Noontec Zoro headphones review: An audiophile bargain

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MSRP: $128.92

The Good The Noontec Zoro is an audiophile-oriented on-ear headphone model with a detachable cable and styling that mimics the Beats Solo, but with better sound quality.

The Bad The Zoro headphones lack an inline remote and microphone, and buyers craving heavy bass may be disappointed by its neutral sound.

The Bottom Line Bona fide $100 audiophile headphones are rare, but the Noontec Zoros' remarkably clear and balanced sound will wow the cognoscenti.

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8.1 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 6
  • Performance 8
  • Value 9

The Noontec Zoro headphones are unusual in a number of ways, though some folks will first focus on their styling. The high-gloss finish and smooth headband mimic the look of the Beats by Dr. Dre Solo, but the resemblance ends there. The Zoro headphones don't sound like the Solos -- the Zoros aren't as bass-heavy and have a sweeter treble tonal balance. Putting aside the Beats comparison, most comparably priced headphones are less clear and precise; the Zoros are unusually neutral-sounding for $100 headphones. With excellent build and sound quality for a budget-friendly retail price, the Noontec Zoro headphones earn a recommendation for their on-ear, closed-back design.

Design and features
The Zoro headphones' build quality is fair for the money, but no one's going to mistake them for an expensive pair. They fold up for compact storage but as with all hinged headphones in their price class, the plastic and metal hinges are the obvious weak point in the design. If you're rough with headphones, you should probably avoid buying $100 hinged headphones altogether.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Weighing just 5.3 ounces, the Zoros are certainly lightweight and comfortable to wear, but the faux-leather ear cushions put more pressure on the tops of my ears than the bottoms. That pressure detracts from long-term comfort, and the headband shape and the earcups' limited pivot range were also sources of minor irritation. While it's true that everyone's head and ears are shaped differently, I would still rate the Zoros only slightly lower than average for an on-ear design.

The earpads produced a less-than-ideal seal that didn't block much environmental noise, but the upside to that is being able to hear what's going on in your surroundings, and the pads didn't make my ears sweat.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Zoros have 40mm drivers and impedance is rated at 16 ohms, making them easy to drive for phones and other portable music players. The user-replaceable headphone cable is resistant to tangles, and plugs into the left earcup. Both ends of the 48-inch-long flat cable are fitted with 3.5mm connectors, but, alas, the Zoros lack a remote and microphone. The headphones fit inside the included soft carrying case.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Noontec Zoro headphones come with a one-year warranty, and the manufacturer's importer, ERG Distributors in Carteret, N.J., handles all claims. Note that you'll need a proof of purchase to start a warranty claim.

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