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InEarz Zen 2

Rating:
4.75/5,
  1. faithguy19
    Unrivaled Clarity and Instrument Separation
    Written by faithguy19
    Published Aug 28, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Clarity, Clarity, Clarity
    Cons - None
    Disclaimer: This product is a review unit sent as part of a review tour. I want to thank In-Earz and BulldogXTRM for helping to setup the tour and allowing me to be a part of it. The review unit will be sent to the next participant and is not given as a free product. The thoughts and impressions provided below are my own.


    About Me: I am an iem lover who enjoys testing and listening to great sounding iem's. I would describe myself as a basshead audiophile (if there can be such a thing). Lately, I have been listening to a lot of EDM and so my impressions of the Zens will be based on my listening to that genre through my iPhone X. RIP to my ibasso DX200.


    About the Company: InEarz is a company that has been in the game since at least 2003 and are based in Florida, USA. They provide quality audio products in custom and universal form for musicians and audiophiles alike. Recently they have partnered with Stephen Ambrose of Asius and Adel technologies fame. As a result we have the formidable Zen 2 and Zen 4 in-ear monitors.


    About the Product: The Zen 2 is a dual driver balanced armature earphone featuring Adel technology. Features and tech specs included below:


    Features


    • ADEL™ Technology
    • 1 Low/Mid, 1 High Balanced Armatures
    • Single Bore Design
    • Impedance: 60 Ohm @ 1kHz
    • Noise Isolation: -26dB (+/- 2dB)
    • Input connecter: 1/8″ (3.5mm)Stereo Jack
    • 3D printed hypoallergenic acrylic shells
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    Accessories: Both the Zen 2 and Zen 4 come in a nice small/medium box closed with a magnetic flap. Inside you are greeted with the InEarz Audio logo as well as the earphones themselves. Included is a canvas carrying case with a carabiner as well as a very nice round aluminum water-resistant (proof?) storage case. Having two storage options is a definite win in my book. Also included are sets of silicone and foam tips in the S, M, L variety. I found the tips to be of good quality and had no issue establishing a solid consistent seal even with my small ear canals. While more tips are always welcome I feel most will be able to find a good seal with the supplied tips. Also included are a leather cord-wrap system and cleaning tool. I would say accessories are on par for what you would expect at this price point.

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    Build Quality & Comfort: The build quality of both the Zen 2 and Zen 4 are identical. Both are exceptionally built and comfort is great for long-term listening. As someone with small ears I am always concerned about comfort. I am happy to report that there are no sharp edges or bulky profile here. The Zens have a slim profile and excellent comfort. The cable itself seems to be microphonic free and looks to be a typical ciem twisted cable. The cable is solid with a standard 2-pin connector. If you are a cable believer, the Zens can benefit from a cable upgrade but is by no means necessary. With the help of the included Adel module listener fatigue was non-existent. No complaints here. Solid all around.


    Sound: Coming to the most important part of the review we have the sound. I spent my week and a half with my Zen 2 comparing it closely to the Zen 4 and Noble Sage as well as harkening back to my time with the Brainwavz B2, Noble Bell, and the Campfire Audio Comet. The Sage shares a similar price point to the Zen-4 at 599 usd and the Bell and the Comet come in at a similar price point to the Zen 2. After extensive comparisons between them all there are a few conclusions I have drawn.


    Of the iems mentioned not one of them put a smile on my face the way the Zen 2 has done. I mentioned above that I am a basshead at my core. Yet my first love as an audiophile came with the arrival of my Brainwavz B2 way back in 2011-2012. The B2 introduced me to a level of clarity in my music that I am still chasing after today. I believe that the Zen 2 has provided a sound that I would describe as an upgraded B2. The Brainwavz were great but were nothing to write home about in regards to the bass. I also found that the mids were quite recessed if memory serves me. I feel that the Zen 2 give me that insane clarity I got with the B2 but without the super recessed mids and bass. Bass is not strong but it is present when called upon. Never did I feel like the bass was missing.


    The clarity of the Zen 2 is unrivaled by the majority of gear I have tried and that includes gear topping 1,000 usd. Some of that no doubt comes from the fact that the Zen 2 leans towards the brighter end of the spectrum. Treble is well extended with significant amounts of sparkle and sibilance was only present when I listened to the occasional poorly produced track. Whereas I would occasionally find my Noble Bell or Campfire Audio Comet on the boring side the Zen 2 never let me off the edge of my seat. There is an energy to the Zen 2 that can be exciting. If you are a metal head who is not treble sensitive I could see the Zen 2 being very good for that genre as well as progressive rock. Instrument separation is another aspect where I feel that the Zen 2 truly shined. Listening to some of my more familiar and technical tracks it was good to catch some details that I had not noticed before. The soundstage on the Zen 2 was definitely above average and even though I would describe it as a bright and energetic earphone there was no ear fatigue for me (thanks Adel technology!)


    Compared to the Noble Sage which shares its price point with Zen 2’s more expensive brother the Zen 4. The Sage is much warmer than the Zen 2 and produces a much thicker and fuller sound. Switching between the two quickly results in the Sage sounding a little muddy and bass heavy and the Zen 2 sounding thin and almost shrill. I read somewhere in the forums that source can be a factor here and I would second that. The Zen 2 would not play nice with a bright source. At this price it is often a matter of sound signature preference when comparing the two. If you are looking for a warmer earphone with a stronger bass presence I would go with the Noble Sage. If looking for a more clarity definitely consider the Zen 2 which is a solid option at this price point and good for most genres.


