What’s a portable subwoofer and how can it improve any headphone or speaker listening experience? The digiZoid ZO2 portable subwoofer is a mini amplifier of sorts and an interesting device indeed. If your headphones/speakers have underwhelming bass, the ZO2 will ensure thumping bass that packs some oomph.
The ZO2 (pronounced Zoh Two) is roughly the size of a small box of matches and not too much heavier. It feels all plastic but its actually made of high-impact resistant polycarbonate with a soft-touch coating. The device has a simple design, an LED, a control wheel, and a couple of inputs–but it definitely requires a skimming of the manual.
This is the jist: you make the ZO2 a middle man and plug your headphones and audio source into the device, some type of magic is involved, and presto–you’re listening to enhanced audio with noticeably more bass. You can adjust the listening experience on the fly. The ZO2 has a built-in rechargeable battery and includes a mini-USB cable for charging.
ZO2 supports two modes: line-out mode and headphone mode, the difference being whether or not you’re using a music player where you can control volume. If there’s no volume control then ZO2 should be set to pink and will have it’s own volume control.
Once your gain mode is set, ZO2 will remember it, and you can choose one of 32 selectable Sound Signature Tuning (SST) profiles. These different profiles range from low bass to high bass and “give users the ability to find the perfect synergy between their ears, gear and media”.
The ZO2 has rave reviews anywhere you look, mainly because it does what it promises. It digitally enhances the bass and allows you to feel your music like never before. It’s noticeable, especially if you’re become used to your headphones and music. The 32 profiles differ slightly by their level of bass, from low(which is still very bassy) to high. Every profile adds a lively boost to your audio, focussing mainly on the low-end.
I feel a bit torn about the ZO2. For turning crummy headphones into better headphones, it definitely works, however I don’t find it making good headphones better, just different. The audio quality isn’t enhanced, and if you prefer hearing music how it was intended, you may not like ZO2. I also have a distaste for unnecessary dongles. Adding ZO2 into the mix kills the ability to use an inline remote and microphone. It’s also awkward in your hand and pocket. It’s much more practical as an add-on for improving your car audio, where it’s not so easy to upgrade your speakers.
The ZO2 may not be what you imagined from the term “portable subwoofer”, however it’s a pretty accurate description. ZO2 not only pumps some extra energy into your music, but artificially adds a lot of low end, making your headphones sound bassier. The bass-boosting experience is nicely done and sounds much richer and fuller than simply pumping up the bass on your audio player. It’s nice that the bass is user adjustable and ZO2 remembers your settings. If you’re not impartial to adding an intermediary device into your listening experience and losing headphone controls, it could be the boost your headphones or speakers have been looking for. The DigiZoid ZO2 Portable Amplifier is currently available for $99.95 on Amazon, which is a sum that could easily be put towards a better pair of headphones.
The Good: Adds a lot of bass to any headphones or speakers, Small, Light, Rechargeable Battery, Remembers Settings,
The Bad: Coating Scratches Off, Not very intuitive, Doesn’t Improve Audio Quality, Awkward in Pocket, Doesn’t Work Without Power/No Audio Passthrough, No Auto-off feature