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Zolo Liberty+ - Totally Wireless Earphones (Kickstarter)

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  1. fearlessleader
    I've searched and searched and couldn't find a place to discuss the Zolo Liberty+'s. They've started being received, so folks must have some comments and links to reviews.

    I'll post some of my thoughts shortly.
     
  2. tyesquire
    Yeah, I’m still patiently waiting for reviews
     
  3. MIBUK
    Just go to their KS page and read people's reactions. Doesn't look that positive at the moment, judging by what I've read.
     
  4. fearlessleader
    They’re nice. But...

    The packaging only looks good from a distance. (1) the printing seems to be about 6pt type, I needed my phone’s camera to zoom in just to read it. (2) Very basic minimal instructions: you’ll need to click on help in the app to find out how to do almost anything. (3) The plastic sheet covering the tips/etc. is the wrong choice since it’s not intended to be re-used, as if you’re going to get the right tips without trying them for hours and changing them.


    Overall: Quite ok. But several $25-30 wired IEMs sound a LOT better. The sound has almost no bass, and I am definitely NOT a bass head. But much more on the sound later. I’d think the retail price point of these should be $75 max.


    Seal / isolation: about the best they’ll do is block out a tv in the same room. Can’t listen to anything with them in a restaurant: not even close to enough isolation.


    Functionalities: every other BT I have has more! The refurbed Bragi I got at $99 have lots more functionality and same or better sound. But that price isn’t really a good comparison. Oh, there’s no way I’ve found to take them out or put them on or put them back into the case without pressing buttons (even on the side it’s a button).


    More later or elsewhere.
     
  5. puffmtd
    You might try some aftermarket tips. I couldn't get a decent seal with the supplied tips and ended up with the same sound characteristics you described....put some spinfit tips on and it improved the sound and isolation a great deal.
    The bass on some of the jazz tracks with the spinfits is almost too much but not quite.
    The problem with aftermarket tips is the buds won't fit in the case with them attached but they are simple to take off and put on.
     
  6. sgtbilko
    I picked up a pair of the standard Liberty's whilst waiting for my +'s.

    Having read the limited number of reviews and opinions about them on the web, it was clear that views were extremely divided. I'm glad I persisted, as I can personally confirm that if you can get a good fit and seal, these iem's rock. I did manage to get a good seal with the medium tips and flanges combined - unusual for me, as I tend to need the larger tips elsewhere.

    I've been using the RHA MA750 wireless for the past 2 months (which are also a stellar set) and I can say without hesitation that the Liberty's give them a good run for their money.

    Bass: well I was pretty surprised how strong it actually is - reviews had me expecting it to be subdued, but it's certainly there and not at all recessed.
    Mids: If the liberty's are a little light with anything it's here. precise and clear, but not as present as the bass or treble.
    Treble: Ok, this is where there is a strong presence. Again, it's not a detractor, but you are always aware of it. For the most part it is very clear - showing up poor quality rips with dexterity - and fast.

    Soundstage: generally contained. Having been used to some very open and wide iems, the Liberty's won't win any prizes in this department.
    Isolation: pretty good really. Better than the RHA 750's, and certainly better than most half decents in ears. They're no ER4's, but with music playing, I can assure you, you wouldn't hear the bus before it gets you. Kinda makes me wonder how loud that telly is from the comments above!

    Other general observations:
    Battery/carry case: well made, a little on the large side, but not so big to be a pain. I love how the power lights come on when you move it around. The magnets that hold the earphones and lid a sure, but neither too strong nor weak.
    Controls: If there is one time it's dead handy to have a watch to control your music, it's here. whilst the push start/stop and hold to FF/RW works fine, it does get a tad annoying. But the good old iWatch solves this problem nicely. as for volume control, the watch is an absolute necessity as well.
    Single channel calls: whilst i've yet to actually use this, I've never been one to take calls with both ears - preferring ambience on my left side. Not a deal breaker for me.
    Volume: sensible listening for me was at about 50%. Above that things began to get too loud. As an owner of both ER4's and Flare Audios R4's, I'm no stranger to 11 on the dial. Plenty loud for me.

    Overall, I'm pretty impressed. They're very musical to my ears, with, I believe v-shaped sound. Given that I'm using the standard liberty's, I can't wait to test out the bigger 6mm driver and that BT 5.0 connectivity (and perhaps the app). Also, for £60 GBP (on an amazon special) these are a bargain. IMHO, they're a good buy for £100 too.

    Any questions, let me know
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  7. webreaper
    Thanks for the indepth info. Couple of questions:

    1. There's a ton of reports on the Amazon reviews of terrible lag, which is fine for music but makes them unusable for video. Can you confirm?

