Ultrasone Zino

Fans of Ultrasone should rejoice with the release of the Ultrasone Zino. The Zino is a foldable portable headphone with a $129 MSRP, though street prices are more in the $90 range. This puts the Zino in straight competition to Sennheiser’s new HD238 portable, as well as our long term favorite portable, the Koss Portapro 25th Anniversary Edition.

Holding the Zino in your hand, it doesn’t feel flimsy or cheap, though its body is mainly made out of plastic. The housing has a metallic chrome paint finishing, similar to the Ultrasone Edition 8. It definitely looks more expensive than the Koss and the HD238, and probably is one of the fanciest looking portable headphone. Ultrasone also shipped the Zino with a nice carrying pouch that’s similar in shape and material with the one shipped with the Beats Studio Headphones.

I have mixed feelings about the pads. They are rather unique. Rather than a doughnut shaped pads we find on most headphones, the Zino has a pad covered entirely with silver colored cloth. I am not sure, however, on how long the silver colored cloth will last before needing a wash. I think there are good reasons most headphones come with a black colored pads.

Overall, the sound throughout the frequency range is very clean for a small foldable portable. This is much more evident in the bass frequency, where the Zino is able to hit hard and clean in the bass. This is definitely a strong point of the Zino. The bass is plenty, though not a basshead phone. The Zino also has the same S-logic technology like in the other Ultrasones, though I can never really understand what the technology is all about.

The Zino sounds very good for a portable cans. It really doesn’t sound like a portable, and definitely much more impressive than the previous favorite portables like the Sennheiser PX100, or the AKG K416. For double the pricetag, it is no surprise that the Zino outclass the PX100 and the K416. For the price that it’s selling, the Zino’s competition should be the Sennheiser HD238 and the Koss Portapro 25th Edition.

If the Koss Portapro 25th Edition takes a more tube sound approach with its weighty lower end and full bodied midrange, the Zino and the Sennheiser HD238 have a V-shaped frequency curve, though the Zino’s is decisively more V-shaped than the HD238’s. This can bring out bad things, like recessed midrange and a very sibilant treble. I don’t know why Ultrasone designed the Zino with such an extreme V-shaped curve, cause otherwise the sound is top notch, if not for the recessed midrange. Overall the sound is definitely cleaner than either the HD238 or the Koss. Perhaps Ultrasone did this to offer something unique, or something that their existing customer base can relate to, since the Zino’s sound signature does have a strong resemblance to other Ultrasone models.

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5 Comments

  • Reply November 24, 2010

    Matthew Scarlett

    I thought these were the most disappointing headphones in the Ultrasone line up, and I've owned 8 (9 if you include the Nuforce UF30's) so I'm hardly Ultrasone worst critic. The issue is the unresolved problem with the recessed midrange that every commentator talked about with the iCans. Ultrasone has attempted to cover it up by using a larger 40mm driver as opposed to the iCans 30mm driver. This results in a total swamping of the low end frequencies … which are slow and ponderous at best. The most unfortunate thing is that the HFI-15G headphones are a total revelation … but it doesn't get the looks or the build quality of the Zino's.

    • Reply November 24, 2010

      Mike

      Totally agree with the midrange problem. But what interests me is your comments on the HFI-15G. I tried it once, but I wasn't really blown away by it. I will give it another try when I have the chance.

      So I guess you're now using the HFI-15G and not the Zino?

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