It is easy to see that music is a major part of people’s lives these days. Portable music is a multi-billion dollar industry. Between mp3 players and mp3 integrated devices, you pretty much end up with a mp3 player sooner or later. One such popular device is the iPhone from apple. This device comes with a generic pair of earbuds but if you are spending upward of $600 for an iPhone why use cheap earbuds? Most people’s answer to this is that most earbuds don’t double as headsets. This is where the Zbudds from Zagg come in. Seamlessly integrating quality earbuds and headset features all in one streamlined package. Let’s get a closer look at these:
Provided By: Zagg
The packaging for the Zagg Zbuds reminds me of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, with the headset presented in profile. As I have mentioned many times in other reviews the product packaging that shows the product through a windows gets higher marks than other packaging. “What you see is what you get” – is important when I am shopping, I hate being surprised when I get home after buying something only to realize it is not exactly as pictured on the box. The back of the packaging has user reviews and all of the information you would need for truly understanding what this products is for and how it is used.
Along with the Zbuds you get a carrying pouch and a wide range of silicone and foam in ear flanges. Included are 2 sizes of foam buds, 3 white silicone flanges(small medium, and large), and one triple flanged black silicone set.
The buds themselves are well built; the metal casing instills confidence in the quality of the product. The chord shielding seems rugged, the only down side I see is the potential for fraying, right out of the packaging there was fraying on the shielding pictured below. The inline control is another awesome feature the one click to answer and hang up a call, and two clicks to skip a song are an awesome feature for your iPhone.
Two other great features the Zagg Zbuds offer is inline volume control and a noose for anchoring your earphones to your device of choice. The second option is important in my opinion because more then once I have turned wrong and my mp3 player flew out of my pocket and the headphone port wasn’t strong enough to keep a mp3 player or iPhone from taking flight. You will still yank your device out with a wrong move but it won’t plummet to the ground as easily.
Let’s see some specs and features on these:
- speaker diameter: 10mm
- frequency response: 20hz to 20Khz
- impedance: 32 Ohms
- max input power: 10mW
- cable length: 1.37 meters/54 inches
- plug type: 3.5mm
- sensitivity: 94dB +/- 3dB SPL/mW
- Microphone: Noise Cancelling Condenser frequency response: 30hz to 16Khz
- impedance: 10 Ohms
- sensitivity: 42dB +/- 3dB
- 2009 CES Innovations Design and Engineering Showcase Honoree
- Built-in noise canceling mic.
- Rich, responsive sound from superior speakers
- “Hangin’ tight” wearable – wear Z.buds around neck
- Built-in music control for iPhone
- Premium length, tangle-free cord
- In-line volume control
- Multiple sliders for better cord management
- 3.5mm jack compatible with first gen iPhone
- Multiple earbud adapters for all ear sizes
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- Lifetime Trade-In Guarantee
These earbuds are not audiophile earbuds so testing them against my Sennheisers and Head-Direct wouldn’t be a fair test. I will however test them in the movie, gaming, and music sections I normally test other earbuds in. I will also include a speed test in this as well.This will test how quickly the earbuds keep up with faster music styles.
For movies I wanted to use some that had great sound quality and tons of action. I decided to go with Transformers and Appleseed. I must say I was extremely impressed with how well the Zbuds did for this test. The range I was able to hear was unbelievable and everything was crystal clear. The bass of these Zbuds is very prevalent in Transformers, especially when you get some of the cars snarling motors revving up to high rpm’s. I was very impressed over all with this headset. I honestly would never expect that kind of power from a pair of earbuds.
In Appleseed; scenes with debris falling and gun shots were as clear as if I were standing right in the middle of the fighting. The voice acting and explosions had substance and didn’t sound like beating a tin can with a cat (what can I say I am a very visual thinker) like I have heard in the past. If I were to base the Zbudds on movies alone I would give them a 10/10, but that is not all we would do with our earbuds so let’s move on.
For gaming I used an RTS and a FPS next to MMORPG’s these would be the two most played genres on the PC. I used Red Alert 3 for the RTS and exteel for the FPS. Red Alert 3 has some top quality cut scenes in the game, with some very well known actors and actresses. If you have never played the game I suggest checking it out. The cut scenes are in HD and the campaign plays like a movie. In game all of the shots and explosions are very clear and don’t detract from the game, but rather, improve the over all feel.
Exteel is a robot based FPS and the Zbuds pick up all the scrapes, zaps, and explosions very well. While they are not intended as a 5.1 or 7.1 gaming headset they are pretty good at giving a three dimensional feel. You can vaguely pick out where you are in relation to the action pretty successfully.
Music and Speed Test:
When doing a music test I grab a number of genres: classical, rap, R&B, Hard rock, punk, folk, and alternative. Of course the odd time I add country, but country and rock have very similar sounds structures, so I prefer to use a genre I like listening to instead of crying over my wife leaving me for my dog and stealing my pickup truck. Slow your roll hillbilly don’t lynch me yet, I was born on a farm and a lot of my family are farmers, I do love country music in limited quantities for nostalgic purposes only.
Tangents aside let’s get into it. The Zagg Zbuds are incredibly bass heavy, so much so that for the rap and R&B (Ray Charles, Timbaland, and Kanye West) songs I had to play with the equalizer in order to hear the vocals clearly. If you love bass, these are the deepest hitting bass earbuds I have ever heard.
Moving on to classical and folk; these two genres are known for there crisp and tranquil melodies and the Zbuds made this music a pleasure to listen to. Again I used Yo-Yo Ma for classical because the cello has incredible range of sound frequencies. I used Yael Naim‘s song “new slang” for the folk song. It has a mellow to upbeat song progression which gives a pretty good range of music tastes all in one song. For these two types of music bass heaviness was no issue because they don’t have a lot of bass to over power the vocals and melody. If you are a mellow head these are a great choice for you.
For the speed test I used punk, alternativs, and hard rock. Most earbuds [with exception of the Yuin OK3’s and Head-Direct RE0’s] cannot keep up with these types of music. Earbuds usually blend double and triplicate drum notes together in one blurred sound, which doesn’t do this type of music justice. Due to the Zagg Zbuds bass heaviness, the fast hits do seem to blend together. The guitar rifts and trebles tons are a bit sibilant rather than smooth. For my taste these earbuds don’t cut it for these styles of music.
Let’s see the final thoughts:
Over all the Zbuds were great earbuds, with more then your standard earbuds functionality. While they were a bit bass heavy and on some songs the bass actually distorted the music this can be fixed by tweaking your equalizer. A couple draw backs were the shielding fraying and the triple flanges did not fit on the earbuds I ended up ripping the flanges to finally get them on. Once on they felt like they were piercing my brain and were not comfortable at all. The other flanges included were very comfortable in comparison.
Would I buy these? Personally I wouldn’t, only because I do not own an iPhone at present. If I were to purchase one I would definitely consider getting a pair of zbuds to compliment them. I recommend these for anyone that has an iPhone and loves bass heavy music.
- Great For Movies
- Inline Controls
- Doubles as a Headset (Only for iPhone and Certain Other Smartphones)
- Fantastic for Folk and Classical Listening
- Lots of Extra Flanges
- Bass Heavy if That is not your Style
- Frayed Shielding
- Triple Flange Doesn’t Fit On the Earbud
- Little Pricey for Some