    2. How are they from a connection stability perspective? Again, people on Amazon mention regular dropouts. Obviously the BT5 on the Pluses may improve this though.
     
  8. sgtbilko
    1. Having looked at Youtube today, there is a noticeable lag. I can see this being a problem if you want to watch a lot of video.

    2. On pairing out of the case, the left side has a couple of drops before it fixes itself. This is for no more than a few seconds, then all is well. It's pretty good for BT 4.2. I carry my phone in my right pocket and have had no issues at all. Distance wise, the range indoors (incl walls) is around 10m (so, as expected). The left tends to lose connectivity first, but it's marginally faster.
     
  9. jude Administrator
    @fearlessleader, you can download instructions for the Liberty+ by clicking here. (If you have the standard Liberty, you can download the instructions by clicking here.)

    I just lifted the plastic sheet from the eartips side of the tray, and the adhesive is reusable. I've lifted and re-sealed that sheet several times now. (I haven't tried lifting the other side yet, so I don't know if the adhesive is the same on that side. I just happened to lift the eartips side first and it worked, so the other side is my "hinge.")

    I'm guessing you may not have a proper seal, and I've found these can be fit-finicky. Following the instructions in the app, I twisted the earphones back (counter-clockwise in the right ear, and clockwise in the left ear). When I was talking to @joe and @AxelCloris about my very first impressions, I (like you) described them as bass-light, and also sharp sounding. However, if you look at the instructions in the link above you'll see there that they recommend to twist it either back or forward. I tried a forward twist with a light push in, and, voila, that was the solution for me -- bass! Treble was no longer sharp. Tonal balance was no longer lean. If anything (depending on the EQ setting you choose -- more on that shortly) I think some here might be more apt to find the ZOLO Liberty+ a touch bass-heavy.

    If you get the fit right, you'll know, because the bass comes in. I've found you can also lose bass if you push too far and over-pressurize your canal. You'll know if you've done this if you feel pressure in your canals, and the sound is bass lighter and the sound is muffled. (If you lose seal, you'll likely experience bass loss and a sharper top-end.) Whether you lack seal or over-insert them, just do a quick re-seat as needed to get a proper seal. After a few times, I had it figured out, and proper fit just takes moments now. This may take experimenting with the included eartips and jackets, by the way. I use the medium eartips (that came installed), and I changed the jackets to to the ones with the largest helix locks.

    Now, for me to get good sound also required using the ZOLO Life app, and this app is easily my biggest gripe with the ZOLO Liberty+, because though the ZOLO Liberty+ has no problems pairing/connecting to my iPhone and playing, the app doesn't "see" the Liberty+ most of the time. And as far as I can tell, you have to connect to ZOLO Life to access the EQ presets. Those presets are called Pop, Jazz, EDM, Classical, and Balanced. On both of our ZOLO LIberty+ units, the EQ was set to Pop, and none of the three of us at the office liked the Pop setting. Two of us (including me) liked Balanced, and one preferred Classical. If you get your ZOLO Liberty+ and aren't that impressed with its sound, get into the app, play with the EQ settings -- I suggest you start with Balanced. (I also think ZOLO should probably ship the Liberty+ set to Balanced, but that's just one man's opinion.)

    Also, the ZOLO Life app doesn't seem to show the correct battery life for either of our Liberty+ units. After a full charge, our iPhone battery indicator for the earphones shows at 100%, but the app always shows something lower (87% today). I have yet to see the app show a 100% charge after even an overnight charge. Right now, my iPhone is showing the Liberty+'s charge at 90%, and the app is showing it at 76%. Finally, whenever I try to read the FAQ in the app, the app crashes. The ZOLO Life app is in need of an update.

    On the positive side, as with the Parrot Zik headphones, your settings applied in the ZOLO Life app appear to stay set in the Liberty+ even when you pair to a different device -- that is, once set, it seems your settings travel with the Liberty+ from device to device (until changed again in the app). I really like this.

    Again, try to get a good fit -- and play with the EQ presets -- and reassess it then. I think you'll be a lot more impressed than you've been so far.

    I think it's one of the better sounding fully wireless earphones I've used, and I want to do more direct comparisons with the Sony WF-1000X, which I've also been using and enjoying a lot.

    This is another indicator that you may not have a seal. I find the Liberty+'s level of passive isolation about par for the course (similar to the passive isolation of the WF-1000X), which I'd describe as good.

    I agree it's not the most full-featured such product out there, but it does most of what I need from this type of earphone and, most importantly (for me), it sounds good for the category.

