Greetings,

Today we’re taking a quick first look at the new AS10 from Knowledge Zenith (KZ).

Since the release of the ZST, KZ’s first hybrid, they have been refining their use of balanced armature (BA) drivers with each subsequent release. With the AS10, KZ is stepping out of their comfort zone and bringing to the market their first pure balanced armature earphone. You’d expect them to start off with something simple, one or two BAs. Nope, not KZ. As it’s name implies, the AS10 uses 10 BAs total, 5 per side, with a crossover to divide frequencies across the various drivers. After spending nearly 11 hours with it yesterday and today, I can happily report that the AS10 exceeds my expectations.

The first thing I noticed was just how full the low end is. I was expecting the low end to be a mess. For their first go at a bass specific armature, KZ did an amazing job replicating the experience of their dynamic drivers. True, it doesn’t dig into sub-bass regions quite as well, but on Kavinski’s “Solli” the opening sub-bass line is strong and very noticeable, providing you with the ear-ticking experience you would expect from a bass-focused track. It’s not boomy or bloated either. The low end certainly isn’t lacking, yet it retains the speed and texture you’d expect from a BA. The mid-range is noticeably more forward and better balanced than on their other recent five driver release, the ZS10, keeping the AS10 from venturing into the v-shaped territory they are well familiar with. Vocals have just the right amount of thickness and weight thanks to a smartly tuned upper bass region. The upper ranges find a nice balance between the dark, recessed tones of the ZS10 and the slightly exaggerated nature of the ZSR. The brilliance region is emphasized enough to give the AS10 good air between notes and some shimmer in cymbals, without the piercing nature of many of their hybrids. The presence region finds itself in a good place too, giving the AS10 excellent micro detail and clarity without crossing over into harshness. Like the ZS10, the AS10 excells at imaging, laying and separation, but to my ears has a larger sound stage to go along with it. Whereas I find the ZS10 is only slightly above average, the AS10 can toss effects quite far. Overall they are exceptionally well balanced with excellent technical ability.

The shell is reminiscent of the ZS10 with a base only slightly smaller. It is significantly less deep, however, making the AS10 a much more low profile earphone. That said, I found fit to be pretty similar and still somewhat tip dependent. It fits me well and is very comfortable. Build quality is also similar to the ZS10, but with a solid black backing that prevents you from seeing the driver layout inside. Looking into the nozzle, the mesh is set deep within and covers two separate openings. I assume one for the bass driver and the other for the mid and treble drivers. While the AS10 is lacking a traditional nozzle lip for holding tips on, it does have three small protrusions that perform the same function. They seem to work quite well. The cable is the same copper braided option included on the ZS10 and ZSA, but with the ZS10’s larger connectors. This is great as all of KZ’s older silver upgrade cables will fit. The included tips are the same as always, Starlines. I love em.

What do I think so far? The AS10 is outstanding. It impresses on a technical level like the ZS10 but without the bloomy mid-bass and recessed lower mids, and is nearly as easy on the ears for long listening sessions. It’s not as bright and potentially harsh or piercing as the ZS6 and other models in the lineup. They’re still fairly large, but smaller than the ZS6 and ZS10 so I suspect fit should be quite pleasant for most. KZ has been killing it with their releases this year, and the AS10 is no different. Hopefully the BA10, another 5 BA per side model coming soon, sounds this impressive.

Thanks for reading, and be on the lookout for a full review soon.

– B9Scrambler

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

This sample was sent over by Linsoul Tech free of charge for the purposes of review. That said, these impressions are mine and mine alone. If you’re interested in ordering a set, you can scoop them up here; https://www.amazon.com/KZ-Earphone-Resolution-Headphone-Cancelling/dp/B07G34D6PB/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1533431308&sr=8-4&keywords=as10+earbuds

16 comments

  1. Very nice write up! I’m looking forward to mine. I’m also looking forward to the BA10, as they look aesthetically superior to the AS10. All I could think of after seeing their most recent promo photo was Iron Man. Yes please!

