Zorloo Aero Review by mark2410 (Revised Version)
Thanks to Zorloo for the sample.
First impressions: Well if I thought the last pack was a preproduction, this set it’s the earbuds alone, no case no cable. They are also a light silver rather than the gunmetal colour I had previously. They are both called “acoustic” but they are tuned very differently. The V1 I played with previously were big bassy beasts, fabulous but way bassy for something labelled acoustic. Instantly I can tell that these are very considerably more open / vented. The iso drop alone makes that noticeable. The bass too it’s taken a bit of a nosedive. Now these are much more in line with what I’d expect from something labelled “acoustic”
Hmm god they a great big change, I’m a little confused as to their status, are these still “acoustic” ones with a new tuning or are they a new version as in a new variation? Hmm with their increased openness I find I’m feeling like I haven’t got them sealed right, they feel a bit too open. These are just so different from the last Aero I listened to.
Source: Well there are their own source as it were. So they should therefore be identical sounding plugged into your computer, or whichever phone you might have, bypassing entirely the likely piece of crap DAC /amp they have inside them.
Lows: Superb. They are I feel the same drivers, capable of roaring low if you plug those vents but here they are tuned to be open, well vented and thus its behaves like a big open can. The drivers have no impediments on it to move physically. It feels extremely agile. How much of that is perception verses reality of its agility when closed, I can’t say but it feels so light and nimble. Like fairies dancing on the head of a pin. All air and grace with an underlying smooth body below. Where the old version was a lardy beast shaking its booty all over the place this feels so different. I was continuingly drawn to more melodic, acoustic and vocal heavy tracks. Like the sort of stuff Adel spits out. Everything had such a natural air, lightly and gracefully symphonic layer to it all. The grown up in me finds this an extremely appealing sound signature but I’d by lying if I didn’t mention that a part of me misses some of the fullness and body of the bass before. The same goes for the richness and depth, being so open the lowest lows roll away and when you move to lively and supposedly bassy pop tracks the bass here just can’t rise up. It can’t hit deep and low either, that venting steals the furthest reaches from you and takes away the crazy boom party time that the last version offered. It’s not to say one is “better” than the other, they are just different flavours that work better for different things.
In absolute quantity terms these are very close to neutral, a hint of natural flavour but they haven’t quite the warmth and richness required for that. These are really quite acoustically neutral in comparison.
Mids: Ahh if there is something that big open cans shine it’s in the mids. These do too. Where the V1 had big weighty bass that began to creep up and influence the mids these are totally unimpinged. They keep the essential joy that the V1’s had but these are like the lows, far more neutral sounding. They are highly versatile too with both male and female alike vocals shining. Acoustic guitars too, ooooh they are good, so clean and snappy, revelling in their crisp clarity. Acoustically if it were a song it could be Regina Spektor’s “Love Affair” with ease. The tuning these is spot on, so exactly what you’re after for a nearing neutral with a hint of natural. So easy on the ear and uninfluenced beyond that little dash of natural to take into account how human hearing and perception work. Call them acoustic for sure but their balance is such that any and all midranges sound great.
They are perhaps at times a smidge ahead of the bass but the bass is always able to keep up when pushed so the mids never take off to become centre stage in the way that many middy earphone have a tendency to do. Though I did note I had a tendency to keep turning them too loud. I like their mids very much.
Highs: These are so much more clear in the treble than the old version was. These you can really hear it and it’s highly refined. They have a pin sharp initial attack but its razor thin so the edge is fleeting. It quickly descends to a shimmery sparkle, a touch soft and diffuse, like a faint coating of morning dew that is awash with glimmer. Each point is so delicate but they are highly abundant so you get and over all lightness but without any particular point cutting through and dominating. Great stuff in fact, it feels so weird coming out of my crappy Nexus 5. Of course that’s the whole point of the Aero, is you by bass the junk that’s in your phone and gives you a perfect baseline for the Aero buds to do their thing.
Quantity there is a general levelness to them, the highs can get a little increased in relative quantity, particularly when you push the volume, the bass starts to lag behind on these the treble starts to dominate. It can get a rather brighter than I personally want. The quality is always good, highly refined and shimmery. Some may want more of a pin crisp sound but I think it’s great, I don’t like a hard bighty edge.
Soundstage: Rather good. They have a pleasant slight diffuseness and openness to them. That I’m sure is down to their being so vented and open. They don’t sound closed in at all, that would be because they aren’t. They have more of a feeling of being out in the open rather than enclosed. The music isn’t really coming from too far away but there are no boundaries enclosing it. Placement and such is a little bit fuzz. Its vaguely spread before you nothing particularly special.
