Venture Electronics China
They made quite a splash with the monks. At 5 dollars, the monks were no slouch, providing sonic performance and quality that is great for their price.
The Zen 1.0 powered through a high-powered dac, ifi micro iDSD BL on turbo mode, was incredible. Expansive sound stage, great clarity and a bass that hits where it counts. It made me curious as to how the Zen 2.0 will fare, as sonic-wise, the Zen 1.0 is already hard to beat.
With that similar-looking shell shape and hard to drive 320ohms of impedance, the Zen 2.0 turned out a different beast.
Unlike my other posts, due to the simplicity and repetition of the packaging of VE products, I’ll simply link their packaging details here and dive straight into the sound.
Zen 2.0 differs from 1.0 by the colour of cable, where 2.0 has a new red shielding.
The regular plastic shell, with a red shielding enclosed within a rubber tubing. It does feel well-built, albeit a little cheap. But in all fairness, a metal housing might make it too heavy for comfort, and may also have acoustic effects.
The slam, the depth, and the presence. The bass is simply phenomenal, grabbing the limelight from the start. The trebles have a noticeable sparkle that felt muted in the Zen 1.0. The Zen 2.0 on first listen is extremely warm, with a laid-back tonality that feels less clinical than the Zen 1.0.
There are headphones with good bass response, with either a great texture or quality. Then there are those packing both. The Zen 2.0 honestly made me rethink my past reviews when I found some textures being great, cause this would definitely move the benchmark.
The idea that the Zen packs headphone quality sound into an earbud still felt like a stretch at Zen 1.0, but the 2.0 changes it all. I don’t mean the usual fare, but rather against pretty great headphones. In my case, it would be the Audeze Lcd-2 non-fazor version, a pair which I really find great sonic-wise for its price.
The sub-bass bass in Zen 2.0 has immense physicality, with a rumble that reverberates. It has an undeniable presence, constantly reminding you of it, yet never intruding into the main stage.
The mid-bass slam packs some strength and thickness. However, due to a slightly slower decay, it feels a touch more natural and warm.
Depth-wise, the Zen 2.0 feels like it reaches deeper than the 1.0 and exerts greater control presenting it.
Superb texture, amazing detail pick-up, presence and yet without any bleeding. It is possibly one of the best bass response I’ve heard, or at least in recent memory.
The mids feel alright. They don’t feel spectacular, especially after the show the bass has performed.
Detail pick-up is great, along with expressiveness in the lower-mids. There is however a veil-like feeling due to positioning, a reminiscent of the Sennheiser HD6XX. It is important to note, however, that while the HD6XX sounds veiled as a whole in a muffled way, the Zen 2.0 sounds veiled because of the positioning, where instruments are significantly closer than the vocals. It can get congested at times, however, as decay isn’t exactly great.
Combined with its massive soundstage, you get a uniquely positioned mid that feels veiled due to distant vocals but retains clarity and detail.
Creamy smooth and laid-back to listen to, the instruments and vocals are well in-sync despite the unorthodox positioning, and I find it a getaway in the audio realm.
It will probably sound weird, but the Zen 2.0 has plenty of air while feeling quite recessed saved for a region with sparkle.
Energy-wise there is still quite an amount going around, but it did make me wish there was more. I could still make out the details without issue however so I have to give them that. The quantity may be too little, but the quality didn’t suffer.
It does feel comfortable to listen for longer periods with its warmer and darker tonality, kind of reminding me of the Custom Art Harmony 8.2.
The secret to Zen 2.0 is definitely power. You can’t escape the need for tons of juice to get this beast going. Once you overcome that barrier, be prepared for the unexpected performance. Bass that screams quality, mids that feel laid-back yet packing clarity plus airy highs that never turn harsh. Without enough power, however, the Zen 2.0 will only limp along and sound tinny plus hollow.
That is some really superb performance for an earbud. The bass on its own would have easily made it a keeper for dailies, if not for how power-hungry it is.
Zen 2.0 can get a little loose at times, especially around the lower-mid. Its warm tonality is a stark contrast to the analytic and more technical focused Zen 1.0. Zen 2.0 does pack more technical prowess than its predecessor, however, but some may still prefer the Zen 1.0 which does admittedly sound cleaner due to its tonality.
Being more of an iem user, I must say the VE Zen 2.0 really showed me a world that I was missing out. While it is still limited by its power requirements; not many daps can drive 320Ohms sufficiently well, its performance was an eye-opener albeit on a home set-up.
Its performance may not yet take on the titans in the totl league, but the gap is surprisingly less than I thought. Personally, I feel earbuds face 2 main restrictions; fit and power. But it does gain the benefits of both headphones and in-ears; open-sound and portability. If one can go without an absolute seal, earbuds may just be the secret to the best of both worlds.
I’m now (not) patiently waiting for an earbud packing such sonic capabilities while being easy to drive.
Thank you for reading through! If you found it an interesting read and wish to keep up with updates, do check out my Instagram below!