Venture Electronics provided Zen free of charge for the purpose of my honest review, for good or ill.
Zen 2.0 sells for $144.00 MSRP
Lee Wild of Venture Electronics is a fun guy. Talking with him, you get the impression he’s a maverick type, freely pursuing any notion that catches his fancy, never knowing what new product might come of it. And let me tell you, he has some cool ideas.
When I showed interest in writing about his Zen 2.0 earbud, Lee seemed excited to talk about it. The sentiment behind Zen, as he explained, is that he doesn’t much care for full-sized headphones smothering his head, and wanted to create a tiny earbud that delivered that same sound. I found this funny, because I much prefer the comfort of my Sennheiser HD6XX over any in-ear. Yet I couldn’t help feeling intrigued by the possibility of getting that experience from an earbud. So I asked him to send me a set, and he did.
Lee warned, these are 300 Ohm, and meant ONLY for desktop amps. As such, in spite of requesting a 2.5mm TRRS, he sent me a 4-pin XLR… just to discourage any mobile inclinations I may have. However, he did send along an XLR-to-3.5mm adapter, so I could still experiment. And experiment I did!
Anyone familiar with modern audiophile earbuds, like Lee’s best-selling model, the Monks, will be familiar with the look, feel, and ergonomics of Zen. They deviate in only the subtlest of ways, but feel more or less identical.
Except for the cable. The one Lee sent is this strange, tacky thing. It’s neither stiff nor exceedingly flexible, has good weight and zero microphonics. All-in-all, it works fairly well. Only it is too short for desktop use, needing another foot at least for my setup. Clearly, it’s mobile length, but terminated for 4-pin XLR… which is a clash of concepts if ever I’ve seen one.
Luckily, I have a plusSound extension that costs more than most full-size headphones. Is this X6 T-Metal over-kill for Zen? You betchya! But thanks to this, the listening continues!