    Compared to the Zen 4 the Zen 2 is once again the more neutral of the two earphones. Perceived clarity is most definitely greater on the Zen 2 but that could easily be due to its increased brightness. If the Zen 4 is neutral leaning towards warm I would describe the Zen 2 as bright leaning towards neutral.


    Final Thoughts:

    Overall, I would describe the Zen 2 as a bright earphone that leans slightly towards neutral. It is a solid all-rounder that will fit with almost any genre and competes very well with products like the Noble Sage in its price range and its clarity exceeds it. Great job In-Earz Audio!
      slowpickr and BulldogXTRM like this.
  2. BulldogXTRM
    Dual Driver Excellence
    Written by BulldogXTRM
    Published Jul 15, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Awesome neutral but full sound signature, wide sound stage.
    Cons - Could use a little more sub-bass.
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    Dual Driver Excellence

    A Review On: InEarz Zen-2
    Review Topics:
    About Me
    About the product/expectations
    Build/Design
    Comfort/Fit
    Sound
    Isolation
    Value
    Provided free of charge during Head-Fi.org Tour
    Normal Retail Price: $369.00
    Pros: Awesome neutral but full sound signature, wide sound stage.
    Cons: Could use a little more sub-bass.

    About Me
    To get started, let me tell you a little about myself.
    I’m a gigging musician (lead guitar/backup vocals), an audio forensic analyst, a novice sound engineer, and an avid music lover with a wide taste in music. Being an audio forensic analyst is a plus I find when reviewing audio products simple because I know what bad audio sounds like and usually know how to correct it. My experience allows me to be familiar with the limitations of my own ears and the equipment I’m using.
    For the consumers, my perspective for all my IEM reviews will be based on these things. I won’t sugar coat things or make things sound better than they are. I’m just like you and I want good value for the money I pay for any product.

    To the manufacturers, I’ll always give you an option to respond to any concerns such as quality that I have during my review. I’ll contact you directly and will do so before my review is published. I want to provide an honest and tangible review for your prospective customers without being unfair to you as a manufacturer.
    I’ll always be fair and my review will be based on my perspective and my experience.
    Now on to the important stuff.

    About the product/expectations
    I received the Zen-2 on a tour here at Head-Fi.org. The tour was courtesy of InEarz and was organized by yours truly.

    I am a founding member and the lead guitarist for the hard rock band Rīvul. I'm an endorsed artist for InEarz and currently my on stage performance and practice IEM's are a custom Euphoria. However I'm not being compensated for this review in any way and all impressions are unbiased and are my own.

    Build/Design
    The build quality of the Zen2 is very good, very much the norm that I've come to expect from InEarz. The fit of these is better than almost any universal IEM I've ever used. After a short time, I forgot I was wearing them.

    The stock cable is a standard IEM cable. I compared the sound from the stock cable to several premium cables from HAN Audio that I had in my possession, including the Venom and the sound difference was negligible. A good premium cable will widen the sound stage just a bit, but because of the 60 ohm impedance of the Zen-2 there was no difference in frequency response regardless of the source used.

    Comfort/Fit
    I found the form factor and size of the Zen-2 to be outstanding. I had absolutely no issues with wearing them for hours with little to no wearing fatigue.

    Sound
    The sound of these are top notch. They come with the ADEL B1 module stock and I personally would probably opt for the G1 in order to give them a slight bass boost. With that said, they handled EQ very well, and a little 2 to 3 dB boost in the sub-bass and bass region (below 100 Hz) was all that was needed.

    The clarity was really good. The low end was tight with a very flat response and a natural decay. The mids were prominent but not overdone. The high end was very nice with just the right amount of extension and sparkle. No ear/sound fatigue even after listening for hours.

    Source didn't matter at all to the sound signature, but when using 24bit 96Khz Flac source from my pro audio setup, i noticed they were able to resolve with more clarity. So the Zen-2 responds to source scaling very well, but even with lower end audio straight from my Note-8, they were very good there as well.

    Compared to UE900s the sound from the Zen-2 was very much ahead of the UE's. They had more clarity, more separation, and a wider soundstage. The UE900s had more sub bass but the Zen-2 lows were tighter. The mids were very comparable. The highs also were very close. The difference here was the sound stage and the clarity, the Zen-2 outperformed the UE's without a doubt.

    For grins, I decided to compare the Zen-2 to the KZ ZS-6. How did they do against a cheap $40 4 driver IEM? Simple they blew them away. There was no comparison in sound quality the Zen-2 was light years ahead in everything.

    I would rank the Zen-2 near the top of my list of must have IEM's. Near perfection. But understand what you're going to use them for.

    Isolation
    Isolation was very good. Not as good as a custom but definitely on par with most mid to high end universal IEM's.

    Value
    Simply put, if you can get past the more drivers is better hang up, then InEarz could double the price of these and they would still out perform or be on par with that price point. I think at the price point of $349, the Zen-2 is an outstanding value and would do well for an everyday wear IEM or for someone just starting out in the HiFi audiophile realm.