Fit & Features
These are Supra-aural headphones which means the earpads sit on your ear. I’ve owned and listened to many headphones of this type before and have always preferred Circumaural which sit around the ears for the best blend of sound isolation and comfort. To get comfort out of Supra-aural headphones the earpads have to be the right material on the surface and the right level of sponge on the inside.
Noontec say the Zoro uses protein based earpad covers which help combat any allergies that wearers might have, useful information to know for sure and I found them to be comfortable enough to listen for a good couple of hours although I will say that they’re still no match for Circumaural for comfort.
The cable does not have any buttons or in-line volume control on it so what Noontec have done is put those controls on each earcup directly, these are play/pause, skip forward/backward and volume up and down. The only other button is the power button which also, once held down, initiates the bluetooth pairing function.
If you are pairing this with an Android smartphone or mediaplayer then it is worth mentioning that how the media buttons work may depend on the media player app you are using. I use PowerAMP which has button settings in its options that you can configure and I found them to work well in this configuration.
There is a mini USB port on the bottom where you can charge the internal battery from any USB power source, laptops included. You can use the headphones while it is charging.
This was the most surprising of all. The Zoro actually sounds very very good and I made a point of quoting “Fashion” in the opening of this review because you don’t often expect something to be of high quality in performance when referred to as fashion in the personal gadget context.
I found that bass went down low and at maximum volume on the phone there was no distortion at all. As mentioned earlier, I use PowerAMP for music playback and have the bass and treble tone controls tuned to my liking. high frequency details were present without overpowering the lows or mids. I played various genres of music just to make sure they were not favouring certain styles only. From acoustic to blues, electronic and hip-hop, the results were consistent.
Stereo imaging was good, not as good as my Sennheiser HD595 which I was switching back and forth with but I certainly would not expect them to be either. For headphones costing £40 they certainly do deliver a lot of bang for buck here.
For all phone tests I used bluetooth. A lot has changed over recent years in this area of technology. Bluetooth once used to be poor at faithfully streaming music but these days it is very hard to tell the difference between a wired connection and bluetooth. The only tell with the Zoro is that for a couple of seconds after stopping playback you can hear an electronic whistle, it’s very faint and only those with sharp ears might notice but it is there.
The one thing that I did find a bit lacking was the stereo imaging, or soundstage. While all the details are present in music, stereo imaging felt too centred and not wide enough to feel live. For long periods of music listening this could cause problems for some people where fatigue sets in, a bit like nausea or sea sickness. I’ve had that before with a pair of Grado SR60i headphones but everyone’s ears are different so it’s worth trying to see what works for you.
These are closed back headphones so for those looking for that open-air feel to sound, I would advise looking at other brands! These are good for closed back but not a patch on open-air
I watched a few HD trailers on Youtube and also a movie or two and found that what the Zoro lacks in sonic performance in music it makes up for in movies, especially action movies. Explosions and actor voices are cinematic thanks to how low the bass can rumble on these headphones. I think these will find a comfortable spot on desktops of avid movie watchers who want closed back headphones so as not to disturb those around them still sleeping but not sacrifice the movie experience.
Avid music livers will have no problem connecting the Zoro to their Hi-Fi set-ups. Just a note though, the cable is not very long so you will have to use a longer 3.5mm to 3.5mm stereo lead if you intend on sitting away from your equipment.
I then connected the Zoro to my stereo amplifier to see if it could maintain the excellent results from the phone tests in a more natural listening environment and found that it certainly could. This time though there was an audible difference in the treble section of music, it wasn’t as detailed but still very acceptable.