Review - Blon Z200

Review - KZ AS16 Pro

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Also available on YouTube in Spanish: Acho Reviews YouTube 

The KZ AS16 Pro have been sent to me by Linsoul in exchange for the publication of this review. They have not made any specific requests or comments, meaning that I will do my usual best to be as unbiased as possible, always considering the fact that these IEMs have not cost me anything.

You can find the KZ AS16 Pro via Linsoul here: https://www.linsoul.com/products/kz-as16-pro?variant=43093693268185

(non-affiliate link).


Intro…

At this point, I don’t think that KZ needs any introduction. Anyone who has looked at the budget end of the IEM world will know of KZ, it is difficult to not come across them, as they have so many models and a constant presentation of new models.

While KZ may have done some things very wrong over their time manufacturing IEMs, they have also done a lot of things right, being a first step into the HiFi world of IEMs for many people.

The model I am reviewing today is the AS16 Pro, a set of IEMs with 8 Balanced Armatures per side. This model, as with so many others that end in “Pro”, “Plus” or “X”, is an updated version of the original AS16, also featuring 8 BA’s per side, which is actually still available and is priced around 130€. The AS16 Pro sells for around 55€, so we are talking quite a large reduction in price for the new model. I have never heard the original AS16 Pro, so I am not going to be able to compare I’m afraid.


Presentation…

The presentation of the AS16 Pro reminds me a little of the KZ ZAX that I did review a while ago. Packed in a black box, already giving it a bit more of a premium feel than the simple white boxes of the cheaper models, there is not a lot in the way of contents but enough to at least enjoy the IEM straight out of the box.

We get the AS16 Pro IEMs, the usual cable that KZ includes with their recent models (something they call “High purity braided silver-plated cable with 2 pin changeable interface design”), three sets of the KZ “star” tips and the usual user warranty documents etc.


Build and aesthetics…

The shells of the IEMs are on the large side, with a shape that resembles something between a triangle and half a heart. I’m afraid that I find the result rather uncomfortable. Obviously this is going to be different for each person, as everyone's ear anatomy is different, but in my case, they feel like the are digging into my ears and become rather painful after a while. Looking at photos, they do seem to be a very similar shape to the original AS16, so if someone already has a KZ with this shape and is looking for an upgrade, the fit should be fine.

The build quality is the usual KZ standard, nothing extraordinary but seemingly well built. I can’t say I have ever had an issue with the build quality of a KZ IEM, so I don’t have any reason to not expect these to be of the same level over time.

As far as aesthetics, something that is again very personal, I don’t mind them. I haven’t really fallen in love with the way they look but at least they seem to have an original design to them, using a semi transparent shell, with a design on the front plate surrounded by a metal plate.

As usual with KZ, they are as good as, or better than, what can be expected as far as build quality but aesthetics and comfort will be down to each individual.


Sound…

(All tracks mentioned are clickable links that will open the song for reference in the streaming service of your choice)

Let’s take the usual look at the AS16 Pro compared to my personal preference target (remembering that my target is just a guide and not a “be all, end all” as far as my tastes):

Starting from the subbass, using the usual “Chameleon” as a reference, there is a fair amount of it and the BA drivers do keep it fairly clean, however, I really am not a fan of the tonality of the BA bass, at least usually and that includes this set. There really isn’t much rumble to this song, which is something that I feel that the track actually needs. 

Moving up into the midbass realms, it is a similar story. The bass is there but it is lacking life in my opinion, at least in comparison to a good dynamic driver in these frequencies. Don’t get me wrong, listening to something like “No Sanctuary Here”, the bass is there and it is fairly clean, it is just not exciting, it is rather polite.

The mids do have a fairly large dip in the center, pushing the overall tuning towards a V shape. This makes certain vocals seem to miss a bit of life in the lower ranges. The same happens with acoustic guitars and other acoustic instruments, there is a little hollowness in the center with a low end that is not warm enough to give them the necessary “body” that they need to seem natural.

As we move up to the higher end of the mids, the AS16 Pro brings vocals a little bit too far forwards. It is not terrible, there are far worse out there, but I do notice a little bit of harshness on tracks like “Don’t You Worry Child” by Beth. Her voice has a habit of becoming harsh on many IEMs and the AS16 Pro are no exception in this regard. They do avoid the 5kHz peak that I am quite sensitive to, so the harshness is not overly irritating for me personally, just a little too hot.

The upper ranges do extend quite nicely and, although the treble is not overly detailed, there is a sensation of clarity and air in the treble. It is nice to see that KZ seem to have left that metallic shine of yesteryear behind them in the upper frequencies, making things seem a lot smoother and more realistic in this regard.

Soundstage is about on a par with the usual KZ offerings, behind some of their more “open” sets yet still better than many other options. “La Luna” does not give a huge sensation of space yet it is still nicely placed, making the binaural recording something to appreciate.

Isolation is pretty decent, meaning that these IEMs work fairly well while outdoors and moving around. You can check out the isolation graph (and compare to others) by following the link at the end of this review.


Conclusion…

I can’t really say anything too bad about the AS16 Pro, they are a set that performs pretty well for their price and if you are looking for a V shaped sound signature, then you can do a lot worse than these.

However… I just find them to be lacking life for a lot of my preferred music. It is not the tuning, as the graph shows that there is plenty (more than enough) of low end to give weight and body to guitars, basses and even drums, it just seems that the bass from the BA’s is a little dull. Not dull in the sense that it isn’t there, or that it doesn’t perform well, just dull in terms of it not sounding very natural to me. I have always said that I am a big fan of dynamic drivers for low ranges and the AS16 Pro just reinforces that feeling.

Another issue that affects my overall impressions of these IEMs is comfort. Obviously this is a very personal thing but it does make it difficult to focus on the positives when you can’t ignore the fact that they are causing pain. Again, this will be very different from person to person but I can only speak for myself.


All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on achoreviews.squig.link
 
All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on achoreviews.squig.link/isolation

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