Noontec ZORO II HD Headphone - Reviews
Pros: Amping Requirements, Frequency Balance, Bass Tautness, Sleek Design, Weight and Comfort, Portability, Detachable Cable
Cons: Stock Cable, Headband Extension, Build Quality
So yeah, these were and still remain one of my favourite headphones I have at my side whenever I leave my desktop rig behind. They are a breeze to drive- a decent phone or usb dac would suffice. Perching cozily atop one's head, they do not clamp as hard as many other on ear headphones, but are secure enough to avoid pulling a humpty-dumpty. I got hold of the blue version, and I must say that its trendy styling has turned many a head and caught many an eye (although I wouldn't be surprised if some view them as Beats wannabes). They are featherweight, and this combined with its folding hinges and detachable cable makes it an excellent travelling companion. Good thing it's detachable too, for the stock cable mars the otherwise commendable sound quality by a considerable amount (take note!). I, like many other owners, experienced a rather coarse and gritty upper midrange and treble performance. At first, I thought it was due to the drivers, and left it as such. It was only recently that I began experimenting with other wallet-friendly cables in the market, and to my delight, I found that the sourced cables not only reduced the grain in the sound, but also enhanced separation and bass extension. The only thing lacking now is probably a greater dose of external noise isolation.
 
I did mention that I love the design of the headphones. Despite this, there are some flaws which I would like to point out. Firstly, the headband extension of the headphones is rather limited. Fully extended on both sides (at the markings labeled 4), you'll get around 4cm of extra headband compared to when it is fully retracted. So saying, it is possible to stretch out another cm or so, which I discovered by accident when I unsheathed a marking labeled 5 one fine day on the left side of the headband while extending it as per normal. This I do not recommend, for it leads me to my second point which is regarding the build quality of the ZORO II. Delighted at first to see that there's another marking, I was dismayed to learn that the headband extension had come loose in allowing this to occur, and the next thing which slid out of the headband frame was no longer markings but wires. Fortunately I was able to stuff it back in without much fuss, but from that point onward I became rather wary in handling them.
 
So, there you go! A wonderful pair of headphones, but do be sure to change the cable, and handle it with tender loving care. People with large heads- beware!
Pros: Durable Metal Hinges, Lightweight, Lengthy Flat Cord , Portability, Comfortable, Stylistic
Cons: Gritty Mids, Grainy Highs, Veiled Lows, Sound Leaks, Too Loud, Bad soundstage (Pinched), Lows lack Punchiness, Pricing (not worth $50 or $100)
Disclaimer: I haven't burnt these headphones in, this is a fresh brand new pair I am using.
Sadly I regret my purchase due to the misgivings of these on ear headphones, yet they got high praise from other people and websites.
Yet they didn't really go in depth with the sound signature claiming it is "tonality is balanced".
Yet I think either there hearing is damaged or I just got a bad new pair or defective?
I figure it's either a defective pair or just that this is the sound signature.
 
Anyways this headphone is far from being a pure neutral headphone but it's close except the mid emphasis.
I feel like the construction of the headphone is fairly good the reinfornced metal hinges gives a peace of mind.
The flat lengthy cord is fine for portability and at home usage. The sound signature is just painfully not as refined as it should be.
I figure maybe you need to "burn in" these headphones yet I've had non burnt in headphones that had decent sound signatures out of box.
The sound signature of these drivers are just leaning between an Audio Technica M40X and a Sony MDR7506.
M40X being better obviously. But I see some aspects they took from the M40X and MDR7506 implemented here.
The refinement needs improvement, the lows need to have a better emphasis doesn't have to be muddy or bleeding into mids.
Also if they were to relax the highs a bit while raising the lows it would even better for long term listening.
These aren't great for at home listening compared to the M40X. But they are okay for gym but I'm sure there is something better for cheaper.
Times have changed even mainstream store brands are improving their drivers despite being "cheap" alternatives.
I was let down by Noontec with the Zoro II HD. I should have stayed clear of them but decided to give them a chance.
Not exactly too happy with my purchase. Let's get in depth to the nitty gritty (pun intended).
 
BASS - It extends to 16 Hz but again it lacks proper emphasis more rolled off (relaxed almost and lacking the punch for most electronic tracks but it exists just not punchy).
TREBLE - Well if you consider the Treble being on the Bright side to be HD than sure you can say that but these are on the brightside of things and do have some grit and grain to the frequencies.
MIDS - There is a strong emphasis in this region so vocals do sort of "pop" in the mixes and are clear but there is some grittiness depending on how the song is mixed and source.
Overall Sound - They could have had a better emphasis on the low end while relaxing the high end a bit to reduce grain and grit, while turning down the mids a little bit to reduce that grit.
Low end needs better emphasis, mids should be dialed back a few dB and the highs should be more relaxed in a curve.
Pricing doesn't match sound quality
earfonia
earfonia
I would like to correct my previous statement. My mistake that I didn't notice earlier that the Noontec Zoro II that I tried was not the HD version. Sorry for that, and thanks to @dw1narso to notify me on that on separate conversation. That set of Zoro II that I tried was belong to @dw1narso.
 
