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ZO2 Impression Thread - Page 12

post #166 of 1126


Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

Agreed, and this is what Violectric has to say on the subject of potentiometers:


Why is a good volume pot essential ? 

A volume potentiometer is a mechanical control element, which can be obtained on the market at any low price. Meanwhile it is often replaced by electronic circuitry, exhibiting essential disadvantages concerning dynamic range, noise and distortion. Conductive-plastic resistive tracks, high-quality multitap wipers and separated chambers for the individual sections are highly desirable for sophisticated applications, and high quality is inevitable to ensure trouble-free operation for years. Since the market for really good pots is a small one, manufacturers like Noble or Panasonic don't offer these any more. A current sample of top of the line pots is the RK27 by ALPS, which is used inside HPA 100 and HPA V200.


Clearly, I wasnt expecting an ALPS pot in the ZO2, but a volume pot isnt a trivial addition.

So maybe I wasn't far off with my comments regarding that ZO2 sounds best to me (most dynamic and transparent) at the highest volume level on the ZO2 and adjusting your source as needed. At least that's what my ears tell me, I suppose this is partly the reason why ZO1 sounded (and ZO2) so great for its price as all low cost amps fails a bit on the volume adjustment side... don't want to name any but u can probably guess...

Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 11/9/11 at 5:39pm
post #167 of 1126

Just received my Digizoid Zo2 today, will leave impressions later. Probably pair it with my LCD-2s, not the fairest pairing but oh well.

post #168 of 1126

It is such a boomer to read all this about the hizz and the loudness after waiting for this like 2 months (in my case), but hey! at least it got released, unlike the FiiO X3.


Doesnt DigiZoid have to test the prototype before making the first batch? I guess they used sensible IEMs and an iPoo with a LOD. right?


I dont want to make stupid assumptions and I dont have mine yet, its waiting for me at home though. 


on the good side, not good for digizoid but for me, the Only IEM I use for serious listening is the TF10 and I dont think that needs what the ZO can offer, I got the ZO2 to use with DT1350, M80 and probably a few more over ears.

post #169 of 1126

Original post + updated impression (with more time and IEMs/headphones)


11/9 @ 12:30: Quite a loud hiss with W4s imo, really disappointing.


11/9 @ 2:00: Adjusting the source volume has no effect on the hiss, at least when using the hp out...no real surprise. I'll try other IEMs/headphones when I get home but I'm not very hopefully, especially for the other IEMs. No matter really since the W4 are what I primarily use. I'm not sure why Digizoid didn’t test these more thoroughly with IEMs, as the hissing is clearly noticeable. Maybe worse, they did notice and still shipped the product out. Either way, quite disappointing. Too bad though, I had high hopes but as of now it looks like the ZO2 might be returned...we'll see.


One more thing I don’t understand is why the included headphone cord (the short one) doesn’t have a 90 degree plug on at least one side.  I saw on another ZO2 thread Digizoid reps inquiring as to what kind of plug the user base would prefer, 90 degree or straight plugs, and it was clear that the majority if not all users requested 90 degree on at least one side. 


11/9 @ 9:00: Tried with other IEMs (TF10 and Image X5) and hiss is still clearly there, no surprise.  Not so with the SR80i headphones though :). Regarding SQ, my initial impression while listing with the W4s earlier today was that there was a little loss of clarity as the contour setting is increase and the bass was a bit muddy. However, it has seem to clear up ever so slightly, although that might just be the change in listing environments (I was at work earlier, now at home). I am not a big believer in burn-in but have heard it happen with static hardware before, specifically DAC that are know to have some warm-up/burn-in changes. Since I have no idea what is actually in this little thing I am not going to assume that it doesnt contain anything that would possibly be impacted over time. 

I will say that the ZO2 does add a bit of soundstage and dynamics, especially to the SR80i, in addition to the increase bass presence. I hear the potential, even on the W4s but its hard to get past the hiss whenever the track settles and the hissing rears its ugly head.  I truly value a low sound floor which the ZO2 currently struggles to produce on IEMs, which I use 90% of the time.


On a more possitive note,  it is clear that Digizoid reps are monitoring the forums and I am hoping they will try and address some of the concerns.  Considering that Digizoid did at least attempt to address a number of concern/issues raised with the ZO1 I think there is a chance they will try and address some of the issues noted thus far for the ZO2 (specifically, the hissing and volume issues)...we'll see.

Edited by ulnevrgtit - 11/9/11 at 6:38pm
post #170 of 1126

Originally Posted by JamesMcProgger View Post



Doesnt DigiZoid have to test the prototype before making the first batch?



