At first, the title “Z:ero” gave me hopes of noise-cancellation, weightlessness, or maybe a new anti-gravity audio experience, but no such luck. Stuck to my chair, I quickly realized that “zero” means zero dependency and zero distortion. Z:ero’s big selling point is that it doesn’t depend on one of these f*cking nightmares to pump out quality audio (and they’re only $20!). I hit up their IndieGoGo (hipster Kickstarter) for more info. Their dedication to the technical specifics was inspiring, but they may have shot themselves in the foot with some questionable specs and compatibility issues, but that’s why we’re here!
Some questions I asked myself were: How will size affect its frequency response? Will it compliment the input signal (especially through the phone’s equalizer)? And what about iPhone users? Upon digging a little deeper, I was given the answers I sought.
How will size limit its functionality?
We’ve all bought a pair of earbuds we couldn’t wait to sooth our eardrums with, only to be sorely disappointed in the quality. Unless you invest over $100 in them, earbuds are going to feature the same type of neodymium magnets, same drivers, same everything because you’re paying for the comfort and compact design. Z:ero proves to be no different. With a 20Hz-20Khz frequency response, they have little more to offer than your sister’s Hello Kitty’s. The plus side is that since the signal is digital, there will be no distortion at louder volumes, which is cool considering the unit is virtually weightless.
Will the frequency response compliment the input signal?
Having a digital signal with a narrow frequency is like driving a Lamborghini that can only go 20 mph, sexy but you’re not getting everything you could out of it. If you want to mitigate this effect, Androids come with an Equalizer, and after tuning it to mimic that of the picture, the quality should be fine. (If you’re a noob, each bar represents lower [bass sounds] or higher sounds on a spectrum, and each bar’s height is how amplified that particular range of the spectrum is). Either way, you will definitely be missing out on the higher end, as we’d like to see 25 or 30KHz on the Z:ero’s.
What about iPhone users?
With $50,000 worth of funding ($6,000 off of their goal) they will make the switch to iOS. They also plan on making versions of the Z:ero for all standard smartphones.
Bottom Line: The Z:eros are worth checking out, and certainly an exciting prospect for a budgeting headphone snob like myself.