Another thing, the first test I did was using Onkyo DP-X1 and a DIY cable, 3.5mm to 3.5mm that I made using Lyx Pro starquad mic cable. Second test I did was using Fiio X3ii and the stock cable, strangely the treble glare was not heard anymore (same test tracks). Since I tested it in 2 different location, and I cannot compared the 2 setups side by side, now I'm left unsure about the treble glare. So until I can test the set side by side using those setups, at the moment I'm not very sure about the treble glare that I heard previously.
dw1narso
dw1narso
To add what Earfonia said, we also try using Audio Tehnica MSR7 cable. With Fiio X3ii and Xduuo X3 as player, we could not detect any glare.

Now the good news, on my white Zoro ii, not Zoro ii HD (my mistake ordering wrong phone, which I really want to get Zoro ii HD actually), these are quite balanced phone as Tyll said. IMHO, this is a good sounding on ear portable closed phone. No, it could not beat Somic V2, which is better in every regards. But they are really not comparable, portable closed on ear (Noontec) vs full open over ear (Somic).
dw1narso
dw1narso
Forget to mention... My zoro ii sound much better with ATH MSR7 cable... So this phone deserve better cable than the standard one.
Pros: Sound quality well above their price range. Well-balanced frequency response. Attractive, light and comfortable. Easy to fold and carry.
Cons: A regular 3.5mm cable is not included (only a phone one). A little harsh in the mids and highs. Durability is still a question.

 
It all started with a message asking me if I’d like a free review sample of some headphones from a creatively off-beat name. I’d seen the name around Head-Fi and only guessed that they were inexpensive and may actually be half-decent, so I accepted. Later it turned out that they appeared to have given away quite a few pairs to people to review and that they were cheaper than expected. At $89.99 in blue or $99.99 in three other colour combinations they were on the end of the scale that I usually ignored except when a handful of cheap-headphone-spotters would start arguing about over them in the forums.
 
The small box that arrived with a front revealing-flap did not encourage me with the marketing on the front — “Surround Closed Cavity Body” (meaningless), “Votrik Speaker” (who?), “High Definition” (Ungh!). It brought back memories from decades ago of my $10 “Dyanmic Stereo Sound” speakers which were single drivers in a cheap plastic box. Inside the flap is a lot of very small writing going over the features which I felt were more relevant once I opened the box in which they were neatly folded.
 
The hinge is steel reinforced, which is a positive given that the headphones are understandably plastic. The outer plastic is coated in what is described as “piano crafting varnish”. Considering the colours it looks more like the pearl car paint and is very nice and fingerprint-magnet smooth. On the headphones, which are “Designed in Italy” the result is gorgeous, garnering immediate positive comments from my young daughter when she spotted them. The headband arc ends at the hinge and part of it on either end are two tiny lugs which, when you open headphones all the way, snap into place. I immediately worried about the durability of snapping and folding this daily a few times and reached out to Noontec to ask them about durability. They replied that they had tested the hinge and it didn’t have any problems after “5000 times test” [sic].
 
Noontec appears to have taken the time to make decent earpads. I’ve seen too many pairs of low-range headphones that had vinyl so thin that the earpads were destroyed in short order, so decently thick earpads with a reasonably soft and smooth but a little robust-feeling covering was a pleasant surprise. The Zoro IIs sit on your ears, rather than around them, so this is important. 
 
The fit and finish appears quite good, down to the cup swivels, which don’t just flop around. The headphones don’t rattle when shaken and even when folded the hinges only have a tiny amount of play, only about as much as one gets in a high-end zoom lens. Even the single-button-with-mike phone-compatible cable is decent enough — a long strip of thin rubber terminated with branded plugs.
 
So all that was left to do was plug them into my iPhone 6 and have a listen.
 
My first impressions were a shock and not at all what I expected from a pair of cheap headphones. At a moderate listening level the music was quite detailed and crisp. My usual experience with cheap headphones is that they tend to be boomy with a poor mid-range and very rolled-off treble, which might be OK with modern brightly-mastered pop but is rubbish for just about anything else. More recent models seem to be moving away from this trend, but I found that one usually has to spend a couple of hundred dollars first. 
 
Lately I’ve been going a bit retro and listening to Yello, specifically their latest album, Touch Yello. If you can imagine a slightly more modern version of the duo’s synth pop, this music welcomes detailed headphones and a good bit of bass punch. The album, ranging from dance tracks to ballads and soft jazz was delivered with both punch and delicacy as required. Heidi Happy’s voice, while not as well-presented as with some of my headphones, still came through very well, more like what I’d expect from a more expensive pair of headphones. I think this is due to the treble being slightly muted, which can make vocals seem slightly muffled.
 
For the treble I broke out Leigh Barker from the Kostas Metaxas Recording Samplers to have a listen to the cymbals. While not coming through as strongly as with some headphones, there was nothing disagreeable about the presentation. Likewise I’d Rather Be Blind, Crippled and Crazy by The Derek Trucks Band was very enjoyable, the percussion delivered very well at both ends. If anything, like with Heidi Happy, I could only find fault in the vocals, which had a touch of hardness, but no more than I’d expect to find in more expensive headphones.
 
I broke out the Amon Tobin to test the deep bass. Bricolage contains a number of tracks that seem to go down close to 20 Hz. The rumble came through, not strongly, but quite sufficiently, and not lacking detail as I had expected. Likewise with The Silent Sound Spectrum by A Guy Called Gerald, which focuses on “very low and very high sounds” was not left lacking. However, their inexpensive build doesn’t fare quite as well when the volume is turned up to louder levels, with vibrations clearly coming through the frame and a bit of harshness appearing in the presentation. A great deal of this is due to them being on-ears. Regardless, they held up remarkably well considering their price. 
 
