KZ AS24 “Tunable Version” ($112)
Hello, this is my full review of KZ’s latest all BA iem… The KZ AS24 “Tunable Version”. KZ created both a Standard Version as well as a Tunable Version which employs tuning switches, similar to what they had done with the KZ D-Fi. Only the AS24 has EIGHT OF THEM! The AS24 is actually the successor to last year’s AS16 Pro which had some mixed reviews. As for myself I really enjoyed the AS16 Pro, and frankly still do (AS16 Pro Review) as it has a very dynamic and forwardly energetic sound. It wasn’t the cookie cutter tuning and complimented my collection well. To be perfectly honest I was more than surprised to see the AS24 arrive at my door. Many thanks go out to Tyvan Lam as well as KZ for providing this all-BA set for a full review and feature at Mobileaudiophile.com.
Rapid fire beasts
I don’t have to mention it, but it bears repeating that KZ has been on an absolute tear through the budget sector. From $12 to $50 they have owned the budget space. However, the AS24 just crests over the $100 price barrier, which hasn’t really worked in KZ’s favor in the past. I also don’t have to mention the absolute beasts which reside in this price point. The $100 space is absolutely chock full of fantastic iems. Still, as far as budget sets are concerned, and for the sake of this review, I will remind some of the readers that the KZ EDXS, KZ ZVX, KZ D-Fi and the KZ X-HBB PR2 have all been phenomenal in their respective price points, my opinion. I will also remind everyone that each of these sets have come out at a rapid-fire pace. So, KZ has been hot and it’s no wonder that they decided to try to keep this streak alive and release the AS24. Heck, they even waited a couple weeks. Things are looking good for KZ, let’s see how they did on the latest KZ AS24 Tuning Version, and is the AS24 asking price worth it? I can at least answer this for myself and hopefully it is of some help to some of you…
KZ AS24 purchase link: KZ AS24
-Good BA bass
-Great switch system once you understand it
-Nice timbre for an all-BA set
-Nice and melodic midrange
-Energetic yet non-offensive treble region
-Separation / Imaging
-Very clean, open and airy sound
-Cable (accessories for +$100 iem) cable should’ve been better
-May be too large for some ears
-Not for bassheads
-Can be a bit peaky
-Eight switches can be daunting
-Look may not be for everyone
Gear used for testing
The AS24 arrived at my home unannounced, which was a great surprise. It arrived in an unassuming and rather refreshing simple black box with a glossy KZ logo imprinted in the center. As always you have some specs on the back as well. Inside the box KZ added the eartips, cable and a switch pin tool. You get no carrying case which I would’ve liked to see but if the money all goes into the earphones, I’m fine with that. Plus, I lied, I could care less about a carrying case. Just create the best earphones for the money.
The cable is the same cable that we’ve seen for countless KZ sets. Now, this really should have been a nicer cable. Really. If you are paying over $100 for a set of earphones than you shouldn’t be getting the same cable as the one provided with the $12 EDXS. Upgrade cables can be found at $10 that would be a nice upgrade to the cable provided. However, with that said I’m not complaining, it’s simply a “con” in my book. It wouldn’t be anything which would keep me from purchasing the AS24. The provided cable is a 3.5 single ended Silver-Plated Copper wire with an opaque colorway and a right angle 3.5 jack. Same as all the others. I of course swapped cables right away for a balanced cable and the one I’m using is a beautiful white 16 core Fedai SPC cable that looks absolutely perfect alongside the AS24.
Truthfully, if you simply cannot spend another dime on your audio gear then the included cable works perfectly fine. There truly is no real sonic benefit from upgrading. Obviously if you listen on balanced sources then you must upgrade to a balanced cable but other than that it isn’t a must to swap it out.
Upgrade that cable!