    I do like the ZOLO Liberty+'s "Transparency' function (ambient feed from the mics). At first I was worried it was too aggressive, too loud -- then I sneezed and it muted the sneeze! Clapping my hands in front of each ear with Transparency on shows that the instant-attenuation circuit works left-right independently -- i.e., clap in front of my right ear, and only the right ear mutes. The Liberty+ will also mute if you talk very loudly, though the attenuation is handled less gracefully (more abruptly) with talking than with more transient sounds (like a clap, a sneeze, or something falling loudly to the ground).

    Again, it's pretty aggressive, and I don't know how to turn it down. I was wearing them in a shopping center the other day, and with the Transparency function turned on (and no music playing) I could hear distant conversations perhaps a bit more clearly than I was expecting to.

    Overall, though, Transparency is a very cool function, and the auto-attenuation makes the Liberty+'s more aggressive ambient feed more useful and user-friendly.

    @fearlessleader, I hope you're able to get a better fit and better sound, and am looking forward to seeing how your experience progresses with the Liberty+.

    While there is always some latency with Bluetooth headphones and video, the ZOLO Liberty+ is, in my opinion, actually very good with respect to lag (or the relative lack of it). To demonstrate, I paired the Liberty+ with my iPad and played a Netflix video. I video-recorded the iPad playback with my iPhone, holding one of the Liberty+ earpieces to the iPhone's microphone. Here's the result:


    Latency-free? No. But for me it's perfectly acceptable for the category, and the latency is shorter than I'm experiencing with the Sony WF-1000X and many other Bluetooth headphones. I understand the accounts you're referring to are regarding use with the Liberty (not the Liberty+), so this may explain the difference between their experiences and mine. We don't have the standard Liberty model here at this time.

    As for dropouts, I will get the occasional dropout, but nothing that is out of the ordinary in this category (in terms of frequency, and recovery time) -- it happens rarely, and so far the episodes have been very brief, quickly returning to normal operation.

    I'll say more about the Liberty+'s sound in the Buying Guide entry I write for it, especially vis-à-vis the Sony WF-1000X, which is the fully wireless I've been spending the most time with. So far I really like the ZOLO Liberty+.

    Note to readers: I haven't tried the Liberty+ with Android yet, only iOS devices. I will try it with Android later.

    Note to ZOLO: Please update and fix the ZOLO Life mobile app on iOS!
     
  10. Baines93
    Wow Jude, thanks for the very informative post. I'm in the UK. Looking at the tracking mine should arrive in a couple of days, eagerly anticipating them!

    Have been away from Head-Fi for a few years but googled to see what the opinion of the Zolos were here.

    I backed CrazyBaby Air before and I'm very very glad I got a refund before they shipped and backed the Zolo instead.
     
  11. sgtbilko
    Just received my Liberty+'s today.

    Interestingly, whilst they sound very good (I'll give more feedback on this once I've had more time to listen and compare them to the Liberty's) they're form factor is slightly deeper than the Liberty's, but not as wide. From my initial inspection it appears in depth mainly - I assume this is to accommodate the bigger driver, BT 5.0 and ambient sound features. Using both the larger lugs and tips together, they feel looser (or are more comfy), but don't appear to sacrifice either bass or general sound isolation. And they don't fall out :ksc75smile:

    Early days as I say, but they sound good on first play.

    The Zolo app is a little limited.
    • EQ: Having tried the features available, I ended up selecting balanced within the equalizer - would have preferred a controllable graphic interface.
    • Transparency is ok and amplifies the outside world with a light underlying white noise, but does what it's supposed to do. I'm not sure I will find too many instances where I'd want to use it though.
    • Voice assistant is a little redundant - I'm on an iPhone - and does exactly the same as the liberty does without the app
    • Anti-loss is a toggleable option to tell you if signal gets weak. Again, nice in theory, but a real drop out will do that too... I shall leave it on for now to see if it adds any value
    More later
     
  12. tdel
    Liberty+

    My initial impression wasn't great, but I think I just didn't quite have the fit quite right. I've also tweaked Viper4Android a bit and I'm actually quite happy with them now.

    The case is still very slippery and the batter life isn't what I expected/hoped for. But the sound and comfort are the most important things and I've come to like them very much.

    I've hopeful that they will be better with AAC support (something that should be in Android 8). My previous pair (ADV Sound Model 3) supported aptX and the Liberty+ don't.

    I'm thinking of uninstalling the app altogether, I think it might be a better experience. The transparency mode sounded good, but I if there is ambient sound to be heard it totally drowns out anything playing. The volume mix isn't right.

    Despite those items, they're very good.
     
  13. jayp266
    I cant disagree with most that has been written here and I haven't tested extensively but some first impressions for what it's worth!....