Their overall tone is a touch warm, with a slightly reduced treble compared to regular “audiophile” headphones, which makes them a nice all-rounder for people who aren’t looking simply for deep, pounding bass all the time, or a “club” experience, for which I usually recommend V-MODAs. I found them remarkably enjoyable to listen with, as long as I didn’t turn the volume up too high. In fact, their presentation seemed to suit quieter listening levels quite well. Most unexpected was that I didn’t feel a desire to remove them from my head once I started listening, always an excellent sign. The slightly muted treble, while not perfect for some music, does make brighter, modern recordings less fatiguing. 
 
For $90-100, these are definitely a good buy for someone looking for a pair of decent on-ear portables.
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NA Blur
NA Blur
Brought mine to a head-fi meet in San Fransisco.  Two vendors, providing new amp/DAC units, were stunned at how great they sounded.
Jupiterknight
Jupiterknight
Jupiterknight
This is IMO actually a very fair and honest review..  and why I comment..
 
Design and build quality at first touch looks and feel cheap, like a $30-50 portable headphone copying a mainstream/popular brand and their durability can be questioned, but if you avoid throwing them against a wall multiple times a day or testings out how many times you can fold them up within 180 seconds and not getting freaked out about the clicking noise or fear of the ZORO's breaking.. then no worries..
 
Apparently, they are designed to tolerate a boatload of repetitive stress movements.  I agree (my take), Noontech have manage to improve from their previous portable headphones by designing the on-ear fit so the Zoro II basically stays in the exact same place when moving my head around very quickly, no idea why I would do that, but it can happen..
 
Sound quality and presentation is very pleasing and balanced that I any day of the week would pick them over or in same league, albeit in different ways, Sennheiser HD 25-II or Beyerdynamic DT-1350 that cost twice as much! That's just my opinion..
 
Anyhow, great review and nice to see one of the recent Noontech releases getting some recognition and thereby, in the long run, they will continue releasing budget price headphones that price wise scales up higher. All in the consumers interest...and the company as well...
Pros: Balanced Even Handed Tone
Cons: Build Quality,
INTRO
Full disclosure here, I was contacted by Noontec asking if I’d be interested in reviewing their new flagship headphone the Hammo which I agreed to. They subsequently sent me a pair of Zoro HD 2’s instead. Wait! Zoro? This headphone has actually received a fair amount of praise from the likes of Grandpa Headphone himself, Tyll Hertsen at Inner Fidelity, and Steve Guttenberg of Audiophiliac fame. To be fair though, Guttenberg likes everything, (except Pono), so we’ll have to take his praise with a grain of salt.

 

INFO

 

While the phones were in transit I perused the Noontec website to see what the company is about. A few clicks in and I found that Noontec was founded in Australia (that’s a surprise!) and they have some other interesting products as well. A NAS streamer for video and audio, a number of USB power banks for smartphone and tablet charging on the go and also have a noise cancelling headphone along with a couple different dynamic in-ear monitors. All good stuff so far. Then I got to the headphone section of their website and was left a bit dismayed…. Fashion headphones… Wait Wha?

 

Noontec markets their Zoro and Hammo headphones as “Fashion” headphones to excite your ear. Also a little nit here but multiple words on their website are misspelled. Being that your website is your global storefront and your front door to the rest of the world, Noontec’s website seems just a bit… off? Half baked? I am not sure I can pin down what it is, but it seems to lack the spit and polish of a finalized product that is ready for prime time.

 

Noontec calls their headphones ‘Fashion Hi-Fi’ (ugh!) and call out some interesting proprietary technical innovations. Like their SCCB “Surround Closed Cavity Body” which appears to be a convoluted way of calling it a closed back headphone. They also employ Votrik HD400 drivers. I found a few gamer tags for online role playing games when I search the name Votrik, so the Votrik driver and SCCB tech are likely clever if a little disingenuous ways that Noontec is seeking to differentiate themselves in a crowded headphone market. But how does the saying go?

 

Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game!

 

IN HAND

 

40Ohms1.jpg

 
40ohms2.jpg
 
The Zoro 2 HD arrived (henceforth referred to as Zoro) and like I said I was taken back a bit since it wasn’t the Hammo I’d been expecting… Mike from Noontec said they decided otherwise last minute. OK… BTW I don’t do packaging reviews, if you need that angle, go to YouTube and watch an unboxing or something like that. I will say the Zoro is packaged like a retail class product ready to stock the shelves of you average big box store.  In the hand the Zoro II HD are clearly an attempt to mimic the Beats by Dre aesthetic for significantly less spend. They have the same colorful plastic housing and large logos emblazoned on the cups. Maybe not as many premium finishes or materials in the build but still they evoke a Beats by Dre aura at a glance. While this was obviously their intent, I don’t know that I am a fan.

 

For one, I am not all that crazy about Beats so a company mimicking their design doesn’t strike a chord with me. As far back as Tyll’s original review I’ve always dismissed these headphones as pretenders, despite Tyll’s claim that they sounded excellent. As far as I was concerned a headphone purposefully copying the appearance of another headphone to garner attention was just an indicator that it wasn’t a serious product on its own. I clearly had a ‘prejudice’ against this headphone, and this whole train of thought revealed itself during the review period and it took some consideration on my part to call it what it was… I was being an audio snob.

