly suitable for use with a smartphone or entry-level portable player and does not require extra amplification.
The LZ Z04A has a warm, engaging and non-fatiguing sound. It has an accented bass and upper midrange boost and buttery smooth but clear treble.
The Z04A is very linear from the sub-bass to mid and upper bass. Sub-bass notes get some serious rumble going and you can definitely feel the physical effects. There’s good texture throughout the bass and a slower decay gives it an underlying sense of lifelike resonance and authority.
Bass notes are somewhat rounded but it doesn’t feel muddy or lethargic. In reality, the quantity of the bass isn’t really exaggerated but the prominence of the lower and sub-bass give it a larger than life presence. This is particularly engaging with music like Solar Fields’ “The Road To Nothingness” which has deep, underlying synth bass throughout the entire track.
Z04A’s midrange is organic and analogue sounding. There’s none of that digital or clinical thinness that a lot of budget hybrids produce. Male vocals sound rich but slightly laid back while female vocals are vivid and emotional. Midrange instruments have a natural tone with a touch of warmth and the upper midrange boost gives guitars texture and some extra bite.
Treble notes are crisp and clear but sit a bit further back in the mix behind the bass and upper midrange. There’s a sense of airiness granted by the 12kHz peak and overall extension. It’s easy on the ears too as there is no sibilance nor harshness to be heard. Treble is one of the more difficult aspects to get right, especially in the budget realm but the Z04A handles it nicely.
The soundstage has average dimensions and moderate width but a good sense of depth. Instrument separation is quite good and the sound does not get congested or cramped. While the layering is nothing to write home about, the airiness in the treble allows the sound some room to breathe.
The CCA C10 has a mighty 5 drivers per side which is crazy for its $40 price tag. While more drivers certainly does not guarantee better audio quality, in the case of the C10 it does provide excellent instrument separation and layering.
Both IEMs share a similar linear rise from sub-bass to mid-bass and both have rounded bass notes. In the midrange, the C10 is more resolving but shares a similar tone with an upper midrange boost. The C10 has a thinner treble with less convincing timbre in the upper ranges. The C10 has a larger soundstage due mostly not to its tonality but rather its superior separation and layering.
The K2 is a quad-driver IEM (2DD+2BA) also known for its smooth but detailed approach. It has a more reserved sub-bass with faster roll off and concentrates more on the mid-bass. The midrange is a little more recessed and female vocals aren’t quite as vibrant as on the Z04A, although clarity is better throughout on the K2.
In the treble range, the K2 is more forward with a similar airiness but more clarity. Its soundstage has larger dimensions than the Z04A, with similar width but better layering and more targeted positioning.
The LZ Z04A is a competent single dynamic driver earphone which is refreshing to see among the multitude of budget hybrids on the market. While it might not be as technically adept as similarly priced alternatives, it does have a very cohesive and analogue sound with a pleasing tonality. This would be a great option for anyone who likes female vocals and string instruments but is sensitive to treble.