Digizoid zO2 personal subwoofer in review - who let the dogs out?
Go here for the front page z02 review.
Indeed. Digizoid dub this diminutive piece of plastic a ‘personal subwoofer’. I’d dub it a personal wolf pack – that is, if wolfs were known for barking. They probably growl, so maybe the metaphor stands. Which is more than I could do the first time I heard the z02, which floored me.
I’ve been mopping up ever since.
32-step digital potentiometer
Class-A headphone amplifier
Uses ultra-low noise pre-amp
Compatible with output impedances from:
High Gain: 16 – 250 ohms
Low Gain: 16 – 80 ohms
Gold-plated, four-layer PCB, with high-grade SMT components
Input impedance: 16.7k ohms
Output impedance: 1.4 ohms
Max input voltage:
Low Gain – 2.8 Vpp
High Gain – 1.47 Vpp
THD + N: 0.05% (x dB, FS, 1kHz)
It retails for 119,95$ USD from Digizoid and ships worldwide. It’s popular though, so from time to time, it may be out of stock. Snatch it up when you see it.
Digizoid reckon the z02 packs ‘jaw dropping sound’. It does. And it does so for a price that will floor even the most stalwartly thrifty of audiophiles. We can come back to that. Let’s get on with the template, shall we?
There’s not much to say here. For 120$, you get a tiny little plastic box with anti-slip coating, decently spaced in/out ports, and a little nob that does everything. Oh yes, the front lights up, too! Yippee! But, to be honest, the z02 looks like a sub 100$ item. The seams are rough, the paint job is reminiscent of pre-teen model-building, and the anti-slip coating feels like an iPhone case.
The upside to what at first blush looks kitchy, is a well-built device that can stand the rigours of a pocket full of change, that hole in the car where you throw all your wrappers, lids, and old CD’s of Amy Grant, and even a place of honour next to horrible bedroom speakers.
Also, the upside to a plastic housing is that it bounces. It doesn’t scratch as easily or noticeably as metal does. The best thing about plastic, however is that it’s weightless.
Ergonomics and polish
A small piece of two-sided cell tape would hold the z02 to a wall or a speaker for its life. It floats on poorly-made jello and Swedish coffee. Metal wouldn’t do that. Please don’t try either.
In use, the z02 is a breeze. If you hold it in your right hand with the z02 logo smirking up at you, the LightBar (a multicoloured pillar of flame or moss) winks at you like a cat’s eye. Above it on the top edge are the speaker/headphone output and input ports. Your thumb rests firmly on the toggle switch which adjusts volume, bass contour, and triples as a power switch.
As long as you can get the hang of punching it long and short, you will get on well with the z02. A long inward push turns the z02 on or off. A short inward push switches it between contour and volume mode. If you nudge it up or down, it cycles various settings such as volume and intensity in either mode. The literature included with the z02 makes it seem harder than it is. Trust me, even an early-thirty something can figure it out.
Unlike a GoVibe product that hides all the goodies under the chassis and even buries its dual Wolfson DACs like it’s embarrassed, the z02 wears its features proudly.
There are two gain modes that you need to be aware of. Low gain mode is for when you make use of line out ports and docks from your CD player, computer, DAT player, crocodile vinyl player, or iDevice. It allows you to adjust volume on the z02 itself. High gain is for when you use variable outputs such as the headphone output of all the above devices. The volume in high gain mode must be controlled via your device. High gain is purple, low gain is blue. To get to purple, nudge and hold the toggle switch for a few seconds when the LightBar is blue. Voila! Purple. To get back, do the same, but in reverse order.
I tend to use line out docks, so I use low gain mode in order to directly control volume on the z02.
As soon as you have managed low and high gain modes, you can move onto the fun part: contours. Push in the toggle switch. The LightBar will turn orange or green. Nudge and hold the switch up or down and the LightBar will change colours. Green is as neutral as the z02 allows. Bright red is as woofish as it will get. And that’s a bloody wolf pack.