Agree 100%, and that is rare between you and I, McProgger. They could have done all the market research they needed right here on HF, but chose not to do so. Even if they had sent prototypes to anythingbutipod and Headfonia, I believe they would have received feedback on the issues highlighted here. I accept that its easy for me to say that when I dont have to fund the manufacture of a device like this, but its difficult not to feel that we are being used as guinea pigs when that might have been avoided.



post #171 of 1126

Guys, let me refresh everyone's memory - this is what Abi wrote at anythingbutipod back on October 21:


The first version of the ZO wasn’t without some flaws, though, as I wrote in the review linked above. Being very good listeners, Digizoid took many improvement suggestions by users into account for their freshly updated model. On the audio side of things, the new ZO2 should have less background hiss, should be better EMI/RFI shielded, the 32 processing steps should be more evenly spaced, and there should be no more clicks and pops at turning the amp on or off. The new housing is rubberized instead of glossy plastic, and the ZO2 now has a volume control, so it can be used with line-level outputs as well. Battery life is slightly improved, and a low battery indicator as well as improved shutdown handling have been added.


( http://anythingbutipod.com/2011/10/the-digizoid-zo2-is-almost-released/ )


I think its also timely to highlight something Abi mentioned when discussing hiss on the ZO1:


Contrary to the “input fix” I mentioned above, an impedance adapter on the ZO’s output won’t do much good. It will get rid of the hiss, but added impedance usually changes the sound quality of such phones to the worse. Even with single moving-armature phones like the Ortofon e-Q5, added impedance changes their sound signature dramatically (loss of bass, increased treble).


Will be very interested in Abi's review of the ZO2.





post #172 of 1126

oh wow estreeter agrees with me. blink.gif


OK enough headfi for me, I take back everything I say in the last 24 hours. good bye.

post #173 of 1126

I just emailed Digizoid regarding returning it.  I tried it with everything and in every possible configuration.  Just not for me.  For yucks I went back in time to my old Xin Mini -- now that was a decent digital volume control and good SQ.  This product has to be one of the most over-hyped things ever to find its way to HF.

post #174 of 1126
Originally Posted by RPGWiZaRD View Post


So maybe I wasn't far off with my comments regarding that ZO2 sounds best to me (most dynamic and transparent) at the highest volume level on the ZO2 and adjusting your source as needed. At least that's what my ears tell me, I suppose this is partly the reason why ZO1 sounded (and ZO2) so great for its price as all low cost amps fails a bit on the volume adjustment side... don't want to name any but u can probably guess...

You have to be kidding... I dare say you would not know "transparent" if it bit you in the a**.  The Zo2 turned my ER4S into bloated mud.  Adjusting the source volume?  "Double" amping further degrades SQ.  The Zo does not work properly with LOD and cannot even attenuate moderately sensitive IEM's.  This thing is flawed in just about every way possible.  

