The Veho ZB-2 earphones are a decent pair of earphones but could be better.
With so many portable smart devices and methods to enjoy books, music, movies, news, etc., a pair of lightweight, portable, good sounding earphones is needed. I enjoy testing headphones, as it gives me a reason to listen to music and to spend some much needed alone time, reflecting. I have a broad appreciation of media and respect for companies who attempt to allow me to access it. At CES 2018, I had the pleasure of talking with the team from Veho and learning about their newest and greatest technology. After hearing about the new ZB-2 (Zed B-2) earphones, I was excited to get back from Las Vegas and to dive into the review.
The Veho ZB-2 arrived in a classy flat black 3 15/16 inches wide by 8 5/16 inches tall by 1 13/16 inches thick retail box. The company did a great job with the visual appeal of the product. The white Veho logo and the ZB-2 vibrantly pop out of the black background and draw your eyes to the box. Located along the top of the cover, you will find the 2 15/16 inches wide by 2 3/4 inches tall clear plastic window. I love this method of advertising a product. As a consumer, I want to see the device and not a visual representation/image of the product. Veho intelligently utilized the above features to draw you in and then used a subdued grey coloration for the smaller print, making you pick up the device to read it. The truth about product marketing is if they can get the device into your hand, they have won the first battle. The left side of the box details the tangle free cord and the right side provides five descriptive icons: superior sound, 8-hour play time, remote/built-in microphone, wireless connectivity, and an active fit. The back of the packaging was a little busier than I would have liked, providing sentences about each of the icons. The information was useful, however. Just below the icon sentences, Veho provided a very useful and important table that detailed the product specifications. The product promises industry standard 10-meter Bluetooth connection, nine-hour talk/eight-hour audio time, 240 hours of standby time, 100mAh battery, 1.5 hour charge time, Bluetooth v4.1 and the 3 EQ modes (standard, bass boost, and 3D sound).
Removing the contents from the box, you will immediately notice that Veho focused on the customer. The earphones were displayed atop black form-fit plastic, and the multi-lingual instruction manual, 41 1/2 inch USB-A to USB-micro charging cable and the accessory ear tip bag were located beneath the plastic. I was impressed with the length of the USB cable, as it was a very generous length. Within the accessory bag, the company provided an additional set of small, medium and large silicone tips, a pair of ear-wings and an alligator clip. I was excited to see the extra ear tips and the attention to customization. We all know that ear canals are not a universal size and we have all received a pair of earphones that are meant to be universal and fail. Veho combated this issue with the inclusion of the ear tips and ear wings. The ear tips proved easy to remove by simply pinching the ear tip and then pulling away from the earphone. You can attach the ear wing and then reattach any size ear tip that you desire. The pre-installed tips fit my ear canal the best of all of the sizes. I was a bit let down when I discovered that there was no earphone case for the Veho ZB-2. Although this was not a dealbreaker, many devices within this price point have cinch bags or draw-string bags for the earphones.
To power on and pair the earphones, simply hold the center button on the in-line control for 6 seconds. You will hear a female voice announce: “Power on, battery is enough, search the device in your mobile.” You can then navigate to Bluetooth on your smart device and select Veho ZB-2. If you hold the center multifunction button for 5 seconds, you can turn off the earphones and hear a verbal “Power Off.” The left and right earphones are easy to identify with an L/R located along the back. The in-line remote control is located adjacent to the right earphone. The 0.4-ounce earphones measure 23 inches from ear tip to ear tip, and the 2 1/4 inches long by 3/8 inches wide controller is located 3 1/2 inches from the right earphone. The backs of the earphones are magnetic and allow the user to wear the earphones around their neck, when not needed. Unfortunately, Veho missed an amazing opportunity to use relatively new technology. The magnet does not turn off the earphones like the Anker Soundbuds or the Oldshark Bluetooth Headphones. This omission and the lack of an auto-off feature were sorely missed with this pair of earphones.
