By: Jonathan Kwan
May 13, 2016
As an audio enthusiast, I love to share with other people the experience of amazing sound. About half a year ago, my friend and I were talking about audio products. Since I knew she was the kind of person who knows how to appreciate a pair of good headphones, as in not anything that rhymes with "heats" prescribed by a certain doctor, I decided to lend her my V-MODA XS for a week to try out. I am not going to reiterate my love for the XS here, but if you read my review as linked, you will find out the product in question is the highest scoring product here at APH Networks at the time of writing this review. Seven days later, I saw my friend, and inquired of how she liked it. She thought it was really good, but when I asked her if she would like to return it, since a week has passed, she conveniently said she "forgot" it at home. While it may be entirely possible she actually forgot my XS at home, I think she just wanted to keep it for a longer time, because they were really that good. Now, we have covered quite a number of headphones from V-MODA in the last few of years, such as the Crossfade M-100 and Crossfade Wireless in addition to the XS. However, what was missing in my V-MODA collection were a pair of new flagship in-ear monitors like the Vibe II I reviewed back in 2009. Sure, there were a few products of this category from the company that came in between we never reviewed, but none of them were real flagships from them anyway. Well, ladies and gentlemen, the drought may be ending. Today, we will take a look at the Zn, the latest flagship IEM from V-MODA. For $180 at press time, will the Zn be a continuation of the company's signature sound that, if you were given the chance to borrow one, you would also "forget" it at home when it is time to return it like my friend? Read on to find out! (Also, I did eventually manage to get my XS back.)
Our review unit of the V-MODA Zn came in a compact brown corrugated box from the company's American headquarters in Los Angeles, California. I am always excited to try out the latest and greatest from V-MODA, and this time, it was no exception -- especially considering I have been trying to get my hands on these earphones since they came out in November last year. After months of waiting, my Zn finally came on April 1st, and it was no April Fools' joke. Using UPS Express, everything arrived in excellent condition to us here at Calgary, Alberta, Canada for our review today. With excitement, I cracked open the box, and marked the beginning of a month and a bit of testing.
V-MODA has always been a company that is heavy on both style and substance, and this is evident right from the retail packaging. Consistent with the rest of V-MODA's current product lineup, at first glance, the Zn's box is conventional in a sense it does not try to be different for the sake of being different. At the same time, it is unconventional in a sense that it is well designed in its unique details. The thick cardboard walls are constructed into a hexagonal shaped box; with colors well-coordinated in a mix of mainly orange and black shades. In front, you will see a photo of both sides of the V-MODA Zn in addition to the remote, as you can see in our photo above. Above the photo in the center is the product name, along with the line "Liquid Zinc Metal" -- indicating its use of zinc metal alloying housing. Below the photo is the company's logo. A rubber handle at the top is present for some style, while the inner packaging is sealed by a ribbon you have to cut. Finally, feature highlights and compatibility can be found on the remaining sides, along with some specifications.
Speaking of specifications, before we move on, let us take a look at the specifications of the V-MODA Zn, as obtained from the manufacturer's website:
Type: Bi-aural in-ear type monitor headphones with remote and mic
Speaker Driver: 8mm dynamic-type
Frequency Response: 2-25,000 Hz
Sensitivity: 105dB @ 1kHz 1mW
Microphone Sensitivity: -42dB @ 1kHz
Impedance: 16 Ω
Cables: DiamondBack Kevlar-reinforced, 33" plug to y-connector, 13" even-length earphone cables
Plug: 45 degree, 24k gold plated, 3.5mm (1/8") stereo
Upon opening the box, you will be greeted by its all black foam padded interior. From a practical standpoint, it protects its contents well. From an aesthetics standpoint, it looks very classy, just the way the company meant for it to be. Out of the box, you will receive the V-MODA Zn earphones in front, with the rest of the accessories in the cavities at the back. These accessories include a pair of sport earhooks, four sizes (XS, S, M, and L) of Bliss 3.0 fittings in both black and clear for a total of eight sleeves, shirt clip, leather case, and a user manual. It comes with quite a bit accessories to accommodate a wide range of user preferences. The leather pouch looks almost exactly the same as the one that came with the Vibe II, except the new one has white stitching, and is held closed by magnets rather than two buttons. Having stuff like an OEM leather pouch is absolutely invaluable for those who plan to take the Zn out the front door of their house. Not only does it keep your $180 earphones protected, but I also found the case is just as fashionable as the earphones itself.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis