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Portable Amps item created by kenman345, Dec 9, 2011
Pros - Small, long battery life, does what it's meant to do well
Cons - Sloppy volume/gain adjustment
A neat little headphone amp. Bought to use with my Pro900s. Definitely intensifies the v-shaped sound signature of these headphones. Sounds exactly as I expected it to, lots of fun to listen to! The gain/volume adjustment is the single worst I have EVER used on ANY product however, just absolutely terrible. Other than that this is a neat little amp for a cheap price.
Pros - tiny, rechargeable, versatile, excellent support,
Cons - hiss with IEMs
This is an updated version of what I posted on the impressions thread located here. I changed a few things because I've now been using the ZO2 for a week, extensively.
I'm running the ZO2 through all of my headphones. Here's a breakdown.
Before ZO2 -- These things are clear and clean, but are very bass-light. I can't really listen to them. I was very disappointed when I got them, considering how well liked they are. I bought AKG K44s to replace them.
After ZO2 --The sound is clean, smooth and rich. I love these things now. They're light, comfortable cheap and sound great. These have gone from my worst headphones to my best.
Before ZO2 -- I really like these. They are not boomy, but still have some low end. The only problem is that I use them at work. I can't run them at a very high volume because I need to be able to hear other people talking to me, so the they don't really get a chance to "sing".
After ZO2 -- These are thunderous, which allows me to turn down the volume and still listen to a smooth representation of the full spectrum of the music. It's a lot of fun to listen to these and drink in the bass line.
Senn PMX 680i
Before ZO2 -- These sound a little muffled, but relatively pleasant with a decent amount of low end. Not much impact to speak of. Very functional, nondescript sound.
After ZO2 -- They are still muffled, but now they have a lot more smooth low end. I wouldn't say they sound good, though. It comes across a little boomy, but I really don't expect much from these. These are not going to be used with the ZO2 anyway. I use these for exercise (sprinting and body-weight exercises) and I'll leave the ZO2 at home for that.
Before ZO2 -- These are clear and clean and have some surprising capability on certain pitches in the bass line. They are mid-heavy and slightly bright. So high volumes, sufficient for bringing out the bass, are uncomfortably loud.
After ZO2 -- Punchy, rich. Easy to listen to. I love them. It's a drastic improvement, even at lower contour levels. I reminds me a live concert. The only bummer is the hiss. I can't hear it with music playing, but it happens irrespective of gain level. It doesn't seem like ZO2 is all that great for IEMs, if this sort of thing bothers you a lot. It's doesn't really bother me. I tried low-gain with a LOD. The hiss did not change perceptibly.
Before ZO2 -- Pleasantly bassy, but a little boomy sometimes and slightly treble-heavy.
After ZO2 -- I can turn the volume down on these and still hear what I want to hear. It's nice and full, even when quiet. Very smooth. Easy to sit and listen to music while still needing to pay attention to what my family is doing. Drastic improvement.
Before ZO2 -- I like the sound of these, but they're a little muffled when compared to the KSC75s. They sound very capable, but there's not a lot of definition.
After ZO2 -- These are still a tad muffled, but the bass is tighter than the AKGs. I'm shocked was comes out of these things, considering their size. There's a lot of life in the bass. It's energetic. Tons of fun.
The essence of my experience with the ZO2 is that it has given me what I had hoped to get when I bought my Total Bithead. My collection of cheap headgear sounds like a million bucks. The only pair that wasn't improved by them is the PMX680i. But, it does definitely improve the bass. The rest of the range of the headphone is just not really that great, so it doesn't sound better overall. They are terrific for their purpose, which is to run like a raped ape and not have them fall off.
I can't speak for high-impedance equipment, but for someone like me, who only owns lower priced headphones, the ZO2 completely changes my listening experience for the better. This something that a traditional, transparent amp could not do. Something important to mention is that all of my headphones require different levels of bass boost. A simple off/on approach would not be nearly as effective. The ZO2 gives me the ability to easily adjust the bass for each application.
I'm starting to hear things in my music that never new was there, like foot steps, breathing, little riffs that were previously buried. I'm also able to tell when a track is poorly produced. Plus, I can hear the difference between Pandora and my iPod. I think I could pick out the difference in a line up. This is all new to me with the ZO.