 

In the box, sundries are minimal but get you going. They include a velour storage bag and a single color matched ribbon cable with smartphone mic and volume controls. The cable is relatively short but on point with the design intent (smartphone/ MP3 player). One trouble area I had was with the headband fully extended I could barely get the headphones to sit properly on my head. I wear a 7 5/8 hat so my head is on the larger side, even so an extra ¼” of travel would be nice. I often felt like I needed to readjust to get them to sit properly. To be fair though, I have taken them on multiple 3 and 4 mile jogs and they seem to work perfectly fine.

 

HEY HO LETS GO!

After running the headphones in for the weekend on my vintage rig I plugged them into my desktop setup first (portable impressions later) which is an April Music/ Stello HP100 MK2 with iFi iDSD Micro handling D/A Conversion from an HP Envy laptop running JRiver.

 

Obscene as it is, I compared the Noontec Zoro II HD to my daily desktop headphones… My Sennheiser HD800 and Audeze LCD2. I know, I know, and while it isn’t fair it gives me a good understanding of the Noontec’s strengths and weaknesses against the greater landscape. I will stack it up against my Porta Pros and my daughter’s Creative Labs Aurvana while rolling portable to drill down on how the Noontec performs within its own segment and intended use but for now sonic performance writ large.

 

So to start off at the end… Is this headphone any good? Yes… It is better than I expected.

 

I didn’t want to like it, and if I was going to let myself like it I was going to put a bunch of qualifiers on it like: It’s good for a ‘hundred dollar closed headphone’ but still isn’t a something I would be interested in…. pisha pisha! I mean for a hundred bucks you could have a Sony MDR-7506, Grado SR80 or AKG K240. But that snooty predisposition didn’t hold up. The Zoro bucks a modern trend in consumer grade headphones towards bloated bass, sucked out midrange and spiky treble, otherwise known as a V shape or ‘Fun’ sound. Instead the Zoro has a remarkably even handed and linear presentation that has enough meat on the bone to play very well with most modern genres.

 

Against the HD800 and LCD2 it has obvious acoustic limitations. The closed back design creates a dramatically more close up, closed in and crowded stereo image that lacks air, width, and depth of an open back let alone $1k+ flagships. The HD800 and LCD2 can offer a presence and depth of field that energizes the space around your head. The Zoro sounds narrow and crowded by a large margin.

 

I then set up 3 way listening session to parse out sonic deltas between the Zoro, my Porta Pro and Creative Labs Aurvana using the iFi iDSD Micro, ALO Audio National and a couple different Apple devices. All music was 16/44 Rips of CD’s from the Golden Silvers, The Strokes, The Clash, Daft Punk, Lorde, The Ramones, Blur, Amy Winehouse and a few others.  

 

First off in terms of acoustics, the Zoro plays the same song with the Aurvana and Porta-Pro that it did with the HD800 and LCD2. Only difference is that the margin of victory was not nearly as great this time. The Aurvana and Porta Pro both offer more natural and open presentation against the Zoro, the Porta Pro especially, being an open design. However once you move past imaging and acoustics and dig into tone and sonics the Zoro starts gaining ground fast.

 

The Zoro is very natural and balanced…. I was actually taken aback by it a little when I first listened to it. It appears to be fairly linear across the frequency range and it’s only clear sonic deficiency is a somewhat early roll off point in the low bass and similar roll off in the high treble.

 

The Creative Labs Aurvana has too much mid bass. Vocals sound hollow or canned like the singer is singing through a tube and it doesn’t resolve as well as the Zoro. Listening to both side by side there were these distortive artifacts or spots of poor resolution in the Aurvana where music and vocals had grain and grit and crunchy static where the the Zoro presented things cleanly and clearly. And the Aurvana had this gaping chasm in the midrange making vocals muffled and hollow. The Aurvana has always sounded OK on its own but against the Zoro it suddenly sounds bloated, grainy and sloppy.

 

Against the Porta Pro the Zoro lacks the open sense of space that the Porta Pro provides while sonically they are pretty similar… Neither lacks mid range and neither over cooks bass… The Zoro is darker by design and also has less shimmer and illumination because of the roll off point of the treble coupled with the closed design. And the Porta Pro doesn’t not suffer the same low end roll off so gives you that lowest octave bass power that the Zoro lacks. But the Zoro plays it more forward and has a sense of immediacy and presence that the Porta Pro lacks. The Porta Pro also has faint little artifacts that detract from the experience. The Zoro doesn’t break form like this. Everything that it does do, it does well. Also the Zoro feels better on your head. Yes it is heavier but it doesn’t pull your hair, has soft ear pads with a padded headband and doesn’t feel so fragile.

 

The Zoro is not a bass heavy or bass-head can per se. As I said it has an early rolling off point at the lowest octave of bass which is only obvious when compared against other headphones, but this frequency level isn’t where you find bass lines, and drums hammering away at your ear drums. This is more about acoustic feedback, venue resonance, etc… It’s the frequency that explosions happen on in movies, not the frequency that bass drums kick at on a Roland 808 or 909 drum machine. Those are still on tap.   

 

LET ME BE CLEAR! I know that the words “EARLY ROLL OFF OF BASS” is like giving a headphone the kiss of death…. Oh Hell No. I need my bass!

