Much love Miow, also hope your enjoying that JDS c421! It's a great amp I here, very transparent ^^
Much love Miow, also hope your enjoying that JDS c421! It's a great amp I here, very transparent ^^
Yea I hear that a lot *sigh* yes Sound is subjective but... there are some things that just need to be taken. Like for example... XB series has exagerated bass I though "NAH it's not that bad" *listens to Dt 880's 99% Linear Bass [+- .5Db-ish] ... "OMG XB is OVER EXAGERATED"
So yea I can belive the 1000 might b muddy. Still... it will be febuary b4 i can try the 770 Pro 80 or the 990 Pro 250 <3
see the review near the bottom with my comment
I also expect to have a ZO shortly and will be impressed if it is provides noticeably superior bass extension compared to my E11 on the high setting while maintaining overall SQ and volume.
I had a ZO2 and it had alot of distortion. By the other hand, the FiiO ED11 had 0. I assume from reviews I've read that the Cmoy BB doesn't distort too, but I might be wrong, I haven't really tried this one. Just the ZO2 and the E11 and more recently the JDSLabs C421.
Could the distortion have been caused by a limitation of the driver in the headphones you tested rather than the amp in the ZO since the ZO is capable of pushing more bass than the E11? I love my E11, just want to consider all the possibilities.
It's a user error/headphone incompability issue is my guess or it just doesn't fit the user preferences. I couldn't be happier with the ZO, the problem I have with it is how I will be able to enjoy music WITHOUT the ZO anymore, for me it's THAT good. :P It's not a neutral amp by any means but I love the added colorisation, it makes the headphone sound so much more "full-bodied". For me the headphone will have to be compatible with ZO, not the other way around. xD
With ZO you get the best result when using headphone jack and setting ZO volume level to MAX and the source volume as low as possible, this gets you the cleanest possible output at which chances for distortion is smaller. Maybe miow didn't use it that way. In my case I use 14% Windows volume and ZO volume set to max on my computer with my Q40. This gives you EQ / bass boost overhead. Do note I like ZO2.1 in general more than ZO2.3 but it depends on the headphone, the easier driven the better the ZO2.3 tend to work. It makes my Q40 from sounding thin and lack of dynamicness and boring to make it sound full-bodied speaker-like with more weight to everything, not just bass but especially mids as well.
You can read my lengthy review on ZO1 and ZO2.3 here... be sure to check the "spoiler tag" for the ZO1 review at top of the page for the ZO1 review as there I went quite in-depth describing what it does to sound n stuff:
Or simply click the spoiler tag below:
ZO subjective analysis (Click to show)
Before going into further details I'd like to take the time to explain a little bit why I got interested in this little device in first place as it's very relevant to this review, you can of course skip it if you like but it'll still add valuable info to this review.
[optional, but recommended]
First I'm the kind of guy that can spend hours fiddling around with any settings found on my devices I use as I'm a tweaker and looking for that best possible subjective result I can achieve and I'm very pro-EQ enthusiast that I mainly became thanks to the very high quality hardware 10-band EQ found in the kX Audio drivers for my Audigy 2 ZS soundcard which really opened my eyes in how great of an improvement a good quality equalizer can bring, clearly beating any typical software EQ found in for example most of the music players as it doesn't distort or color the frequencies, it'll only adjust the "loudness"-curve like an EQ should be doing in best case scenario.
At first when I started using these kX Audio drivers and the 10-band EQ especially I did some rather typical, minimalistic deviations from zero-level changes to adjust the balance of the headphone. The basshead in me during that time (we're talking probably 5+ years ago) just wasn't quite satisfied yet coming from a computer speaker 5.1 setup which I gave up in favor for listening privacy. Now I tested boosting the lows further and got very satisfied with the bass quantity however the overall balance or sound quality was less than ideal so I started boosting the rest of the range as well by various amounts and ended up with quite similar curve as previously, only the whole range took a boost but bass became boosted a little more in comparision. Eventually I started boosting the whole range even further and to my surprise the more I boosted the whole range, the more I started liking what I was hearing and then I also started realizing exactly how great this EQ was as boosting frequencies by large amounts isn't anything that common software EQs would allow without distorting, in my case the output volume just got louder at the same volume setting which forced me to lower my volume sliders to make up for it. I was puzzled, how could boosting the whole range on my EQ start sounding better than simply boosting the volume, it just didn't sound the same.
It's this more "forward" sound which I'd describe as more "dynamic" sounding which I believe is what people enjoy about this ZO device that is a bit difficult to explain in words, it's something that simply has to be experienced on your own. Whether this ZO Personal Subwoofer device uses a similar hardware EQ-technique playing around with the loudness curve and boosting the whole range or not, one thing's for sure, they DO share that similar kind of sound signature change after doing comparisions with my own ears between the hardware EQ and the ZO device. But this is certainly not the only change or benefit the ZO adds, certainly not, but more on that later!
Before moving on I'd like to show you my 2 different EQ settings I keep for XB500 for example, one that is minimalisticly tweaked for only better balance and the other which uses this kind of EQ technique with greatly boosted range as a whole that I find providing great results that I spoke about previously making a more "forward" and dynamic experience. Also to set things into perspective of how much of a drastic bass boost capability ZO can add, to get similar kind of bass quantity out of the ZO device as the EQ setting I may only need to use around level 6 or 7 possibly (starting from level 0), whereabouts the contour level indicating light changes from yellow to orange which is roughly only 1/4 of the max capability!
On the DigiZoid website they include a sound demo of the effect ZO device adds. Of course it has to be stressed that this is merely a simulation and won't represent how it sounds like in practice but I still think it gives quite a good hint at what it does.
