TLDR version on YouTube: TDLR - 7Hz x Crinacle Zero: 2
The 7Hz Zero 2 have been sent to me by Linsoul in exchange for the publication of this review. Linsoul have not made any requests, they never do, and I will do my usual best to be as unbiased as possible.
You can find a link to the Zero 2 via Linsoul by visiting the version of this review published on my blog.
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There is a saying that sequels are never as good as the original but there are also exceptions that confirm the rule, so which one is the Zero 2?
As someone who is a huge fan of the original 7Hz Zero, being one of my (if not the) favourite IEMs under 50€, I have to say that the Zero 2 had its work cut out if it wanted to improve on the original while still staying in the price bracket. Well, as far as pricing is concerned, the Zero 2 is $1 cheaper on Linsoul (at the time of putting this review together) than the original, so they are both around 20€, a price point that is certainly well inside the ultra budget category.
Now, my only complaints, which were not even really complaints, about the original Zero was that they looked a bit like a kids toy and that there was a peak in the upper treble that could be a little brutal on occasions, depending on the music.
Therefore, at the same price, all that could be done to make them “better” in my opinion is to improve aesthetics and/or reduce that peak, so let’s see if that has been the case here.
As far as packaging, nothing has changed, at least as far as I can remember. We still get a simple cardboard sleeve with an image of the IEMs on the front, with some very basic specs on the back (mostly in Chinese).
Removing the outer sleeve reveals the IEMs in a simple tray covered by plastic, underneath which we get the cable and 6 sets of multi coloured silicone tips.
The only real difference is that the Zero 2 show Crinacles name on the packaging whereas the original Zero were more of a (not so secret) collaboration.
Build and aesthetics…
Ok, so the first thing I was interested in them changing has not really changed much but at least they are now available in colours that are not so “kids toy” looking. All of this is obviously personal preference but the new colour schemes look better to me personally, maybe except for the blue variant, although, being honest, I think the new blue variant does look better than the old blue variant.
As far as build, everything is the same. They use the same plastic shaped shells, with a metal faceplate, that are very lightweight and cause me no discomfort. In general I don’t have any issues with the build at all and I find the aesthetics are still not my favourite but they are an improvement over the originals.
Moving into the sound category, have they improved that upper treble peak? Yes. Which is of course a good thing.
Is everything else still the same? No. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on personal preferences.
To be honest, the changes in the rest of the frequency range are very minimal, with only really one thing that makes me reach the conclusion I have reached but before getting to that, let’s take a look at the graph which compares the Zero 2 with the original Zero and with my usual preference target for reference:
As you can see in the graph, there is some variation between the models, although they really aren’t quite as noticeable as they may look on the graph. Yes you can hear them, but it is not as though they are totally different tunings, which puts us off to a good start!
The low end is probably the area where most will find the clear difference between the two. While the original Zero ramped up moving from the midbass down into the subbass, the Zero 2 has noticeably more presence in the midbass area. This provides more of a punch in this range and, together with another thing I will mention in a moment, moves the focus more towards the bass range of these IEMs.
For those who found the originals to sound a little lean in the bass, which I know was quite a few people, the 2 will be much more to your tastes with the way it presents the lower ranges. This doesn’t mean that the bass is any less clear or articulate, it still does a very respectable job of controlling the low end, not becoming fatiguing to me at all, even with my preference for a slightly tamer midbass in comparison to the majority.
Moving into the mid ranges, here things have not changed and the Zero 2 still presents a midrange that is very respectable, especially if we consider the price that these IEMs come in at. Instruments do have a little more body due to that extra presence of midbass but they are still very well balanced and natural, as are vocals, throughout the mids.
As we pass through the upper mids, which are again very much in alignment with my personal tastes, we reach the top of these ranges and start moving into the upper ranges and here is where I find the second noticeable change that makes the differences between the two models stand out.
Around the 4kHz mark, the response starts to dip and has much less presence in the 5kHz and 6kHz ranges than the previous iteration. I know I have said that I am someone who is intolerant to 5kHz peaks but I feel that the dip in the 5 to 6k range of the Zero 2 is a little too pronounced. This makes the upper ranges take a bit of a step back compared to the lower regions, and puts more emphasis on that additional midbass that we find on the Zero 2.
It is not as though the IEMs are completely lacking presence, far from it, but they do change what I felt to be a very balanced signature on the originals to something a little more focused on the additional midbass.
Moving past these marks, in the upper treble, that peak that could sometimes appear on the originals is not appearing to me on the Zero 2. Running through some of the same tracks that could be harsh on the originals is much tamer on the new set. The treble in general is more laid back and doesn’t quite seem as airy, with things seeming to roll off.
To be honest, although the treble, or rather upper treble, is not as present as on the previous set, I like that the peak is gone and it can make for a more pleasurable listen when choosing music that is already a little too bright in the upper ranges.
Is the Zero 2 better than the original Zero? In my opinion no.
So the original is better that the Zero 2? I would again say that, in my opinion, no.
They are a different flavour of an excellent set of IEMs for the price they sit at. If I had never heard the originals, then I think that the Zero 2 would probably just to one of the top spots in my personal under 50€ rankings but I was spoiled by the Zero.
As I mentioned before, the 2 things that I had issues with on the original Zero (well, more than issues, I just thought it could be different) were aesthetics, that have been improved on the Zero 2, and the harsh upper treble peak, which has also been improved on the Zero 2.
But now I have a couple of things that I would prefer to be different on the Zero 2. There is a little more midbass which I can live with, so it’s not really a complaint, but that lack around the 6kHz range is something that I find to stand out and it is not something I favour.
There is absolutely no doubt that the Zero 2 are an amazing set of IEMs for the price that they sell for, probably a better option than the originals for the majority of those out there, but I still find myself attracted more to the originals.
As always, this review is also available in Spanish, both on my blog (www.achoreviews.com) and on YouTube (www.youtube.com/achoreviews)
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