 

You don’t lose bass like Hip Hop or electronic drum beats… There is plenty of that punchy subwoofin goodness on tap. But that deep explosion, jet engine, earthquake bass from movies and video games is beneath the roll off point so even though it is heard, the impact is less dramatic and clearly non-linear when taking into account the fullness of tone above 100hz.  

 

Mind you, this is not a lifeless, anemic, or thin sounding headphone. This is a rounded, nourishing, fulsome headphone that happens to do a lot of things really well. If you wanted to parse details on a DSD track, the Zoro won’t give you that unnatural level of magnification power. But those who want a headphone to play naturally without invoking frequency driven fatigue will find a lot to like here. It gives you a natural mid-range presentation, a good helping of bass and a softer treble. All three of these are good qualities (especially with smartphone use) and are also presented in a forward and engaging way with plenty of body and weight making it a satisfying experience at the price point.

 

It sounds very good for the price and I am using it daily for my workouts and sometimes during my drive home because the closed design coupled with the smartphone mic makes it a good headphone for taking phone calls on the road.

 

That said, I still don’t like the physical design and am uncertain about its durability. I think the copycat aesthetic detracts from the headphones inherent value. If Noontec were to develop their own design from scratch and couple that to their sonic successes, I think I would take it more seriously and Noontec’s reputation would track along the same path as Master and Dynamic. As it stands though, I think there is a LOT of competition in the $100 headphone market and given what I said earlier about the competition in this market… I can’t say the Noontec is a slam dunk. Realistically with $100 bucks in hand you can buy the Sony MDR7506, Grado SR80, AKG K240 or K142, Audio Technica ATHM40 or A700x, VModa Crossfade LP,  Sennheiser Momentum (On Ear), Philips L2, etc… With all those choices would I spend my money on a Zoro? I don’t know.

 

I think it will provide outstanding sound quality for the spend… If that is all you are looking for, then it is up to the challenge. It is a “fashion headphone” with an audiophile soul. But there are other places that people ascribe value to a product. I don’t know that the Zoro ticks all these other boxes.

 

But… Big But! If you are comfortable with or even find the Zoro’s design attractive then have no fear about sound quality, you can proceed with full confidence. 
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Pros: Compact, colorful design, well made, and neutral sound
Cons: On ear design may be uncomfortable, small driver, small soundstage

noontec ZORO II HD:  Portable Neutrality
 
Website:  http://www.noontec.com/html/us/article_read_278.html
 
 
ZOROIIHDBOX.jpg
 
 
 
 
ZOROIIHD.jpg NoontecIIHDBAG.jpg
 

SPECS:
NoontecIIHDSpecs.jpg
 

WHERE TO BUY / COST:
http://www.noontec.com/html/us/article_list_95.html$
 
$90 new
 
TEST TRACKS
1901 by Birdy – Tests high treble, clarity, and overall feel of a headphones fun factor.
 
I Shall Not Be Moved by Damon Fowler – Used to test the punchiness of drums, coherence of the midrange, and vocals.
 
Now We Are Free (From "Gladiator") by The City of Prague Philharmonic – Tests the quickness of a headphone in particular with bells, cymbals, and tambourine.  This track also allows for the examination of how the wooden drums sound be it hollow or otherwise impeded.
 
Pink Noise from Ayer’s Irrational, But Efficacious CD  – Tyll Hertsens taught me to listen to pink noise as a starting point for finding issues with the frequency response.  If one area sounds / feels out of place then the headphone is probably not neutral.  The ZORO does well, but there is some unwanted energy in the treble.
 
OVERVIEW
With the boom in portable headphones noontec released the ZORO II HD as an improvement over their previous model(s).  A headphone needs to be first and foremost comfortable and the ZORO II HD is very especially considering it is an on-ear.  If you are in the market for a neutral-sounding portable for under $100 perhaps the ZORO II HD is for you.
 
AESTHETICS
The ZORO II HD is a sleek-looking headphone consisting of a removable cable, in-line mic, and carrying pouch.  The finish is nice and there are a variety of colors to choose from.  The build quality is fair comprised of plastic, metal inserts on the expansion gimbals, and leatherette material for the earcups.  The cable is flat and the microphone is placed about five inches from one end making it asymmetric.  The headband is padded nicely with a centimeter or so of foam wrapped in leatherette.
After an hour of listening my ears were a bit tired from carrying a padded headphone with discomfort developing on the ridges of my outer ear.  A quick adjustment and the discomfort vanishes.
 
ACOUSTICS
Unamped: I tested the ZORO using an iPod touch 5th Gen as I use it as my primary travel music companion.  There is a noticeable difference between amped and unamped listening where unamped a loss in impact and clarity is heard.  Unamped the ZORO is not engaging with most tracks and unless the music playing is extremely upfront sounding the lack of emotion and depth becomes apparent.  Not to say that the ZORO is bad sounding, just too neutral and stoic.
 
Klaus Zimmer’s Earth sounds wonderful and detailed, but one dimensional.  The lack of punch and air movement in the low end forces the ZORO to sound boring.  Listening to Angele Dubeau & La Pieta’s Conviction reveals a type of veiled sound.  The clarity is there, but the airy sound needed for orchestral music is missing.  It almost becomes a simplified wave of music instead of a beautiful and musical adventure.  At louder than comfortable listening levels the problems subside and the engagement returns.
 