I would like to offer some advice to KZ and really to any earphone maker. Cables matter! A nice cable is the icing on the cake and brings an earphone to another level. I really mean this. It doesn’t cost much for a nicer type of upgrade cable and to me a nice thick cable shows that you mean business. Using the same KZ opaque cable seems much more like a “budget-oriented” company is just trying their hand at the more expensive target demographic. I promise, if a nice aesthetically pleasing cable was packaged with the AS24 it would really take it to the next level. My Father always would tell me on the football field “Son, act like you’ve been there!!”. The same sentiment can be said for this situation. I realize that it may be a money saving tactic and yes, many people simply purchase their own upgrade cables but even TRN adds in finer modular cables with their under $50 iems. Despite this little blurb, I don’t think it’s the biggest deal and for what you are getting with the earphones themselves…I suppose it’s fine.
The eartips that you will find wrapped up in those annoying white baggies are some of my all-time favorite eartips… The KZ Starlines tips! KZ added three pairs (s, m, l) as well as one medium sized pair of foam tips. I love seeing these and I get a tiny little blip of joy course through my audio dork heart. Starlines are firm-flanged and tacky enough to seal and most importantly they are comfortable for me. So, I did not tip roll with the AS24 and used the Starlines. I should add that I did have to use a size smaller than usual with the AS24 as the nozzle length is a bit longer which required smaller tips to fit snuggly. This will likely be the same for you.
Build / Design / Internals / Fit / Drivability
As far as build is concerned, the AS24 is crafted with seemingly quality materials of construction. The Shells were actually 3D printed with a “new generation DLP 3D printing technology” which is good for a very detailed design such as the AS24. The lower shell chamber has a complicated tubed design which is very involved as you can see the intricate system of 3D printed tubes all converging internally to the nozzle from each of the drivers. Really very cool looking in my opinion and very well laid out.
The Faceplate has what KZ refers to as a “Sparkling Diamond Cut Bracket”. Obviously, this is not an actual diamond, or even cut from anything formed from the Earth, but instead it is an ornately designed and very hard type plastic (I’m assuming) which is held together by an Aluminum cover. If you look at the back side of the Shells, you’ll see the “main tuner” switch panel, and if you rotate to the bottom, you’ll notice the “auxiliary” switch panel. To be honest I think this is one of the best builds that KZ has ever put together. Everything feels very robust and solid in hand. Nothing chinsy or cheap feeling here. As always you get QDC style female 2-Pin connectors as in all KZ iems. All in all, the build is rather good, no issues to note.
One more thing, the AS24 is a large set of earphones, obviously they have to be larger to accommodate TWELVE BA Drivers per earphone as well as 3D printed sound tubes etc. Please keep this in mind before purchasing. On top of that, the insertion depth of the nozzle is also longer than most and so take that into account. I would say that the AS24 is about the same in nozzle length to the As16 Pro, if that helps. However, for myself the size is great, and it fits like a glove.
The design may not be for everyone. Perhaps the AS24 design leans a bit effeminate but I think they can honestly go either way and look pretty nice. The Diamond looking faceplate is a dope touch with the aluminum cover adding a sleek contrast as well. Again, not everyone will jive with the look of the AS24, but I do think the greatest majority of hobbyists will appreciate the overall aesthetic and design. I actually think they look sweet, fresh and different from other sets which are out there, but I’m not everyone else. I do like being able to see all of the tech housed within as KZ did a remarkable job placing the drivers exactly so tightly, which is very neat. Truthfully, the AS24 has a different look, slightly blingy but not overtly so. I honestly think this is one of the better designed sets in the price point.
This is where we begin to get into the meat of the AS24. First off, the AS24 comes equipped with a whopping twelve Balanced Armature Drivers, each covering different parts of the frequency range. One thing to point out is that KZ made some adjustments in their design of some of the BA’s housed within the AS24. As far as I know the low-end BA “22955” as well as their “29689” BAs went through a restructuring of the “reed” from the old style to a new “Trident reed” which centers it between the magnets better. It’s proposed that this restructuring will provide better transient response, enhance sound density and reduce distortion. Also, like I mentioned earlier, the entire sound cavity has been intricately 3D printed to allow tubes for each Balanced Armature.
