BUDGET
IN-EAR

ASF

KNOWLEDGE ZENITH

Rating

Price

7.1

50 €

Review published:

10/2020

Driver

5

per Side

0

Dynamic

5

Balanced

Impedance

18 Ohm

Piezo

0

Sound

7.5

Bass

6.5

Mids

7

Trebles

Sensitivity

105 dB

7

Handling

8

Haptic

C

Value

0

Daily Life

Frequency

10 - 40000 Hz

Intro

Keep your wallet handy, KZ has two new models on the market (ASF & ASX) and is ready to help you spend money. For that KZ doesn't feel too bad to do questionable marketing. Besides the whole "everything is new and better" thing, they advertise in their renderings with an upgrade of the drivers by displaying them in black and gold instead of silver and adding an "s" to the BA driver number. Aha and what exactly should sound better now? I'm aware that this is supposed to have more of a symbolic character, but that's a bit amusing and certainly questionable even for an IEM layman. The ASF is a pure BA-IEM with 5 drivers. The ASX goes one better and has twice as many drivers per earphone. Let's take care of the ASF first.

Handling

New model, new design and packaging? Yes and no! The ASF, as well as the ASX are probably the most voluminous IEMs of KZ so far. Due to their ergonomics, they can be worn quite comfortably, but it looks quite funny to have such a juggernaut in your ear. The ASF does not make a particularly noble impression despite its light metal faceplate. It looks almost cheap, which is even more emphasized by the good view into the inner workings. Here we find a large white plastic piece, which is 3D printed and used to separate the sound of the individual drivers (allegedly 4-way).The drivers fit perfectly in this plastic part, but it doesn't look good, even though this technique is also used by well-known companies. The drivers fit perfectly in this plastic part, but it doesn't look good, even though this technique is also used by well-known companies. Surely this has advantages compared to the sound guidance through PVC tubes. In this case a non-transparent body would suit me more.
The sound openings are quite small and so not every 3-party tip will fit.

The packaging is similar to that of the former AS10, or BA10. However, the contents are as simple as with the other models, which are delivered in the "famous" white cardboard box.
The cable is KZ standard, but the tips are new. These are transparent/white and have a shorter shaft so that the ASF can be inserted further into the ear and fits more securely.

Isolation and wearing comfort is good, to very good, as with almost all models of the company, depending on the space available in the ear, which should not be too small, especially with the ASF.The sensitivity is very high, resulting in a very high maximum volume.

Sound

We had already seen 5 drivers 2 years ago in the AS10 and BA10 and their tuning and technical features made us sit up and take notice, since this was not only a novelty at that time, but also put many KZ models of prehistoric times in the shade in terms of sound. Until today a lot has happened and many other companies now offer good multi driver IEMs at very low prices. KZ has of course also developed further. For example they now grind their drivers differently or try to build the largest possible universal IEM. Joking aside, the ASF is an average IEM and not one that sets new standards, not even within the company.

That a BA-Bass can have a lot of depth was shown for example by the SHURE 846, but also the AS10, or BA10 have for my opinion a rounder BA-Bass, which above all has a more solid kick. The bass of the ASF is indeed raised properly, but unfortunately not very qualitative and a bit mushy. I have heard this better from KZ before. The upper bass also doesn't drop off enough, pushes the lower mids back and makes voices sound a bit too warm. But the biggest criticism for me is the lack of firmness and the booming upper bass, because otherwise you can work with the bass.

The KZ also sticks to a V-signature on their pure BA models is not surprising, but a pity. It would have surprised me positively if the company had taken a different path and given us a more mid-centered signature. This way they stay true to their philosophy and you still know what you can expect from the company, but in my opinion there is no real development taking place here unless you only look at the pure sales figures. The mids have a deep hole. For me they are too warm and lack a bit of liveliness. When there is a high musical density, there is a lack of clarity, also because the bass lies over everything like a veil and the mids in the lower range lack presence. Here and there, however, the mids can work despite their dark character, especially when the music is more clearly arranged. They can even become harsh at higher volumes. Tonally, however, they are never really natural.

The tweeter shines with absence, at least the higher it gets. However, it manages to fill the ASF with life from time to time and also highlights details in an appealing way. I wouldn't describe it homogeneously and even in the top end there is a lot of air to the top. Sibilants are not the rule, but can play a role in songs predestined for it. I miss airiness and also transparency. Everything seems a bit depressed and subdued. Spoiler alarm: 5 more drivers in the ASX are not much help. Something metallic resonates as well. The volume has a big influence on how clean the trebles act.

This has of course an effect on the stage. The stage is surprisingly compressed. This affects the separation, because the clarity in the mids is also missing, but the imaging is not very complex either. You rarely get a feeling of distance and it happens more horizontally than vertically or in the z-axis (depth).

Outro

In terms of sound, the ASF is more oriented towards the AS10 than the BA10. This means that it sounds warmer and darker. I'm not sure where I would see the strengths of the ASF. Somehow everything is so average and uninspired. It lacks clarity and precision. For me, it's more suitable for quieter music, but rock or more complex sounds don't suit the ASF. Not an IEM that I personally would choose to go with for any reason, due to the massive competition in the price segment.

Legend

Haptic:

Here the processing plays a role and the usability of the scope of supply. Additionally the appearance, wearing comfort and robustness.


Value:
Here I evaluate for me subjectively the price/performance ratio - does not flow into the evaluation!

Z: No Brainer

A: money well spent

B: all right, you can do

C: gives better for less money

D: overpriced

E: collector's price

Daily life:
Here, I focus on the long-term audibility and whether I can hear it well out of the box. This is of course very subjective and therefore only a minimal deduction or bonus. 

(-0.1, 0, +0.1)

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Rating in Letters

S: 9.5 - 10

A: 9.0 - 9.4​

B: 8.0 - 8.9​

C: 7.0 - 7.9

D: 6.0 - 6.9​
E: 5.0 - 5.9​

F: 0.0 - 4.9​

AS06

AS06

ATE

ATE

ED16

ED16

S2

S2

ZS10 Pro

ZS10 Pro

ZS7

ZS7

ZSN PRO X

ZSN PRO X

ZSX

ZSX

AS10

AS10

BA10

BA10

EDX

EDX

Z1

Z1

ZS4

ZS4

ZSA

ZSA

ZSR

ZSR

ASF

ASF

ED12

ED12

ES3

ES3

ZAX

ZAX

ZS5

ZS5

ZSN

ZSN

ZST

ZST

ASX

ASX

ED15

ED15

ES4

ES4

ZS10

ZS10

ZS6

ZS6

ZSN PRO

ZSN PRO

ZST X

ZST X

Second Opinion

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CHI-FIEAR © 2020 by David Hahn

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