The Very Well Balanced Noontec Zoro II HD

Noontec Zoro II HD ($99)
In late 2011 I reviewed the Monster Beats Solo and found it simply horrible. Knowing there were a bunch of Chinese knock-offs, I set out to find one better than the original. I eventually stumbled onto and reviewed the Noontec Zoro. I found it much better. The subsequent Noontec Zoro HD was better yet. Fast forward to the middle of last year, and Beat releases their next generation headphones including the Solo2, which I loved.

Proving the game is still afoot, Noontec has recently released their new Zoro II HD...and I'll be damned if they haven't done it again. These new cans are sweet!

The Zoro II HD is an on-ear, sealed headphone. Build quality is quite good for a $99 heaphone. Most parts are plastic, with the hinge having a few metal parts. I found the hinge to be nicely designed, having just the right amount of tension before clicking into open and closed positions.

Arm extensions provide just enough travel for adjustment, but folks with very large or small heads may have troubles. This headphone may not go small enough for young children. Size adjustment is detented and holds securely in place, but it definitely has a somewhat "plasticy" feel.

Noontec_ZoroIIHD_Photo_Colors

The Zoro II HD is available in four colors, I've got the blue one here. I feel the high-gloss, fine-fleck paint job is pretty good quality for a headphone at this price, though it does pick up fingerprints very easily. The design is somewhat changed from the previous Zoro with the headband ends a more interesting shape and having significantly larger ear-pads. All-in-all, I'd say this is one of the nicer looking headphones I've seen at this price.

Ear-pads are a medium-grade pleather over memory foam, and are larger and more comfortable than the previous Zoro. Headband pad is ample pleather over foam configuration. Caliper pressure is medium and the headphones quite light, making for an above average comfort and fit for a headphone of this type.

Accesorization is sparse...but at this price it almost always is. The flat, tangle resistan cable has a one-button remote, and is just slightly short at 48" long—I tend to think 52" is perfect. Noontec claims the cable is OFC and connectors 24 carrot gold coated. Also included is a velour draw-string bag.

Time for the good stuff, let's talk about how they sound.

COMPANY INFO
Noontec
Building C,Zhangkeng Industial Park, Minzhi,Longhua
Shenzhen 518031 China
sales@noontec.com
+86 755 8179 8305
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
arjrluap's picture

as above. Nice to see budget headphones catching up with those twice their cost.

InternPrimas's picture

I enjoy the M40X's but I bought them refurbished and there was a problem with them had to send them back. But the sound signature of them is good.
Seems neutral with subtle emphasis on the lows and highs.
Nothing painful. I am sensitive to high frequency and I really liked the M40X's but the copy I had was refurbished and did have a problem had to send them back.

Anyways I just recently purchased the Zoro II HD's and I have to say they are close to neutral but... They're loud and more on the treble side like they have BASS but it isn't BASSHEAD worthy.
But it isn't complete garbage. When I listen to music with them.
I can hear the bass but I feel there is something with the stereo imaging like some sort of peaking like towards the high end almost like analytical sort of like sony 7506 in terms of something in the upper range yet.
From lows to mids it's different. I am trying to detect an emphasis on the lows. and it's hard to say there is any feels more "neutral" but some extension in the lows exist I feel the mid has a slight bump when it comes to snares/kicks.
as for the highs, I feel there is something raised up in there maybe like a 4 dB or 3.5 dB spike somewhere in the upper frequencies as for the lower frequencies I can say it's nicely "balanced" but not full on emphasis just enough where you can hear the bumping basslines.

Think of the sound signature like a JPEG image file. You take a high quality PNG and run it through JPEG compression while retaining close enough pixel resolution but you shrink the pixel resolution down a bit.
And quality changes in bits.
Well these ZORO II HD headphones (on ear) are basically decent in frequency range with a peak somewhere in the highs but nothing i'd consider sibilant but it is loud when you first plug them in but surpisingly not bad it's like you try to find something wrong with their sound signature but there is nothing to really complain about it even if you want to but can't seem to find a real good ground to complain about it.
I just feel they could have put more emphasis on the lows (not muddy or distorted or bleeding into mids) while relaxing back the mid-highs somewhere around there.
But the sound signature it has right now works with most music genres. I just feel they could have made the Lows more stronger while retaining clarity maybe even relaxing back something in mid to highs but not by too much. Maybe a few dB on some frequencies.
While boosting the lows by about 2.5 ~ 3.5 dB. I'd say it is close to "almost-natural balance", you can tell that they wanted to make sure people can enjoy a wide range of genres with these headphones.
So it's hard to complain other than that flat cable that comes with it can easily be replaced.
The build quality seems fairly good I'm glad they strength the hinges. It's surprisingly lightweight and feels almost like you aren't wearing anything on your head.
They are "Small" too.
And have a "beats" like style design.
I kind of wonder what the Noontec HAMMO S sounds like because I feel if they were able to make a larger driver than maybe they could have made the bass stronger in those?
Anyways overall if you had to choose between M40X and Noontec ZORO II HD?
I'd pick the M40Xs over the Noontec ZORO II HD in terms for Home usage.
However if you plan to go out and about I'd pick the noontecs for outdoor usage/gym usage.
As for home listening go with the M40X.

miceblue's picture

Would it be possible to add the Harman target response on top of raw frequency plots in the future? You state "Raw frequency response is very close to the Harman target response," but unless you provide the actual target response over the raw measurements, people will just have to take your word for it.