One thing which caught me wholly off-guard was the fact that the AS24 has an astounding 8 switches. This drew some ire from some hobbyists yet there were many who were elated. I simply saw it as daunting thinking I’d have to review so many variations. Thankfully KZ has made it pretty easy on me as the principle behind the switches is fairly easy to understand. It’s honestly easier to explain with the product picture:
What do the switches do?
So, as you can see the switches are really more of a progression of certain frequencies. You have a “Main Tuner” which controls overall sensitivity with switch #1 and the rest of the three switches are simply one decibel progressions of the entire bass region between 20hz to 200hz. The Main Tuner Switch Pad can give you an overall increase of sensitivity as well as a three decibel rise of the entire bass region. Or whatever suits your listening style.
The switch pad located at the bottom of each earphone is called the “Auxiliary Tuner”. The auxiliary tuner provides increases in the midrange and the lower treble region between 500hz to 2khz. To break it down, the first two switches have an increase of one decibel per switch #1 & #2. Switch #3 & #4 operates the upper treble and increases it two decibels per switch in the 8khz to 20khz region.
So, as you can see the switches have a logical progression which is simple to follow. It was mentioned in different audio groups that there are “256 different variations!!“… when in reality it is much simpler than that. It only looks crazy my friends. To be totally honest I think that KZ handled having 8 switches very well. As for myself, I enjoy all switches down (0000/0000) or (1110/1000) a couple bass switches raised as well as the full spectrum raised and just a spike of midrange to liven things up.
One thing that I have to mention is that the switches are some of the most difficult to operate in terms of “ease of use”. Meaning, the switches are damn tiny! You have to concentrate to make sure the pin tool has a bite on the switches before pushing them on or off. Not really an issue but something to note. It would have been nice for a slightly longer switch that wasn’t as difficult to actually operate. Also, the switch pads themselves are rather small. I suppose I understand why they are so small, but it should be noted. In truth, it isn’t a big deal. However, once you get your sound dialed in it is likely that you won’t touch the switches much afterwards.
Just so the reader is aware, I will refer to switches in this way. On= 1 and off= 0. So, all down on both switches would be “0000/0000”. The first set being the main tuner and the second being the auxiliary. All on would be “1111/1111”. Simple enough?
The fit may be a problem for some, but I can say with assurance that the AS24 fit me very well. Of course, the nozzle is a bit longer and so I did have to size down my tips for a deeper insertion. Perhaps, smaller ears may have a slightly bigger problem as the size of the AS24 is a larger iem. Now, once I got my tips right, I had zero issues whatsoever with fit. In fact, the AS24 fit so snug that they really block out a considerable amount of ambient noise. More so than most iems. Also, there is almost zero sound leakage from the AS24. Fit is obviously a supremely subjective and personal experience… me relaying to you how they fit me doesn’t do you much justice. That said, the fit is nice.
Now we come to the section of the review where we discuss briefly what it takes to drive the AS24. In my opinion I think that all you really need is a nice dongle dac and you’re in business. Really it doesn’t take much. The AS24 “Tunable Version” is rated at 20-50 ohms depending on your switch orientation and they also have a sensitivity of 109 dB’s. I don’t necessarily think they “need” added power either. I didn’t find some huge scalability with more juice. Perhaps things tighten up some… maybe? I would more liken the “fidelity upgrade” or “hi-res sound upgrade” to simply using better sounding gear. Not really scaling because of the output power. I will very briefly go into detail with how well the AS24 responds to each of my sources but in truth, I think the AS24 is somewhat of a chameleon and adapts nicely to each source I have for listening.
Devices and pairings
Listening with the IFi Go Blu is a fantastic mobile solution as the warmer sound of the CS43131 dac chip pairs nicely with the AS24 and obviously it has plenty of output power. The Moondrop Dawn 4.4 (which also uses a CS43131 dac chip) and a 4.4 balanced cable sounds majestic. It has this snappy type of tonality with punchy treble and punchy bass and really accentuated the air between instrumentation.
