We’re all too familiar with the crappy earbuds provided with modern day devices. It’s understandable that manufacturers walk the line between keeping costs down while understanding that many users already have their own higher quality headphones.
If your in the market for a portable audio upgrade then you should know the options available today are much more stylish than before. In recent years we’ve seen the emergence of wrapper-branded audio products that focus on bass, which is great for some genre’s and bad for others.
While taking a step up in audio quality, you should also prepare yourself for a price jump to match. Some premium headsets landing in the $300-500 range. So what if you’re after a ‘better than out-of-the-box’ solution, but not wanting to pay out the nose for it?
One such solution you may want to consider is the Zoro Headphones by Noontec. I’ve had the chance to put them through their paces over the past two weeks, so lets take a look at how they stack up.
The foldable, lightweight design marry a hardened plastic exterior, with a soft, comfortable padding section that rests on your head. There are polished steel accents that enhance the quality look of the headphones. The Zoro’s come in three colours with the most striking being a vibrant red, followed by a silver and finally the more subtle black.
The sound is produced by 40mm high-quality neodymium magnet speakers, while all that sounds a little scientific, the result is crisp, clear sound with a decent amount of low-end.
These are on-the-ear headphones, which result in them being lighter and more portable. The weight of headphones may not sound like an important feature, but when engaging in long-sessions of music listening, it is. Essentially it boils down to this, if they aren’t comfortable, you won’t wear them.
Over the period of review I spent many 3-5 hour sessions wearing the headphones, after which my ears didn’t hurt, as they have with some other headphones. The adjustable headband makes them stick to your head for what I would say is a mild level of head-banging. They aren’t glued to your skull, so they will still move a little.
Fold-up Design – this is becoming an increasingly important feature for travellers and Noontec are certainly not the only manufacturer doing this.
Protein cotton material for ear muffs – This is part of the technology that makes the headphones comfortable over long durations. I can’t say I’ve ever known anyone to be allergic to headphone material, but apparently these are supposed to stop skin allergies acting up.
Adaptive ear muff – although the main headphone band is rigid, the ear muffs can tilt and pan (slightly) to fit to your head. Most of us have different shaped heads and this goes some way to making a one-fit-for-all solution.
Plug-in cable – This feature should be standard for all headphones. While most cables are hard-mounted to the headphones, the Zozo’s simply have a headphone port at the base of the left ear muff. This means if the cable wears out, simply replace the cable. Most headphones would be heading for the bin after damage to the cable.
Flat cable – One of the most frustrating thing about headphones being retrieved from a pocket or bag is the cord is tangled like mini-ninjas have been to work on it. By tweaking the standard cable design and making it flat, something amazing happens.. it doesn’t tangle! Not sure if you can buy more, but this is a great feature.
Because these are on-the-ear and not over the ear headphones, they do suffer from a lack of noise cancellation. So while they are breathable, that openness comes at a cost. If you’re looking for an audio solution that’ll block out that screaming baby on a long flight, these aren’t it.
I also like to listen to music quite loudly (70yo me will hate me), and a lot of noise escapes externally. This means in public or low-noise environments, you will likely irritate others.
This one is pretty minor, but personally I store my phone in my right pocket, while the cable attaches to the left ear muff. This means the cable has to run across my body to get from the source to the destination. It would be great to choose a right or left model, like I said, pretty minor complaint.
There is no in-line control for play/pause, skipping or volume adjustments on the cable. As much as I loved the flat cable, this is a function I missed and frankly expect these days.
The Zoro headphones boil down to this, the design is heavily “borrowed” from more expensive models. Given most of what your paying for on those ‘premium’ versions is a royalty to the wrapper who lent his name to the project, I wouldn’t call them value for money.
Zoro headphones are good value for money, while they won’t set audiophiles ears on fire, they will satisfy most people at a reasonable price point. It doesn’t hurt that they look the stylish, only weight 2.0kg and have that sweet tangle-free cable, you should consider these when upgrading your portable audio solution.