Noontec Zoro HD True Sound (Black)

It’s easy to mistake the Noontec Zoro HD for the original Zoro on-ear headphones, which became a budget audiophile favorite when it was introduced in 2012. The Zoros offered similar styling to the on-ear Beats Solo headphones but cost a lot less and sounded far more neutral (less bass heavy) — an appealing trait for those seeking a headphone that sounds good with a wide gamut of music genres.

The original Zoro, which remains in production, can be found for around $70 online, while the new Zoro HD will set you back about $100. The two models look nearly identical, but the Zoro HD delivers more refined sound with plumper, higher-quality bass and adds an inline remote/microphone for cell phone calls. While its “new” sound probably still won’t satisfy users who crave really big bass, it’s an excellent budget audiophile headphone.

Design and features
The shiny plastic headphone’s build quality is nothing special. The Zoro HDs fold up into a fairly small bundle for compact storage, but the plastic hinges are the obvious weak point in the design. After folding and unfolding the headphones many times they still seem fine, but anyone who treats their headphones roughly may have problems with this or any $100 hinged headphone.

The comfortable headphones feature nicely padded earcups.

Sarah Tew/CNET)

At 5.3 ounces the Zoro HD is lightweight and I found them more comfortable to wear than the original Zoros. That’s strange, because when you look at them side-by-side, the old and new models’ earcups, cushions, and padded headband look identical, but don’t feel that way on my head. The Zoro HD earpads also produced a better seal, so they blocked out a little more environmental noise, and the improved seal may also be responsible for the Zoro HD’s fuller sound balance compared with the standard Zoro.

The headphones have a similar design to the Beats Solo — but they sound better.

Sarah Tew/CNET)

The Zoro HDs have neodymium 40mm drivers and impedance is rated at 32 ohms, so they’re easy to drive with phones and other portable music players. The flat red headphone cable is resistant to tangles and plugs into the left earcup. Both ends of the 48-inch-long cable are fitted with 3.5mm connectors. The Zoro HD has a one-button remote and microphone, something the original Zoro lacked. A soft carrying case is the only accessory.

The headphones come with a one-year warranty, and Noontec’s importer, ERG Distributors in Carteret, NJ, handles all claims. Note that you’ll need a proof of purchase to make a warranty claim.

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