Moving up to the iBasso DX240, it is basically a Dawn on steroids. Everything is upgraded. Tighter, speedier, punchier, cleaner. The DX240 has some impressive tech inside as the dac chip is a ES9038Pro flagship chip which is a beast at the price of the DX240. The two pair very well. Last by not least is my Shanling M6 Ultra which I deem one of the best DAPs under $1000. At least that I have heard. Ooh is it smooth using the velvet sound technology with the amazing AK4493SEQ flagship dac chip and a bunch of output power. The AS24 is lusher with the M6 Ultra and so resolving, with a bigger and more dynamic bass section and silky mids. It’s a great marraige.
Decent Dongle dac
Truthfully, I just want to help you guys out and I don’t think you need much to drive the AS24 to good fidelity. Get a decent Dongle Dac. I’m assuming if you can afford the $112 for the AS24 then more than likely you have at least a semi-powerful dac/amp of some sort. I think you’ll find that the AS24 adapts well to different sources as I have.
Note: I want to preface that I did all critical listening using “0000/0000” on the switches. I may remark on my findings when adjusting the switches but predominantly I used all down simply for ease of review and to provide you with a benchmark. I figured that you could play around with the switch orientation that you desire, but this is a good baseline. Also, all listening was done using flac files stored in my devices.
Listening to the KZ AS24
Listening to the KZ AS24 there is one common theme that I can’t help but think of… cleanliness. The AS24 is clean my friends. It’s clean, smooth, resolving, detailed, punchy, airy… Should I keep going? Okay maybe I should actually break this down for you all. The sound signature that I hear is a very light V-shape to a U-shaped tuning. With the switches you can make this a stronger V-shape to even a W-shape tuning as well depending on what switch settings you go with. However, in the stock format it is closer to a U-shaped or light V-shape. The AS24 has a very good balance and also has plenty of macro-dynamics which make the overall sound pretty big and full sounding. I’d say there is a good dynamic balance. No one area of the mix stands out as the dynamic emphasis. It’s not bass heavy, mid-centric or a treble Heads dream. It’s just clean and energetic without inducing fatigue.
The tonal color on stock comes across mostly neutral with a titch of warmth. “Mostly neutral” is what I’ll call it. The bass is punchy with moderate BA rumble, not quite like a Dynamic Driver but very good. The midrange is not very recessed at all and comes across detailed and airy with good energy. The mids are simply clean and crisp with smooth overtones. The treble region is non-offensive and actually pretty safe while keeping great timbre for a BA. I find the treble pretty engaging and not even remotely peaky. Technically the AS24 is a beast my friends. It is a detail monster and will pick up on all the small stuff in your music. The stage size is larger than I thought it’d be and is pretty engrossing.
The bass on the KZ AS24 in the stock condition comes across very clean. You will probably see the word “clean” repeated often because that is the overarching theme of the AS24. It is so clean; it has a bite to the bass and a deft punch to it. It isn’t quite like a Dynamic Driver, but it does have some nice thump. I say not like a DD, but it isn’t like a normal BA either. KZ did a phenomenal job tuning the AS24’s bass region. The awesome thing is that you can add more bass and warmth to the low-end and the AS24 does begin to rumble pretty good.
The sub-bass does have a tactile feel and sound to it, but like I’ve stated, it isn’t quite that DD type of tactility. There is something special about a Dynamic Driver that is incarnate, authentic and corporeal. Having said that, the #22955 Balanced Armatures controlling the low-end have nice density to the fundamental tones in the sub-bass, even more so the mid-bass. The sub-bass on the AS24 is very resolving with a quick attack and defined leading edge with a sharp and controlled decay. The bass is fast and can keep up with any test track I throw at it. I don’t consider this set “bass head” in any switch orientation.
