Skip to main content

KZ AS16 Pro Review – Audio Delight

Last updated: 4 weeks ago
7 min read
Editor
rating
3.9
KZ AS16 Pro IEMs

KZ AS16 Pro are 16-driver monsters that promise to provide high-fidelity audio. And while they mostly deliver on the promise, they aren’t entirely perfect.

New in-ear monitors from KZ (or Knowledge Zenith), the AS16 Pro, have 8 balanced armature drivers in each earbud: 2 bass, 2 mid-frequency, and 4 high-frequency units.

The results are truly excellent, especially if you’re looking for controlled and detailed sound. However, the tuning isn’t the best. More on that later.

While bulky, earbuds provide solid build quality, excellent comfort, and stability due to their over-the-ear cable design. The latter is replaceable and uses a 2pin connection.

Are there any deal breakers, or should you go ahead and buy them immediately?

Find out in our in-depth review down below.

HeadphonesAddict is user supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

  • Outstanding sound quality for the price
  • Comfortable & stable for mild exercise
  • Great passive noise isolation, suitable for commuting
  • Good build quality with detachable cables
  • Optional microphone and inline controls
  • Too bassy for some
  • Cables aren't of the best quality
Editor
rating
3.9
By HeadphonesAddict
User
ratings
0
User Ratings: 0
Our rating
  • Star Rating
    4.5
  • Star Rating
    4.5
  • Star Rating
    3.0
  • Star Rating
    2.5
  • Star Rating
    4.0
  • Star Rating
    5.0
User rating
  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
RATE THIS MODEL
CONTENTS (show more)

    Sound

    Star Rating
    4.5 Almost Perfect

    KZ AS16 Pro’s sound quality is phenomenal for under $60, with excellent control and detail retrieval across the frequency range. They’re just a bit too punchy to call them balanced.

    Check the KZ AS16 Pro Sound Comparison

    KZ AS16 Pro Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    The idea behind having multiple drivers in an in-ear monitor is to distribute the frequency ranges to various drivers, theoretically outputting better results.

    While having 8 drivers in each earbud might be overkill, the results speak for themselves. KZ AS16 Pro audio performance is exceptional, especially considering the price.

    KZ AS16 Pro Frequency Response

    KZ AS16 Pro frequency response
    Those peaks and dips throughout the mids and treble make for a slightly unbalanced sound.

    Bass: Boosted yet controlled

    Usually, balanced armature drivers can’t fully capture the sensation of a good ol’ dynamic driver.

    And sure, while the decay isn’t as natural as with the latter (evident in songs like “Shivers” by Ed Sheeran), BA drivers pack an ace up their sleeve: control.

    Even though low frequencies are noticeably boosted in the mid-bass, BA drivers play every note with great control.

    Listening to pop, EDM, hip-hop, or anything with a bass guitar sounds great. You can hear every nuance, forcing you to pay more attention to what’s happening in the music.

    Earbuds maintain control, even on faster metal tracks, albeit the kicks are on the softer side.

    The sub-bass region isn’t as boosted, though, producing a pleasant rumble without congesting the sound.

    KZ AS16 Pro internals
    Clearly visible mid and high-frequency drivers inside the earbuds.

    Maybe the bass quantity won’t be enough for bassheads, but it sure will satisfy most casual listeners.

    However, if you’re looking for something more natural, you’ll sadly have to skip the KZ AS16 Pro. Their sound signature is somewhat extra bassy.

    Midrange: Smooth and forgiving

    For the mid-frequencies, KZ earphone opted for a more forgiving, smooth tuning.

    Consequently, you don’t hear any sibilance or harshness, even on high volumes—vocals sound lush, natural, and textured, both male and female vocals.

    You can hear all the different instruments sound natural as well. Although due to the boost around 1kHz, things like pianos can sometimes come through a bit loud.

    The AS16 Pro’s midrange is very detailed, however, not suitable for critical listening. Due to softer tuning, earbuds don’t shove the details in your face.

    Treble: Detailed but occasionally quiet

    Music sounds so much better if earbuds manage to produce detailed, textured high-frequencies. And KZ AS16 Pro definitely deliver.

    Due to an extension, there’s a good sense of air, letting instruments and vocals “breathe.”

    Cymbal crashes sound lovely and textured, perfect for relaxing music. Well-produced songs like “Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straits or “The Voice” by The Alan Parsons Project” sound amazing.

    If I have to nitpick, some parts of the treble are slightly more boosted than others. As a result, it’s sometimes hard to hear cymbals on busier tracks.

    KZ AS16 Pro earbud
    The eye-catching faceplate design on the KZ AS16 Pro.

    Moving to the soundstage, it’s about average, with more depth than width. Vocals can sound very intimate, so don’t expect the sensation as if you’re in a concert hall.

