ZO2 Impression Thread
Nov 6, 2011 at 6:53 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1,126


500+ Head-Fier
Mar 9, 2011
Hey, we had to do it, didn't we?
I'll update the OP with Impressions as they come.
Update (10/21/11 - pre-orders start today):

The ZO.2 has landed!

Feature Highlights
Digital Volume Control
You asked, we listened. ZO2 comes fully-equipped with a balanced digital volume control, featuring 32 selectable levels. This addition gives you the ability to use ZO safely with a Line-Out Dock.
Dual Amp Configuration
ZO employs a 2-stage amplification system to minimize noise, control EMI/RFI, and deliver high output power. Therefore, using ZO with another amplifier is unnecessary, as it will drive high impedance headphones without breaking a sweat.
Sound Customization
  1. Digital volume control with 32 selectable levels New
  2. LightScale with 32 distinct color changes for each sound contour profile
  3. Sound contour profiles tuned for equally spaced intensity changes New
  4. Single-switch operation for both contour profile and volume adjustment
  5. Memory feature automatically recalls last settings
Power & Battery
  1. Low power microcontroller for high-efficiency system management New
  2. Standby mode disengages ZO and connects directly to the audio source
  3. Smooth, noiseless transisition into standby (bypass) mode New
  4. Switches into standby mode for uninterrupted listening when battery gets low New
  5. Low battery LED indicator New
  6. USB-rechargeable Li-Polymer battery with rapid recharge time of 1 hour
  7. Playback time exceeding 12 hours
  1. Dimensions: 2.75 x 1.5 x 0.38 in.
  2. Weight: 0.94 oz.
  3. Designed and manufactured in the U.S.


Update (10/18/11 - digiZoid's Facebook page):
I'm in the process of putting together the ZO pre-order webpage, and it should be ready to launch within the next day or two! Then beginning next week, we'll be starting production! :wink:




Update (10/8/11) by MizMoxie (Head-Fi sponsor from digiZoid):
Official Update on the Status of ZO.2
First things first. I know we promised a September launch for ZO.2, and obviously, we did not meet that deadline. Perhaps our target was a bit ambitious, but we are working feverishly to get ZO.2 into your hands as soon as humanly possible.
In addition to making some last-minute product design enhancements, we have also formed a very exclusive supply chain and manufacturing partnership with a multi-billion dollar Fortune 200 company. Through this partnership, we now have open access to the "latest and greatest" components, as well as connections to top-tier manufacturing resources. 
And here's the best news... We are excited to announce that the manufacturer has officially scheduled us for a build date of Oct. 24th. So, unless something crazy happens, we should be shipping ZO.2 the last week of October! We thank all you for hanging in there with us, and we promise to have ZO 2 in your hands soon.
Btw... we will be making a more detailed announcement on ZO.2, with info on pre-order availability, etc. on the sponsored threads within the next couple days.


Update (9/20/11 - digiZoid's Facebook page):
Phil (SoulSyde):
"What will the texture of the external case be like with the new design? Some people like to use rubber bands to connect the ZO to their device, but with touchscreen devices (iPhone/Touch/Etc.) Velcro works better. I heard a rumor that the new case would be rubberized."
"The ZO.2 will have a matte "soft-touch" coating that will make it feel smooth, but not rubberized. I stuck on some velcro to a sample we have, and it seems as though it will work just fine."

Update (9/15/11 - digiZoid's Facebook page):
digiZoid added a schematic for the new ZO.2 logic board.