Amped:  Amped the ZORO II HD is quick, clear, and fun.  Immediately it is clear how neutral this headphone is as there is no major flaw or boost to any part of the frequency response.  The clarity is greater on this headphone over the Philips Cityscape Downtown I tested.  In Damon Fowler’s I Shall Not Be Moved this is obvious.  The sound is more direct, clear, and coherent through the ZORO.
 
On tracks like Bombay Bicycle Club’s Always Like This there is a distinct and immediate impact to the drums.  Punchy yes, bloated no!
 
Using Now We Are Free (From "Gladiator") by The City of Prague Philharmonic some of the limits of the ZORO become apparent.  The soundstage is minimal compared to the AKG K712 tested.  The wooden drums also sound diminished as if some of the hollow nature has been removed.  The piece sounds pleasant, but not engaging as it might on an open headphone with a larger driver.
 
CONCLUSION
The styling and amped sound of the noontec ZORO II HD are something to strive for.  Unamped there are some issues at low volumes, but amped or at louder listening levels this headphone is a wonderful experience.  The clarity, neutral frequency response, and detail take it to a much desired higher level of listening.  Amped the ZORO is better controlled, an easy listen, and not fatiguing.  It is a comfortable and light headphone.  Isolation is great for commuter listening, but I would not suggest using the ZORO for plane rides.  It just will not provide enough isolation to protect hearing.  Long term physical abuse may prove to be the downfall of the design as the plastic does feel cheap and delicate.  With a little care I do not see why the ZORO would not last for years.
 
The measurements, objective experience, and build put it a step above headphones like the Philips Cityscape Downtown.  The ZORO II HD is a good headphone, well placed in its price point, and should not be overlooked or avoided.  It is a fun to listen to, clear, and appealing headphone.
Pros: foldable design, comfortable fitment, great sound tuning, removable cable
Cons: loud snap when unfold them, looks a bit like "beats"
Before I start my review, I would like to Thank Noontec for providing me with a review sample in exchange for my honest opinion.
 
Looks could be very deceiving, especially when it comes to headphones.  Sometimes you see a pair that looks like it should be of an audiophile quality with a lot of fancy accessories, just to realize later it has a poor audio performance.  Other times, you come across a pair that looks rather generic, and you have very little expectations until you put these on to realize a hidden gem.  I would definitely file Zoro II HD under the later category.  I never heard of Noontec brand before, but glad they contacted me to ask if I'm interested to review their pair of latest Zoro II HD on-ear headphones.  To be honest, before I agreed to review it, I was a little hesitant after seeing their pictures on Noontec website.  I thought it's going to be another Chinese brand with flashy colorful folding headphones a la "Beats" style using generic drivers.  But once I started to read others impressions about these headphones, it really caught my attention.  And, I'm glad I didn't pass on an opportunity to review Zoro II HD!  Here is what I found.
 
Arrived in a rather nice but generic packaging box, the cover art had a focus on headphone image with a few marketing keywords, such as SCCB (surround closed cavity body), Votrik speaker (assuming their own tuned drivers), and HD (referring to high definition sound).  The top of the box had a flap cover to reveal the headphones underneath of a plastic display window, and some additional info about design details printed inside of that cover.  I know some might find it as not a big deal, but I think it adds a nice "premium" touch to the packaging.  Out of the box, you get a nice view of a folded design which looks very compact.
 
Unboxing.
 
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Along with headphones, the only other two accessories you see are a removable cable and a draw string storage pouch.  A storage pouch is rather nice with a soft stretchy suede/felt type of finish.  I'm glad the material was stretchy to accommodate folded headphones since the pocket itself was a bit tight.  Personally, I'm a fan of hard shell cases, and it would have been nice to see one here considering the price of Zoro II HD, but this draw string pouch should be sufficient for storage while traveling.
 
Also, included was a removable cable.  So glad Noontec used a standard 3.5mm connector going to earcup, makes it compatible with other common replacement cables.  Cable is flat and has a rubbery shielding, making it easy for storage and also helping to reduce microphonics when rubbing against your cloth.  Cable also includes an in-line remote with universal multifunction button for Play/Pause/Call with a single click, and Skip track with double/triple click.  I like how in-line remote with mic was not placed too far down the cable, allowing it to be closer to the mouth.  I had no issues using it for calls, though have to admit I don't have access to public transportation to test "noisy" environment.  Plus, it came really handy using it with FiiO X3ii DAP which supports in-line remote for playback control.
 
Accessories.
 
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The build is very solid, no creaking or squeaking as you twist/bend/expand the plastic headband.  The height adjustment has a nice click action, and you can see a metal reinforcement band inside of the end piece which slides together with earcup.  It also has an aluminum reinforcement edge with an etched Zoro II HD logo, but I wasn't too crazy about the locking mechanism of the hinge and a loud snap sound it makes when you open headphones.  I'm sure it has been tested to meet specific failure rate, but still a loud snap and two pieces of plastic rubbing together was a bit of a concern to me.  But overall build quality looked very good, and from Noontec website they mention about using aluminum and stainless steel reinforcement inside of bendable parts, assuming inside of headband as well.
 
