IntroductionHead-Direct recently launched a sibling to the RE0 earphones we reviewed a while ago. Dubbed RE-ZERO the resemblance to its predecessor's name is clear, however, the two share very few things. Just about the only thing that ties the two together is the shape and material for the housing, everything else is different. Surprisingly enough the RE-ZEROs feature balanced termination in the shape of a 3.5 mm / 1/8" TRRS (Tip - ring - ring - sleeve) connector instead of the usual TRS. Normally TRRS equipped in-ears feature a spare channel for a microphone, but the ZEROs are different in that respect. The additional channel means that both channels have their own ground making them capable of fully balanced operation.
Head-Direct says that they have balanced headphone amplifiers (yes in plural) in the works ready for launch within two months. Which means they will probably do a balanced portable amplifier along with a desk version (pure speculation on our behalf).
Currently only one portable amplifier allows for balanced operation and that is the outrageously priced Ray Samuels Audio Protector, which features a balanced connector not made for repeated insertion (plug manufacturer has confirmed this).
The adoption of 3.5 mm TRRS for this use is very neat. Not only is it a time proven design it is also easy to adapt for DIYers and amplifier makers.
- 16 Ohm impedance
- 3.5 mm (1/8") mini-jack TRRS configuration
- Balanced wiring
- High sensitivity
Like we saw with the RE252s the RE-ZEROs ship in a plastic box that is reusable. Inside the earphones lay well protected.
The most noticeable difference between the RE0 and the RE-ZERO is the new color. Gunmetal is the paint of choice and it looks really good on this limited edition set of headphones.
The bundle is well thought out. You get five pairs of tips along with a shirt clip.
In lack of other converters Head-Direct shipped the first samples out with an airplane converter, which worked for little under a week and then developed issues with intermittent signal break. Now the RE-ZEROs ship with two adapters designed by Head-Direct. Both work fine and seem to be quite well built.
The shape of the earphone shells are the same as we saw with the RE0s. The casing's design works great because it is small enough to fit snugly in just about any ear. For the RE-ZEROs the paint job has been altered and the color of the earpieces is now gun metal gray. Unfortunately the rubber strain reliefs are still black which looks a tad odd.
There is a small letter indicating left or right on each of the strain reliefs. Since the earphones are cylindrical in shape you can wear them both with the cable over the ear and in a more regular fashion.
As you might have noticed the RE0s and now the RE-ZEROs look quite a bit different from Head-Direct's latest high-end offering in the RE252s (and presumably the new RE262s). Even though the RE-ZERO's specifications are very similar to the RE252s they sound very differently, which we will discuss further on in this review.
Above you can see the slight difference in paint tone.