Out of the box, I felt like I was missing excitement and energy with the headphones. The 1.5 hour charging time was exceptional, but I was a little disappointed when I listened to music. The overall sound felt okay but a little hollow. I wanted more fullness, and more depth and I realized that the middle and bass sounds were near absent. Turning to the box and manual, I saw that there were a few EQ modes to choose from. Pressing the MFB button and the volume up or down, you will cycle between the three modes. You will be able to tell the difference between the modes, as you cycle through them because the sound is different. I personally did not like the standard mode, preferring both the 3D sound and bass boost sounds. In standard mode, the headset sounded okay for some of the modern pop stars like Charlie Puth, Justin Timberlake, and Meghan Trainor but sounded a little unimpressive with deeper voices like Johnny Cash, and Josh Turner. Turning the sound mode to 3D sound, improved the fullness of the Gaither Vocal Band, Far and Away and Gladiator soundtracks. I also enjoyed watching movies and TV shows in this mode. Truthfully, the 3D mode was the only mode that I wanted to use. Unfortunately, each time that the headphones were powered-on, it seemed to revert back to standard mode. In the bass enhanced modes, the audiocheck.net site showed the lower frequency range to be about 30 Hz and the upper range to be at least 15kHz (remember upper range is user dependent). I ran through my standard test tracks and enjoyed the tests, but I missed being blown away by them in Standard mode.
Another interesting factor about the Veho ZB-2 earphones was that the earphone buttons did not control the volume of my iPhone X. The earphone volume buttons only changed the internal volume of the earphones. I was uncertain if the HSP Bluetooth profile malfunctioned or if this was a design feature. If my iPhone was on silent, there was no way to increase the sound in the earphones. If you press the volume-up button on the earphones, you will hear it beep at the upper and lower ends of the volume range. In this instance, you would not hear any sound until you increased the volume on the iPhone. For most of my earphone tests, I listen to music between 5-7 ticks on the iPhone and find it painful to increase above this. For the Veho ZB-2, I found the volume between 8-9 to be the best zone. From 8 ticks on the iPhone Volume, I could turn the sound off completely using the earphone controller. This feature was neither a perk nor a hindrance. Rather, it was a unique finding when compared to other similar devices.
When it came to comfort, I had no complaints. Some reviews on the UK Amazon site suggested issues with ear tip fit. The pre-installed, included tips, worked great for me. I added the wings to the earphones and felt that they added an extra layer to the secure fit. The lapel clip helped to keep the cord from dangling and pulling on the ear with head movement. I ran a mile on the treadmill, with headphones in place, and had no issues with slippage. To further test the secure fit, I also completed 50 jumping jacks and five burpees with similar results. I tested the device both with and without the lapel clip, and I did find a significant difference. If I did not have the clip attached to my shirt, the right earphone was more likely to fall out before the left one, dragged downward by the controller. Comfort was not an issue with the ZB-2 earphones and I did not experience ear canal fatigue after multiple hours of use.
I absolutely wanted to love this set of earphones, but instead, I felt standard mode tarnished the sound. The 3D sound was very clear and bass-rich, improving upon everything that the standard mode offered. The packaging was top tier, the earphone weight was perfect and once I changed to the appropriate EQ setting, the sound was pleasing. The volume controls were rather odd, with an inability to control my iPhone with them. I did reach out to the team and asked them about this problem. They did state that this was a design feature and not a flaw. I was pleased with the 1.5 hour charging time and enjoyed 8 hours of listening time. I have charged the headset twice over the past 1.5 weeks and can attest to the 8 hour listening time and 1.5 hour charging time. I actually missed the option to control Siri with the earphones and to make phone calls/dial last number by double pressing MFB buttons. These features seem to be included with many other similarly tiered earphones. I had a hard time rating the earphones out of 5 stars, wishing to give a 3.5 star rating instead of a whole number. I personally feel that the ZB-2 earphones are a step in the right direction and I am excited to see what the future holds for Veho. At the time this article was published, the headphones are expected to be $55 retail price.