Moving to earcups, they have an oval shape and attached to the ends of headband at the joint with a nice up/down/left/right pivoting movement to accommodate a comfortable fitment.  With on-ear design it's often a hit or a miss when it comes to fitment since you have to find a sweet spot to position headphones for a better sound performance.  Here it was an easy task, and in addition to comfortable soft earpads covered by quality pleather (Noontec refers to these as protein cotton), the headband also had a comfortable enough clamping force to assist in decent passive noise isolation.  Furthermore, inside of headband you see a nice soft padding to support headphones on top of your head.  At about 162g these headphones are lightweight to begin with, and soft earpads and inner headband padding just adds to the comfort.  As expected, earpads will get a bit warm after an extended period of use, but it felt more "breathable" in comparison to my other headphones.  Also, headphones stayed on my head very secure even while I was running around with them on.
 
When it comes to overall design, I still think they try to appeal to "Beats" crowd.  My 10 year old already asked me if she can take these after I'm done reviewing it.  My wife also mentioned a few times how cute they look and how much she likes the color.  My review unit came in Blue (called Sapphire), while Rose Violet, Pitch Black, and Pearl White are also available – all in a very nice piano-glossy non-scratch finish.  Perhaps Noontec should also include a piece of soft cloth as part of accessories to keep fingerprints away!  They definitely don't look like your typical high end audio headphones.  That's how they get you by surprise when you lower your expectations lol!!!
 
Design details.
 
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I keep building up this review with anticipation toward sound analysis, and trust me - it was definitely a pleasant surprise!!!  I found Noontec Zoro II HD to have a very nicely balanced sound signature with a bit of mid-bass boost and some mid-forward flavor.  It was just a perfect formula with a tuning to make sound very appealing for any style of listening.  The bass is there, but it's not exaggerated.  Mids are slightly forward to bring out vocal performance, but it's not too much forward to throw off the balance.  Treble is clear, but not sibilant or fatigue.
 
In more details, bass has a nice tight mid-bass punch with a supporting texture of sub-bass (lower in quantity though).  It's well controlled with no spillage into lower mids.  Bass might not satisfy your taste if you prefer v-shaped signature or want more sub-bass, but it's definitely north of neutral.  Mids are slightly forward, have a nice body, very clean and detailed, without going into "analytical" territory - more on a smooth-detailed side.  I actually found vocal delivery, both male and female, to be very pleasant and quite organic.  Treble is bright and clear, but has a noticeable roll-off to keep the "sparkle" under control, away from harsh sibilance.  Though it doesn't extend too far, it still captures enough details for a perfectly balanced FR.
 
Soundstage has an average width/depth, not too open or too intimate, just a perfect balance typical for closed back on-ear headphones.  It also has above average separation and layering, but nothing outstanding.  Imaging is limited by an average soundstage.  For those craving a more spacious open sound, these might not hit the right spot, but otherwise it was not bad at all.
 
Summary.
 
Overall, Noontec mentions about a lot of tuning that went into these headphones and I truly believe them!  These headphones really don't sound like a generic driver off the shelf thrown into a colorful design.  Zoro II HD is not geared toward bass heavy pounding performance or analytical detailed sound.  They also shy away from a flat neutral performance.  Instead, they were tuned to have a perfectly balanced and very engaging clear sound.  It's just a total package with a comfortable fitment, great foldable design, nice build quality, and excellent sound tuning for non-fatigue extended listening pleasure.  I still feel their design is more appropriate for my kids, rather than for me, but this is purely subjective opinion.  At the same time, if you were even thinking about getting Beats Solo 2, here is your chance to get something at 1/2 the price with sound quality twice as good!
Tom22
Tom22
@twister6  sweet, you got to hear them as well! Yes i found them quite balanced as well, in my review,i would've preferred a bit more of a bass boost (especially considering the flashy, glossy modern design). but that aside for $99 their a fantastic value! 
 
btw twister, you didn't like the solo2s? =0
twister6
twister6
@Tom22 : hey Tom!  For sure, Zoro II HD was a big surprise since I had kind of a low expectations :wink:  They are actually on amazon now for $89.  Regarding Solo2, I only had a brief encounter, but still wasn't as impressed.  Sounds is thicker, bassier, even a bit more veiled.  AGAIN, take my comment with a grain of salt because I'm not sure if the pair of Solo2 I listened to had a proper burn in for a bass to settle in.  Plus, recently my sound preference shifted more toward neutral/balanced signature where I'm not too crazy about exaggerated bass anymore (if you have noticed, I preferred Pistons 3 over Pistons 2 :)).  So, it all comes down to a personal taste.
Pros: Balanced,warm and engaging sound, tight and extended bass, portable, stylish
Cons: A bit plasticky, treble has a bit of veiling
A few years back, a relatively new company Noontec made a splash on the headphone market with the release of the “Noontec Zoro” headphones (now referenced as the Zoro Originals).  The Zoro headphones were an absolute standout, offering a modern design with a balanced audiophile sound signature for under $100. This was unheard of at the time, as the sub $100 headphone market had nowhere near the competition as compared to the recent years. This certainly peaked my interest and lead to my purchase of the Zoro Originals over 3 years ago, which they certainly didn’t disappoint.
Since then Noontec has released a revision in the form of the Noontec Zoro HD, based on the feedback from consumers.  Now Noontec is back with new design, in the form of the Zoro II HD, lets see if it was just an aesthetics lift or if Noontec found a way to improve on an already great sounding budget headphone!
 