    On a positive note, the imaging and instrument separation are excellent. Maybe not pinpoint sharp, but still very accurate.

    For the price of around $60, the KZ AS16 Pro are simply mindblowing. Strict audiophiles would want them to have a more balanced sound.

    But that’s hardly a deal-breaker. Maybe for a diehard audio purist, but for a beginner audiophile or casual user looking for something more, these are a Godsent.

    Do KZ AS16 Pro benefit from amplification?

    When comparing the audio performance between a Samsung Galaxy S21 with a Samsung 3.5mm dongle and an AudioQuest Dragonfly Red, the difference is very minimal.

    If you truly focus, you’ll hear a smidge more detailed sound from a Dragonfly Red. But the difference is so tiny average music lovers won’t notice it.

    Comfort & Fit

    Star Rating
    4.5 Almost Perfect

    KZ AS16 Pros are comfy and super stable, thanks to the over-the-ear cable. But their bulky design might bother users with tiny ears.

    The KZs have a bulky design similar to the CCA LYRA but (thankfully) lack all the “ergonomic” curves from the latter. That makes the AS16 Pro much more comfortable.

    KZ AS16 Pro buds shape
    KZ AS16 Pro are bulky but smooth, so they remain comfortable for a long period.

    Sure, that bulky housing might still cause some discomfort to users with small ears. But at least in my case, I can wear them comfortably, even during long listening sessions.

    Earbuds come with 3 pairs of ear tips that go pretty deep into your ear canal. Fortunately, they don’t cause too much pressure.

    Speaking of ear tips, they attract a lot of dust, so try to clean them regularly. While you’re at it, clean your earbuds as well.

    The design forces you to wear the earbuds with the wire going over your eare. To increase the stability, the included cable comes with a reinforced arch, forming an “ear hook.”

    As a result, you can expect a very stable fit, suitable for outdoor walks or exercise.

    Durability

    Star Rating
    3.0 Good

    While KZ AS16 Pro feel solid, they’re still made of hard plastic. The included cable also doesn’t scream high-quality, but it’s at least replaceable if damaged.

    If anything, the earbuds look very cool with their see-through design. The housing is fully occupied with drivers and circuitry, which are glued together to form a firmer structure.

    The benefit is that no internal components should break or dislodge if earbuds fall on the floor.

    KZ AS16 Pro internals
    Low-frequency BA driver with the wiring, all glued together to hold itself in place.

    On the other hand, the housing is still plastic and made of 2 parts: the faceplate and the casing itself. There’s a distinctive seam between the two parts. Hopefully, KZ decided to glue them tightly so they don’t break open.

    Moreover, the earbuds don’t have any IP rating. However, since BA drivers don’t require bass ports like dynamic drivers, there’s a lesser chance for liquids like sweat to sneak in.

    Consequently, while not officially advisable, you can use them for exercising without the fear of liquid damage.

    Moving to the cable, earbuds use the exact same one as the CCA LYRA. That leads me to believe the two companies are somehow related.

    Nevertheless, interestingly, the one supplied with KZ AS16 PRO feels slightly softer compared to LYRAs. However, that might be a coincidence and not an intentional jump in cable quality.

    Still, even when slightly softer, the cable doesn’t scream high quality. It isn’t overly rubbery, which would stick and pull against your shirt. Also, you can replace it if damaged.

    KZ AS16 Pro with CCA LYRA
    The design is different, but the cables between the AS16 Pro and LYRA are identical.

    The cable is standard 1.25-meter length, with an L-shaped 3.5mm jack on one side and 2pin connectors on the other.

    You can buy a mic version as well with one-button control. Just note that those inline modules are often the main weak spot.

    Features

    Star Rating
    2.5 Average

    KZ AS16 Pro have a detachable cable and an over-the-ear design, which helps improve stability. There’s also an optional cable with an inline mic and controls for an additional $1.

    Wired earbuds are usually very light on features, and the KZ AS16 Pro are no different. Their feature set is the same as with CCA LYRAs, which cost around $20.

    Nonetheless, you can still appreciate the cable’s “ear hook” design that improves stability and reduces cable noise. More on that later.

    KZ AS16 Pro earbuds design
    “Ear-hook” part of the cable is stiff, firmly grabbing your ear lobes.

    Another helpful thing about the cable is that it’s removable. That ensures the earbud’s longevity and offers a possibility for future upgrades (hooking them up with a higher quality cable).

    When buying the KZ AS16 Pro, you can pick between “no mic” and “with mic” cables for a $1 more. The mic version also comes with a single button control for basic playback commands.

    Noise Isolation

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    KZ AS16 Pro’s relatively deep ear tip insertion and chunky housing filled with components provide above-average passive noise isolation. The cable noise is only present during outdoor walks.