If further digging into the website they will also show some graphs that would strengthen my suspicions I discussed in the optional chapter, boosting the whole frequency range and depending on the setting level on the ZO it'll boost bass a little more than the rest which again is exactly the same technique I use with my hardware EQ.
Headphone: Sennheiser HD280 Pro
On the http://www.digizoid.com/tech/ page you can read the following that I will try and comment with my own words and experiences how I see it and tell whether I think there's some truth to it or if it's just another attempt to advertise a product to sound better than what it really is.
The Revitalization of Sound
SmartVektor™ technology revitalizes sound to produce a sonic experience previously thought unattainable. Our patent-pending techniques deviate from current industry practices, delivering market defining performance that enables you to provide new levels of product differentiation. Put the power, balance, and refinement of SmartVektor technology in your next design and discover the true power of sound.
It certainly is a more unique implementation and differs from the competition and even goes even slightly against what many formal audiophiles would typically opt for. However theoretical aspects put aside, the subjective results heard from the ZO Personal Subwoofer is really something that has to be experienced in person to be able to appriciate. Hopefully DigiZoid might even be able to implement this technology in for example different MP3 players of various manufacturers (similar to for example BBE in Cowon MP3 players) which would pay licensing fees to DigiZoid.
SmartVektor technology expands the audio's dynamic range in the low and high ends of the spectrum. Therefore, with loudness variation enhanced, music is revitalized with texture and clarity. Layers of sound once buried are now uncovered, and the emotional power of sound is restored.
This is very much what I experienced as well, the dynamic range is noticably enhanced but it's not only the lows and highs that are brought more forward but mids as well. However mids is the range that will start suffer the most if raising the contour level above the lowest setting but it'll still work noticably better than traditional amp bass boost controls as this doesn't only adjust the lows but the whole frequency range is altered and this also leads to a bit better instrument separation. Imagine it in the following way, as having several speakers tuned to take care of different frequency ranges. As they can each focus on their specific range you can easily boost the volume of all those speakers instead of having one speaker doing the whole range which results in more detailed and separated kind of sound where the different instruments come out more clearly without being masked by other frequencies. This is the best description I can provide of what the effect ZO provides does.
Also the people working on this has done a absolutely great job at shaping the curves optimally for each level so that there is as little bass bleed as possible comparing to how large bass boost capability we're talking about here. Of course each headphone will still require their personal EQ curves to sound optimal but they did an excellent job at where to start rolling off the bass response before it reaches the lower-mid frequencies and I can also confirm that adding your own EQing on top of ZO will work absolutely fine and won't cause any easier distortion than not using the ZO device!
Through the management of acoustic timing and power delivery, SmartVektor reveals sonic detail within the audio otherwise obscured by more dominant sounds. This "unmasking" improves the overall clarity and acoustic resolution, and provides greater spatial dimensionality regardless of the listening environment.
I can relate to this as well, every headphone I got that I plug into the ZO device I started hearing better microdetail as all my headphones started sounding a bit more balanced (muffled sounding headphones started sounding more clear and bright headphones a little less bright etc) which again I think have to do with the more "forward" sound. I can also relate to the increase in spatial dimensionality or known as "soundstage" around these parts, it expands the "borders" of the soundstage further without doing some major repositioning, sounds that are meant to sound like coming further away comes further away but due to the more forward sound, it sounds a little more "up-front" when running through the ZO device which leads to the music sounds more engaging and emotional like you'd be physically there which causes you to not being able to sit still but have to start dancing or moving along to the music!
SmartVektor technology is not a bass boost, EQ, or psychoacoustic algorithm. Instead, it maximizes the acoustic efficiency of a speaker by extending its' low frequency cutoff, and optimizing the low frequency power delivery. The result is distinct, profound bass with pure highs and unclouded crystalline detail.
The bass response is definitely improved bigtime in various aspects. I was always sceptical about reading how a headphone amp could make it stronger in deep bass but also tighter at the same time (without actually removing any significant amount midbass) while adding a more realistic "kick/punch" to it without causing any serious midrange bleed from midbass which usually stands for the punch/kick with a lot of impact to it, phew. This is exactly what ZO Personal Subwoofer does and the best is that it doesn't distort, it sounds so clean and natural, something 99% of EQs probably can't achieve when talking about the bass boost that ZO is capable of.
SmartVektor technology rebalances an audio signal to compensate for the ear's inefficiencies by normalizing the sound pressure levels of the entire audio spectrum to achieve equal loudness. Since this balancing provides more sound at less volume, the overall risk of both short- and long-term hearing damage from excessive volume level listening is reduced.
I suppose there's some truth to this as I definitely heard that the headphones sounded a little more balanced when running through the ZO. I believe the safer listening argument could probably be applied in the sense that bassheads are able to achieve the desired bass output satisfaction at lower volumes than previously so the mids and highs aren't as screaming high while still providing great detail from the more forward and more balanced sound.
Furthermore I want to add that at the lowest contour level setting you won't get any emphasized bassresponse, it'll just sound a little more balanced while sounding more forward and you'll enjoy better dynamic range as well as a bigger and more realistic soundstage with better microdetail definition while getting a much louder output volume. Between the first ("flat") level and the second there's quite a bump in bass response in my qualified guess maybe around 2.0 ~ 2.5dB or so, would probably be nice if DigiZoid added more options in between the first and 2nd level in the future (say 1.0 ~ 1.5dB or so boost), for me personally it's not an issue but I know some people would greatly appriciate a more subtle bass response boost.