post #175 of 1126


Just contributing to the impressions thread. 
With the W4/iPhone4 using the headphone out, I can hear the hissing people are talking about, but it's not loud to me. It's very silent and I would have to concentrate a bit to hear it. Playing music, I can hear what the amp does...but it's not to my taste. The bass is definitely more impactful, but it doesn't sound sharp or clean. It feels very round and it doesn't feel very emotional. I've been listening to a variety of genres and I will just shoot some stuff out about them generally. My descriptions will compare the W4/iPhone4 combo vs the W4/ZO2/iPhone4 (lowest SVC setting) combo.
Jpop/Kpop: This amp works with Jpop pretty well. When I listen to Jpop, I like that the bass hits strong and for some reason, the bass doesn't wash over the vocals. I think this is because the vocals are a bit trebly to begin with so it balances out. Jpop is one of the few genres of music that will make me boost SVC up 1-2 levels for more fun. Overall, a positive experience.
JFolk: Female vocals have much more body but when the percussions come in, it overpowers the vocals so it sounds a little messy. I think the bass is too strong and ruins balance. Overall, a negative experience.
House/Electronica/Techno/Brostep: This is another genre where it's nice to bump up the SVC 1-2 levels to get more fun out of the music. When listening to Kaskade's Here & Now album, a really trebly album, the ZO2 tones down the treble and makes a long listening session much more bearable. This goes for the other genres as well that also have spiky treble. Normally when I listen to these albums, I have to turn down the volume because of the treble, but I lose the impactful bass as well. With the ZO2, I can keep both and be happy. Really fast songs do get a little messy, but the bass makes up for it I guess. Overall, a positive experience except for really fast songs, then it is a neutral experience.
Amer. Pop: Same thing as Jpop, but usually the vocals aren't as trebly for the females. With Ameripop, I find the voices to be a bit too thick for my liking but it's only a problem if the voice is really deep sounding. If it's a relatively normal sounding female, then the ZO works fine. Overall, a semi-positive experience.
Pop Rock: I apologize. This is all I listen to from the rock genre. The snares don't hurt my ears now, and the kickdrums hit really strong. The bass guitar has more presence but the combination of the kick drum and the bass guitar increase hides the power of the electric guitar in most songs. It's too thick for rock. Overall, a negative experience.
Trance/Downtempo: I think this amp works well with this genre. It does have a signature that helps make the music more mellow. The percussions and piano have a nice weight behind them. I don't notice any hissing noises in the quieter passages, so that's pretty good. Overall, a positive experience.
Hip-Hop/Rap: If I'm listening to the more modern stuff, then the amp helps tone down the sibilance and hides some of the awful sound quality. Spoken word is pretty good, very authoratative sounding, and it makes older rap songs much better. Overall, a positive experience.
Jazz: The amp does take away a lot of noise in the not so good recordings. Surprisingly, the ZO2 doesn't overpower the bass coming from the drums, so it doesn't spill over the other instruments. It's just the right amount at the lowest setting. One setting higher and everything is ruined. The other instruments come out fine, but I feel like they lack a bit of energy. Also, the background piano requires more concentration on my part to follow it. I'm not sure how I would rate it...but I guess it's somewhere between positive and neutral.
Classical: When the percussion plays, it seems to really shock the living hell out of you...but that's not worth it when the percussion overpowers the other instruments. Even with the Westones, it was really hard to separate the instruments when there is a very busy passage happening. For slower classical pieces, I think this amp would work. For faster crazier pieces, no. Opera singers have more presence, but it gets a bit too busy when everything is happening all at once with this amp. The bass is too strong. Overall, a lukewarm to negative experience.
When phone calls come in, the hissing noise is horrendous during a call, and also, the clicking noise is present and it's quite jarring.
Would I keep the amp? At this point, no. Here are my reasons:
1. It doesn't feel like the bass is clean enough when it's added to my music. It makes some genres fun, but overall it doesn't improve upon most of everything.
2. I can't use my iPhone line out. The hissing is loud...I mean LOOOUUD. There's no way music can cover it. I can always hear it. Also, I think the volume adjustment using the Line out option is horrendous. The lowest volume is already quite loud, one volume higher and I am literally in shock from the volume and yanking out my earphones before I go deaf.
3. Usually when I buy stuff, I just listen to it. I don't really care too much for burn in. I believe in it because I can hear it, but usually I will like something on first listen. The ZO2 is fun, but it feels like it's not going to last long. I like to compare it to my Westones. When I first wore it, I liked the sound. I wasn't in love with the sound, but I liked it very much. But during that time, I had so many urges to sell them and just buy the Pro 900s again because I missed the impactful bass. But I never did. The ZO2 is not like that. I'm probably going to write a listing on Headfi to sell it after I post this up. I feel like I can get another amp, that will provide me with a tiny joy, but it will last for a longer period of time than the ZO2.
Hope this helps and you aren't too annoyed by my ranting. Let me know if there's something you would like to know and I will help you to the fullest extent.
Edit: Did all my ZO2 listening with Max ZO volume, 1/4 iPhone volume, with SVC at the lowest setting.

Edited by Meloncoly - 11/9/11 at 7:21pm
post #176 of 1126


I've been primarily listening on the same rig and completely agree with your analysis, in its entirety...even the inverse W4 analogy :)

post #177 of 1126


Over the last few days, we have duly noted all of your comments/criticisms to identify exactly what needed to be remedied. To say the least, the two main points (hiss and line out incompatibility) very much surprised us, as they were not present in any of our prototype versions.  Please understand that these issues were not  intentionally allowed. Therefore Paul, ZO's creator and the inventor of our SmartVektor technology, has been working feverishly to resolve these issues. At this point in time, he has found the source of the problem (both issues are being caused by the same fault), has determined a means of resolving it, and we intend to fix each and every ZO from our first production run. We value the trust you placed in our company through your pre-orders, and we will not rest until our product sounds the way we intended the ZO2 to sound to each and every customer. 

post #178 of 1126

well played digizoid

Edited by ulnevrgtit - 11/9/11 at 8:32pm
post #179 of 1126

Meloncoly in your opinion what would it take for the ZO2 to change your mind to keep the ZO ....  Just curious

post #180 of 1126

@ MizMoxie:  thanks for trying to fix the two major complaints (hiss and LOD incompatibility), I believe you when you say that you guys are just as blindsided as we are that the finished product did not turn out right.


There have also been complaints that the zoo's bass is muddy, and one thing that struck me about the first zo was that everyone who reviewed it said is that it is really tight.  Any chance the complaints about the muddy bass are also related to that same problem source?

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