V-MODA Zn Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - Physical Look - Hardware

The V-MODA Zn is available in only one color scheme, and that is black with silver accents and red highlights on the sleeves. It looks a lot like the V-MODA Vibe II I reviewed back in 2009, despite the new zinc metal housing; more on this later. For those who like a bit of visual complexity for a more aggressive presence, the Zn has you covered. Its detailed fit and finish is a work of art. I personally prefer something that has a more contemporary and clean appearance, but hey, to each his own. in terms of quality, the company claims they have done tests beyond the MIL-STD-105 standard on the Zn, and survives "high and low temperatures, humidity, and UV exposure". Now, I have done none of these tests on my particular pair, but based on what I can see and feel, these claims are quite believable to say the least.

Meanwhile, the V-MODA Zn earphones are available in two variants -- one with the universal one button remote, and the other with the three button remote for newer Apple products. Unfortunately, despite owning an iPhone 6, I was unable to get my hands on the three button version, so I ended up with the one with the standard one button remote. The button used in the remote is a Panasonic manufactured switch for improved tactical feedback and reliability; I cannot speak for the latter, but the former is definitely one of the best I have ever used. Most earphone remotes I have used in the past feels rubbery and lacks proper feedback, but the Zn's button feels solid and crisp to use. All models come with a high sensitivity microphone to go with your smartphone, since it is hard to find anyone nowadays listening to music on a dedicated digital audio player exclusively, haha. Its microphone is located on cable that leads to the right side, with the remote button behind it.

The V-MODA Zn are quite lightweight at 20.8g, thanks to the way the it is manufactured. The V-MODA Zn is designed to go straight into your ears, but you can use the included sport earhooks to wrap it around your ears as well. I would like to commend V-MODA for making such lightweight earphones for improved comfort, as well as being compact in size, so it still fits well for most people, including me. In the end, I went with the small sized silicone ear sleeves after trying out the medium eartips for the best fit. As with all in-ear monitors, users with different sized ears will be happy to know that the company has included not three, but four different sized sleeves.

The V-MODA Zn earphones connect to your audio output device via a forty-five degree 3.5mm 24k gold plated connector. I personally prefer angled connectors like these, because they are inherently easier to disconnect from a source being easier to grip. The plug is also rated for over 60,000 bends for maximum durability. The Kevlar reinforced DiamondBack cable promises not only unmatched strength and durability, but also tangle-proof. V-MODA products has always been good to me in terms of durability, and from my everyday use in the last month or so, I can definitely attest to its tangle-proof property. I also like the fact the cable is about 120cm long, with 84cm from the plug to the Y split, which should be a good fit for most users.

A closer look at V-MODA's Zn earbuds. As per its name, the Zn features a cool-to-touch zinc metal alloy housing for both its earbuds as well as the Y-connector. The unit's serial number can be found on the Y-connector by a label. The zinc metal alloy housing was not cast just for aesthetics and feel, but also for its acoustical properties. Along with limited production Italian tuning filters installed between the housing and the drivers to control the airflow mechanics, the latest V-MODA earphones promises unique, balanced sound. The V-MODA Zn are also hand tuned with +/- 2dB variance between units. The company's logo is not found anywhere on the product itself, but the "L" and "R" markers can be found at the bottom. Its drivers are 8mm <0.5dB ultra low distortion units with a rated frequency response of an impressive 2Hz to 25kHz. These specifications are, quite frankly, quite a bit beyond the hearing range of any normal human being of around 20Hz to 20kHz.

The rated sensitivity is 105dB @ 1kHz 1mW with an impedance of 16 ohms. Its low impedance will work very well with unamplified sources such as your smartphone. Like many modern in-ear monitors, the drivers aim directly into your ear for a more direct and transparent sound reproduction characteristic. At the same time, it makes the earphones much easier to clean in the long run too. The sleeves assist the aim into the user's ear canals, and since these earphones are designed for a closed configuration, the V-MODA Zn are made for passive noise canceling. V-MODA has a name for everything, and their sleeves are no exception. It is called BLISS 3.0, which stands for Bass Level Isolating Soft Silicone. As aforementioned, they come in four sizes best fit and sound performance to the end user.

Based on my experience, the microphonics characteristics of the V-MODA Zn are pretty similar to the Vibe II. During usage, like all in-ear monitors, rustling noise is inevitable -- and with the Zn, it is no exception. The Y-split junction filters out a good amount of mechanical vibrations half way down the cable, but the upper segment is considerably audible. The included sport earhooks and the shirt clip can be used to reduce the effect of this problem.

With all this in mind, how will it perform? As always, we have the entire Page 3 dedicated to presenting our auditioning results.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis
4. Conclusion