As far as sub-bass haptic rumble, the AS24 has enough for most genres and certainly has enough with a few switches raised. Now, it won’t give you that guttural type sound down low, but it does have a very low droning buzz when called upon. Take the track “Paradigm” by The Head and Heart. In this track, basically every iem on planet earth will give a good reverberant growl but what the AS24 does is gives it a knife edge bite which caps off that guttural vibration. You can feel the buzz and it sounds very resolute and very focused.
The greatest emphasis in the low-end comes from the mid-bass. The mid-bass has a good slam to it providing some very crisp and rounded kick drums which come across as a clean thud. Take the track “Billie Jean” by Weezer. This song begins right out the gate with many subsequent booms from some expressive kick-drums quickly followed by satisfying snare “pangs”. The AS24 doesn’t have that fullness of a bass-head type set, but even on stock settings the sub-bass can be sonorous and deep when called upon. Add some dB’s from the main tuner and the sound comes across more fully. However, with that fullness it isn’t the most concrete. I wouldn’t call it hollow, but it isn’t booming either. It’s quick and efficient.
The song “Groove” by Ray Wylie Hubbard has some gritty and dirty bass guitar play that is straight up abrasive in its sound. The AS24 on stock has plenty of mid-bass to replay this track in a satisfying way. There is a depth to the sound and there is meat to this track when listening with the AS24. My favorite way to listen to this set is “1110/1000” and when I do the sound just jumps out at you and becomes more energetic. So, if you’d like, you can bump things up to embellish certain aspects of the AS24’s sound signature. “Rich Off Pain” by Lil Baby sounds almost DD like when the bass drops on the AS24. Almost. To be perfectly honest I really enjoy the sound as the rest of the melody and beat sound so fresh and resolute with great pacing and timing.
Downsides to the bass
The bass region of the AS24 is very well done for a Balanced Armature low-end. I actually really enjoy the punch or that tightly controlled slam that they can provide. I find the bass to carry nice macro-details with evident and clear separation between the basses with some nice layering of the bass region as well. still, If I were to point out a weakness it would certainly be the fact that there are other iems in the price point which can offer better slam, deeper and more authentic and organic timbre. There are iems in the price point which specialize in the bass region whereas the bass on the AS24 is a solid part to a solid whole.
The midrange is only the slightest bit recessed on stock settings. In fact, I don’t even like reporting that, as there is still a very lively and precise energy throughout the midrange and calling it “recessed” simply doesn’t tell the story. There’s a good presence or liveliness which can be pretty vivid. This is a musical midrange, it can be smooth and when it needs to the midrange has some tackiness to it. There is an end-to-end mellifluous theme which is demonstrated from the lower mids to the lower treble. This all-BA sound can even come across emotional and slightly atmospheric in its own way. The AS24 mids aren’t thick, not really lush either, but they are saturated. In their leaner stature they still have moderate density. They just aren’t overly warm. I suppose what makes them leaner is the neutral type of playback along with the very tight transient response and airy and clean approach.
The AS24 midrange is flush with distinct detail retrieval, nice depth and layering to the sound, especially when the first switch and even when some added bass is switched on. However, even stock sounds nice. Is it for everyone? C’mon… nothing is for everyone. However, for what it is, the AS24 can flat out play ball. You won’t hear anything grainy or digital sounding. You won’t hear any sibilance as KZ made sure to keep that in check. The sound is pretty organic, at least as much as an all-BA can sound… Organic. KZ did a nice job on the midrange.
The lower midrange is the place we find most male vocals. On the AS24 you won’t hear that super warm and thick male sound. What I hear is this semi-warm and semi-organic but poised and transparent male vocal. There is a good structure and note definition which gives males a leading edge that is coarse but clean with smoother sounding overtones. Take “Dreamer” by Dermot Kennedy. His voice has an emotional sense to it listening with the AS24. It isn’t dry at all like one would think for a leaner and analytically adept iem. The AS24 doesn’t replay dry friends. There is a moist or bodied sound to Dermot’s voice on this track. In fact, the lower midrange does have “some” warmth provided by the mid-bass. It isn’t even close to sounding veiled, not in thee slightest. It’s polished, precise, and there’s an openness to Dermot’s voice which sounds slightly lean but also bold.
