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Noontec Zoro II wireless review: Portable Bluetooth headphones with an urban look

Christopher Minasians
13 Dec 2016
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
100
inc VAT

The Noontec Zoro II wireless takes on the Beats by Dr. Dre Solo3 wireless

Pros 
Bluetooth aptX
Portable design
Cons 
Clunky design
Overall sound quality
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The Noontec Zoro II wireless is a portable headphone aimed at commuters looking for an urban look. Its striking design makes it ideal for travelling with, but does its overall quality warrant a £100 price tag?

Noontec Zoro II wireless review: Price and competition

The Zoro II can be found for £100 on Amazon, and its competition ranges from the highly reasonable, £40 Creative Sound Blaster JAM to the pricey Beats by Dr. Dre Solo3 Wireless, which cost £240.

READ NEXT: A selection of our favourite Bluetooth headphones.

Noontec Zoro II wireless review: Design, build quality and comfort

The Zoro II is available both in black with red trim and in a solid black colour scheme, where the latter is £50 dearer and branded as a ‘limited edition’ model. I’m not a big fan of its design in either colour scheme, though, as it has a glossy plastic finish, which to me looks cheap and attracts fingerprints like crazy.

Its left-sided earcup has a 3.5mm headphone jack input, a play/pause/call button and a set of small LED lights used to indicate battery life. There is also a small mic input, which allows you to take calls on the fly. On the right-hand cup you’ll find a micro-USB input for charging, and a pair of volume buttons that double up as skip buttons. The buttons are responsive and are easy to press.

As with most headphones, the headband can be adjusted to fit, but its range is somewhat limited – if you have a large head, you might struggle to wear the Zoro II Wireless comfortably. And while the headphones can be folded away to make them easier to transport, the cups don’t pivot so those with large ears may not find them the most comfortable things to wear. Moreover, I’m not convinced as to the longevity of the plastic frame and hinge design, which makes a disconcertingly loud snapping noise when folded and unfolded.

The headband assembly has a decent amount of padding, however, and I personally found the headphones comfy to wear for long listening sessions. They’re an on-ear design, which can prove problematic for long-term comfort, but the pads are soft, mould nicely to the shape of your ear, and don’t put undue pressure on your ears.

This design does create a problem for isolation and sound leakage, though, so remember to dial down the volume on public transport or your fellow commuters will hear your music. Also see our Sony MDR-ZX330BT review.

Noontec Zoro II wireless review: Connectivity

As wireless headphones go, the Noontec Zoro II are well equipped. There’s no active noise cancellation, but you do get NFC and Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX. This gives the Noontec headphones a slight edge over headphones that use the standard Bluetooth SBC codec, as the audio codec permits data transmission at a higher bitrate.

Bluetooth range is impressive, too. In testing I found that the operating range was around 20m line of sight, and battery life is even better. Noontec quotes 35hrs runtime, which is good for several days of commuting listening, and if you do run out of power you can always drive the headphones through a conventional 3.5mm jack. Also see our Lindy BNX-60 review.

Noontec Zoro II wireless review: Sound quality

At £100, the Zoro II wireless has fierce competition such as the £50 Sony MDR-ZX330BT, the £84 LINDY BNX-60 and £40 Creative Sound Blaster JAM, all of which offer fantastic sound quality, but how does the Noontec compare?

The bass response is this headphone’s strongest asset. The sub-bass rumble extends well, while its mid-bass slam is pronounced albeit a little uncontrolled. I would have liked a little less presence in the mid-bass frequencies, as this tends to leaks into the mids. A little more control and less impact would have been favourable.

Due to that strong mid-bass presence, the mid-range frequencies are pushed back. They don’t sound artificially boosted, resulting in an accurate mid-range reproduction, but they’re simply overwhelmed, which is a shame.

The highs are rolled off at the top-end, but nevertheless do provide a little sparkle. I’d have liked more extension for crisper cymbals, hi-hats and the like, but you can’t have everything for £100.

The soundstage is what lets the Zoro II down the most, though, with music sounding congested, and instrument separation sub-par. Overall, there’s nothing fundamentally broken here, but the overall sound quality is distinctly mediocre and lacks refinement. Also see our Bose QuietComfort 35 review.

Noontec Zoro II wireless review: Verdict

The Noontec Zoro II delivers plenty of features for the money, including impressive battery life and aptX Bluetooth support, but with questionable build quality and with its average sound quality, these £100 headphones aren’t anything to get excited about.

If the headphones had been priced at £60 to £75 I would have forgiven some of its flaws, but given the competition, you can definitely get better value for money elsewhere.