It's a Headphones Thing

A Headphones Reviews Blog

REVIEW: digiZoid ZO2.3

Introduction

Prior to the review, I’d like to thank David Fisher of TopDog Headphones for providing me with the review unit.

digiZoid is an audio-products manufacturer, based in Phoenix, Arizona. Their digiZoid ZO2.3 is a product that is very hard to define. It is a combination between a portable amplifier and a bass equalizer, or as they call it, a “Personal Subwoofer”. digiZoid’s patent-pending “Smart-Vektor” technology is integrated in the ZO2.3. Briefly, this technology is the brain behind the ZO’s audio-performance. This product is a special and “one of its kind” in the whole market, so this review won’t include any numerical ratings.

The technical specifications of the digiZoid ZO2.3 aren’t available, so instead of them, here is the ZO2’s stated feature-list (taken from digiZoid’s website):

32 selectable Sound Signature Tuning (SST) profiles to give users the ability to find the perfect synergy between their ears, gear and media

Built-in USB rechargeable lithium polymer battery with playback time up to 17 hours

Line Out mode with 32 selectable volume levels

A memory feature that recalls last settings used

High-impact resistant polycarbonate enclosure with soft-touch coating

Dimensions: 2.75 x 1.5 x 0.38 in (70 x 38 x 9.6 mm)

Weight: 0.94 oz (26.6 g)

Packaging: The ZO2 comes in a very small cardboard packaging. It has the ZO’s picture on its front, while digiZoid’s logo is printed on the other side. It should be noted that it is the same packaging as used for the ZO1, but it includes the ZO2.3 instead.

Accessories: The ZO2.3 is packaged with only two accessories: a 3.5mm to 3.5mm interconnects-cable with I-shaped plug in both of its sides, and a Mini-USB to USB 2.0 charging cable. At the ZO’s price-point, I would’ve at-least expected to get a small protective case too.

Design, Building Quality & User Interface: The ZO utilizes a sturdy plastic housing with a rubberized-finish, which makes holding it very secure in the hand and less scratch prone. Overall, the ZO2 is well built and is surely able to take some abuse. It’s ultra-portable due to its size and its weight; its dimensions are 2.75 x 1.5 x 0.38 inches and its weight is about 26g. Its front has the ZO2 logo, and above it is the LED light-bar, which shows the user which gain-mode and which bass-contour setting the ZO is set to currently. The light-bar works great and the LED’s colors look beautiful. The ZO has a single button only, placed in its right side, which operates all of its functions and turns it on/off. I personally thought at first that it was a bit hard to use, but after a while I finally understood how it works (I’ll advise you to read the user manually prior to using it to fully understand it). In my opinion, the fact that only a single button is used makes the ZO more durable (more buttons= more things that might get damaged). The input and output sockets are both located in ZO’s top, one next to a musical note illustration and the other next to an illustration of a speaker.

the ZO’s back

Battery Performance: The ZO2 has a built-in rechargeable lithium battery. As you can see a few paragraphs back, digiZoid states that the battery can stand up-to 17 hours of playback, while in real-life, I had to recharge the ZO about after 12 hours of use. Of course the battery performance depends on your bass & volume settings, so some other users might be able to achieve a longer battery-life. When the battery is close to get empty, the light-scale bar starts to flash. It takes about 1-2 hours to fully charge a completely drained battery.

Sound, Hiss & Gain:

Hiss

The ZO2 has a quite low hiss level, even with very sensitive IEMs such as the DBA-02 MKII and the EXS X20. The ZO2 is slightly hissier than the FiiO E6 and the GoVibe MiniBox, but its hiss level isn’t too bothering. There’s no electromagnetic interference at-all, so the ZO can be used with a cell-phone without any problems.

Gain

The ZO2 has two kinds of gain modes: a low gain mode and a high gain mode. When using the low gain mode, the volume can be controlled through the ZO itself, which is ideal to use when connecting the ZO to your device through an LOD (Line-Out-Dock) adapter. When using the high gain mode, the volume can only be controlled through your device. Both modes have a quite good power (a bit more than the FiiO E6 and the GoVibe MiniBox), though the low gain mode is obviously stronger and more powerful. In my opinion, the low gain mode’s lowest volume is too strong, and I don’t find this mode ideal for people who prefer to listen to their music in lower-volumes.

the high gain mode is resembled by a pink light-bar

Sound

When using the ZO with the bass contour set to 0 (that way it functions only as an amplifier), there’s a bit of added warmness, thickness and a “fuller” felling to the sound. Another thing that I noticed was a slight reduction in the sound’s cleanness and clarity, when using the ZO it became a bit muddier and less crisp.

there are 32 bass contour profiles 

EQ: Obviously, this is the most unique thing about the ZO; no other portable amplifier can do what the ZOs “Smart-Vektor” technology does in regards to equalizing. There are 32 selectable bass profiles, each represented by a different color. The minimum bass setting is the green one, while yellow resembles the 16th setting and red resembles the maximum setting, the 32nd one. Usually, when using a bass-boosting setting on portable-amps, the sound becomes very muddy and the bass doesn’t really sound good; that exactly the point w here digiZoid’s product shows its abilities; Even when set to the highest bass contour setting, the clarity of the first setting is still kept, only the bass quantity, impact and strength differ. Using the ZO would be the best solution for people who feel that their IEMs or headphones are too light on the bass; For example, I tried it with the neutral and analytic Etymotic HF5, which is known for its clarity and detailing, but not for its bass (which is very neutral, thin, shy and light), and the result was great. The sound that I got was slightly warmer, fuller and it had a bass quantity that I enjoyed. The ZO’s bass-boosting is definitely a feature that bass-heads would adorn, as it sounds quite good with bassy headphones too.

 

each bass-contour setting is resembled by a different color of the light-bar

Final Conclusions

The digiZoid ZO2 is a brilliant device, and I’ll recommend it to anyone that’s looking to add some extra bass and fun to his/her headphones’ or IEM’s sound. It’s also well built, very portable and is a quite nice amplifier too. Its price isn’t too cheap, around $120, but it justifies itself if some nice bass is what you are looking for.

Where to Buy? The digiZoid ZO2.3’s MSRP is $120. It can be purchased from digiZoid’s website & from TopDog Headphones, which would probably be a more convenient way to purchase it for the European customers.

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