Deeper male voices which hang around the transition from bass to lower-mid like Josh Turner’s in “Would You Go With Me” actually play back pretty good on the AS24. His voice isn’t the most resonant like some iems, but the AS24 replays the up and down intonations of his country baritone voice with a sonorous and taut delivery. Or if you jump up the register to tenors like The Arkells in the song “Knocking At The Door (Acoustic Version)“. The lead vocalist has a sharpness to his sound when listening with the AS24. Not sharp in a bad or peaky way either. The inflection in the lead singer’s vocals and note outlines are chiseled and prominent, almost forward, but not like an AS16 Pro comes across. There is simply a clarity and energy which is nice to hear.
The upper-mids have an expressive energy to them without coming across “in your face”, to me anyways. I’m sure some of you will disagree. I find females to be more forward in the stage, more so than males come across. They sound pointed and highlighted. In “Everything I Didn’t Say” by Ella Henderson, she has a slightly more uplifted sound to her voice with the AS24 compared to some sets. With the AS24 her voice catches the emotion while still having a controlled sheen or shimmer. Which, by the way, doesn’t sound unnatural to me. She doesn’t have that balanced armature type timbre or metallic tizziness which can sometimes show up.
Listening to Madison McFerrin in the track “God Herself” there is most certainly a smooth shimmer to her vocals. She has good body to her sound as well. Perhaps things become slightly too bright but that is a subjective matter. I certainly wouldn’t say that her voice has anything glaring or peaky. It just has some additional luster. The thing that I enjoy is that there is added energy and sparkle but also the breath in her vocals is picked up and the tenderness and intimacy of her voice is not lost.
The midrange of the AS24 is so close to mid-centric that it’s tapping on the door of the moniker, yet it falls just short. What we are left with is a nice balance. There is a musical nature to the sound which can be emphasized in different ways depending on what switch orientation you use. Instrumentation sounds separated and detailed while maintaining a smooth, melodic and nearly natural sound. Strings sound tight with all the little secondary harmonics showing up very nicely. Piano could use a bit more body in some areas of its long frequency range, but for the most part piano has an abounding tonal depth. Most percussion has a replete thwack, boom, clash or pang to it. Percussion sounds physical and whetted which is nicely gratifying. Snares slam nicely with that agile and brisk pang to them. The AS24 can also have a nice bite to it which compliments the abrasiveness of electric guitar. The fundamental frequency of a cymbal strike is not flat or pushed to the background and depending on the recording they can sound solid edged & enameled with a solid “chisk” sound without splashy harmonics. Secondary harmonics may fade a bit too quickly but it’s not too bothersome.
Downsides to the midrange
If I were to find a downside to the AS24 midrange it would surely be note weight and the fact that things can get bright on the right tracks. For a more realistic replay I’d like to hear a bit more of an organic type of note body with a touch more density I suppose. At times I miss that atmospheric sound of a Dynamic Driver which doesn’t always decay so sharply. Also, there are occasions in which I feel that some of my fellow hobbyists may find the AS24 a bit peaky. Again, neither of these “downsides” are issues to me, but if I had to choose… note weight & peaky.
I would describe the treble region of the KZ AS24 as mostly non-offensive, smooth, non-fatiguing, mildly energetic, detailed and snappy. The treble comes across as not super extended into the upper treble using the stock setting. Though this can obviously be helped somewhat by pushing the “upper treble” auxiliary tuning switches to “on”. The treble is somewhat bright but not with any fantastic brilliance up top. I find the treble to be just enough to bring levity to the rest of the mix with just enough lift up top to do so. I wouldn’t call it the airiest treble, but it is well separated, and detail oriented with high resolution for the price point which adds a sense of openness.
