PAIRING WITH SOURCES:-
Maze 4 has an resistance of 30 ohm at 1kHz which is fairly easy for most of the devices to drive and the sensitivity of 111dB helps it sound aptly loud without cranking up the volume. I was able to drive it out of my LG G7 without any problem but it’s the dynamics which felt more lively when driven out of a dedicated USB DAC/Amp like Shanling UA1. It doesn’t bring a lot of lower end or mid ranges but does bring out good amount of treble relevance (energy) and notes depth.
It does respond to good sources without any problems but going overboard with desktop DAC/Amps doesn’t pay equally impressive dividends. If you want to use it with your desktop setup, no problem, but driving it out of Shanling M6 is equally good.
HOW DOES THIS SOUNDS:-
As its name suggests Maze 4 has 4 proprietary Knowles drivers in each side. It has 2 for bass, one of mid and one for highs but doesn’t use a tube or bore design. All the drivers pour into a cavity in unison eliminating undesirable resonance.
Its twin BA drivers do not cross any limits while the maiden mid and treble drivers do not let the listener down from any perspective. It is one of the most neutral and colorless IEM I have heard. One can label it as bit cold sounding IEM but that’s it. All the three disciplines of sound are well balanced with each other.
All these IEMs are made with a lot of care, in LX-ear’s words:
“All LXear MAZE models are accompanied by the calibration sheet, the headphones being aligned at a maximum of 0.5dB against each other; with the help of tubeless technology, the audio performance of MAZE monitors is taken to extremes.”
Burned for more than 80 hours I am using Shanling UA1 and M6 as sources.
I have had experiences with brands and IEMs who have dual BA drivers for lower end but barely manage to lift the frequency up. Thankfully the Maze 4 manages to keep itself clear of the label. It still does not have enough lower end to take on the DUNU SA6 but has enough to be compared with the BGVP DM8 and much better than the Etymotic ER4 series.
Unlike a handful of BA based IEMs Maze 4 has good amount of sub-bass extension (benefits of balancing things out) and rumble. It has commendable control over the notes and much better texture and details. It gives a more versatile feel as the dual BAs manage the quantity and volume very well. One can always say that the sub-bass presence is helped by the less then average aggression of the mid bass region. Mid bass doesn’t gain much energy while giving the lower end enough body, volume and feel. It doesn’t have as much texture as the SA6 but does better than the DM8 and Fibae 4. If you are looking for a meaty body, big air movement and big slam, Maze 4 will leave you asking for more. Decay speed is on par with other BA drivers, faster than Audiosense T800 and par with the DUNU SA6. Upper bass has good amount of relevance excellent details. It merges into the lower mid without any clumsiness or agitation.
Maze 4 has equal amount of energy and emphasis across the spectrum exhibiting excellent merging of frequencies at the crossovers. Transition from upper bass to lower mid region has excellent integration, so good that it’s hard to tell where the crossover is.
Maze 4 has no problem handling intricate details with very good separation. Whole mid range enjoys some of the best clarity and transparency for around $600. Even after serving class leading amount of details it does not sound sharp or aggressive. Instruments have nice depth we can find with EM-5H and CU-Kis but do not have the extra weight found with TSMR 4 and Fibae 4. Notes are agile and accurate with energy, weight and depth while retaining crispiness. It delivers micro details of background instruments without breaking sweat with the contrast and crispiness intact. This is one of the few areas where Maze 4 does better than the DUNU SA6. Maze 4 has a well put upper mid which lets the instruments sing with good bite and energy but isn’t uncomfortable.
Vocals are nicely integrated into the spectrum without any gain or loss of energy. Both male and female vocals sound crisp and clear with a natural tonality (slightly cold), it does not emulate an organic or warmer tonality like Fibae 4 or AV6 but have equally impressive texture and details. Decay is perfectly paced with precision and accuracy in mind, providing notes with adequate body and weight.
Very recently I was working on the DUNU SA6 and switching from that 6BA IEM to this 4BA IEM was not bad at all. They share a bit of character here, like the SA6 the Maze 4 too is neither hot nor cold. The transition region is exceptionally transparent with adequate energy and details. Differences are with notes depth and energy, that’s where the Maze 4 is better.
Maze 4 has nice spark and energy with very good extension but is not the best, it is a bit held back (there is a version with extended highs, all you have to do is ask LXear), this might be done to keep it clear of any unnecessary energy. Even with that I do not feel like asking for more. It has enough. Instruments are not sharp or aggressive but have more than average depth and bite. It doesn’t miss out on anything while keeping the timber neutral. Cymbals and pianos have very good transparency, don’t expect it to sound very organic or as textured as the Pola or UM Mirage. Separation and layering is up to the mark with more than enough air and space between instruments. The lower treble can feel a bit clumsy with pianos and strings. The treble stage is well spread, assisted by excellent sonicality. Bigger than average stage size helps a lot with instrument placements and density.
STAGE AND IMAGING:-
This is another aspect where the Maze 4 is similar to the SA6. Maze 4 too has a stage which has a single line from where all the instruments originate from giving it a more realistic and perceivable staging. Even when the instruments are placed around a straight line the dynamism helps it placing cues much further than most of the BA based IEMs. Dynamism is still a bit far from the Shozy Pola but is much superior to Fibae 3, Audiofly AF180 mk2 and BGVP DM8. The stage on its own has excellent height and width but the depth is slightly missing. It does not have the x axis depth of the Fibae 3 though (fibae 3 lacks height and width).
Most of the vocals are placed inside the head and most of the instruments are placed out of the head.