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  2. Some guy at Youtube Said at higher volumes treble takes over Bass…. I dont understand either he right or you are I think one of you is Paid Actor.

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    1. Hi Sunny. With multi-driver earphones, the individual drivers can have different impedance curves. So for example, as you increase the volume and add power, volume increases disproportionately. In this case, it sounds like the treble drivers increase in volume more than the bass drivers with more power, and “take over” at higher volumes. Does that make sense?

      I tend to listen at much lower volumes than Hawaii Bad Boy (the reviewer you are referencing) so it’s not an issue I noticed. I have experienced it in other earphones like the TRN V80. The bass driver on that one increases in volume significantly more than the treble drivers. At low volumes I find it is very treble heavy, while at high volumes it sounds a lot more bassy. This is pretty common among multi-driver earphones.

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    1. Haven’t tried anything from RevoNext yet. Will have to sit down and compare with the T2 to answer that. Whereas the ZS10 and T2 were complimentary due to their different signatures, the AS10 and T2 are more comparable. I’m planning to include a comparo with the T2 and some costlier multi-BAs in the review, so be on the lookout. Will be up sometime next week.

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  3. Hi B9Scrambler, thanks for the first impressions. I like listening to instrumental soundtracks and J-pop, which in particular I find notorious for muddied mixed instruments with vocals. Since you seem to praise AS10’s imaging and separation, do you think they’d be good option for me? The other iem I am interested in are TRN v80. Audiobudget review highly praises it’s clarity (“…even the dirtiest of tracks sound clean and crisp.”), do you think they’d be better than AS10? Like if you were given the choice what would you pick between these two?
    I know there is going to be a full review soon but sorry for being this impatient.

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    1. Greetings! I’m not too familiar with instrumental soundtracks beyond that for the Witcher 2, and definitely not j-pop, lol. That said, as nice as the V80 is, I much prefer the AS10. Keep in mind they have very different signatures with the V80 sounding a lot like KZ’s hybrids; v-shaped with big bass and tons of sizzle in the prominent treble. The AS10 is much more balanced and lacks that potentially uncomfortable upper range. V80’s treble is pretty lean which helps with separation, but the AS10 can do the same thing with weightier notes. It’s more like the B400 in it’s imaging, layering, and separation qualities which is evident when running it through King Crimson’s “Starless and Bible Black”. Neither it nor the V80 trip up, but the AS10’s sound stage sounds much more dynamic and spacious, both regarding channel to channel and depth impressions.

      In the V80’s favour it is a lot cheaper, and competes quite well taking that into consideration. If you don’t mind the brightness, you’d be fine getting it instead. But yeah, either would be fine I’m sure. My nod goes to the AS10 though.

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  4. I have a ZS10 and I like that they have smooth upper frequencies. Tell me please in the new model how much taller the hearing is cut? Is there a big difference in the middle and high frequencies? (For example, I can not listen to the TRH V80, high frequencies are very whistling. Thank you!

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    1. AS10 has a little more treble emphasis than the ZS10, but not a lot. Certainly nowhere near as bright as the V80. Mid-range is more even than the ZS10. Bass is less emphasized with less extension. You still get a satisfying visceral feel though. Impressive for a bass BA. Overall the AS10 is much more balanced than the ZS10 while retaining a fairly easygoing, non-fatiguing sound. Not quite as mellow as the ZS10 though.

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  5. hello friend, this new KZ product (the KZ AS10) would be on the same sound level as the B400 and Simgot EN700 PRO? very obliged

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    1. Hey Hugo! AS10 is closer in performance to the EN700 than the B400, but not quite as good overall as either. For the price it’s a no brainer though, esp. considering KZs always drop in price after a few months on the market. The AS10 is easily one of the best iems under 100 bucks I’ve heard.

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