Before you read this review, a little spoiler ahead : KZ AS10 is my favourite KZ IEM at the moment. I am super impressed with it and found that it didn’t just get the sound tuning right (and sounded great), but also has superb usability/practicality, price to performance ratio is very good too.
I have listened the AS10 on my Huawei Mate 20, review however are written based on my listening session with the Stoner Acoustics UDXA, Stoner Acoustics UD125, Venture Electronic Oddysey, Centrance DACPort HD and JDS Labs The Element. IEM have been burned in for at least 50 Hours before writing this review. My Asus laptop as source, Foobar 2000 (Lossless and High resolution format only) and Spotify Premium/Tidal Hifi are my media player.
I have listened to KZ ZS5 and ZS10 Pro before this and reviewed the ZS10 Pro, I can directly tell you although both of ZS5 and ZS10 Pro sounded very good for the price, the AS10 is my favourite IEM among the three. To find out why I love it so much you will need to read this review but let’s start with the weaknesses first.
The AS10 is definitely a neutral and balanced sounding IEM, with it I never felt like any sound criteria (soundstage, positioning, instrument separation, detail, speed, transparency, timing, treble, midrange, bass, transient and etc) is missing, of course I never felt anything is overpowered as well, to be frank, the midbass is a little enhance and the treble might sound a little tamed, but all of these lead to a good toning and natural-sounding kind of sound and honestly I never felt it troubled me even a little, for this price tag I almost shouted “Hallelujah”, it is really damn good for the pricing. Just like other KZs, the upper midrange is elevated just a llllitleeeee, not like what I experienced on ZS5 which sounded unnatural and coloured though, oh yeah, as you have already know, the sub bass of the AS10 rolled off earlier than it should, just like most of the BA IEMs. But like I said, I really love how it tuned and sounded, Classical music? Jazz? Vocal? No problem, you name it and you have it, even the pop.
Pop music, played with rich tone and the vocal actually has good detail and superb presentation, the treble while not sparkling, is not troubling anyway, the bass is thumping and the tone is good, instrument separation is good and the soundscape is not tight at all, has a good space and not feel like they are compromising here.
Classical music, such as the ‘Stradivarius & Steinway’ by Michael Antonello and Peter Arnstein, while the music is not complex but you can easily know that the instrument sounded clear and ‘correct’ with the AS10, not an easy task for cheap pricing IEM but AS10 just done it remarkably good here, the violin, for instance, sounded nice, textured and has good extension here, I might say the treble has tamed down on the AS10 but violin is actually more towards midrange production, even so, the extension of the violin sounded great and the texture of the string is well presented here, impressive.
The speed and timing are good too, definitely one of the traditional strengths of balanced armature IEM, speedy and of course tight and good impact bass, but don’t expect any extending rumble here, it is clean and fast bass with good impact though. Not going for any debate here but I generally agree that the bass of the dynamic driver still has that nicer elasticity and ambient, but if you are getting used to how balance armature plays the bass, you will get used to it and like it. The midrange here, however, is especially good, you will get a nicely detailed and well textured vocal, nothing to complain about and it is fantastic for the price.
There are insanely 5 balanced armature drivers in each of the earpieces and this made it has 10 balance armature drivers in total, while in audiophile world more doesn’t always mean better, but it is rather impressive that KZ managed to squeeze as much as 5 balanced armature drivers in each housing and make it price just 70USD, respectable nonetheless.
Build quality is impressive as well, the casing is well built with a nice touch, it is solid and the cable is replaceable, I like how it can be replaced as most of my IEM’s cable are malfunctioning after some times. However, the 2 Pin fit is not the world’s most secure fit, sometimes it will fall out from the fit if you do not secure it nicely because you can never tell if it is fit already, the ZS10 Pro fit better in this regards, not a deal-breaker however, it is still good. Like what I mentioned in ZS10 Pro, I like the cable despite it get tangled quite easily, but it is nice and aesthetically nice to the eyes.
It is easy to drive and you don’t need an external amplifier to make it shine, however, I found that a good DAC really make the most out of it and AS10 is really quite prone to the pairing. I actually love how it performed with JDS Labs The Element.
The AS10 is my favourite KZ IEM, they are really easy to drive and the sound is really impressive, I never felt anything is quite missing here, when the music getting more complicated I do find that it is not as organised as the best out there, but it is still a budget IEM, we can’t really expect everything to be that perfect isn’t it? Oh yeah KZ, next time please include a storage pouch for the customer too, but this does not stop me a bit from recommending AS10 to our readers, the hype is true, follow the train and be impressed!