Nimble & Tight
The treble is very nimble and dexterous and can handle speedy tracks as well as tracks with a lot of commotion. The rapid fire Ukelele, Mandolin, and Guitar work which speeds along in the song “Secrets” by Billy Strings is nothing short of exhaustive if you try to listen to each and every pluck or finger slide. However, something I find really cool is that on the AS24… You can do just that. It’s almost easier to listen to with a slower iem. It’s nothing short of a brain activity. In fact, go on his album and pick a track, the AS24 keeps up. Not only does it keep up, but it sounds good in the process. The timbre and tone is done well for an All-BA iem and doesn’t stray very far from natural.
Another track is “Bishop School” by Yusef Lateef. This is a track that I reference often as it’s a complete melting pot of treble activity and Instrumental congestion. Not exactly my favorite track (at all) but it works well to test the treble region in a nice way. There is simply so much going on with this track. Listening with the AS24 you’ll hear crystal clear flute play, bass, congas, drums, electric bass, electric guitar, percussion, trumpets, strings and piano play. Much of it resides at or near the treble region and it more so probably highlights the AS24’s ability to resolve complex tracks, but the treble activity is well on display here and it does very well. I’d say just as good if not better than any iem in its price point, at least that my ears have heard. Now I’m not saying this is a giant killer, but it is pretty darn good. This is a no hype zone my friends, just saying what I hear and nothing more.
Downsides to the treble
The negatives within the treble region that I’ve heard is that the extension isn’t the best ever and treble Heads would likely desire a bit more energy and bite. Nothing else really stands out as an issue in my opinion. Perhaps more note weight body would be welcomed to.
The soundstage is very open sounding as the AS24 do have an airy quality to the sound. I would say that the stage has above average width, better than average height and even good depth. For a $112 iem the stage is very well laid out against the AS24’s peers in the price point. They have a big sound which stretches out past my ears when listening which I certainly wasn’t expecting. I wouldn’t call it the biggest I’ve ever heard, but the AS24 renders the psycho-acoustic stage nicely.
Separation / Imaging
As I’ve stated, the separation of elements within the imaginary stage comes across well delineated as it is easy to discern between instrumentation and voices. The sound is very clean and detailed with good transient speed which does help to create some space between pieces of a stage. In the same breath these attributes also help in the imaging of the stage. There is a pretty precise placement whether you are listening left to right or front to back. That depth does add perceivable layers to my listening. Live tracks sound fantastic on this set.
One of the AS24’s strong suits is its ability to resolve the tiny minutiae in a track. I found that each area of the spectrum is capable of illuminating the subtle things within my music. Whether it be the harmonics from instrumentation, or the slide of the bow against a violin, or a finger slide on an acoustic guitar or even the sniffle from the guy ten rows back in your favorite live track. The AS24 does well to pick those things up. I’m sure there are some sets in the price point which challenge the AS24 but certainly it does well to draw out both macro and micro-details.
Is it worth the asking price?
For me, this is an easy answer, and that answer is a resounding yes. I have a hard time selling to myself why this set wouldn’t be worth the $112 that KZ is asking. Please trust me, I went into this review, as I do every review, with a skeptical mindset. I look for the downsides naturally in every iem that ever graces my ears. The AS24 is one of those sets which quickly dispelled any negative connotation in my mind. They came across very clean and resolving right out of the box with a very open feel to them sonically. The BA bass is great, the midrange is musical, and the treble is energetic yet non-fatiguing. Are they perfect? Absolutely not. Do they stack up to the competition… absolutely.