Fit: Well they went in perfectly fine. Well, they did but they are so vented It always felt like I wants getting a good fit because theey werente sealing.
Comfort: Excellent. They are rather big buds but they worked perfectly for my ears, happy to wear them all day long and indeed I did several times.
Cable: The cable I have is the one I got from the V1, its fine, flat and disproportionately long but the chaps at Zorloo said it will be amended to a more suitable length for the public.
Isolation: Sadly the level of isolation, from my perspective, has taken a nosedive. Of course you get the acoustic trade-offs from doing so in that they sound so wildly open and ever so much more balanced. More iso isn’t a “good” thing but for where I mostly want to use IEM’s it is. These are just too open for me to be comfortable using these out in public, on a bus, etc etc. God forbid trying them on a flight or the Tube. With music playing you might not hear traffic so remember to use your eyes though.
Phone use: So these pretty much need to be used with a phone, it’s a most unusual setup from most. They need a device capable of running and external DAC which not all android phones can. The P8 I tried wouldn’t work so I ended up mostly using my Nexus 5. Try the Z3+ I have currently, things got weird. When I plugged the Aero in the phone did nothing and would play music back through its speaker until I went into the settings, Device Connections, USB Connectivity and then told it to Detect USB Device. It would then start spitting out music from the Aero. However it wouldn’t remember this so I had to do it every time, I have no idea why. It’s a shame really that handset makers have broken the ability to use external DAC’s and thus the Aero’s. On my N5 though they worked great, the handset and device volumes were independent though, also no track skipping and no mic. These may be issues for some but it’s just how it is.
Accessories: Well I got them in a poly bag, still you should get a hard case thing I have seen pictures of and bunch of tips I believe.
Value: Their RRP just now is US$119 or about £82. Yep there are some caveats as to what phone they will work with and stuff but they sound excellent. My only hesitation in heaping praise is the potential lack of compatibility, still you should be able to buy replacement and alternative cables so if you change phone you have options. Acoustically though, these are awesome, great sounding out of a phone that sucks balls audio wise. So if you must use a Nexus or Iphone then these let you by pass their crap hp outs and give you something properly credible.
Conclusion: I am still a touch confused as to how these will sit regarding the gunmetal ones I have. They are both on Zorloo’s website called “acoustic” both the dark being for android and the light one for Iphones. Why I don’t know as they are modular anyway so you can use whatever cable and whichever buds. The dark ones, they may have been called “acoustic” but to my ears they big old bass canons, tons of fun buy subtle like a brick to the face. These are soooooooooo much more acoustically open and I can say these truly can be called acoustic and mean it. They are great, very well balanced, great dynamics, great detail, great everything really. So where does that place the other, is this a replacement for the dark one, is it just a different versions and the colours don’t match the website as these are all pre-release? I don’t know. Still I want to hear the gold and copper ones too, clearly these display that the driver in there is pretty damn capable.
N.B. Zorloo have clarified for me. These are the new Acoustic ones. The gunmetal ones I have are not presently part of the line up going forward, however. Due to costs implications these ones, in silver for me while they will be the tuning of the “Acoustic” model going forward they will all, both Android and Apple ones come in gunmetal.
Confusing colours aside, the only real down side acoustically to these for me is their lack of isolation. They sound great, fantastic, I mean who knew you could get this quality of audio coming out of a Nexus 5???? However that lack of isolation, that for me could be a deal breaker. You see I mostly want IEM’s for when out and on bus usage and these just leak like sieves. I couldn’t use these out in public, I just couldn’t. Well maybe for a quite walk through the park but they wouldn’t manage much else. If I’m in at home then I tend to go with speakers rather than IEM’s. So for me I’m not sure what you’d use them for.
Should you / would I buy one? If you can live with the lack of isolation and you are one of those people that insists on using your mobile for audio yet you for reasons use a phone that sucks for audio? Then if you are oh god yeah, these are awesome things. They could maybe do with a tiny touch of bass increase but otherwise they are acoustically great. So much detail, such clarity and gobs of dynamic musicality too. Ahhh god if only they isolated more. Still they are epic entertainers, never has any Nexus phone sounded this good without something more bulky strapped to it. To emphasise how good it is, plugging the GR07 into my N5 and the Aero has very noticeably better audio quality. How they’ve got a DAC, amp and IEM all for the price they have I have no idea. These maybe specialist use case earphones but they are outstanding.