iPhone Earbud Review: DGA Zipbuds
Reviewed by Jacob Spindel
Editor's Ratings (1-5): 4.5
If your pocket is as full of cable-spaghetti as mine usually is, chances are at some point you've tried to find alternatives to dealing with an unmanageable wad of cords when you're on the go. The most obvious solution is simply to replace your earphones with a wireless model, but between the additional battery drain on your mobile device and the hassle of charging your earphones, this solution can easily introduce more inconvenience than it solves (not to mention it is quite expensive). So is there another way to avoid 20 minutes of sorting out wires before you get to start listening to your favorite tunes? DGA thinks there is, and we find their solution to be a compelling option.
It Takes Two To Tangle
You could simply be extra careful to untangle your earbuds before and after every use ? but let?s face it, you're not really going to do that. So how about looking at the other side of the equation and letting the buds do all the work?
Zipbuds start with a standard 3.5 mm stereo connector and a 26-inch single cable that is reinforced with braided nylon and Dupont Kevlar to be tangle resistant - but when the cable splits into left and right earbud cables of approximately 21 additional inches each, this is where the Zipbuds become truly unique. The two cables also function as a zipper, so you can simply zip the left and right sides together, leaving you with a single thick cable that is virtually ?tangle-proof.?
Zipbuds are currently available in five five color schemes, and each set includes three pairs of ear tips to ensure you can find one that fits you comfortably. Detachable ear clips are also included, although we didn?t find these to be necessary in order to wear the buds securely. They don?t have any control buttons for iPods or other devices, although you can add such buttons id you need them by using any of various adaptors available from companies like Belkin. The buds are noise-isolating but do not feature any active noise cancelation.
Now, I know what you?re thinking. ?Tangle-resistant? and ?tangle-proof? sound like marketing buzzwords. It?s a cable, right? Of course it?s going to get tangled! But in spite of the simplicity of the idea behind the Zipbuds, they actually work amazingly well. I carried them around on crowded buses and trains, using them frequently and then cramming them into my pocket (which even has other earbuds in it), and as long as I remembered to zip them up when not in use, they really do resist tangling very effectively. One minor side effect of the zipper design is that the zipper occasionally rattled against the cables, producing a slight swooshing noise that was audible in the earbuds, but this was an infrequent and minor inconvenience, and a small price to pay for the freedom from tangling.
Unfortunately, even though the Zipbuds are very cleverly designed, DGA made one design decision that wasn?t quite so smart: as far as we can tell, there are absolutely no visual markings to indicate which earbud is the left one and which is the right. This is an unnecessary inconvenience, and we wish it had been addressed.
Zipbuds feature an 8 mm driver with 32 ohms of impedance and a frequency response of 20 Hz - 20 kHz. Their sensitivity is rated at 102 +/- 3 dB at 1 kHz with a rated power of 2 mW. All this translates to strong sound quality suitable for everyday use.
Bass: Bass tones on the Zipbuds are basically average - not notably strong, but also not notably weak. 3.5/5.0
Treble: Treble comes through loud and clear on the Zipbuds, which works well for pop music (among other styles). 4.5/5.0
Clarity: Although the clarity level doesn?t quite match the crisp high-definition sound of more expensive professional buds, it is still impressive and above average for earbuds in its price range. 4.5/5.0
Volume: An easy category for most earbuds, the Zipbuds have no difficulty ranging from ultra-quiet to very loud. 5.0/5.0
Overall, the Zipbuds? audio quality is slightly better than the white earbuds Apple includes with most of its iDevices. They aren?t studio-quality HD buds, but the audio is more than good enough for rocking out to your favorite tunes or catching up on podcasts.
Sometimes the simplest ideas really are the best. Zipbuds are the kind of product that make you wonder, ?Why doesn?t everybody else do it this way?? If you use earbuds and have problems with cables tangling, Zipbuds are an easy and effective way to avoid having to waste your time on unraveling tangled buds. And if you?re a wired earbud user who doesn?t have problems with cables tangling, then you... don?t exist.
Pros: Amazingly resistant to tangling; good audio quality.
Cons: Left and right channels aren?t labeled.
Company: Digital Group Audio
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