    Bass is solid but not overpowering. Rest of the sound range is present and correct IMO - overall a pleasant audio experience. Seems like a typical V signature for a lot of popular audio products so should please the masses, particularly active folk who need a bit more bass to their music.

    The connection is also solid but not as good as my Soundpeats Q29 costing less than half the price. With the Soundpeats Q29 I could go downstairs leaving phone upstairs and they wouldn't cut out. Not so with these.

    Having the master on the right earpiece is also not a good move. Soundpeats Q29 manage to switch seamlessly between mono and stereo and you can use either earpiece for mono audio and calls! For a premium product they should have got that right. Being able to switch between earpieces using in mono mode is very useful for audiobooks but may not concern audio purists here :)

    The rubber jackets are so large and slippery than I couldn't use any of them as they just slide right out, so I just use them without the jackets.

    Transparency mode is disappointing. It is far too amplified, too much "static" and unnatural sounding that I found it unusable. Implementation by Plantronics Backbeat Pro and Sony MDR1000X works a lot better but they are full size cans so must be harder to incorporate into these tiny units.

    Anyway, in summary I am enjoying using these but thinking I might just go back to my Soundpeats. The Zolo may have the edge in sound quality (possibly the best for "truly wireless" i have tried) but Soundpeats wins for versatility. If I wanted full on audio quality I would choose one of the numerous pairs of over-ears I have hidden away in my bedside drawer. These were designed for out and about, sports activities and convenient listening so I think having the master on the right earpiece is limiting. For example, for calls and casual listening to the ipad when the sport is on and where I need to keep one ear out for the kids!

    I may come back later to share more of my audio experience once I have done some AB testing and tested for lag. :)
     
  14. sgtbilko
    Update:

    Ok, so I've been using these for a couple of weeks now and have a better impression of them. Here's what I can add to my earlier comments:

    Connectivity:
    Generally excellent. However, every once in a while (about 4 times in the past 3 weeks) I experience a slight phasing effect between the 2 earpieces which lasts about a second and then they go back to normal. Not sure what causes this, my guess is that they do something related to the two earpieces syncing. Neither disconnect and neither get stuck. I won't say it's annoying - as it isn't - but all the same, it happens.

    Another thing, though it might be down to user error is that when I sometimes put them in, the left unit does not always automatically start and I have to press it to commence. Again, no big deal for me.

    Sound:
    Overall, I do like the sound. There is plenty of bass and I stick with my original impressions of good overall musicality.

    Convenience:
    The battery case is a real winner! Though not unique, the fact that they are fully charged when you take them out of the case is a major boon. The L+ 48 hour charge is something I can say has yet to run out. I've charged the case 3 times only and I listen to 2-3 hours every day. If you've got the 24 hour case (I have this too) I'm certain this will be equally awesome.

    On the negative side, getting the earpieces out of the case is a little fiddly. Being smooth-faced, it's not that easy to get a good grip of them, so I end up doing a kind of push, tilt and lift movement to get the first one out. The second is easier as there is more room to get your fingers in. Not a deal breaker for me. The flip side I guess is that they are secure in the case.

    Size (case):
    Having read that some found the L+ case a bit on the big side, I carry mine in the same pocket as my wallet and have never experienced any discomfort in bulge or general bulk. Long term, the aluminum case may get some makings from coins or keys, but it's just a case. So far however, it's proven 100% scratch proof for me.

    Fit:
    As stated earlier, it is very important that you play around with the option to get the right fit for these. I have not experienced any discomfort wearing these for 2+ hours at a time. Certainly would say they are as comfortable as any IEM's I've owned to date.

    They do stick out a little more than regular IEM's, but I don't think they suffer any more than other similar wire free models. They also never feel heavy or bulky in the ear.

    Isolation:
    I have not bothered to try out other tips to date, simply because the seal I get from my combo is good and keeps most outside noise out. I would guess that they keep out about 70% of outside noise without playing music. With music playing at a moderate level, I rarely hear ambient noise, unless it is exceptionally prominent. Even then, I have yet to feel it drowned out my music. Another winner for my purposes.

    I hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
  15. Ynot1
    I read Apple air pods are better, and I have a feeling it is because of the antenna. I think a slator mod that was done to the kz bluetooth cable would improve performance. Bluetooth frequency dividing the speed of light time a quarter gives you in theory quarter wave antenna. Granted bluetooth frequency is a band so using the lowest frequency should do the trick. And I believe the quarter is necessary because a sinusoidal signal needs at least a quarter of the waveform to reconstruct the entire waveform of the signal. I suspect bluetooth uses raised cosine waveform. But this is what happens when you only have enough knowledge to not be useful. But slator mod is useful if it can be achieved.
     
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