Before I begin this review, I want to thank Noontec for sending a pair of this Zoro II HD out for review. Below I have attached a video review on my youtube channel, On A Studentbudget.

 
Features/Accessories: The headphones come with a detachable 3.5mm cable, (so it can easily be replaced with any aftermarket cable, a very practical and thoughtful feature). Also, the headphones are very portable as they fold up into a very compact form factor for easy traveling.
They come with a soft suede, drawstring bag to store the headphones in to prevent scratches and a flat tangle free cable with a 1 button remote and mic (for phone calls and managing music (play, pause, rewind, and fast forward). The cable is also compatible with both android and apple devices.
Overall: 7.5/10
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Design: The Zoro II HD takes on a modern design, that utilize glossy, bright colours (it comes in the metallic blue, white, red, and purple).  The earcups are elongated with a very nice curvature to the design without being overly aggressive in terms of styling. Personally, I think it’s a really good-looking pair of headphone.  The sapphire version, in particular has a very nicely contrasting two-tone colourway between the metallic dark blue exterior with the sky blue inner lining.
Overall: 8.5/10
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Bu6In_5CIAARuGb.jpg *credits noontec for this picture* *all other pictures were taken by me
 
   
 
Build quality: The ZORO II HD is a mostly plastic construction, with metal parts sparingly used as reinforcement at certain joints that would likely be under the most stress, for example the headband adjustment area.  My biggest issue regarding the Zoro II HD are the plastic hinges.  I would have liked a bit more reinforcement here, because as with any headphone that fold up, the hinges (I presume) will loosen over time, so that’s just something to note.
Overall: 7/10
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Comfort & Stability: The Zoro II HD are a pair of very light-weight (160g), comfortable on-ear headphone.  The headband has ample of padding and the earbcups slightly angled forward allowing for some freedom to better conform to the shape of your head. In terms of clamping pressure, it is on the lighter side, however surprisingly it retains good stability on the head even during movement. (see video) Comparing them to my Sennheiser Amperior, the Zoro II HD are much more comfortable with it’s larger, elongated earpads. Which helps distribute the pressure more evenly over a larger surface area on your ear. The earpads on the Zoro II HD are of a medium density breathable protein leather, which helps prevent excessive heat build up on your ears.
Overall: 8.5/10
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Isolation: The ZORO II HD are a vented design, but they do isolate better than Original Zoros that I have on hand, but less than the Sennheiser Amperiors. However, that said I would say its just average for an on ear headphone. Good for walking around town, for situational awareness, but lacking for heavy commuting purposes.
Overall: 7.5/10
 
Sound: With their appearance, you would think they just scream a flashy,  in-your-face sound.
However, thats the not the case here as the Zoro II HD have a fairly balanced sound, that will make for a great budget all rounder. There is tight, punchy, with some bass so it doesn't scare off  pop/electronic lovers but its not overdone for acoustic and classical recordings.
 
I think the Noontec has done a great job tuning the Zoro II HD. They have clearly been listening to their consumer’s feedback based on the previous iterations of the Zoro, in particularly the dropout around 4k on the original Zoros.
 
Bass:  The bass is slightly elevated;  It has tight; quick with a slight midbass lift, to give music some added punch but avoids any bloat. The bass extension is very impressive as well, as it reaches very low effortlessly. It has solid definition in the bass without sounding thick or overbearing. I’m certainly a fan of the bass, as I feel the bass has great appeal because I think it will satisfy everyone except for the most hardcore bassheads.
 
Midrange: The midrange is slightly warm, though it’s not thick nor thin either. It strikes a good medium in between.  It’s just a very competent midrange, vocals come out very clearly and well balanced, providing good body and power to both male and female vocals, without hindering its clarity and detail. 
 
Treble: There is a small boost in the lower treble but to give some “snap” but it retains good control without sound harsh or splashy. My only issue with the treble is that there is slightly “artificial” character. This caused a sort of veiling, which I found took away some of the realism for pianos and stringed instruments. However, this isn’t noticeable when listening to pop or electronic tracks. Lastly, the treble has decent extension, but it is missing a bit of air, causing a more “closed-in” presentation.
 
Soundstage: Its fairly average for a closed on ear headphone.
 
Comparing the Noontec ZORO II HD ($100) to the Sennheiser Amperiors ($349)
You can definitely hear more refinement when comparing them to the Amperiors. The bass is tighter (punches harder as well), with a more refined treble. However, the Zoro II HD has more authority in the subbass than the Amperiors.  The biggest difference I found was particularly in the upper midrange, the Amperiors give female vocals more energy, where It can sometimes get fatiguing, In comparison, the Zoro II HD, are easier on the ears but sounds a bit more muffled in comparison.
 
Comparing the Noontec ZORO II HD ($99) with the Philip Cityscape Downtown ($99)
I prefer the Zoro II HD for a number of reason: superior extension and punch in the bass; more natural midrange; better extension in the treble. However, where the Downtown trumps the ZORO II HD is in terms of its excellent isolation and “soft pillowy” earpads as well (something you don’t hear often with on ear headphones).
Sound Overall: 9/10
 
In short, the Noontec has done a great job in improving every aspect of what made the original Zoro headphones so popular. It’s compact, stylish, comfortable and best of all it has well-rounded sound that performs beyond its affordable asking price (under $100).   Great Job Noontec!
Overall: 48/60=80%
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