KZ BA10: Preview
Today we’re taking a quick first look at the BA10, KZ’s newest balanced armature (BA) only offering.
KZ seems to have fully embraced the world of balanced armatures. Their first go at an all-BA earphone, the recently released AS10, was in my opinion a rousing success. The bass driver in particular was wonderfully tuned giving it a powerful and well-controlled low end presence that I simply wasn’t expecting from a BA. Physical design was similar to the ES4 and ZS10 (edited, thanks Branko!), but with a lower profile fit, and for my ears better ergonomics.
The BA10 has a similar tune with a few tweaks and refinements that I think will really please those that found the AS10 too bassy. The most notable change is that mid-bass is reduced. This takes away some of the warmth and mid-range thickness giving the BA10 a slightly more analytic presentation. Sub-bass retains a similar presence which is nice, giving the BA10 an even more balanced sound. Treble is slightly more prominent, but more importantly, is better controlled. I didn’t find the AS10 overly loose in the upper ranges, but the BA10 is sharper and more precise, terms that actually do well in describing the overall signature. Outside of a slightly leaner note, the mid-range is pretty much the same as the AS10 which I was glad to hear. Sound stage also seems to have improved as well. It really feels like a buttoned down and more refined AS10.
The new metal housings were clearly inspired by the ZS6 and ZSA, but have a strong rectangular shape. Thankfully, the edges have been rounded off so I haven’t run into issues with hot spots, and there is a prominent nozzle (with a proper lip to hold tips on!!!). Overall comfort is good, but it has similar issues as the ZSA. Like the ZSA, it’s a low profile design, but the protrusion the nozzle is attached to makes them fit like more a regular barrel shaped iem. It results in something that is comfortable, but never feels quite as a secure as it should. I’m still tip rolling to find the best match. Thankfully, the stock tips work better here than they did on the ZSA, so if you don’t have a stockpile of extra tips kicking around the included Starlines should work well enough. The two tone-color scheme I’m still on the fence about, but it looks nice enough. At least the paint work is excellent, with a very neat and even application across the entirety of the body of the earphone.
The cable is new to KZ as well. It may simply look like a clear sheathed version of the braided copper cable KZ has been including recently, but it’s not. It’s slightly thicker and the braiding is not quite as tight. Most importantly, tangle resistance above the y-split is greatly improved, though the y-split is still set nearly halfway down the cable and there is no chin cinch. Eventually KZ will get this part right. Still, this is probably the best stock cable they’ve given us yet.
So far it seems like a really well constructed earphone with decent ergonomics and a detailed, well-balanced signature. The reduction in bass quantity and tighter overall presentation means the BA10 isn’t quite as fun as the AS10 to my ears, but it is more technically proficient and accurate, and I think that might just be enough to win KZ some new fans.
Be on the lookout for a full review in the coming weeks! Thanks for reading.
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This BA10 was a sample sent over by DD Audio/Linsoul Tech (AliExpress / Amazon). Anyone who follows my blog knows I would have ended up buying one at some point anyway. I’ve got a “small” collection of well over 30 unique KZs at this point. I like the brand a lot and have no issues saying when their products are winners or duds, so the above thoughts are my own and do not represent anyone else.
If you like my content, be sure to follow as I have lots more coming in the near future, such as the Burson V5i op-amp, Shanling M0, Linsoul BLD balanced earbuds, and the beautiful Meze 99 Neo headphones, among others.