I've been manually overlaying the target responses on your raw measurements like so:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/2816447/Innerfidelity_HRTF_Plots/Noo...

DarthGore's picture

Hi Tyll,

I concur with miceblue .

Tyll Hertsens's picture
It's a good idea, but it will create an inconsistency with earlier spreadsheets and the Harman curve is not finalized. But I'll think about it.
Stefraki's picture

Maybe a half-way point would be to include a Harman plot in the part of the review that talks about measurements, and leave it off the sheet for consistency?

I would also love to see the Harman plots with reviews. They actually look like what I hear when I look at the plots you made for headphones I know well. The old FR curve looks nothing like the headphones actually sound in my opinion.

DarthGore's picture

Hi Tyll,

Could you ask Noontec to send you samples of their new Hammo circumaural (passive and active nose cancellation versions) headphones ? I feel that most of us are far more interested in something that goes around the ear, seals and sounds better.

Thanks for your services to the community.

Type35's picture

Both being marketed as portable cans, I was wondering how the CAL and the Zorro compared in sound signatures.
+1 for a review on the Ammo.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I've already asked and they're on the way.
Gnafu the Great's picture

I am also interested in measurements and your thoughts of the Hammos after the glowing review of these updated Zoros. I prefer over-ear, and I'm reading some good things about the Hammos. I have gotten so familiar with your take on sound that I almost /need/ to know what you think before making a purchase ;-D.

One thing for the Hammos for measurements (and if you do a full review): I have seen mention of pairs having either black stickers or thick foam (one or the other) covering the holes under the earpads that have a huge negative impact on sound quality. While I know it wouldn't be "stock", would you be willing to measure them with the "mod" of removing the stickers or thick foam if present? All I've read would suggest they're not very good out of the box, but removing the coverings makes them fantastic. I'd love to see measurements comparing the two. It should be as simple as removing the pads, taking out the sticker/foam, and replacing the pads. No cutting, unscrewing, etc.

DarthGore's picture

I agree with the above. With and without stickers, please ! Surely this is doable, considering your coverage of the HD800 'DIY' felt mod.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Sounds like a good idea, will do.
Type35's picture

The Momentum on-ear sells for as low as $91 on Amazon and the cheapest Urbanite is at $121 while the Noontec Zoro II HD is at $90. These prices are easily found (meaning they are regularly advertised on Amazon). In light of this, the comparison you made might be viewed with a slightly different perspective.

InternPrimas's picture

Zoro II HD's are going for around $70 ~ $50 right now on Amazon.

tony's picture

This time I had the "subtitles" feature "ON" which is quite a bit of fun because it's computer generated and substitutes funny words for words you are saying.

Anyway, I came back for seconds because I thought I heard you attribute the better quality driver to the $200 stuff. Sure enough you did say "better drivers" .

Another nice review.

Thank you.

Tony in Michigan dabbling with drivers & EQ

MLGrado's picture

24 carrot gold coating... If it were 24 carrot cake coating, then we would be talking! ;)

Makka's picture

Tyll, you put the Koss SP330 on the Wall of Fame due to it being a "Sonic Stunner", then bumped it off the list by the Noontec Zoro II HD, which "lacks finesse" compared to more expensive competitors, "...seems a bit grittier sounding" than other comparable headphones and a bit "think in the mids". This is confusing, and leads me to believe it is the Noontec "package" that you are putting on the Wall of Fame, rather than the sound. As I am tossing up between the two, based purely on sound quality, which would be the better headphone?

InternPrimas's picture

Note: I didn't burn these in yet. These are brand new.
I prefer strong bass, good mids and laidback or relaxed highs.
However these headphones do provide a full sound from 16 hz and up to 20khz. I do feel that they lean more on "clarity" of the highs and mids.
They do sound loud on my PC, I had to turn stuff down to be comfortable. I have a sensitivity to higher frequencies. So these kind of aren't warm sounding to me more leaning towards the highs and mids. The bass is there don't get me wrong it exists it's just extended and controlled. It's not muddy or boomy or rattling. However if the song is mixed to be booming than yeah... They seem to handle stuff well even low bitrate music. I am just not used to On EAR, I normally go for around ear headphones. Apart of me wanted to get the CAD MH510 because they're suppose to be neutral with warm sounding sound signature with emphasis on the lows and extended. But it's hard to find honest reviews on the CAD MH510 headphones. They seem promising to deliver but than again haven't seen a peer review on them. These ZORO II HD's have been peer reviewed and I figure you know I might aswell get them and try them out since my Sony MDRV55 got broken. Was looking for a decent headphone for listening music, gaming and music production. I do like BASS but I am not a pure BASSHEAD. I don't like muddy bass. I like controlled booming bass. And I like slightly laid back highs with adequate mids.