Adidas Z.N.E. 01 Review
Adidas' affordable workout earbuds
The Adidas Z.N.E. 01 are affordable truly wireless Bluetooth sports earbuds. Sadly, their fit won’t work for everyone. However, if you do manage to get them to stay put, they deliver a pretty impressive sound for the price, alongside a durable design to fend off sweat and good enough battery life, making them great sports earbuds for under £100.
- Sweat and splash-proof design
- Solid sound performance
- Nice, pocket-friendly case
- Fit might be troublesome for some
- Not the best battery life out there
- Slightly oversensitive touch controls
- UKRRP: £89.99
- USARRP: $99
- Water- and sweat-resistanceIPX4 rating to help keep drops of sweat and water away
- Eco-chargingCharges your earbuds up to a specific point so that they can last for longer
The Adidas Z.N.E. 01 are a pair of truly wireless earphones built for sport, seeing the apparel giant collaborate with Zound Industries – makers of Marshall and Urbanears headphones – to bring the buds to life.
They’re essentially a cheaper version of the Z.N.E. 01 ANC, without active noise cancellation. However, the buds do still offer a sweat- and splash-proof design, five hours of battery life from a single charge, along with quick-charging support for those who often forget to charge up buds before a workout.
The Z.N.E. 01 cost a pretty reasonable £89.99, which puts them at the more affordable end of the sports buds’ market. Dropping below the £100 price mark usually means making a few compromises, though, so in which areas of the Z.N.E. 01 have these been made, and are they significant?
- IPX4 sweat- and splash-resistant rating
- Touch controls
- Use silicone ear sleeves
A glance of the Z.N.E. 01 will remind most of the first- and second-gen AirPods that so many headphone makers sought to emulate. The long-stemmed design here comes in a solitary black colour that Adidas call Night Grey, with the textured finish on the casing making the buds easy to grip with sweaty hands.
These buds don’t use wing tips; instead you’ll find silicon ear sleeves the type commonly found on sports buds. There are no additional sleeves provided in the box, so you’re basically stuck with the one set – and if they don’t work, you’ll encounter issues.
I certainly had some concerns about the fit of these buds. While they largely stayed put in my ears, on a couple of occasions I did quite easily knock them out during some indoor workouts. In fact, I never felt totally comfortable they’d stay in place on outdoor runs. Even if they did.
On more steady intensity workouts such as indoor rows and bike sessions, they were fine. However, even simply tinkering with onboard controls would often be enough to interfere with the fit of the Z.N.E. 01.
The bottom line, then, is that the Adidas Z.N.E. 01 will work fine for some, but not so much for others.
On a more positive note, the earbuds are certified with a IPX4 rating. This means that while they’re resistant to splashes, they won’t survive being submerged in water for any amount of time. It’s not the strongest protection you’ll find on a set of earbuds, but it does at least mean a degree of protection from water and sweat.
On the stem of the buds you’ll find a set of touch controls, with which you can tap to play/pause, double-tap to skip forward a track, and triple-tap to skip backwards. You can tap to accept and end calls, too. I’m really not a fan of touch controls on sports-focused earbuds, however; and the Z.N.E. 01 felt a tad too sensitive, often resulting in me accidentally activating them. Note that there’s no scope to customise those controls, either.
The case is a plus point for these earbuds. Its small form factor makes it ideal to carry with you on runs, or if you want something that’s easy to slip into your pocket outside of workout time. It offers some protection against moisture, too, although the IPX3 rating means it can only handle some sprays of water, during a rain shower for example.
- Two microphones to take calls
- Up to five hours’ battery life
There’s no active noise cancellation nor any transparency modes here, although the Z.N.E. 01 did a pretty admirable job of battling against the murmur of a TV screen when I was working out at home. However, it’s a little more challenging keeping ambient sounds out when you venture outside. The wind still cut through, but the buds were successful at keeping engine sounds of cars while running near traffic to a minimum.
It’s possible to take calls with the Z.N.E. 01 – and, again, they perform best if you’re indoors as opposed to outdoors. As mentioned, there’s no great wind protection and you’ll be fighting against traffic noise, too, if you’re taking a call on the move.
The Z.N.E. 01’s battery life is by no means class-leading; these are very much first-generation truly wireless earbuds in that regard. You’re promised up to five hours of listening time from a single charge, and it takes 1hr 30mins to get from 0-100%. The buds do come with a quick-charge feature, however, getting you an hour of playtime from a 15-minute top-up; plus the charging case also supports wireless charging. In real-world use, I’d say the stated five hours battery life proved accurate.
These buds will happily get you through a good week of workouts, then, and that quick-charge support means you shouldn’t have to charge them on a regular basis, either.
- 12mm dynamic driver
What makes the troublesome fit I experienced so very frustrating is that these buds actually deliver surprisingly well-rounded sound for the money. They’re not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, and they continue to struggle in the same areas that many sports buds do, when you venture outside in particular. The Z.N.E. 01 take some bedding in before you can enjoy the surprisingly robust sound they’re capable of delivering.
There’s a good amount of power on display considering the size of these buds, as well as a surprisingly wide soundstage. Bass is punchy without feeling overbearing, and while mids are a little recessed in places, there’s some nice smoothness with just enough detail to make them an enjoyable listen with a range of genres. If you like your music high tempo and hard hitting, then you’re certainly well catered for here, but the Z.N.E. 01 are versatile enough to work well for more vocal and instrument-rich tracks, too.
Should you buy it?
You want good sound for less For headphones that sit under that £100 mark, the Z.N.E. 01 offer very robust and reliable sound quality for the price.
You want a reliable fit Bottom line: this open design isn’t going to work for all ears and didn’t fill us with confidence all the time.
The Adidas Z.N.E. 01 seem to have everything you could want in a pair of sporty truly wireless earbuds. They’re sleek, come with a neat, small case, offer solid sound and good battery life for the price. Crucially, though, the concerning fit simply isn’t going to work for a lot of people. If you can get a great fit, you’ll love what they can offer – but they won’t be the perfect match for all.
How we test
We test every headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.
Tested over several days
Tested with real world use
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No, this model doesn’t feature ANC.