    While KZ AS16 Pro aren’t meant for commuting and outdoor activities, they ensure you hear minimal background noise.

    Thanks to their deep ear canal insertion, they don’t let much noise in or out, providing good passive noise isolation and no sound leakage.

    When playing music, you shouldn’t hear anything but the loudest noises (fully blocking your surroundings can be dangerous).

    KZ AS16 Pro on a rock
    KZ AS16 Pro do a pretty good job with passive noise isolation and reducing cable noise.

    What about the cable noise?

    Cable noise only occurs when the cable starts bouncing. For example, when you’re walking faster or exercising. It doesn’t ruin your listening experience, but you’ll notice it when listening to quieter songs.

    Unfortunately, there’s no shirt clip included in the box that would further help with microphonics.

    Should You Get KZ AS16 Pro?

    Star Rating
    5.0 Perfect

    For under $60, the KZ AS16 Pro offer an insane value. These are easily among the best earphones under $100.

    If you’re primarily focused on sound quality and don’t mind the wires, don’t hesitate to check these earbuds out.

    People who like to relax and absorb every detail in the music will be the most satisfied with KZ AS16 Pro.

    Of course, they’re also suitable for commuters due to great passive noise isolation and gym-goers who like to listen to some high-quality music during workouts.

    On the other hand, they aren’t the best choice for extreme sportspeople as they lack an IP rating. Also, they aren’t best for runners due to dangling wires and wind noise.

    KZ AS16 Pro on a stone
    You won’t regret buying KZ AS16 Pro. They aren’t perfectly neutral yet you’ll be amazed by how controlled and detailed they sound.

    Since we’re moving towards a wireless future, the AS16 Pro’s wired design is also their only weakness.

    However, their sound easily beats most true wireless earbuds out there. The only one that can offer a better listening experience are Sony WF-1000XM4, and those cost $280.

    KZ made a budget IEM that sound fantastic. Sure, if you nitpick, their tuning isn’t perfect. But if you haven’t tried any high-end IEMs before, you’ll be blown away when listening to the AS16 Pro.

    How do KZ AS16 Pro compare to the competition?

    • The KZs offer far superior sound quality with good detail and natural midrange.
    • They’re equally comfortable as the competition despite being bulky since the cable distributes the weight on your entire ear.
    • Earphones have a detachable cable which isn’t that common among popular wired earbuds at this price.
    • They have a total of 16 BA drivers, 8 in each earbud, while most other competitors combine (when they combine) 1 dynamic and 1 BA.
    • Their housing feels robust but not as durable as true wireless options, which offer an IPX rating.
    • The cable is of decent quality, but not the best under $60.

    KZ AS16 Pro Alternatives

    1MORE PistonBuds Pro vs. KZ AS16 Pro

    1MORE PistonBuds Pro earbuds

    Pretty good sound compared to other TWS earbuds, but not even close to what the KZ IEM can deliver. Also, the dip in upper mids can make them sound even more unbalanced in comparison.

    Design-wise, both offer a comfortable fit, with PistonBuds Pro having worse stability in comparison.

    On the other hand, they’re fully wireless, have active noise cancellation, and have an app for customization.

    1MORE PistonBuds Pro review

    CCA LYRA vs. KZ AS16 Pro

    CCA LYRA earbuds

    Smaller brother to the AS16 Pro with a great sound, but the KZ IEMs go a step further in quality. Also, CCA uses a single dynamic driver, whereas KZs use 8 BA drivers per bud.

    Both earphones use the same cable providing excellent stability, but the KZs are more universally comfortable.

    Also, both offer a mic and a non-mic version.

    CCA LYRA review

    EarFun Air S vs. KZ AS16 Pro

    EarFun Air S earbuds on the wall

    Nicely balanced sound signature (after EQ) that’s more suitable for those who don’t like overly punchy bass. However, the KZs are cleaner and more detailed.

    Both are very comfortable and fit securely, but the EarFun’s are better for sports since they lack wires. They also offer aptX for Android and AAC for iOS.

    Furthermore, Air S have a good ANC and ambient sound mode, offering a better commuting package.

    EarFun Air S review

    What’s in the Box?

    KZ AS16 Pro accessories
    • KZ AS16 Pro wired earbuds
    • Three pairs of silicone ear tips (S, M, L)
    • User manual

    Specifications

    Type: In-ear monitor
    Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Back design: Closed-back
    Drivers: 16 balanced armature drivers (8 per bud)
    Frequency range: 20-40.000Hz
    Impedance: 18 Ohm
    Weight: 0.52 oz (15 g) both buds / 1.1 oz (31 g) with cable
    Mic & Controls: Optional
    Water resistance: None
    Battery life: /
    Charging time: /
    Active noise cancelling: No
    Bluetooth codecs: /
    Wireless range: /
    Microphone: Inline (optional)

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *