KZ AS06

Disclaimer:  Wooeasy was kind enough to send the AS06 for review.  If you are interested in the AS06 it can be purchased from their Amazon store.   As with most of my review samples, it will likely go to either the schools or the hospital when the review is completed.   This way either it introduces good earphones to the next generation of music lovers (band and choir students) or it goes to someone who can use it to enjoy music and audio books while recovering.   This allows me to review a great many earphones without the questions of conflict of interest that sometimes arise.

 

Unboxing / Packaging:

Unlike earlier samples, this AS-06 came in the standard white KZ slip cover box, although the inner packing has been stepped up slightly as the earpieces themselves rest in white tray with a pad underneath and the cable, tips, and accessories hide underneath.  This does give them a bit more premium look than the previous black plastic tray and is appreciated since the AS-06 is a step below flagship and a bit more expensive than some KZ products.    Why KZ decided to discontinue the premium packaging seen in earlier samples was not explained but I think perhaps the higher end packaging is reserved for current flagship models and since a few new iems are rumored, maybe the premium packaging of the As06 has been retired.

 

Accessories / cable: 

Here we have the typical KZ kit.  It contains the cable, warranty card, and SML silicone tips are all that is included.   Most other vendors have taken to adding some form of case in combination with their upper end earphones, but most end up in a drawer at my house so I am all for saving the $2 and not including yet another vinyl clamshell.   The cable is KZs upgraded model with the 90º 3.5mm jack followed by a 4 wire braid leading to a splitter that is entirely too low on the cable and should be moved up about 5-6 inches.  It has no chin slider, and terminates with bi-pin connectors with pre-formed earhooks but without memory wire.  This last feature I am very much appreciative of as they are neither as tight as the BQEYZ models, nor as uncomfortable as the earlier memory wire cables from KZ that fought with my glasses for space behind my ears.

 

Build/Fit:

The AS06 is a 2 piece plastic shell with the inner being opaque black and the outer being transparent in either gray or green.  Faceplates are well attached with no obvious gaps, glue, or misalignments.   The bi-pin connector is mildly recessed which again is a nice touch and promotes durability as the connector is less exposed to breakage.    The body of the AS06 is on the large side and is very similar to the AS10 or Zs10 in dimensions.  The nozzles are two stage with a large taper from the body to the actual nozzle, and a standard length nozzle following the taper.   This allows the AS06 to sit fairly deeply in the ear and getting a good seal was fairly simple.  I was even able to use the medium tips while usually I require a large.   While I find the deeper insertion helpful, those with small ears may have difficulty getting a good fit.  My daughter complains that these are on the large size and while she can use them, she says they get uncomfortable fairly quickly.    Nozzles do not have a lip but tips fit solidly and no tendency to move or slip was observed.

 

Internals:

The AS06 uses three balanced armature drivers.  The bass is provided by a customized 22955 driver with a 29689 mid driver and a 31005 mid/high driver rounding out the trio.   KZ has been updating the 22955 driver and the version in the AS06 has supposedly been updated even since the release of the AS10 so while the two are similar, they are not exactly alike.   An electronic crossover is provided to divide tasks between the three drivers unlike some earlier models (Zs5/Zs6) which were hard-wired between the drivers.    I have done some digging and thus far have not found a reference to the drivers used for the mid and mid-high tasks.

 

Sound: 

The Frequency Response was measured using my test system.  Keep in mind this is uncompensated and while I use a calibrated mic and sound-card, results are only comparable to other results from the same system.    As you can see, FR comes very close to the Harman Target curves.

Bass: 

The bass is what interested me about the As06 to start with as it uses the newly developed (or improved) 22955 balanced armature driver.  KZ has put a fair amount of work into developing its own drivers so I wanted to see what was improved in the Ba10, the As10, and the As06.    Sub-bass goes reasonably deep with some rumble to it but sounds a bit monotone.   Mid-bass has good slam, but bleeds into the mids and with the lingering decay gives the As06 an overall warm tone.  In comparison to the As10, mid-bass has been dialed back slightly while it is till more forward than the bass of the Ba10.    Overall, I think the sub-bass of the As06 is as good as anything near its price point, but I would prefer the mid-bass be a little better textured and not quite as forward as it obscures the lower mids.

Mids:

The mids are considerably recessed and between the mid-bass bleed obscuring some of the lower mids and the recess, it is easily the As06’s weakest feature.  This again helps give the As06 a overall warm, dark signature that is uncharacteristic of KZ iems.   For my own listening,  I found that bringing the midbass (200-500Hz) back between 4 and 6dB exposed the mids more and allowed vocals to move forward in the mix.  Without some eq correction there are times that vocalists appear to be behind other instrumentation.    My hope is that KZ decides to give the attention they did to the 22955 to the 29689 they are using for mids as the current version is not keeping pace with the treble or bass drivers in the As06, even with it’s V shaped tuning being accounted for.

Treble:

Treble on the the As06 is forward, but not KZ forward which many will find comforting.   Make no mistake, this is still a V shape signature with forward treble, just not as forward as the Zs<X> lineup which has been somewhat plagued by a reputation for being overly bright and energetic.   The lower treble climbs from the trough of the mids and plateaus at  roughly the same level as the mid-bass so neither end seems excessively weighted in comparison to each other.   Cymbals are well rendered without sounding metallic, and roll-off is early enough to keep the As06 from being overly fatiguing while at the same time still maintaining some air.

 

Soundstage / Imaging:

Soundstage on the As06 has both good depth and width and unlike a lot of offerings at this price point, width is not considerably larger than depth.  The As06 does have some sense of height as well.  Imaging is accurate with instrument separation being very good without any congestion or crowding.    Layering is another weak point as the mid driver does a less than stellar job and transitions between the three drivers are sometimes less than fluid.

 

Thoughts / Conclusion:

I have previously reviewed the As10, but had ergonomic issues with the Ba10 that kept me from wanting to wear them long enough to provide adequate listening time for a review.  Still, I was rather impressed with the sound of both.   The As06 pares back the number of drivers while keeping the As10 shell (more or less) so it is a larger iem than it probably need be based on the internals.  I really like what KZ is doing with the tuning on the low end as their 22955 is now quite possibly better than Knowles version for both rumble and slam while maintaining a decent amount of detail.   Unfortunately, the mid-range driver has not been given the same treatment and suffers as a result.  Were a better mid-range driver used, I’d have no trouble recommending the As06 for those who like EDM or the likes.  As it stands, if you like a big V with scooped mids, this should be on your short list of iems to try.  For the rest of us who like mids a bit more forward, hopefully this is another evolutionary step toward a KZ we can really enjoy, but we aren’t quite there yet.

 

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