My ZO2 just arrived.  I've only been listening to it for the past 30 minutes and I can say that I am very pleased.
I'll tease you with photos for now.  I will be tied up for a while this afternoon, but I promise to get back to everyone with some impressions.
Shown in bass-adjustment mode (red-ish glow):

Shown in volume adjustment mode (blue LED):

Notice I am using a 75 Ohm impedance adapter.  The only negative so far is that there is a fair amount of hiss.  Noticeable with my Phiaton PS 210 and especially my Shure SE535 (which I expected anyway since they are so sensitive).
Quick impressions using an iPhone 4 with ZO and ZO2.
When switching back and forth from ZO and ZO2 at lowest setting, I cannot really hear any difference in sound.  With the ZO, when I click the vector switch a notch or two, there's a nice bump in bass.  When using the ZO2, just a single click on the vector switch and the bass distorts.  Neither the ZO or the ZO2 is a good match for the HE-300.  Moving on to the next headphone.
I've been listening to the Pro-900 and ZO for a couple of weeks and they pair nicely at the lowest setting.  When switching back and forth, I can tell the ZO2 just has more of an oomph.  The bass seems a tad bit tighter, but I had to keep switching back and forth to really notice.  
The ZO and EX1000 were meant for each other.  I've been loving this combination for months.  Now to test the two.  With an iem, I notice with the ZO2 there's more of an hiss than the original, but no static interference yet.  During the testing, I would occasionally hear the ZO interfere but never with the ZO2.  With the EX1000, I can notice the difference a bit more than the headphones. Everything is a little bigger, bass is tighter, more punchy, the soundstage opens up slightly more.  I get the sense that ZO2 has more power than the original.  
I really like the new coating they use and the LED is much brighter then the original.  For owning both the ZO and ZO2, I cannot justify having both since the difference in sound really isn't a big jump.  Now when I try it out with the ipod and lod, then I'm sure the ZO2 will be more to my liking.  
A quick impression with ZO2 + EX1000 + iPod + Lod.
The sound is cleaner than line out.  The hiss is still there but less.  Can't notice it when music is playing.  I'm really enjoying with the Lod.  I have the volume down to the lowest level and it's still quite loud so I'm thinking this is a flaw.  Just one click of the volume and it's almost too loud.  I tested the vector switch and I'm favoring it the most with one or two clicks.  At this level, it sounds fantastic.  I turn the vector switch all the way up and the bass is too thick.  Another flaw I've noticed is that when powering the ZO2 off, there's a two or three second delay and it doesn't pop like the original ZO but it distorts and the music goes back to normal.  When powering it back on, same thing happens, but the music not only distorts, but fades away and goes back to the set volume.  I thought this was fixed but doesn't seem so.  The pop went away but this distortion isn't a fix in my opinion.  What counts is the sound though and I'm impressed.  The EX1000 and the LOD, brings the whole sound up a notch and that's a nice improvement from the original. 
OK, my two ZO2 showed up today. It took me 7 hours to get alone with them and take a listen. I first really like the toggle switch that controls both volume and contour. It works real well. I am using two of them because I have a hearing imbalance of 21% between my ears. I know because of my digital readout on my computer. One eardrum is a transplant from a surfing accident 30 years ago. So I am using one ZO2 for the right ear and one for the left. I am probably the only person with portable mono block but I have been doing this for many years. My collection of dual amps is impressive. About 1 hour ago I grabbed  one of my iMods loaded with WAV from heavily modified Cd's, 650s heavily modded with all ALO cyco matched cables from source to cans. I have to say I way very impressed. I had Corky Siegles Chamber blues on and it was on par with any of my grip. That includes iQube, 71A, Xin SM4 maxed, TTVJ tube and SS. They run with the pack for a unbelievable $200. I then grabbed my LCD2 and they drove those with no problem, but could not push them to their limits. However they did drive them with enough authority to make me want to play with the contour and volume. This is alot of fun. Then I pulled out the HE6 and sound became much softer but very pretty. Even at full volume they are not powerful enough for the HE6. So what, I am just so impressed with how they play 650s and LCD2s. I just went back to the LCD2 from HE6 and was able to drop the volume about 40% off max. Very impressive. I still have not tried IEM but I know they will drive any IEM with eaze.