Standing out amongst the others
If I look across the landscape of earphones in the $100 price point, I see a handful of sets which have their own distinct flavor, with their own pluses and minuses. Sets like the Gizaudio Galileo, Truthear Hexa, Fiio JD7, BQEYZ Topaz, Simgot EA500, Tripowin Olina (OG), Tripowin Olina SE, Letshuoer D13, Letshuoer S12, Dunu Kima and Dunu Kima Classic (soon to be reviewed), Dunu Titan S, as well as a handful of others not mentioned. The truth is… none of those sets can do exactly what the AS24 can do. Perhaps the closest in tonality and timbre as well as resolving ability is either the Olina or the Hexa? Some have better bass (subjectively), some have a more vocal centric midrange, some have snappier and punchier treble, and some are simply more well-rounded. Despite that, none of those sets listed are as resolving, clean, open and none of them have such quick transients. They are different. That’s the point.
A compliment to any collection
My proposal is, find me a set that is as technically savvy whilst still being so dynamic like the AS24? Of course, some of those sets are bona-fide studs at their respective prices like the EA500 ($79), Olina ($99), or the JD7 ($69) which truly defy their price tags and also do some things that the AS24 cannot do. The point is, the AS24 is on an island by itself at the moment as it fills an “All-BA” gap within the audioverse for the $100 price point. I guess if I were the buyer in this situation, I’d ask myself if the AS24 actually compliments my collection? Also, does the AS24 fit my preference?
Again, as for myself, this is an easy yes. KZ truly outclassed every “All-BA” iem that they’ve ever made and possibly every iem they’ve ever made, period! Depending on your preferences. The AS24 is built very well, it looks nice, I can tweak the sound to suit my likes and dislikes and it sounds extremely good. If you have $115 and you’ve wondered what a well-tuned all balanced armatures set sounds like, then I’d say… Go for it, the AS24 is LEGIT GOOD.
Note: all ratings are based upon my subjective judgment. These ratings are garnered against either similarly priced sets or with similar driver implementations or styles. In the case of the KZ AS24 ratings below, that would be $65 to $120 iems in any configuration. Please remember that “ratings” don’t tell the whole story. This leaves out nuance and a number of other qualities which make an iem what it is. A “5” is exactly average and please take into consideration the “lot” of iems these ratings are gathered against. $65 to $120 US is a small pool in the grand scheme of things and so seeing ratings above a “9” is understandable.
-Build Quality: 9.3
-Fun Factor: 9.2
To conclude my full written review of the KZ AS24, I would like to thank Tyvan Lam and KZ one more time. Never have they asked me to twist my words, speak highly of their devices and never have they offered any compensation for the feature. They simply lend out their sets and ask for a truthful look at them and live with the results. So, say what you will about KZ or any company for that matter, but if they believe in their product enough to subject them to the scrutiny of an independent reviewer, then I’d say that garners some respect.
Also, please check out other thoughts about the KZ AS24. I can almost promise that some reviewers will have differing opinions, but that is the awesome beauty of this hobby my friends. We are different. In the end it’s all about the music and finding the best device to listen to that music to suit your own individual preference. The same goes for those who review. Some reviewers like to find the flaws and pride themselves on that, possibly more negative. Some hype a bit more and some simply say what a thing is and nothing more. None of them are wrong. So, get to know the reviewers out there, and take everything as a grain of salt until you know and trust the opinion you are receiving. This is hugely important. If you see a reviewer who is starkly negative or precisely prides themselves on that…then you might want to seek other opinions and vice versa.
One other thing, please understand that all reviewers have not been down the same audio journey…. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT FRIENDS! I won’t go into it now but, think about it. Also, we all hear differently, have different tuning tastes, likes and dislikes, we have different gear as well as different musical tastes. It all goes into the soup of what makes each reviewer different and individual. Get to know them and hear other perspectives. Also, if someone acts like they know it all and have all the answers… Run the other way friends… That’s my 44-year-old advice.
Thank you for reading, I enjoy this so very much, it’s a true joy to explain my thoughts to you all and I truly hope it helps you in your quest to hear your music in the best light possible for your money. Please stay as safe as possible, enjoy your jams and take care.