    I just put on Dave Matthews Best of whats around and I had to adjust the volume and contour to tweak out the sound. Splendid. At this point all I am saying is this the ZO fans do not have any disappointments to fear with the ZO2. It appears that the other amp makers have a bit of a dilemma. Adopt the ZO technology to make their amps to compete with the ZO or just buy a aftermarket ZO and apply it to whatever  amp of your choice. I will be comparing the ZO2 to my other grip, solo and as a add on. This will be a lot of fun. I do not believe that the ZO alone will not out perform all features of amps 5X more expensive, but with the exquisite contour ability there is a place the sound goes to, that a amp that isn't ZO-a-fied cannot approach. Well there is a first impression and now after 3 hours of listening I believe I am hearing a small amount of break in roughness. Just a little rippling. I bet these burn in real quick. Like 20 to 30 hours.  Like I said before, the ZO only changes one thing, everything. Enjoy.
Mine came in yesterday, I fully charged it and fired it up today.  iPod Classic with Soloz Audio Silver LOD to the Zo, with the Zo providing all of the gain. I got it specifically to use with my ER4s's.  It definitely does add adjustable LF extension, but at the cost of a great deal of the ER4's transparency which is where all the magic is.  OK for casual listening, but nothing more.  I much prefer going with a better, albeit larger, amp (i.e. SR 71-A) and forgoing the boosted and bloated bass.   
I got the package today and been listening now for about an hour or so. No hiss here but I'm not using IEMs so that's to be expected.
I'm still in the process trying to validate whether I'm liking ZO1's or ZO2's signature better. There's a little difference in sound. I may think that ZO1 even sounds a bit more transparent at the lowest 3 or so levels. ZO2 packs perhaps a bit more punch but it sounds almost even more colored than ZO1 though.
EDIT: What I do notice is that the ZO2 sounds better if ZO2's volume levels is put a bit higher say at lvl 20~25 or so perhaps and turning down on the source instead and it starts sounding more transparent, more like ZO1. The coating feels really nice and LEDs are very bright. I still need to do more listening to know for sure.
EDIT2: Now I'm starting to realize the ZO1's non-linear contour level adjustments worked very well like they were, I had thought it would be perfect with just one more level in-between the very lowest level which resulted in a bit less bass than not using ZO1 and the first boosted level which provided quite a significant boost. Ideally ZO1's contour levels with one more lvl added in-between the lowest and and first boosted lvl would be perfect. With ZO2 you get roughly the same bass quantity with the very lowest lvl as not using ZO2 and at first level it brings less of a boost than ZO1 does at first level which I had thought would be optimal but I dunno, there's something about the ZO1's contour lvl adjustment I can't put the finger on.
EDIT3: So far it sounds like ZO2's bass is a bit less tight than on ZO1, I really loved the bass response of ZO1 cuz of that. And unfortunately I do have to say ZO1 do seem to sound a little more transparent in my ears so in my ears ZO1 might even be a bit better sounding. :s
[size=10pt]11/9 @ 12:30: Quite a loud hiss with W4s imo, really disappointing.[/size]
[size=10pt]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. [size=10pt]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. [/size]Too bad though, I had high hopes but as of now it looks like the ZO2 might be returned...we'll see.[/size]
[size=10pt]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. [/size]
[size=10pt]11/9 @ 9:00[/size][size=10pt]: 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. [/size]
[size=10pt]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.[/size]
[size=10pt]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.[/size]
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.
Nov 6, 2011 at 8:31 PM Post #9 of 1,126


100+ Head-Fier
Jun 5, 2011

loljk. Anyways, I can't wait to read some while I'm waiting for mine to get shipped. I look forward to good news.

Nov 6, 2011 at 10:22 PM Post #15 of 1,126


aka Theta Alpha 1
aka Alpha Zeta 5
aka Alpha Zeta 6
aka Nanocat Systems
And many other aliases
Jun 7, 2010
cyb said:
erpolice /img/forum/go_quote.gif

Guys, the point of this thread is that it would be predominately impressions - adding post after post of total crap isn't helping.
Please remain silent for 2 weeks. When you receive your Zo, you can start talking about it, until then please note this thread shall remain completely empty and silent, bar none except ad hoc cyber consultation on how to remain silent.


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